Ensure Fairness in Prosecutions
As a defense attorney, Tess has firsthand knowledge of how the system is often rigged against people accused of crimes. Gamesmanship and coercive tactics lead innocent people to plead guilty and can result in wrongful convictions among those who go to trial. Tess believes the protection of constitutional rights is of paramount importance, regardless of what side of the courtroom you are on, and that proceedings must be fair to ensure the integrity of convictions.
To do that, Tess will:
Respect speedy trial rights. People accused of a crime shouldn’t spend years waiting for a determination of their guilt. We have laws in place to try to make sure that doesn’t happen. Unfortunately, the Bronx District Attorney’s Office uses tactics to skirt those rules and avoid timely prosecution of cases. Tess will end the use of these practices and establish policies to ensure actual compliance with speedy trial laws.
Stop overcharging to coerce pleas. For too long, prosecutors have used overcharging to coerce plea bargains. By charging cases as harshly as possible, prosecutors push people into forfeiting their right to a trial. Tess will ensure that the charges brought are commensurate with the harm done, rather than overly harsh charges intended to coerce pleas and prevent trials.
End requirements of waiver of appeal. When offered a plea, people almost always have to waive their right to appeal. This means the person cannot challenge violations of their rights, remedy an incorrect ruling by a judge, or seek accountability for an unlawful search or seizure. Tess will end the requirement that individuals waive their right to appeal to receive a plea offer.