Friday, April 10, 2015

The Rap on Robin Steinberg

Really trying to stir it up, huh?

"Two Harvard groups back down from honoring lawyer; Attorney was investigated for anti-police video" by Steve Annear, Globe Staff  February 18, 2015

Two student groups from Harvard Law School have reversed plans to honor a New York City public defender at an International Women’s Day photo exhibit at the school.

The attorney, Robin Steinberg, is facing scrutiny for her legal service organization’s involvement in a music video containing lyrics and images that allegedly advocated killing police officers.

Steinberg was invited to the event by the Harvard Women’s Law Association and the Law and International Development Society.

She was to be one of dozens of lawyers to be highlighted for her work in the field of public defense at the March event.

Steinberg, executive director of the Bronx Defenders, a city-funded legal service, was suspended from her role at the nonprofit after two staff members appeared in a YouTube video called “Hands Up.”

Steinberg did not appear in the controversial video, which protested the deaths of two black men, Michael Brown and Sean Bell, at the hands of police. But she was suspended for failing to “discipline the staff after learning of their conduct” and making misleading statements to investigators about the organization’s involvement, according to New York officials who handled the case.

The video was examined by the New York City Department of Investigation in December.

Some of the footage in the rap video was also filmed in the Bronx Defenders’ office, investigators found.

The Harvard students who organize the annual photo exhibit typically welcome those appearing in the gallery to attend. They rescinded Steinberg’s invite Monday.

“In view of the questions that have been raised and the controversy that has unfolded, we have decided to refrain from including Ms. Steinberg in this year’s exhibit, because of the investigation into her response to the actions of defenders in her office,” the student groups said in a joint statement.

Event organizers said it wasn’t their intention to suggest harming police officers is acceptable.

“As lawyers who aspire to build a more effective criminal justice system, we believe that advocating violence against police in any form is reprehensible,” they wrote.

Members of Harvard Women’s Law Association and the Law and International Development Society said that if any subsequent investigations into Steinberg’s involvement vindicate the public defender, they would consider including her in future exhibits.

“The Bronx Defenders have been the gold standard in providing . . . service, and their work inspires many of our members,” the joint statement said.