Manhattan DA Candidates to Debate Traffic Justice

da_candidates.jpgMark your calendars for the morning of Wednesday, June 3. That’s when the three declared candidates running for Manhattan District Attorney — Richard Aborn, Leslie Crocker Snyder, and Cyrus Vance — will sit down for a round table debate on traffic justice. Organized by Transportation Alternatives and the Criminal Justice Society of the Benjamin Cardozo Law School, the event will get each candidate on the record about vehicular crime and how the district attorney’s office can protect New Yorkers from dangerous drivers.

As we report on Streetsblog all too often, New York City’s district attorneys appear reluctant to prosecute dangerous and deadly drivers. And when they do, sentences are seldom commensurate with the pain inflicted on victims’ families.

In addition to deterring reckless driving, a tougher stance on traffic crime from the DA’s office is essential for improving police investigations of harmful crashes. With the departure of Robert Morgenthau from the position after 35 years of public service, the next Manhattan DA will have the chance to make the borough’s bustling streets safer for everyone who uses them.

"This is a significant event and we are hopeful that whoever the new DA is, he or she will take a serious and new approach towards prosecuting dangerous drivers in New York City," said TA General Counsel Peter Goldwasser in an email. "We believe that by agreeing to participate in this debate, each candidate is already signaling a new sense of respect and understanding towards the importance of the issue and the prominent role the office of the District Attorney can play."

The debate, which is free and open to the public, gets underway on June 3 at 8:30 a.m. in Cardozo’s Moot Court Room (55 Fifth Avenue at 12th Street).

  • JK

    Excellent work by Transportation Alternatives.

    Let’s see even more candidate forums for other borough and citywide offices. Too bad so many local seats are uncontested

  • ddartley

    Wow. This is huge. Congratulations to TA and the whole movement. Komanoff suggested that Streetsblog’s interview with Crocker Snider might be a landmark event and I had a feeling he was right. Here’s hoping this proves him right, and life expectancy starts to rise in NYC because of things like this.

  • Dartley — I actually referred to the terrific S’blog interview with Crocker Snyder as a “milestone,” which is 2 steps down from a “landmark,” but whatever, the TA/Cardozo forum could be both, cubed. (When words fail me, I turn to numbers.) I don’t know what to say except that I’ll be there, hopefully among a hundred or more of us. Outstanding!

  • As someone recovering from a recent hit and run, this news is fantastic. The thing that bothered me most wasn’t that the driver had fled, but that if he had been caught… there’s be no penalties for him. landmark, milestone, whatever you want to call it… this is huge.

  • NYC ADA

    Paco, you are incorrect. Had the driver been caught and could you have proven s/he knowingly left the scene, the driver would face criminal charges for leaving the scene of an accident.

  • Marty Barfowitz

    NYC ADA,

    In theory a driver may face charges for leaving the scene of an “accident.” In practice NYPD officers regularly refuse to pursue criminal drivers or even take reports of criminal driving from cyclists and peds who have been hit by drivers.

    And if the driver does something criminal yet is sober and stays on the scene… no problem! New York City’s district attorneys won’t do a thing about it.

    BTW… Can you explain why a hit-and-run is referred to as an “accident?” If If my gun accidentally discharged and I shot someone and ran away would that also be considered an “accident” over at the D.A.’s office?

    There are numerous accounts of both types of incidents here on Streetsblog.

  • “The departure of Robert Morgenthau from the position after 35 years of public service….”

    35 years of public enmity, I’d’ve said. Good riddance.

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