(reviewing Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve, Crook County: Racism and Injustice in America's Largest Criminal Court (2016)).


There is a prosecutor in Manhattan Criminal Court who wears a Black Lives Matter button on the job. One day, a group of public defenders, myself included, found him alone in a courtroom where only quality of life offenses are heard, authorizing plea bargains more lenient than the standard recommendations of the New York County District Attorney’s office: reducing fines, reducing community service, even avoiding convictions. The button seemed a puzzling appropriation for a prosecutor. At the height of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2015, after all, public defenders had worn the same pins in court only to face hostile looks and defensive questioning from court and police officers.