The New York Law Journal broke the news this morning that Abe George, a prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office, would challenge longtime Brooklyn D.A. Joe Hynes in 2013.
Mr. Hynes has faced withering criticism in recent months, mainly stemming from news reports that he fails to properly prosecute sexual abuse cases in the Orthodox Jewish community and his office’s bungled handling of a rape allegation by a young Orthodox woman against a handful of her Crown Heights neighbors.
In an interview this morning, Mr. George blasted the incumbent for running an office that favors politics over justice.
“The Brooklyn D.A’s office is way too political,” he said. “For me the icing on the cake was watching this Hasidic issue unfold and seeing that he took a very political position on this issue that had nothing to do with saving victims and everything to do with maintaining a voting bloc.”
Again and again, Mr. George cited the example of his boss, Manhattan district attorney Cy Vance, as an example of how a prosecutor should run an office.
In Brooklyn, for example, the office uses different lawyers to write up a claim, indict, and try a case, so that, Mr. George said, “a victim is getting bounced around like a ping-pong ball.” This system, he said, means that prosecutors don’t know how if a victim’s story changes and “allows for defendants that are innocent to be lost in the shuffle.”
In Mr. Vance’s office, a “vertical” system is in place that allows a victim to deal with one prosecutor throughout.
Mr. George would also like to add an intelligence unit similar to one that the Manhattan DA’s office has, whereby different ADA’s are assigned various parts of the borough in order to work closely with community and political leaders there. He said that Brooklyn DA’s office was not very advanced technologically.
“Right now the Brooklyn DA’s office is so antiquated that the information isn’t really being shared.”
Mr. George worked in the Manhattan DA’s office for the past eight years, beginning his tenure under legendary Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau. He worked primarily in the special narcotics unit, which has jurisdiction across the five boroughs. Mr. George recently left his post to run for office.
Mr. George said that Mr. Vance could not publicly support him, since there are are restrictions on DA’s political activity, and said that his goal was not entirely to replicate the office of the Manhattan DA across the river–which politically is a good thing, since Mr. Vance has been criticized himself for his handling, among other matters, of the prosecution of Dominique Strauss-Kahn and the so-called “rape cops.”
“I am not saying let’s replicate Cy Vance’s administration, but there are some good things that I think Mr. Vance has done that I would like to bring to Brooklyn,” he said. “If you’ve got something that works, take it, use it.”
“Bed-Stuy, East New York, Brownsville are some of the worst neighborhoods in the city,” he added. “Brooklyn leads the city in shootings and homicides. I think that a lot of the tension in that office has been focused on other things, petty crimes such as marijuana.
Mr. Hynes ran without opposition in 2009, but has had serious challenges before. Mr. George, who grew up in Sheepshead Bay and now lives in Greenpoint (“I’m kind of a potted plant. I refuse to retreat from Brooklyn.”) said that his strength would come from what he called “new Brooklyn”–meaning, he said, the fast growing neighborhoods between Greenpoint and Red Hook.
“I think we can turn this office around. Twenty years of anybody, you are going to have a lot of waste and you are not going to accept some of the changes that have recently come along in administrations like you see with Cy Vance.”