This blog post is a bit of a detour from the normal scope of the website. But even though I am not a Queens resident, the race for Queens County DA is too important for me to not to put in my two cents: I would vote for Mina Malik if I could. Why?:
(1) Need for a Conviction Review Unit: As someone involved in “the innocence community” I am appalled that Queens has no formal Conviction Review Unit. All of the current candidates have pledged to form one as a top priority of their administration. Mina Malik is the one candidate with the requisite experience to fulfill that pledge. She was Special Counsel to Brooklyn DA Kenneth Thompson and helped him form the excellent Conviction Review Unit in the office. She worked directly on my David McCallum/Willie Stuckey case and was always diligent and forthright with us during the process, ultimately of course, agreeing with us that our clients were innocent. She can be trusted to develop a CRU with sufficient resources and to make sure it runs right.
(2) She’s a Prosecutor Not a Politician: That slogan was applicable to and instrumental in electing Nassau District Attorney Madeleine Singas. DA Singas’ opponent was Kate Murray, sweetheart of the Nassau GOP as Supervisor of the Town of Hempstead and its perennial top vote-getter. Only problem is that she was never a prosecutor. In fact she had never tried a case of any kind. The same can be true of Malik’s main opponent and the current leader in the polls: Melinda Katz. Katz is a darling of the Queens Democratic Machine. She was an assemblywoman,; ran and lost for NYC Comptroller; worked as a lobbyist; then ran and won for Queens Borough President – a largely symbolic political position with no real teeth. That adds up to a great resume for career politician but a big fat zero for DA. Next in the polls is Rory Lancman. Lancman has been an Assemblyman; ran and lost for Congress; ran and lost for State Senate; ran and won for City Council. He is an excellent council member and very knowledgeable on issues – even criminal justice issues as he chairs that committee in the Council – but he has never tried a criminal case or ran an office. Tiffany Caban, the AOC protege candidate who is gaining steam from the left has at least worked as a public defender for the nine years she has been a lawyer. But she has no experience running an office of any kind much less a DA’s Office. Caban has stated – as the other non-experienced candidates have – that she will bring in experienced people to help her administration. This was an argument we heard from the Murray camp in the Nassau County race. But since when do we want the DA to have to bring in people to tell them how to run a DA’s Office? Being the chief law enforcement officer of a major county like Queens is not a position for on-the-job training. Mina was a prosecutor for 15 years in the Queens DA’s Office before joining Ken Thompson’s Office in Brooklyn. She has worked inside a DA’s Office at every level. That is the experience Queens needs in the office.
3. She Can Be Counted on to Reform the Office: In addition to her experience as a prosecutor, Mina is progressive and in favor of reform. She left the Brooklyn DA’s Office to become the Executive Director of the NYC Civilian Complaint Review Bureau, which investigates police misconduct. She has pledged to end low-level prosecutions for drug offenses; to end mass incarceration; and to implement diversion programs to keep folks -especially young men and women – out of the court system and jails.
4. Her Diverse Background is What Queens Needs and Deserves: While the fact that she is a woman of color would not be enough to make her my favorite candidate, Queens is the most diverse county in the United States. Mina is an immigrant and came to Queens at a young age with her parents who raised her in the borough. Her husband, Derek Sells, is an African-American civil rights lawyer, and her have raised two boys here. She understands the different ethnic and cultural communities of Queens and will be a role model and leader for its diverse population.
Conclusion: This job is too important to give over to someone without the right experience. It needs to go to someone we can trust to protect the public safety while bringing much needed reform. Remember that whoever wins will likely hold the job for decades. Look how long Morgenthau served in NY, Hynes in Brooklyn, Dillon in Nassau, Spota in Suffolk, Brown in Queens. We are at a critical junction in criminal justice in NY. Mina Malik can best be counted on to bring the needed change; establish a viable CRU; and keep the County and its diverse citizenry safe. The election is June 25. Turnout is expected to be low as it is an off year. That will help the establishment candidates, so its important that Queens people show up to the polls to cast their votes!!
Learn more about Mina Malik at www.Mina4DA.com