Liz Crotty, born and raised in Manhattan, is a former Manhattan prosecutor under Robert Morgenthau and founded her own criminal defense firm twelve years ago. She is also the only candidate who doesn’t self-identify as a progressive or decarceral prosecutor. Instead, Crotty frames herself as the moderate candidate and the best candidate based on her experience as a practitioner on both sides of the aisle.
Her experience as a practitioner was evident in her plan for “day one” actions if elected as Manhattan DA. She criticized practices under Cy Vance that we as practitioners agree are problematic, such as unscrutinized certificates of readiness for trial, automatic challenges to a doctor’s finding that the accused is unfit to stand trial, and orders of protection used against the accused as a “sword, not a shield”. At the same time, Crotty was surprisingly unaware of several of the Manhattan DA’s most problematic practices. Crotty said that she had never heard of the list of police officers with credibility issues, even though it was widely covered by the media and has gained momentum citywide. She thought that waivers of appeal were rare when they are required for almost all felony pleas; she did not believe that consecutive sentencing was ever used; and she did not think that Vance’s office still prosecuted simple drug possession.
Crotty believes that a prosecutor does not contribute to racism in the criminal punishment system. She blames racism on the police that make arrests. Her view is misguided and ignorant, since racial disparities pervade all stages of criminal prosecution, including requests for cash bail/pretrial detention or sentencing. She failed to acknowledge that it is the DA’s role to decline to prosecute cases that they believe are the result of racist policing. She reduces well-documented structural problems with the NYPD to a few “bad apples,” and stated that she believes “it’s a little unfair what’s happened to the police, you know, these are people and these are jobs and there’s all different kinds of people doing these jobs, just like prosecutors, just like defense attorneys, just like anyone, there’s really good ones and then there’s really bad ones and I think you have to root out the bad ones. But to say all police do misconduct and every case has police misconduct, I think is a little bit false.”
Not only did Crotty appear out of touch in a way that belied her resume, but she also appeared to be the candidate most comfortable with business as usual. She would continue to use the ineffective conviction integrity unit, which many other candidates and community groups have characterized as a sham.
Crotty is direct, blunt, and not masquerading as a reformer or progressive prosecutor. We expect that, should Crotty be elected as the next Manhattan DA, she would, at best, maintain the status quo or even create policies and practices falling below the already low standards set by Vance, and would continue to perpetuate harm on low-income Black and brown individuals and communities.