By Charisma L. Miller, Esq.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
On September 27, 2012, the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association will honor Anne Swern, first assistant district attorney at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, at its annual membership party.
Swern told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle that she is “delighted to be honored by the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association and grateful to be recognized by wonderful organization that provides necessary resources for the acknowledgment and advancement of women lawyers.”
Born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island, Swern has come back full circle to her Brooklyn roots. An alumnus of Brooklyn Law School, she has served as a prosecutor for 32 years and currently supervises more than one thousand attorneys and support staff members in their prosecutorial and administrative functions.
Swern began her career as a clerk in Criminal Court. “Working as chief clerk in Criminal Court, with the most volume of cases and with the most victims and defendants, I realized that I wanted to make more of an impact,” she said. She soon decided to focus on the policy aspect of criminal justice.
She now serves as the District Attorney’s Office’s senior executive for alternative sentencing policy and programming and is the executive in charge of the nationally acclaimed Drug Treatment Alternative-to-Prison (DTAP) Program, dedicated to diverting prison-bound non-violent predicate felons into residential substance abuse treatment.
She also supervises Brooklyn’s three substance abuse treatment courts -- the Red Hook Community Justice Center, the Mental Health Court, and the Treatment Alternatives for the Dually Diagnosed (TADD) Program, which helps mentally ill people who are also substance abusers get treatment.
Swern’s work and recognition goes beyond Brooklyn. She served on the New York State Commission on Drugs and the Courts and assisted in the preparation of a report to then-Chief Judge Judith Kaye in 1999 titled “Confronting the Cycle of Addiction and Recidivism.”
That year, the Education and Assistance Corporation selected Swern as the Humanitarian of the Year. In 2006, Swern received the Thomas E. Dewey Medal from the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. She also received the Vera Institute’s Family Justice Leadership Award in 2009 and the Robert M. Morgenthau Award from the New York State District Attorneys Association in 2011.
Serving as an adjunct professor at her alma mater, Brooklyn Law School, Swern teaches a course titled Problem-Solving Justice. This course, offered one semester a year, introduces law school students to the criminal justice field through the lens of policy application.
“Prosecutorial clinics and similar courses are a great way for law school students to get experience,” she said. In addition to teaching at Brooklyn Law School, Swern uses her experience to help law schools in other states perfect their prosecutorial clinics.
In light of the new New York State mandate requiring applicants to the Bar to attain 50 hours of pro bono service, Swern said the DA’s office, with its “robust programs,” is a “wonderful site for students to get their community service credit.”
Swern lives in Downtown Brooklyn with her husband, Steven Brounstein. They have two children, one in Manhattan and the other in Williamsburg.
“My work in the DA’s office helps to make sure that Brooklyn residents and business owners, new and established, know that Brooklyn is safe,” she says. “I help ensure that they can expand their families, their customer base, or their constituency with a sense of safety.”