You are reading

Queens Judge Dismisses Hundreds of Prostitution Cases, Follows Request From Queens DA Katz

Queens DA Melinda Katz (Flickr: Melinda Katz)

March 16, 2021 By Christina Santucci

A Queens judge dismissed nearly 700 open prostitution cases at the request of District Attorney Melinda Katz Tuesday morning.

Queens Acting Supreme Court Justice Toko Serita granted Katz’s request to vacate the open warrants and dismiss the cases pertaining to people who have been charged with loitering for the purpose of prostitution and other prostitution-related charges.

More than 200 cases involved the now-repealed loitering statute, which had come to be known as the “Walking While Trans” ban. An additional 443 cases had been for other prostitution-related charges. Some of the cases go back decades, Katz said.

Katz, at a virtual hearing this morning, also asked Judge Serita to seal the cases – so that those charged would not have criminal records related to the cases.

Judge Serita thanked Katz for making the request and called it a “righteous decision.”

“This is an incredibly emotional moment for me as I have seen thousands of cases over the years in my role as the presiding judge of the Queens Trafficking Intervention Court,” she said.

Judge Serita noted that many of those charged had been victims of trafficking and exploited in the commercial sex trade. She added that the laws have stigmatized those charged and prevented them from leading full and rewarding lives.

“This is something we recognize that you did not need to do but did so because it was the right thing to do,” the judge told Katz.

Several defense attorneys appeared at the virtual hearing and waived their clients’ appearances.

Last month, state officials repealed Penal Law 240.37, which had prohibited loitering for the purpose of engaging in prostitution. Enforcement of the “Walking While Trans” ban had disproportionately targeted transgender women of color, lawmakers said.

Even before becoming the district attorney, Katz had advocated for its repeal. Once she became district attorney, Katz stopped prosecuting people under the law.

On Tuesday, she said the law “punished members of our community for their gender and their appearance as much as it penalized any conduct that they were alleged to have engaged in.”

“The statute adversely impacted members of our community who were in many instances already victimized and already exploited,” she said.

The DA said the legislature’s repeal of the statute last month was the first step in the “ongoing commitment to justice.”

The next step was “freeing targeted members of our community from the collateral consequences of their arrests,” Katz said. That was addressed today.

email the author: news@queenspost.com
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

NYPD searching for burglary crew that targeted nearly 30 laundromats in Queens and others in Brooklyn and the Bronx

Police from the 110th Precinct in Elmhurst are looking for three masked men who broke into Susan’s Laundromat at 85-12 Grand Ave. at around 3:15 a.m. on Monday, June 24, while a fourth member of their crew acted as a lookout near their getaway car parked in front.

The burglars stole $1,800 in cash and removed a payment machine for the laundry room continuing an undetermined amount of cash.

Law enforcement ghost car crackdowns continue with dozens of vehicles seized on Whitestone Bridge: MTA

MTA Bridge and Tunnel officers, the NYPD and law enforcement partners impounded 55 vehicles from motorists crossing into Queens on the Whitestone Bridge on Monday, July 8, as a multi-agency crackdown continued unabated.

Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Tuesday that through 25 joint enforcement operations focusing on ghost plates and persistent toll violators on bridges and tunnels throughout New York City, 1,540 vehicles have been impounded, 339 arrests have been made and 12,007 summonses have been issued so far this year to drivers who owe more than $12.5 million in unpaid tolls and fees.