Law Office of Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma

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One thing every single one of my clients has in common is that they all have a mother. That’s one of the many responses I give when asked the iconic question, how can you defend criminals when you know they are guilty? In many of our cases, moms play an outsized role. They advocate for their children, pushing us (i.e. their lawyers) to do everything we can to win their freedom. Moms show up in…
America breathed a collective sigh of relief this afternoon when Minneapolis Judge Peter Cahill read out the verdict and ordered Derek Chauvin taken away in handcuffs. One bad cop is off the streets. The Rev. Al Sharpton—an important African-American leader seen long seen in New York as divisive, but now recognized as visionary—reminded us not to celebrate Chauvin’s conviction: ”we don’t celebrate a man going to jail, we would rather have George be alive.” That…
Yesterday’s testimony in the George Floyd trial brought home Irish poet Brendan Behan’s remark: “I have never seen a situation so dismal that a policeman couldn’t make it worse.” Trial witness Chris Martin, the 19-year-old clerk working the cash register at Cup Foods convenience store, was in a bind. He had just sold a pack of cigarettes to Mr. Floyd, an affable, chatty customer who also picked up a banana. But Chris could tell that…
Guest Post by Adam Elewa, Esq. New York implemented historic and significant criminal justice reform in 2020, including a bail reform bill that led to a “substantial reduction in jail incarceration,” a discovery reform bill that replaced one the most restrictive discovery laws in the nation (what used to be known as the “blindfold law”), and the repeal of Section 50-a, a law ironically codified within New York Civil Rights Law that made…
By Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma Just before 5 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, Robert Aaron Long walked into Young’s Asian Massage, thirty miles northwest of Atlanta. He was carrying a nine millimeter handgun he had bought legally earlier that day. He opened fire, gunning down three women and a man. Less than an hour later, four more people were shot and killed at two spas across the street from each other in Northeast Atlanta. A pastor at Crabapple…
Three unnamed men died of COVID-19 on Rikers Island in March of 2020, according to a heavily redacted draft report from the Board of Correction, a watchdog for New York jails and prisons. As heartbreaking as it is unsurprising, the report details an utter failure to create space for social distancing, provide masks, or give appropriate medical treatment to New Yorkers who are incarcerated.  In all likelihood if inspections and reports are done at New…
There are more than 42,000 people in New York who have to register as sex offenders — about the population of Poughkeepsie. Sex offender registration can affect every aspect of a person’s life: where he lives, where he can travel, how he is treated by his neighbors, the community and even the police. But the system for determining risk level is flawed, producing predictably inaccurate results based on a “Risk Assessment Instrument” that was last…
ZMO Law PLLC and the Law Offices of Daniel A. McGuinness PC represent the family of Miguel Richards, a 31-year-old Bronx man who was shot and killed in his own bedroom by New York City Police Department patrol officers in 2017. A few things about the case are undisputed — and appalling. Miguel’s landlord called the police after he had not heard from Miguel for a while. Then he broke into Miguel’s bedroom. Two officers,…
Some points from my experience defending violent crime and debunking police lies can help understand what happened in Washington yesterday without falling back on hollow judgments about how awful other people are. First, as the climate scientist Jim Lovelock told me when I was ten years old, tribal warfare is in our DNA. It is a sickness that has always been part of the human condition and affects us all whether we know it or…