Queens District Attorney (DA) Richard Brown, 86, yesterday announced his retirement after 27 years being the borough’s top prosecutor.
Brown was a state appellate judge when in 1991, former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo tapped him to replace retiring Queens district attorney, John J. Santucci. He was then re-elected six more times and will finish out his term which ends at the end of this year.
“It has been an honor and privilege to have served the people of Queens County – the most ethnically diverse county in the world – for these many years as district attorney. I am deeply appreciative and humbled to have had the trust and confidence that they have expressed by electing me to seven full terms in office and, in the process, making me the longest serving district attorney in Queens County history,” said Brown.
“When I was appointed District Attorney by then Governor Mario M. Cuomo in 1991, one of my chief goals was to elevate the standards of professionalism in the office by hiring people on merit, not political connections. Without question, we have overwhelmingly achieved that goal. Whatever success I have attained over the years is due in large measure to the fact that from the very beginning I have surrounded myself with the most talented, capable and dedicated professionals imaginable – men and women of exceptional ability and commitment. Because of them, our office is among the best prosecutors’ offices in the State – indeed, the best in the country.”
The highly expected move paves the way for a highly contested election this November for the office. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, City Councilmember Rory Lancman (D-Briarwood, Cunningham Park, Flushing, Flushing Meadows, Hollis, Holliswood, Jamaica, Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill) and former State Supreme Court Judge and longtime Queens Assistant District Attorney Gregory Lasak have already announced they are running.
Also reportedly eyeing the office is Mina Malik, a former prosecutor in Queens and Brooklyn who is now a federal deputy attorney general in the District of Columbia. Malik, who is Hispanic and Asian, is the only non-white person reportedly looking at the running in a borough that has become much more ethnically diverse since Brown first was appointed.
The coming election also comes at a time when crime in the city is at an all-time low and there is a call from all corners for criminal justice, bail and illegal drug reform, and how society processes and treats those arrested.
Katz reflected these views in her comments thanking Brown for his decades of public service.
“We are entering a new era of criminal justice in Queens, and there is a national movement to bring systemic changes to our criminal justice system, from instituting bail reform to ending marijuana prosecutions to extending warrant forgiveness. I look forward to Queens being an active voice and leader in that change. I will be a DA who is a partner in justice and emphasizes crime prevention and rehabilitation in addition to prosecution,” she said.
Meanwhile, Lancman Tweeted, “Judge Brown has had a long and distinguished career serving the people of Queens and New York State, and I wish him well. Now it’s our responsibility to forge a new criminal justice system in Queens, one that is more fair and less punitive, and focuses on protecting working people, women and immigrants.”
Lasak did not respond with a comment at post time.