Tess Cohen is a criminal defense and civil rights attorney who focuses on fighting back against some of the worst criminal justice system abuses suffered by New Yorkers. She currently represents people in both state and federal criminal court cases, and has been advocating for several wrongfully convicted clients who are seeking to overturn their convictions. She also represents victims of sexual assault in civil and criminal court, helping to support and amplify the voices of victims who are often ignored or further traumatized by the criminal legal system.
Before she moved into civil rights and defense work, Tess spent more than eight years as a prosecutor in New York City’s Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor. There, she specialized in holding doctors accountable for prescription drug crimes that flooded our streets with oxycodone, causing overdose deaths and devastating thousands of New York families. As Chief of the Prescription Drug Investigation Unit, she oversaw large-scale investigations and prosecutions and worked to improve coordination between law enforcement and public health officials working to prevent further harm to those suffering from substance abuse.
As a result of her work in private practice and her years of experience as a prosecutor, Tess has seen some of the worst injustices of the criminal justice system and has become all the more determined to change it.
Tess has been an outspoken advocate for criminal justice reform and a leader in developing policy solutions that ensure healthy communities with less incarceration. She is the primary drafter of The New York City Bar Association Mass Incarceration Task Force’s comprehensive report, A Pathway Out of Mass Incarceration and Towards a New Criminal Justice System, which details clear policy and legislative improvements that will both end mass incarceration and protect public safety for all New Yorkers.
Tess and her family live in the South Bronx, where she has found a home, a community, and people who work tirelessly to improve the lives of their neighbors. She knows firsthand the Bronx is a borough that is often overlooked and left behind. And like her neighbors, Tess is tired of hearing the same excuses for why the Bronx consistently lags behind the rest of New York. She is determined to improve the lives of her neighbors and everyone living in the Bronx. As Bronx District Attorney, Tess will use her skills, experience, and determination to fight for a fairer, more just criminal justice system that enhances public safety and invests in our communities.