Long-time Brooklyn DA loses primary bid; winner hopes to curb stop and frisk

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes has lost his re-election bid following negative publicity about wrongful convictions and questions about political favoritism.

Hynes, 78, held the office for 23 years, report the New York Times and the New York Daily News. He was defeated in the Democratic primary by former federal prosecutor Kenneth Thompson, who aims to curb stop-and-frisk as a top priority, the Daily News says.

Hynes’ loss was “a stunning defeat,” the Times says. Crime had dropped 80 percent in Brooklyn since he took office. His programs to combat domestic violence and offer drug treatment became models for other jurisdictions.

“In the early years of his tenure,” the Times says, “the rumpled, charismatic district attorney was seen as a reformer who set the standard for district attorneys’ offices across the country by re-evaluating the inflexible tough-on-crime philosophy then in vogue.” But he battled “a drumbeat of bad news” in the years before the election.

Hynes’ office began reviewing 50 homicide cases last year after allegations surfaced that a retired detective had coached a witness viewing a lineup, ignored another suspect, and let witnesses leave jail to smoke crack and visit prostitutes. Press reports also questioned whether Hynes opted not to prosecute child-sex abuse in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community for political gain.

The ABA Journal featured Hynes as a Legal Rebel in 2009 for his diversion programs for offenders; his profile can be read here.

Updated at 4:13 p.m. to add a link to Hynes’ Legal Rebel profile.

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