Following a series of scathing reports on the utter dysfunction of the Bronx criminal courts, Democratic lawmakers are seeking to gently remove the borough's District Attorney, Robert Johnson. The Times reports that Assemblyman Carl Heastie, the Bronx's Democratic leader, has floated the idea of allowing Johnson to step down in the coming months so he could run for a position as a judge on the State Supreme Court. Johnson denied the plan: “I am scratching my head that you would write a story like this based on hearsay. I have no intention to leave office. I am hard at work at a job that I love and will not respond further to speculation and rumor.”
Heastie backpedals to the Daily News: “The district attorney has never said to me he’s tired of his job or he feels beaten up. And I am not looking to push out the district attorney. I still have all the confidence in the world in Robert Johnson. Period.”
Johnson's poor record as a prosecutor (43% conviction rate for violent felons in 2011) was well known before the Times published their three-part series two weeks ago. The reports underscored the notion that Johnson, the longest-serving DA in the city since his election in 1989, is mismanaging his office and depriving the accused of due process. His refusal to prosecute trespassing arrests in public housing unless the arresting officer submitted to an interview pit his office against the NYPD.
Sources close to Heastie told the Times that Johnson is "tired of the job," and "feels beaten up," which lead the Assemblyman to proffer the idea that appellate judge Darcel Clark replace him. Justice Clark says she knows nothing of the plan.