City Councilmember Rory Lancman (D-Briarwood, Cunningham Park, Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Hollis, Holliswood, Jamaica, Kew Gardens, Kew Gardens Hills, Richmond Hill) declined to say whether he would run for Queens District Attorney after rumors of a bid.
Lancman, whose City Council term ends in 2021, is the chairperson of the City Council’s Justice System Committee since taking the position last January. He’s addressed various criminal justice issues, including the right to a speedy trial and wrongful convictions. Yet, as he explained, more needed to be done.
“I can say we certainly we need a lot of reforms to criminal justice here in New York City,” Lancman said. “That includes in the district attorney offices.”
Lancman stressed he is focusing on the midterms for this year and believed it is too early to weigh in on any bid for next year’s election.
“Let’s see what happens. The election is next year. We have to get through this year’s primaries on September 13th,” he said.
The Queens District Attorney is Richard A. Brown, the city’s longest-serving attorney. Brown entered office in 1991 after being appointed by former Governor Mario Cuomo. Since his appointment, Brown won his in each election cycle without an opponent.
Lancman spoke highly of Brown’s work as a district attorney and praised his work in office.
“Reforms that he enacted early in his tenure really professionized the office and was, back in the day, a great step forward,” he said.
The Councilmember shared his thoughts about criminal justice in New York City. He elaborated that non-naturalized citizens should be protected under the legal system.
“It’s a mistake to pretend that non-citizens are not especially impacted by their contact with the criminal justice system,” he said.
Across the nation, Lancman believes people are changing the idea of criminal justice. In Ferguson, Mo., where protests occurred after a police officer fatally shot Michael Brown, voters chose a councilmember of a long-time prosecutor who handled Brown’s case. In Philadelphia, former civil rights attorney Larry Krasner became the city’s district attorney in a closely-watched race.
“The key to the whole thing is this recognition that the criminal justice system is very discriminatory, wasteful, and not keeping us safe as it could. DAs are in the best position possible to make the kind of reforms that are necessary to make have a fair, equitable, and safer criminal justice system,” he said.