By Charisma L. Miller, Esq.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman of New York State Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state, has recently taken steps to assist one of the nation’s most victimized groups: human trafficking victims. Creating a statewide Human Trafficking Intervention, Lippman has powered the New York State court system to create special parts, within its criminal courts, to specifically handle defendants linked to prostitution and other prostitution-related crimes.
“We cannot tolerate this practice [of human trafficking] in a civilized society, nor can we afford to let victims of trafficking slip between the cracks of our justice system," Lippman said as he unveiled his new initiative.
“Judge Lippman has proposed a bold and unprecedented judicial response to the problem of human trafficking which is, in every sense, a form of modern-day slavery,” noted Administrative Judge for Criminal Matters for the Second Judicial District and Brooklyn Supreme Court, Judge Barry Kamins. "We are pleased that, as part of the state-wide plan, our Criminal Courts, in all five counties, and beginning on October7th, will be helping to implement the plan.”
Brooklyn Criminal Court Judge John Hecht will oversee Brooklyn’s new human trafficking part. Hecht was first appointed as an Interim Civil Court Judge in January 2011 and has since been serving in Criminal Court. Receiving his undergraduate degree from Yale College and his J.D. from Boston University School of Law, Hecht served as a principal court attorney in Supreme Court, Criminal Term and was a supervising attorney for the Legal Aid Society.
“We now recognize that the vast majority of individuals charged with prostitution offenses are commercially exploited or at risk of exploitation,” Lippman noted. “By offering vital services instead of punishment to these defendants, the Human Trafficking Intervention Initiative will act to transform and save lives and in turn, enable law enforcement to identify, investigate and punish the traffickers.”