Clark Announces VISTA Plan to Restructure Bronx District Attorney’s Office

Associate Justice Darcel ClarkFormer Supreme Court Justice Darcel Clark, the Democratic candidate for Bronx District Attorney, announced the VISTA Plan – her vision on how to increase efficiency and expand accountability, improve operations and move cases forward on a more timely basis.

“The VISTA plan I am announcing today will lay the foundation for giving Bronx residents the confidence they deserve in a District Attorney,” said Clark. “With DA Johnson leaving office, I hope to be blessed with the opportunity to move this office forward and address longstanding concerns about the timely disposition of cases and internal operations with new approaches and ideas.”

NY1 News reported this week that Judge Clark played a role in the case of Kalief Browder, a Bronx youth who committed suicide earlier this year after he had been held at Rikers Island for three years without trial. Charges were eventually dropped against Mr. Browder.

Documents obtained by NY1 show Ms. Clark was the presiding judge for six of Browder’s court dates. That includes February 17, 2012, when the case was delayed because the prosecutor assigned to it was on vacation; the next day, Browder attempted suicide in his jail cell.

In an interview on “Inside City Hall” Thursday, Clark told NY1 Political Anchor Errol Louis that she can’t recall presiding over Browder’s case but believes that lessons can be learned from it.

Darcel Clark_ICH

“Honestly, I cannot say that I remember it. I mean, I was there for 13 years. I sat on a lot of cases. But look, the Kalief Browder case is a tragedy. And no one should have to sit in jail for three years on a robbery case, or any type of case. And if I’m elected DA, again, with those internal controls that I expect to institute and the vertical prosecutions, nothing like that will happen,’’ Clark said.

In announcing her VISTA plan last week, Judge Clark said that it demonstrated her vision for the District Attorney’s office, especially her commitment to accountability and timely prosecution.

Focused on improving office operations and reducing the case backlog through structural changes and increased accountability, the VISTA plan includes:

  • Vertical Prosecution Model: The District Attorney’s office will be restructured to minimize case transfers between Assistant District Attorneys (ADAs) by assigning one ADA to handle a case from start to finish.  Currently, multiple ADAs handle different aspects of a prosecution, leading to miscommunications or delays that hinder prosecutions.

  • Internal Controls: A CompStat-style system will be introduced to help hold Bureau Chiefs and their subordinates accountable for the timely disposition of cases. Junior ADAs will work side by side with experienced ADAs and both will have access to Supervisors, Deputies and Bureau Chiefs at all time, allowing for greater training opportunities.

  • Standing Up to Corruption: If elected, Judge Clark will make the aggressive pursuit of public corruption a top priority, and will create a Public Integrity Unit within the District Attorney’s office to root out corruption and protect the integrity of public offices and agencies.

  • Time Sensitive Solutions: Needless delays hamper ADAs from mounting successful prosecutions and deny justice for both victims and defendants.  A stronger emphasis will be made on ensuring that ADAs swiftly prepare for trial, answer motions and provide all discovery to defendants on time and on schedule, and present strong legal arguments to counter any effort to unduly delay a trial.  Special task forces will be established to examine old misdemeanors and indictments with a goal towards eliminating backlogs with fair dispositions or speedy trials.

  • Active Investigations: The Bronx District Attorney will actively collaborate with federal, state and local law enforcement, community leaders and the entire justice system to proactively investigate matters of concern in every corner of our borough.

This year’s general election will take place on Tuesday, November 3rd. Robert Siano, a Bronx lawyer with a Westchester-based law firm, is running on the Republican and Conservative ballot lines.

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