December 4, 2023

Daniel Ball, Brooklyn Defender Services, (
Anthony Chiarito, The Bronx Defenders, (
Emily Whitfield, Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem,
Lupe Todd-Medina, New York County Defender Services, (
Brian Schatz, Queens Defenders (
Michael Orey, New York University Law School,


New York City Public Defenders File Amicus Brief in Support of the Appointment of a Federal Receiver Over NYC Jails in Nunez v. City of New York

(NEW YORK, NY) – The Bronx Defenders, Brooklyn Defender Services, Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, New York County Defender Services, and Queens Defenders, with co-counsel NYU School of Law’s Civil Rights in the Criminal Legal System Clinic, filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs’ motion for contempt and appointment of a federal receiver over New York City jails in Nunez v. City of New York.

Eight years after the court entered its consent decree mandating significant reforms to reduce the use of excessive force in New York City jails, the people held in those jails are increasingly subject to intolerable and sometimes deadly violence and dysfunction. Amici submitted the brief in support of the plaintiffs’ application for the appointment of a receiver, as the NYC Department of Correction (“DOC”) has shown it is unwilling and unable to protect the people in its custody and their constitutional rights, or to undertake the reforms needed to comply with core provisions of the consent decree and other court-ordered relief.

In its brief, amici offer insights from their experience as public defenders to highlight the impact of DOC’s excessive force and hyper-confrontational culture on people in custody, and the severe consequences of exposing people to normalized violence and disorder. The brief recounts stories of people who amici represent who have suffered enormous physical and psychological harm as a result of the chaos and dysfunction in New York City jails.

The five defender offices stated:

“For years, we have seen New York City’s jails plunge deeper and deeper into an abyss of chaos and cruelty, yet what we have witnessed in the past two years has been alarming beyond measure. DOC’s increasingly pervasive culture of hostility and aggression has inflicted outrageous violence, suffering, and neglect on the people we represent. The severity and urgency of the crisis in NYC jails requires the appointment of a receiver. Given the experiences of the
people we represent, no lesser remedy is appropriate.”

Read the amicus brief here.