Why Did Hynes Hire New Prosecutors Off-Season?

Back in 2002, according to the Daily News, Brooklyn DA, Charles Hynes, dealt with a budget deficit by laying off 17 prosecutors that failed to pass the state bar exam. Ever since then, the office of the DA has not hired new prosecutors straight out of law school, waiting instead until after bar exam results are released in November. By tradition, since then, training for newly hired ADAs starts in January.

Charles Hynes photo by Patrick Cashin / Metropolitan Transportation Authority, 2012

Charles Hynes photo by Patrick Cashin / Metropolitan Transportation Authority, 2012

But in honor of the campaign season, this tradition was breached. Soon, probably after the September 10th election, there will be a training for approximately twelve hires, new to being ADAs.

Susan Quirk, Director of Legal Hirings is the daughter of  Hynes’ four-time campaign manager, Dennis Quirk, head of the New York State Court Officers Association. Dennis is a pugnacious guy. When a judge criticized him he responded, “”If they want a war, I don’t take prisoners. I take body bags.”

Given the family patronage tradition and the timing, just before a primary election in September, it would be surprising if these hiring decisions were not driven by election season considerations.

P. S. To reduce the visibility of these new hires they are being farmed out to their final assignments. Normally, new hires start in the Early Case Assessment Bureau (ECAB) where the technical demands are limited but they get broad exposure to the various kinds of cases that commonly fall into the DA’s hopper.

UPDATE: See Shmarya Rosenberg’s post about more Quirk family background and defense of Hynes.

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4 thoughts on “Why Did Hynes Hire New Prosecutors Off-Season?

  1. I don’t know the history and background as you do, but this may not be unreasonable. Law firms usually hire before the applicant has passed the bar. And a law school graduate who has failed the bar is not necessarily “deadweight.” He or she can still do research and perform clerical tasks, although not appear in court. And I presume the DA’s office is free to fire him or her.

    You have done a real service in helping to publicize the real evil that has been done on Hynes’ watch, and perhaps with his active participation — the prosecution of innocent men and the “sweetheart” plea deals given to well-connected molesters and obstructors of justice. That is what people care about, and should care about. I urge you not to dilute that stark message, that Hynes has made his office into an instrument of evil, by raising minor issues of patronage and politics, issues that Hynes’ supporters can argue happen everywhere. Voters need to have the message hammered in: this is not “just politics”; the Brooklyn DA’s office has knowingly destroyed peoples’ lives to please Hynes’ patrons, and has done it in your name! What are you going to do about it?

    • Kevin, You are right that it is possible to put people who don’t pass the bar to uses other than court appearances. You are also right that those that fail again can be fired. ADAs unlike most other employees at the DA can be fired at will. You are also correct that patronage hiring is far from the worst thing Hynes has done.

      Nevertheless, the timing is completely irregular and it breaks a firmly established policy of eleven years standing for no apparent reason other than campaign-timed, patronage hiring. It is one of the many ways in which the Brooklyn DA is run on political considerations rather than professional ones. As the names of the new hires come out, I suspect its more blatantly political aspects will become more obvious. Nevertheless, you raise a valid point, this may not have been important enough to justify a posting.

      Kevin in Chicago, I will keep your caution in mind in focusing on the worst of Hynes’s excesses.

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