Mayor Eric Adams plans to crack down on “extreme, violent recidivists” in his second year at City Hall by increasing funding to a court system beleaguered by a 2019 discovery law that experts say slows down trials and even results in tossed cases.
The focus, set to be revealed in his second State of the City address in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens Thursday, will be on delivering more city funds and lobbying Gov. Kathy Hochul to allocate state dollars to the city’s five district attorneys’ offices, as well as public defenders.
“It’s both the city committing additional funding, but also partnering with the state where a greater amount of funding on this can be provided,” Adams’ chief counsel, Brendan McGuire, told The Post in a phone interview Wednesday.
“If you don’t invest in them and you don’t fund them properly, you’re not going to allow those reforms to actually succeed.”
The new funding would help the Adams administration target a “core group” of repeat offenders identified as one of the driving forces behind the 22% spike in crime last year, according to McGuire.
There were 1,694 individuals rearrested in 2022 for a violent felony offense while already out on bail, according to figures provided by City Hall.
Of those offenders, 773 had at least one prior arrest for a violent felony offense.
However, it was not immediately clear how those figures compared to pre-2019 statistics.
Although the state enacted major criminal justice reforms in 2019, little funding was put behind it. District attorney offices across the state have suffered high staff turnover and recorded frequent case dismissals.
McGuire noted a “substantial” amount would be needed from the state, but would not provide an estimate or disclose how much the cash-strapped city would contribute.
Prosecutors told The Post last year that changes to the state’s discovery law have greatly bogged down the court system, in some cases contributing to an increase in case dismissals.
A recent study released by the Manhattan Institute pointed to the “clerical burden” imposed on prosecutors who must “assemble and redact limitless…documents and videos” within a specific timeframe for defense lawyers as part of the process.
City prosecutors tossed out 69% of criminal cases by mid-October 2021, compared to 44% in 2019.
McGuire argued not only do the DA offices lack the staff to handle the workload, but the result is also causing a “bottleneck” in cases.
“The pace of their cases is so much slower,” said McGuire.
“That results in a higher percentage of cases being dismissed, it results in more people sitting at Rikers.”
Adams plans to invest the city’s money toward tackling the issue, as well as ask the state to contribute additional funding, by hiring additional personnel at the five borough’s district attorney’s offices and public defender’s offices.
The new hires would help alleviate the backlog of discovery documents, as well as work through future cases to expedite the overall process.
“[One of the key pieces to this is that the bottleneck and delay in the system, which we think could be alleviated by additional resources, which were not provided to the degree they should have been at the time of the discovery reforms pre-covid.”
The all-hands-on-deck approach would lead to speedier discovery phases and quicker trials, meaning repeat offenders out on bail would not have the luxury of time to commit more crimes.
“Time after time, we see crime after crime from a core group of repeat offenders,” Adams told The Post in a statement. “We need to get them off the streets and will work with our partners in Albany to find reasonable, evidence-based solutions to this recidivism crisis, including speeding up our court system.”