Mayor Bill de Blasio gave Big Apple district attorneys a pass for declining to prosecute accused felons at unusually high rates last year, instead of doubling down on his blame of the stalled courts system for escalated levels of violence.
After assigning primary responsibility for the recent uptick in crimes like shootings and felony assaults to the COVID-19 pandemic, de Blasio insisted the state-run courts’ pandemic-induced slowdown principally explains the trend, not prosecutors going easy on alleged perpetrators responsible after serious crimes.
“I believe that all crime is interconnected, and I believe that we need to have consequences across the board, but what I’m most worried about is crimes that prosecutors, NYPD, courts all agree are important and need to be addressed — then there’s no trial, no consequences, there’s no plea bargaining,” he said during his daily press briefing, in response to a question from The Post.
“That’s our most important problem right now.”
De Blasio’s comments come after The Post reported Tuesday that district attorneys in the five boroughs in 2020 declined to prosecute accused felons at nearly double the rate of 2019, allowing more than 6,500 suspects to avoid prison time.
Prosecutors dropped all charges in about 17 percent of the 38,635 felony cases that were closed in New York City in 2020, according to statistics compiled by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. In 2019, that rate was just 8.7 percent, and the average for 2016 to 2019 was an even lower 8 percent, the data shows.
According to NYPD statistics, shootings this year are up 5.3 percent compared to at this point in 2020, murders are close to last year’s figures — 299 compared to 303 at this time in 2020 — representing an almost 40 percent spike from 2019. In addition, felony assaults have also increased by 5 percent, data shows.
But for the mayor, the court systems’ “shocking” glacial speed is the central culprit in the recent increase in certain crimes, downplaying the consequences caused by prosecutorial choices.
“My central problem now — and I think the city’s central problem in terms of addressing public safety — is there’s a wide variety of offenses, not the small number of offenses that there’s a declined to prosecute the ones, where there’s an agreement to prosecute, a commitment to prosecute and we cant get movement,” he said. “The lack of trials is shocking.”
During the first half of 2021, courts have renders just 18 criminal verdicts compared to 405 during the same period in 2019 — a “fixable problem” he on Monday he demanded be rectified.
“There’s no good excuse for that, there’s no explanation,” said the mayor during Wednesday morning’s press briefing. “This is a failure by the courts system that must be addressed.”
“If the prosecutors need to do more, they should, but the No. 1 problem we’re facing right now is the arrests are being made constantly, but then the next piece that has to happen, the consequences aren’t happening because the court system isn’t fully functioning, it’s not even close,” he added. “That’s what needs to be fixed, and it can be fixed. It’s absolutely a fixable problem.”
In response to de Blasio ripping the state-run judicial branch, the Office of Court Administration has claimed the mayor is using sleight of hands to deceive New Yorkers.
“His gaslighting rhetoric regarding court operations in an attempt to shift the public safety discussion continues,” OCA Spokesman Lucian Chalfen said Monday.
“The court system has been back at full strength — with all judges and staff fully back in person in the courthouses since May,” he added. “Trials are being held, but for cases to be tried, you need the prosecution and defense to have their cases prepared, which isn’t occurring in a number of counties.”
Originally published at https://nypost.com/2021/09/01/de-blasio-slams-court-slowdown-for-rise-in-crime/ on .