Issues

 America’s justice system is changing – and Manhattan needs to set the national example.  Here’s how Tali will approach building a fairer, safer system for New Yorkers:

LAW ENFORCEMENT ACCOUNTABILITY

The police are our partners in delivering public safety. But misconduct by law enforcement hurts us all by damaging public trust; when people do not have faith in the criminal justice system, everyone suffers. And communities of color across the country have disproportionately borne the brunt of misconduct by law enforcement. Tali believes firmly that no one is above the law, and there must be one standard of justice for law enforcement and civilians alike. As General Counsel for the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, Tali led the design, creation, and supervision of a new stand-alone Law Enforcement Accountability Bureau. She also led the team that created an internal process for identifying officers the district attorney’s office (not courts or outside institutions) considers unreliable, to ensure prosecutors do not work with those officers – a first in New York City.

As Manhattan’s district attorney, Tali will:

  • Commit to investigating thoroughly claims of police misconduct, following the evidence wherever it leads and holding law enforcement officers accountable when they offend – from false statements and perjury to serious acts of violence and excessive use of force.
  • Prioritize transparency and engagement with victims and communities at every stage of the process.
  • Build on her work in Brooklyn to make sure police officers’ credibility is regularly assessed and fairly disclosed.
  • Support evidence-based policies and legislation for police reform, and support scaling up community-based alternatives to policing wherever possible.

FAIRNESS FROM THE START

Tali believes prosecutors must do less to do more. The district attorney must lighten the heavy hand of the criminal justice system by foregoing prosecutions that send people into the system unnecessarily and unfairly, and that perpetuate racial injustice. Then, prosecutors must use their resources to pursue the cases that legitimately promote public safety. As a national expert and professor of criminal justice reform at the local level, and drawing on her experience as part of the executive leadership team implementing reform at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, Tali believes in a DA’s office that is ethical, fair, and advances equity for all New Yorkers.

As district attorney, Tali will:

Reduce Incarceration 

  • Commit to bail reform and reduce the number of people detained before trial.
  • Reduce significantly the use of incarceration and criminal conviction as a response to low-level, non-violent crime.
  • Offer and support community-based programming to address the underlying causes of criminal behavior, and favor, wherever possible, investments in programs that stop crime before it happens.
  • Incorporate sensitivity to mental health and addiction problems.

Increase Fairness

  • Prioritize robust pre-arrest investigation.
  • Ensure charges are truthful and reflect the facts of the case. 
  • Consider collateral consequences in charging and sentencing decisions. 
  • Monitor, and commit to eliminating racial and other unacceptable disparities in charging and throughout; and regularly make data on disparities publicly available.
  • Engage in fair plea bargaining. 
  • Treat everyone who has contact with the office with respect.

SEX CRIMES

Sexual violence – including sexual assault, rape, and sexual abuse – is pervasive, underreported, and under-prosecuted. Victims of these crimes report a lack of confidence in the criminal justice system. As district attorney, Tali is committed to a wholesale transformation of the borough’s response to sexual violence.

Tali will create a new Bureau of Gender-Based Violence, which will be comprised of a Sex Crimes Unit and Domestic Violence Unit and which will report directly to, and be closely monitored by, the district attorney.

Tali will lead a victim-centered, offender-focused practice, concentrating investigations on the offender’s actions and intent, rather than on the victim’s behavior. Prosecutors will receive regular training on trauma-informed interviewing, challenges of evidence, implicit bias including race-based bias against victims, cultural competency, the special challenges and vulnerabilities of non-citizen victims, and the availability of victim resources. 

Complicated and sensitive cases including drug-facilitated sexual assaults, stalking and other computer-faciliated crimes, and nonconsensual pornography must get the attention they deserve.  Tali will prioritize cases involving serial abusers, and institutions and employers who enable their employees’ crimes. She will also address sexual violence on the borough’s college campuses and sex crimes on public transportation. Finally, Tali recognizes New York is a leading entry, transit, and destination point for sex trafficking and will make the investigation and prosecution of these cases a priority. 

In this and all other areas, the likelihood of securing a conviction should not, on its own and particularly early in an investigation, determine a prosecutor’s decisions. Instead, prosecutors should thoroughly investigate all reports, closely engage with victims, develop evidence, and use appropriate resources and experts before determining whether a case is viable. 

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Domestic violence was already a public health crisis in Manhattan before COVID-19, exacting a terrible physical, psychological, and generational toll on so many vulnerable people. The movement restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus made the domestic violence crisis worse, trapping women and children in abusive situations. Tali believes the prevalence and stubborn persistence of domestic violence in Manhattan demands a focused and sustained response.

As district attorney, Tali will: 

  • Create a new Bureau of Gender-Based Violence, which will be comprised of a Sex Crimes Unit and Domestic Violence Unit and which will report directly to, and be closely monitored by, the district attorney.
  • Begin with an audit of domestic violence investigation and prosecution in the borough, to understand what is not working and what is.  
  • Partner with stakeholders across the city – including providers of victim services, government partners, and survivor leaders – to institute best practices in prosecution and prevention. 
  • Work with community leaders to ensure all victims, including non-citizens, are comfortable approaching law enforcement and feel their needs are met. 
  • Advocate for the establishment of the borough’s second Family Justice Center in northern Manhattan, where close to half of the borough’s domestic violence reports currently occur. 
  • Focus on computer-facilitated domestic violence.  
  • Develop, with community partners and issue experts, an effective emergency response plan and outreach system – before the next crisis.

IMMIGRATION

Tali immigrated to the U.S. as a child and became an American citizen when she was 19 years old. Ensuring fairness, safety, and justice for the approximately 230,000 non-citizens who live in Manhattan is a top priority for her, and an extension of her life’s work as a champion for immigrant communities. As General Counsel in the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, Tali led the team that successfully sued I.C.E. over the agency's policy of arresting non-citizens in and around state courthouses. Together with the New York State attorney general, Tali directed the litigation establishing that the policy causes non-citizens to be fearful of law enforcement and thereby interferes with local prosecution’s core mission. She also supervised a variety of other matters involving fairness to non-citizens in Brooklyn.

As district attorney, Tali will:

  • Incorporate sensitivity to non-citizens into every area of the office’s practice from the way prosecutors interact with non-citizen victims of domestic violence and sex trafficking, to charging decisions that take into consideration all collateral consequences, including those related to citizenship status. 
  • Work to build trust and community engagement with the immigrant community, both documented and undocumented, so that victims and witnesses feel safe coming forward.  
  • Hold accountable those who target and exploit immigrants through fraud and other crimes.
  • Hire dedicated and specialized attorneys to train all staff on immigration issues. These attorneys will advise prosecutors throughout the office on plea offers and sentencing recommendations for non-citizen defendants, to avoid disproportionate collateral consequences – such as deportation – while maintaining public safety.

HATE CRIMES

Hate crimes are intolerable. They go beyond harm to a specific victim, creating an atmosphere of exclusion and terror in targeted communities. From her own upbringing and life experiences, Tali knows the sting of discrimination and will stand up for those who experience it. The recent surge of anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York is unprecedented; others have been targeted based on race, sexual orientation, and more. The uptick in hate crimes related to misconceptions about the coronavirus pandemic against Asian-Americans and others is equally alarming, as is the spreading of misinformation and hate in internet subcultures and on social media.

In 2020, Tali was appointed to the New York State Bar Association’s Task Force on Domestic Terrorism and Hate Crimes, a group of leaders of the bench and bar whose mission is to examine the factors that have led to the recent increase in hate crimes and help better educate the public on the value of diversity and inclusion. Their June 2020 audit resulted in legislative and policy recommendations, as well as suggestions for improvements to the federal and state legal system’s response to hate crimes.

Under Tali’s leadership, the district attorney’s office will work both to prosecute and to prevent hate crimes through community outreach, education about diversity and inclusion, and services with particular focus on reaching young people and the mentally ill two groups who, tragically, commit a disproportionate number of these crimes. 

ETHICS AND CAMPAIGN FINANCE

As district attorney, Tali will emphasize fairness, trust in law enforcement, and equal access for all New Yorkers, and that begins with her candidacy and campaign contributions.  There should never be a question - perceived or real -  that the district attorney’s office will pursue justice based on facts and not influence. 

Accordingly, New Yorkers for Tali will accept a maximum contribution of $1.00 from criminal defense attorneys, from law firms with a criminal defense practice in New York City, and from lawyers employed by firms that maintain a criminal defense practice in New York City. Her campaign will not accept contributions from attorneys currently employed by the Office of the Manhattan District Attorney, or from unions that represent members of law enforcement agencies that work with the District Attorney’s Office.