Outspoken Civil Rights Attorney Joins Team de Blasio

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The day before he leaves on a 10-day vacation, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio added four new members to his administration — three criminal justice appointments and a new buildings commissioner.

De Blasio tapped outspoken civil rights attorney Richard Emery to lead the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the agency that handles complaints of police misconduct, calling him part of the “firmament” of public life.

“You name the important issue, he’s been there, someone respected for his legal mind, for his deep commitment to this city,” de Blasio said Thursday.

Ticking off his list of accomplishments, de Blasio said Emery won a landmark lawsuit over strip searches at Rikers Island, and case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1989 that challenged the existence of the City’s Board of Estimate as a violation of one person, one vote. The decision in that case led to the charter revision commission.

Emery said as a lifelong New Yorker, he has always studied the behavior of police officers. As a kid, Emery said it was when he was buying illegal fireworks on West Fourth Street. Then as an attorney working for the New York Civil Liberties Union and elsewhere, he applied that rigor when prosecuting cases of police misconduct.

Under his leadership, Emery said the CCRB will tackle the most serious offenses.

“My hope is to genuinely have an effect on restoring or creating a sense of real confidence that it is a place that people can go and get justice, and where police officers will get justice as well,” said Emery.

De Blasio also appointed former New York State Court of Appeals judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick as the chair of the mayor’s advisory committee on the judiciary, along with vice chair Barry Cozier, an attorney and former associate justice in the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York. The committee is responsible for finding candidates for judicial appointments to Criminal and Family Courts, and interim appointments to Civil Court.

De Blasio also selected Rick Chandler to take the post of buildings commissioner. Chandler is an engineer and currently manages facilities for Hunter College.