Gregory Lasak – Citizens Union’s Preferred Candidate
Occupation: Former Justice of New York State Supreme Court
Education: Queens College, B.A.; New York Law School, J.D.
Gregory Lasak served as the Justice of New York State Supreme Court’s 11th judicial district from 2004 until 2018 and was appointed the Deputy Administrative Judge in 2017. Lasak retired from the bench in 2018 in order to run for District Attorney. Prior to his judicial work Lasak spent nearly two decades as a prosecutor in the Queens District Attorney’s office where in 1984, at the age of 30, he was named the Chief of the Homicide Bureau and subsequently named the Executive Assistant in charge of the Major Crimes Division. During this time Lasak helped the division launch its first Domestic Violence Bureau. Lasak also worked closely to investigate wrongful prosecutions and helped release almost two dozen wrongfully convicted defendants. Lasak left the District Attorney’s office in 2003 after being elected to the Queens County Supreme Court. Lasak has promised to create a Conviction Integrity Unit, to expand programs to provide alternatives to incarceration, to redirect focus onto crimes of domestic violence, to diversify the District Attorney’s Office, and to consider immigration consequences during prosecution to protect immigrant communities in the borough. Lasak counts his supervisory roles throughout his judicial history and time serving in the Queens District Attorney office as distinguishing characteristics of his campaign. Citizens Union believes that Lasak’s lengthy career in both the judiciary and the Queens District Attorney’s office make him a the most qualified candidate for District Attorney. His professional history shows impressive experience with prosecutorial law as well as management of large offices, and the commitment shown to Citizens Union policies in his questionnaire and evaluation interview make Lasak the preferred candidate of Citizens Union in the Queens District Attorney primary.
Occupation: Public Defender
Education: Pennsylvania State University, B.S.; New York Law School, J.D.
Tiffany Cabán is a Democrat running for the Queens District Attorney. Cabán has served as a Public Defender at New York County Defender Services (N.Y.C.D.S.) since 2015 and worked as a Staff Attorney with the Legal Aid Society for three years prior. A queer Latina, Cabán is the youngest candidate running for Queens D.A. and has focused her campaign on her belief that the communities with highest intergenerational trauma are inevitably the communities with the least resources and that criminal justice reform will help to promote justice in these areas. Cabán’s campaign for Queens District Attorney focuses on her promises to decriminalize poverty, mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders, to decline to prosecute low-level, non-violent crimes, to treat violence as a public health issue, to end cash bail, and to invest resources into community-based services. Cabán believes that stability provides public safety and that success is currently being measured by the number of convictions and lengths of sentences. Her time as a Public Defender has led Cabán to believe that Queens would benefit from using public defender metrics of reduced recidivism for success and to reduce citizen interactions with the criminal justice system and foster more stable neighborhoods. While Citizens Union commends her commitment to progressive reform in the District Attorney’s Office, the organization feels that the role of Queens District Attorney would be best served by a candidate with more managerial experience.
Occupation: Queens Borough President
Education: University of Massachusetts Amherst, B.A.; Saint John’s University, J.D.
Melinda Katz is a Democrat running for the position of Queens District Attorney. In 2014 Katz was elected to serve as the Queens Borough President and previously served as representative of the Queens 28th District in the New York State Assembly from 1994 until 1999. Katz also served as Chair of the Subcommittee on Urban Health during this time and authored 16 bills that became laws, most relating to healthcare initiatives. After her time in the New York State Assembly, Katz served as the Director of Community Boards for the Office of the Queens Borough President until 2002 when she was elected to represent the 29th District in the New York City Council. Katz’ campaign for Queens District Attorney is focused on her promises to reduce gun violence, to end cash bail and institute discovery reform, to diversify the Queens District Attorney’s office to more accurately represent the Queens borough, to create a Conviction Integrity Unit in the office, and to protect immigrants and workers in Queens. Katz highlights the relationships and connections she has made with the community during her extensive political career in Queens as a unique advantage to her campaign. Citizens Union is impressed by Katz’ long political career and commitment to Queens, however Citizens Union believes the Queens District Attorney should be a candidate with more prosecutorial experience to balance the demands of the office.
Occupation: New York City Councilmember, District 24
Education: Queens College, B.A.; Columbia University, J.D.
Rory Lancman is a Democrat running for Queens County District Attorney. Lancman has served as the New York City Councilmember representing the 24th district since his election in 2013. Lancman also served in the New York State Assembly from 2006 until 2012 where he chaired the Subcommittee on Workplace Safety. In his campaign for Queens District Attorney, Lancman has promised to decline to prosecute certain low-level non-violent offenses, to end cash bail or bond, to try less juveniles as adults, to thoughtfully prosecute with regard to potential negative immigration consequences, and to focus on protecting the most vulnerable members of the Queens community. Lancman has also stated that if elected Queens District Attorney his office would work to incentivize and reward diversion placement over conviction rates. Lancman discusses his leadership in the New York City Council as the current Chair of the Council’s Committee on the Justice System, the previous Chair of the Committee on Courts and Legal Services, and the previous chair of the Subcommitee on Workplace Safety during his time in the State Assembly as a distinguishing quality of his campaign. While impressed with Lancman’s background and history of work in Queens, the committee believed the District Attorney should have more management and prosecutorial experience.
Occupation: Private Practice Attorney
Education: Brooklyn College, B.A.; Union University, J.D.
Betty Lugo is a Democrat running for Queens District Attorney. Lugo works as a private practice attorney and is founding partner in Pacheco & Lugo – the first fully Latina- owned law firm in New York City, established in 1992. Lugo leads Pacheco & Lugo’s practice in general and commercial liability, construction, labor law, and real estate law. She had previously served as a prosecutor in the Manhattan, Albany, and Nassau County district attorneys’ offices. In 1984, Lugo became the first Latina Assistant District Attorney in Nassau County. In 1993, Lugo served as Regional President of the Hispanic National Bar Association and played a role in the founding of the Latino bar associations in Connecticut and Massachusetts. In her campaign for Queens District Attorney Lugo has promised to promote diversity in the office, increased transparency and accountability in prosecutions, establish new units to monitor the office, limit overcharging of felonies, and to promote the safety and security of everyone in the Queens borough.
Occupation: Former Deputy Attorney General, District of Columbia
Education: Bates College, B.A.; American University, J.D.
Mina Malik is a Democrat running for Queens District Attorney. Malik’s experience includes 15 years serving as the Senior Assistant District Attorney in the Queens County District Attorney’s office under D.A. Richard Brown, one year as the Special Counsel to the King’s County District Attorney, two years serving as the Executive Director of the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), and close to two years as the Deputy Attorney General in the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia. At the CCRB, Malik managed a staff of 180 and was praised for overseeing improvements to the offices’ investigations, increasing their targeted outreach, improving data collection methods and writing of reports, and for spearheading the CCRB’s new Data Transparency Initiative. After leaving the CCRB , Malik worked as a Lecturer with the Harvard Law School Fair Punishment Project and has since been advocating for criminal justice reform in her campaign statements. Malik’s campaign states her long history in various offices promoting criminal justice reform as a distinguishing quality of her campaign for Queens District Attorney. Malik’s campaign promises to establish a Conviction Review Unit within the Queens District Attorney’s office, to end cash bail and minimize fines and fees, to hold both police and ICE law enforcement officials accountable for any misconduct, to prosecute violent offenders and advocate for prisoner safety, and to create a more diverse, transparent, and accountable Queens District Attorney’s office. Malik lists her experience managing between 110 and 1,200 employees at a time at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, the CCRB, and the Attorney General’s office as a distinguishing quality of her campaign. Malik’s commitment to criminal justice reform and impressive experience in the District Attorney’s office and as the Executive Director of the CCRB make her a highly qualified candidate. Her commitment to Citizens Union policies and to reform within the office are commendable and the interview team was very impressed by her campaign’s agenda.
Occupation: Former Deputy Chief of New York State Office of the Attorney General
Education: Saint John’s University, B.S.; Brooklyn Law School, J.D.
Jose Nieves is a Democrat running for Queens County District Attorney. Nieves served as Assistant District Attorney in Kings County and was a Captain and a Command Judge Advocate in the U.S. Army Reserves for over ten years where he prosecuted various sexual assault and service member misconduct cases. During his deployment in Afghanistan, Nieves advised Afghan judges, prosecutors, and defense counsels about the rule of law in their newly formed criminal justice system. After his return to the U.S., Nieves served as an Agency Attorney with the NYC Department of Correction, prosecuting excessive force violations against Correction Officers. Nieves then worked as the Deputy Chief for the New York State Office of the Attorney General where he was awarded the honor of the Attorney General’s Innovation in Law Enforcement Award. In his campaign for Queens District Attorney Nieves has promised to work to end mass incarceration, to create a Conviction Review Unit within office, to hire immigration attorneys to work alongside the office’s prosecutors to limit immigration consequences for Queens residents, to diversify the office, to focus the office’s resources on prosecution of violent crime, and to adopt policies that support the Raise the Age laws.