The Defender A Newsletter of the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem V o l u m e
I s s u e
F a l l
2 0 1 2
A Day of Opportunity
Spotlight: Immigration Services Project
Inside this ISP Triumphs 2 NDS Gala
Message from Rick
Pedro Borrego was not a stranger to the New York Criminal Justice system. Since arriving to the U.S. as a result of the 1980 Mariel Boatlift, Mr. Borrego had served multiple stints in jail, most as a result of his struggle with substance abuse. When arrested in October of 2011, NDS’ Felice Conte took on Mr. Borrego’s case and found that he was determined to seek treatment, which meant that they were going to be fighting an uphill battle. Felice enlisted the help of NDS Immigration Services Attorney, Rachel Kling to take on not only the drug court, but also Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) on behalf of Mr. Borrego. By law, Mr. Borrego was unable to enter a treatment program until his immigration detainer was lifted, thus the judge was unable to grant Felice’s initial request. Ironically, ICE did not want to remove the immigration detainer unless Mr. Borrego was ordered and accepted into a treatment facility – quite a catch-22. With little confidence in Mr. Borrego, ICE was reluctant to work with Rachel, but after many calls, she was able to convince an officer at ICE to write a “theoretical” letter to the judge noting that, “If, in theory, you [the court]
order Mr. Borrego to enter a drugtreatment program, we [ICE] would, in theory, consider lifting his detainer.” The judge found this letter convincing and agreed to work with Felice to get Mr. Borrego into a treatment facility. Based on Mr. Borrego’s unique immigration status, the drug court placement counselors were doubtful that he would be accepted into a program and therefore were slow in placing him. Unsatisfied, Rachel took it upon herself to convince them that Mr. Borrego was in fact in good immigration standing and finally, with the help of the court, she was able to get Mr. Borrego accepted at El Regreso treatment facility. After letters from both El Regreso and the Judge back to ICE, the detainer was finally lifted and after nearly one year in jail, Mr. Borrego was released to El Regreso. While it may have been just another day at NDS, it was a huge day of opportunity in the life of Mr. Pedro Borrego.
ISP Celebrates Small Triumphs
Frank & Chuck NDS Offices 2012
“It was totally unjust to detain him. Frank is a contributing member of our society. ” -Chuck Conroy
Thirty-five year old, Dominican Republic born, Frank (last name) was brought to the US when he was just five years old. A lawful permanent resident since his arrival, Frank found himself in uncharted waters in 2007. He did a favor for a friend and ended up getting arrested for possession and attempted sale of a controlled substance. Having no prior record of legal trouble, he spent one night in jail and was released on his own recognizance. In 2008, after several delays, he pled guilty to attempted sale of a controlled substance, based on his criminal defense attorney's recommendation. His sentence was five years’ probation, no jail time. What Frank did not know, and his defense never told him, was that attempted sale, under the immigration laws, was considered an aggravated felony and made him automatically deportable from the United States. If deported, he would be barred from ever returning legally. Since his plea and sentencing in 2008, Frank has stayed out of trouble. Over the years Frank has been fully employed, working for a health care plan and helping disadvantaged members of the community. He has been responsible for taking care of his elderly and ailing parents and in 2012 enrolled at the Borough of Manhattan Community
College, with a goal of ultimately earning a bachelor's in Human Services. However, in March of 2012, while reporting to the probation office (as his time on probation was coming to an end), Frank was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and placed in removal proceedings before an immigration judge. ICE refused to release Frank on bond, stating that detention was mandatory because he was a criminal alien. The immigration judge agreed. NDS Immigration Services Attorney, Chuck Conroy took on Frank’s case and filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the federal district court, arguing that the statutory language in the Immigration and Nationality Act allowed someone like Frank, who was never incarcerated subsequent to his conviction and has been a contributing member of his community, was not mandatorily detainable and should qualify for a bond. The federal district court agreed and ordered that the immigration judge hold a bond hearing to determine whether, if released, Frank would be a danger to the community or a flight risk. The judge quickly found that neither was the case and granted bond. Last week, Frank's friends put up his bond and he was released. Though this battle continues, Chuck and Frank were excited to celebrate this first small victory.
7th Annual W. Haywood Burns Gala On October 25, 2012, the Neighborhood Defender Service will be celebrating another year of excellence at the 7th Annual W. Haywood Burns Gala. Honorees this year include social activist Dr. John Carlos of 1968 Olympic fame and legal scholar and humanitarian Theodore “Ted” Shaw.
Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Jennifer Dohrn and Charles S. Dutton are serving as Honorary Chairs and Mona Rivera from 1010 Wins will be act as the Master of Ceremonies. In true NDS fashion, Chant’a Parker will be sharing a client story, which will shine a light on the work of the NDS team and its tireless pursuit of justice. It is sure to be a special evening!
NDS Welcomes New Staff Members As the summer departs, we here at NDS are excited to not only welcome in a new season, but also to welcome a new group of talented members to the NDS team. Megan Gokey joins us as a Caseworker. Megan earned a Bachelor of Arts in Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Political Science and Spanish from the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse in 2009. Jonathan Arias, Ryan Shanovich and Teghan DeLane came on board as Staff Attorneys. Jonathan earned his J.D. from Ford-
ham University School of Law and has served as a judicial intern for The Honorable Jaime A. Rios of the Queens Supreme Court and a legal intern for the Legal Aid Society - Criminal Appeals Bureau in New York, NY. Ryan earned his J.D. from New York University School of Law in 2009 and has interned for NDS, as well as the Center for Justice and International Law in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Teghan earned her J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School. Most recently, she worked in the Office of State Senator Lena C. Taylor as a Communications and Media Associate.
Dorichel Rodriguez joined NDS as the Team Arraignment Administrator. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH and prior to joining the NDS team, she worked as a Diversion/ Pretrial Officer for the Court of Justice in Newport, Kentucky. NDS sends a warm welcome all of the new staff members and is excited about what they are already bringing to the organization!
Board of Trustees
Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem Making Justice A Reality For Those Farthest From It’s Reach
317 Lenox Ave. 10th floor New York, NY 10027 Phone: 212-876-5500 Fax: 212-876-5586 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rowan Wilson, Chair Jonathan Abady B. Seth Bryant John R. Cuti LaShann DeArcy Miriam Gohara Eric Lane Pamela Lipp-Hendricks Matthew L. Mazur Melody Rollins Downes David Sanford Gerald L. Shargel Elinor R. Tatum
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