The word “vista” calls to mind many things. When one embarks upon a new task, a “vista” is what lies ahead – a view of the future. To me, the word “VISTA” embodies both the excitement of the task that lies before me, and a program of reforms that I have announced to breathe new life into the Bronx District Attorney’s Office.
The VISTA program involves five basic steps: Vertical Prosecution, Internal Controls, Standing Up to Corruption, Time-Sensitive Prosecutions, and Active Investigations. Each of these five steps will lead to more rapid and fairer trials. The result will be what everyone desires: swift and sure justice for victims and defendants.
Vertical Prosecution: The prosecutor who starts a case will remain with it until it’s resolved. This will eliminate confusion and frustration that arises when a case gets passed from prosecutor to prosecutor at each stage of a criminal proceeding, reduces unnecessary delays as each assistant becomes familiar with reassigned cases, and eliminates the risk of missing documents.
Internal Controls: Every prosecutor will be fully accountable for each of their cases. There will be a standardized CompStat-style reporting structure and a periodic review of evidence for all cases within each Bureau, and a mid-level reporting structure within the Trial and Investigations Divisions, ending with Bureau and Division Chiefs reporting to the Chief Assistant and the District Attorney herself.
Standing Up to Corruption: No stone will be left unturned in ferreting out those who abuse the People’s trust or treat public money as their personal piggy bank. Our assistants will be encouraged to use their legal talents to prosecute corruption to the fullest extent of the law.
Time-Sensitive Prosecutions: We will reduce the existing backlog of felony and misdemeanor cases by implementing an intensive program through which the District Attorney and her Executives will review the oldest pending cases every week, with an emphasis on advancing those cases involving incarcerated defendants. We will also endeavor to speed up prosecutions in general by viewing our discovery obligations in an expansive way to eliminate unnecessary adjournments.
Active Investigations: “Active” will be the watchword of the Bronx D.A.’s Investigations Division with vital goals for this important unit of the Office, objectives that will be expressed through the creation and work of our Public Integrity Bureau, our Rikers Island Prosecution Bureau with prosecutors on-site, our Immigrant Affairs Unit, and our Conviction Integrity Unit. We are also strengthening the Bureau that houses the Forensics Computer Lab Unit, the DNA Unit, the Crime Strategies & Case Enhancement Unit, and the Cybercrime and ID Theft Unit.
As always, the Bronx D.A.’s Office stands ready to represent and serve the People of the Bronx, the People of our fine city, and the People of the State of New York.