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Brooklyn attorney responds to Jerry Edwin

I read with particular interest your January 30, 2021 article “Jerry Edwin Expresses Concern Over the Randy Isaac Affair.” In it, you liberally quote Jerry Edwin who you describe as a U.S. trained attorney, now practicing in Grenada. I write to refute some of the statements attributed to Mr. Edwin.

First, you quote Mr. Edwin as saying that domestic abuse falls into “specialised felony” or “felonious assault” and is no longer treated as a simple misdemeanor. He added that Mr. Isaac was facing a lengthy prison sentence or a huge fine.

These statements are misleading at best, and false at worst.

While it is true that domestic violence has always been treated seriously by New York courts, it is not typically charged as a felony. For the most part, domestic violence in New York remains a misdemeanour punishable by a maximum of one year in jail. Additionally, apart from a mandatory court surcharge and a crime victims’ fee, no monetary fines are imposed in domestic violence cases.

Next, you report Mr. Edwin as saying that New York has created a “specialised jurisdiction court for domestic violence” headed by a female judge who “ain’t taking no prisoners.” Plainly, Mr. Edwin is insinuating that the female judge presiding over domestic violence cases is biased against men.

As someone who claims to have practiced law here in New York, Mr. Edwin surely knows that judges often rotate and no judge (male or female) is stationed permanently in any court. Second and equally important is the fact that men too are sometimes the victims of domestic violence.

Without explaining the specific charges against Mr. Isaac, Mr. Edwin left your readers with the impression that Mr. Isaac will be thrown in jail without the benefit of bail. Of course, this view totally misapprehends the current state of New York law relating to bail.

To be sure, in 2019 the New York state legislature jumped on the so-called progressive bandwagon by enacting sweeping criminal justice reform that, among other things, eliminated bail for virtually all misdemeanour cases, including domestic violence. Persons like Mr. Isaac, who is presumed innocent, are oftentimes released on their own recognisance or good name.

Finally, Mr. Edwin should apologise for disparaging The Legal Aid Society. Yes, Legal Aid attorneys carry a huge caseload. But it does not follow that they are somehow less diligent or competent than private attorneys. Indeed, many Legal Aid attorneys develop special competencies in certain areas of law that rival private attorneys.

Having worked at the Legal Aid Society, Mr. Edwin knows the important role the Society and other public interest lawyers play in the criminal justice system here in New York. Mr. Edwin’s attempt to paint colleagues with one broad brush for simply doing their jobs is not only unfortunate, but does nothing to advance the legal profession or the administration of justice, for that matter.

Mr. Edwin may have succeeded in being alarmist about the situation faced by Mr. Isaac, one of Grenada’s Cultural ambassadors. He should remember however, that the role of the attorney is not just to advocate for his/her client but to educate the public on the law and the legal process.

Based on the words attributed to him, I submit that my learned friend has failed in the latter.

Arthur A. Edwards