Queens County Criminal Court // Eagle photo by Andy Katz

A Slice of Life on a Busy Day at the Courthouse

With summer over and the weather getting colder, normal life has resumed in Queens. Look no further than the long lines stretching from the metal detectors at the criminal courthouse for evidence.

“We’re busy today,” said employee wearing a Department of Citywide Administrative Services lanyard as he carried a plate stacked with bagels through the hallway and onto an elevator.

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The Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue subway station in Jackson Heights, a neighborhood with one of the city’s highest rates of turnstile arrests per MetroCard swipe. Photo by Harrison Leong.

Marshall Project Report Reveals Racial Disparities in Subway Arrests

Predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods in Queens are still a target for fare-beating arrests, despite a push for decriminalization from local leaders, according to a report published by a criminal justice watchdog published on Wednesday.

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A police cruiser is towed in Far Rockaway. // Photo by Jason Lawrence

Crooked Cops ‘Dishonor Badge’ By Aiding Prostitution Ring, Brown Says

They’re supposed to serve and protect the everyday citizens of New York City, not sex traffickers and brothel owners. And for that, they may be going to prison.

Seven current NYPD officers and retired NYPD Vice Detective Ludwig Paz were indicted in Queens County Criminal Court yesterday for allegedly running a lucrative prostitution and gambling ring in Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island. Overall, 49 people were charged.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced the charges in a statement Thursday.

“Today’s indictments of one former detective and seven current police officers of the NYPD dishonor the badge,” Brown said. “The main culprit in this case — a retired detective — allegedly used his knowledge of the inner workings of the New York City Police Department to run a string of brothels in Queens, Brooklyn and Hempstead, Long Island.”

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Hurricane Florence is projected to make landfall in the Carolinas Late Thursday or early Friday, according to projections by NOAA on Monday. Map and data courtesy of NOAA.

Hurricane Florence: Queens Will Likely Dodge the Big One

We may have lucked out: It’s unlikely that Hurricane Florence will have any major effect on New York City’s weather, according to Accuweather senior meteorologist Tom Kines.

But as always when it comes to the weather, “You gotta keep one eye open,” he told the Queens Daily Eagle.

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Council Member Rory Lancman debated Assistant District Attorney James Quinn on the future of Rikers Island Wednesday. // Eagle photo by David Brand 

Debate Highlights Contrasting Views On Rikers’ Future — And On Justice Reform

Council Member Rory Lancman faced off against Queens Assistant District Attorney James Quinn in a heated debate about the future of Rikers Island at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills Wednesday night.

Of the many accusations, complicated budget scenarios and impassioned declarations volleyed back and forth between the two men and audience members, one exchange seemed to crystallize the fundamental difference of opinion on the future of the massive jail complex — and on broader criminal justice reform.

During his opening statement, Quinn, speaking for Queens Defense Attorney Richard Brown and the D.A.’s office, critiqued efforts to close Rikers as a “movement.”

“A movement doesn’t look at details,” Quinn said, before outlining budget underestimations and hammering what he considered impracticalities, like where the city would house inmates during the development of four proposed “borough-based” jails.

An hour later, Lancman addressed the specific statement in his closing remarks.  

“The effort to close Rikers Island is a movement,” Lancman said. “It’s part of a larger movement to reform a criminal justice system that is dysfunctional, broken and overwhelmingly falls on the backs of poor people.”

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CUNY Law Professor Chaumtoli Huq delivers the keynote address at Princeton’s Racial Justice Symposium in 2017. // Photo courtesy of Chaumtoli Huq

CUNY Law Prof’s Project Uplifts Unheard Voices

When stories of abuse, trauma and exploitation are shared for general consumption, they are typically filtered through the voice of “experts” like administrators, attorneys and reporters.

More often, says CUNY School of Law Professor Chaumtoli Huq, those stories are never shared at all.

In order to amplify the perspectives on social change that are not covered in the mainstream media, Huq founded Law@theMargins in 2013.

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Queens County Criminal Court // Eagle photo by Andy Katz

Several Courtrooms Quiet During Last Week of Summer

With several judges out of their chambers and away on vacation, several courtrooms in the Queens County criminal courthouse remained quiet on Wednesday.

Justice Gregory Lasak, who recently decided to retire effective Sept. 14 and who presides over the court’s homicide part, was one of the absent judges. Cases scheduled for TAP D were moved to K22, along with the calendars for several other judges who were also away.

It remains unclear who will take over Lasak’s calendar, which includes high-profile homicide cases like that of Chanel Lewis, the man charged with killing Karina Vetrano, 30, while she was jogging in Howard Beach.

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Main Street in Flushing. Photo by Chun Yip So

Free Flushing Tours Demonstrate Neighborhood’s Diverse Charm

More than 500,000 visitors from every corner of the world converge on the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center each year for the U.S. Open. This tournament, one local organization plans to show them that Flushing is more than just a tennis hub with a baseball stadium nearby.

Starting today, the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce will host Discover Flushing, a free walking tour series that takes place for throughout the tournament, which ends Sept. 9.

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Queens County Criminal Court // Eagle photo by David Brand

Justice Lasak Set To Resign Sept. 14

Queens Criminal Court Justice Gregory Lasak will step down from his position effective Sept. 14, according to multiple sources familiar with the decision.

The decision to leave the Supreme Court bench enables Lasak to begin fundraising ahead of a potential candidacy for Queens County District Attorney in 2019.

District Attorney Richard A. Brown, 85, has held the office since 1991 and is reportedly considering retiring at the end of his current term.

Lasak, a former prosecutor in the Queens D.A.’s office, was elected Criminal Court justice in 2003 and began his first term 2004. He was reelected in 2017.

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Members of the South Asian and Indo-Caribbean Bar Association joined Judge Ushir Pandit-Durant (center) and U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (backrow center), the Queens Democratic Party leader for an event at the Lawrence Yacht and Country Club in Long Island on Wednesday. // Photo Courtesy of Ali Najmi

SAICBA-Q Reflects Growing Influence in Queens

By David Brand Members of the South Asian and Indo-Caribbean Bar Association joined Judge Ushir Pandit-Durant and U.S. Rep. Joe

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