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Cy Vance

Legal Minds Converge to Tackle Traffic Justice; Will Team Vance Attend?

11:16 AM EDT on October 15, 2009

In the past 30 days, no fewer than seven pedestrians have been killed by motorists in New York City. True to form, the only drivers to face charges were those found to be intoxicated. The rest were granted instantaneous pardons by NYPD, several without as much as a blemish on their driving record.

alg_children.jpgDiego Martinez and Hayley Ng are among the many victims whose killers never face justice.

Even Novella Bilkerdyka, the unlicensed driver with a history of traffic offenses who ran over 9-year-old Joshua Ganzfried as he walked to temple in Brooklyn, escaped responsibility for taking a life. Last week, high school student Angela Ambrose became the latest city pedestrian to die when she and a friend were struck by an SUV driver at a Queens intersection. As of the most recent reports, her friend was in critical condition. The driver was not charged.

Later this month, Transportation Alternatives, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, and the Benjamin N. Cardozo
School of Law will hold a symposium addressing the prosecution of
vehicular homicide in New York State. TSTC's Mobilizing the Region reports:

Prosecutors, defense attorneys, and legal advocates will examine theexisting legal framework and discuss innovative or untried techniquesand those in use in other states. The program is free and open toeveryone. Attorneys will be eligible for CLE credit.

"This is a watershed moment," says TSTC's Kyle Wiswall. "There are too many examples of mayhem on the streets that go unprosecuted. We'll be discussing why this is so, and, perhaps more importantly, what can be changed to find justice for the vulnerable users and victims of careless driving."

No word yet on whether they will be in attendance, but this would be a great opportunity for members of Team Vance to get a head start on the new Manhattan DA's traffic justice agenda. Peter Goldwasser, general counsel for TA, is optimistic that the symposium can build on recent progress in the fight against vehicular violence.

"It's our hope that the discussion will lead to concrete progress in finding justice for the innocent victims of careless and negligent driving," Goldwasser says. "We want to get to the very root of the problems lawmakers, prosecutors and judges encounter when these cases arise. Furthermore, with the recent election of a new Manhattan District Attorney who specifically included a pedestrian safety plank in his campaign platform, we are further encouraged that change is afoot."

Panelists will include Maureen McCormick, a former Brooklyn prosecutor who now works for Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice, known nationally for her vigorous pursuit of justice for victims of drunk driving.

"With this symposium," says Wiswall, "we will help move the issue of traffic justice from awareness to action."

The symposium will be held on October 27 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Cardozo School of Law, 55 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan. RSVP info and other details are here.

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