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Erie County DA's Office organizes implicit bias training course for prosecutors & public defenders

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Wed, Jul 22nd 2020 12:05 pm

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn announced all assistant district attorneys in his office will complete an implicit bias training course. The session will be provided virtually Wednesday afternoon by Buffalo City Court Judge Hon. Lenora Foote-Beavers to all prosecutors and confidential criminal investigators in the Erie County District Attorney’s Office, as well as public defenders from the Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo.

Foote-Beavers is currently assigned to the Domestic Violence Part of Buffalo City Court. She previously served as the Executive Assistant/Chief of Staff to the Presiding Justice of the New York State Appellate Division, Fourth Department, Gerald J. Whalen. She was the first African-American and first Buffalonian to hold this position. Foote-Beavers is also an adjunct professor in the paralegal department at SUNY Erie, teaching family law and constitutional law. She currently serves on the Bar Association of Erie County diversity and inclusion committee advisory council and the diversity steering committee for the Eighth Judicial District.

Implicit biases are unconscious and unintentional judgments based on stereotypes and past experiences, which can affect a person’s behavior and perpetuate discrimination based upon race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age or disability.

Topics in the training may include: implicit and explicit bias, equal access to justice, serving a diverse population, diversity and inclusion initiatives in the legal profession, and sensitivity to cultural and other differences when interacting with members of the public, judges, jurors, litigants, attorneys and court personnel.

Experienced attorneys in New York must complete 24 credit hours of continuing legal education every two years. Effective January 2018, it is required one credit hour focus on diversity, inclusion and elimination of bias.

An in-person implicit bias training was scheduled for May 20, but had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To ensure social distancing and prevent the potential spread of the virus, the course was made available via WebEx.

“I continue to support any continuing education for prosecutors in my office. I believe this is the most important training to ensure that all people accused of a crime – no matter their race, gender, age or identity – are prosecuted fairly,” Flynn said.

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