So far this year, 88 attorneys have resigned from the Bronx District Attorney’s office. That’s up from 58 last year, and 62 the year before. The departures represent a significant proportion of the office’s legal staff, which had 461 Assistant District Attorneys listed as active in city payroll records in the last fiscal year.

A spokesperson for Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark declined to comment on why the numbers were higher this year than in previous years.

For years, the Bronx District Attorney’s 0ffice has struggled with holding on to prosecutors. Earlier this year, WNYC/Gothamist reported on several bureaus within the agency that were struggling to fill their rosters. Despite these challenges and the disproportionate share of violent crime in the city that the agency is tasked with addressing, city officials have consistently chosen to give the Bronx District Attorney less per capita funding than its peers in whiter, wealthier boroughs.

In past public appearances, District Attorney Clark has argued that these funding disparities have resulted in lower salaries for her prosecutors, which help drive attrition.

Former Bronx prosecutors speculated that the high number of resignations may be due to new job expectations sparked by the office’s return to in-person work as well as New York’s 2020 Discovery reform law, which now requires prosecutors to turn over evidence to defendants far sooner than they used to.

April Cohen, a defense attorney who previously worked as a Bronx prosecutor, noted that some of her former colleagues had enjoyed being able to set more flexible hours and work from home during the height of the pandemic. But that changed earlier this year, she said.

“Post-pandemic, especially in the private sector, a lot of companies have gone at least to a hybrid model,” Cohen said. “Here these DAs aren't being given that opportunity, so of course they're going to say, ‘Enough is enough.’"

Gilbert Bayonne, another former Bronx prosecutor, said the state’s evidence-sharing requirements hit the borough harder than most, especially given the frequency with which NYPD officers working in the Bronx face lawsuits and civilian complaints.

“There's tons of things they need to turn over. They weren't accustomed to doing this kind of work,” he said. “I think that led to this kind of turnover.”

All prosecutors’ offices have had to struggle with the new discovery laws, he continued, but funding isn’t evenly distributed across the boroughs.

“No matter how you slice it, there’s always a lot of work and not enough money,” he said. “So you can’t keep people.”

The resignations at the Bronx District Attorney’s office may be part of a wider phenomenon. This year across the country, Americans have quit their jobs at abnormally high rates.

In other boroughs, the resignations of prosecutors was on par with totals from the previous year. 83 resigned in Manhattan compared to 78 the year before. 74 resigned in Brooklyn, a slight improvement from 83 in 2020. And 48 left the Queens District Attorney’s office, up from 42 last year. Those departures accounted for a slightly lower proportion of the agencies’ overall prosecution staffs than the Bronx’s losses this year.

The Staten Island District Attorney's office did not respond to requests for comment.


George Joseph is an investigative reporter with WNYC/Gothamist's Public Safety Unit. You can send him tips on Facebook, Twitter @georgejoseph94, Instagram @georgejoseph81, and at gjosephwnyc@protonmail.com. His phone and encrypted Signal app number is 929-486-4865.