The defense attorney gunning to be Manhattan’s chief prosecutor

Of the eight candidates running for Manhattan District Attorney, only three have no law enforcement experience. Dan Quart, a New York State Democratic MP and criminal defense attorney, is one of them – and he’s proud of it.

“If I thought a prosecutor was the right person to turn this office around and really reform it, I wouldn’t be a candidate,” Quart, 48, said in an interview with Jewish Insider last week. “For those who want a different prosecutor, they have a choice of five candidates. But I offer a different perspective and, in my opinion, the right perspective for Manhattan at this particular point in time. “

His perspective focuses on a wide range of reforms that would significantly reduce the Office’s remit – a necessary step to lower incarceration rates and establish a fairer criminal justice system.

Quart promises to cut the prosecutor’s budget, although he doesn’t state by how much, just suggests that it may require some level of wear and tear, such as B. Downsizing. He also vows not to prosecute a number of low-level charges, including turnstile jumping, consensual sex work, and drug possession, which he describes as a “public health problem, not a penalty area problem in the courtroom”.

State lawmakers are hardly the only candidate to suggest the office is in need of renovation as outgoing incumbent Cyrus Vance Jr. prepares to step down after a decade in power. Quart’s opponents – all Democrats – have voiced varying degrees of criticism of Vance, who has been accused of mistreating a number of cases while being excessively punishable at the same time.

The race is jam-packed with former defense attorney Eliza Orlins, former federal attorneys Alvin Bragg and Tali Farhadian Weinstein, and Diana Florence and Lucy Lang, who both worked under Vance as assistant district attorneys and tried to distance themselves from their former boss.

But Quart, who is the only elected official in the race, argues that he has the legislative record to back up his campaign promises. During his time in the Congregation serving a district on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Quart claims he helped pass laws that had a significant impact on the state’s legal infrastructure, including bail and bail reform a law ending a ban on gravity meters, which the defendants alleged disproportionately influenced minorities.

Dan Quart speaks to voters in New York. (Courtesy)

“The vast majority of those prosecuted were people of color,” said Quart. “It took me seven years, more than two vetoes from the governor, but I was able to decriminalize something people could buy at a hardware store.”

Nily Rozic, a Queens MP, said Quart has long been “at the forefront” on criminal justice issues. “I’ve seen Dan’s work firsthand and I can certainly trust and trust that he will be a prosecutor who takes problems seriously,” Rozic told JI, “who fights for the most vulnerable communities, the ones that are really the most urgent need.” Help.”

Quart grew up in the Upper Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights, an experience he describes as formative for a future attorney.

“Washington Heights was a very diverse community in the 1980s before they used the word ‘diverse’ to describe communities of different races,” he said, recalling that as a child he was occasionally honored as a Jew. “I’ve seen aspects of hatred in my life,” he told JI. “It’s something that stays with me.”

Still, Quart stressed that punishing those who commit hate crimes – which have increased in recent years – is not always the appropriate response.

“I understand, although I have occasionally aimed to be Jewish, that education and restorative justice, and that person’s understanding of the harm he or she is doing, is a better solution than some kind of extended prison sentence. “he said.” This will never work as a long-term solution. “

Quart sees law enforcement officers who commit crimes differently. As a district attorney, he said he would prefer to hold police officers accountable for using excessive force or submitting false reports.

“I will apply a single standard of justice,” noted Quart, who added that there may be some instances where he may have to withdraw from major police investigations to avoid even the appearance of inappropriateness. “In certain cases where the injury is severe or grave,” he said, “I would seek special advice because of the inherent conflict between the prosecutor and the NYPD, which we work with every day.”

Dan QuartDan Quart (courtesy)

Quart advocates cutting the police budget to free officers from their involvement in social problems such as homelessness and mental illness. “We have enabled them to do certain things that they are ill-trained to do and the results show it,” he said.

Perhaps the most talked-about topic in the prosecution race is the investigation into former President Donald Trump’s finances, now run by Vance. However, Quart declined to comment directly on the criminal investigation, which could be inherited from the nearest prosecutor. “My public statements about Donald Trump are well known and have been publicly known as an elected official for the past half decade,” said Quart, “about his lawlessness, about his indecency.”

For now, however, he said he would delay further judgment.

“Right now we each have a district attorney and Cy Vance is the prosecutor,” Quart told JI. “He’s apparently putting together a team to investigate this matter. I think it would be wise of any candidate to allow DA Vance until his term is up, and then one in eight of us will have the privilege of making decisions on this potential case. “

Without public polls, it is difficult to judge which candidates have an advantage in the jam-packed primary battle. However, Eli Valentin, a political analyst in New York, said Quart was in a strong position to emerge victorious thanks to his impressive war chest and support from prominent lawmakers such as Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).

In a crowded race not governed by the city’s new electoral system, Quart could work at an advantage, Valentin said. “I think this will benefit a candidate like Quart, who is well known in his district and has received important support in various Manhattan communities,” Valentin told JI. “He has what it takes to run a successful campaign.”

For his part, Quart feels that his credentials clearly qualify him for the role – and that voters will ultimately take note when they go to the polls in June.

The aspiring prosecutor attended St. John’s University Law School and began his career in private practice while volunteering for the Legal Aid Society’s civil division. After an unsuccessful city council offer in 2005, he opened a legal clinic and was elected to his current role as representative of the Upper East Side in 2011, where he lives with his wife and two children.

“I have been a leader in Albany on legal issues related to reforming our criminal law to bring Manhattanites to incommunication, fairness and greater justice,” said Quart. “Running for district attorney is an extension of that life experience, as well as my desire to implement policies that completely revise and reform this office – not just being another prosecutor to run this office, but offering real and meaningful change.”

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