A Queens judge dismissed nearly 700 open prostitution cases at the request of District Attorney Melinda Katz Tuesday morning.
Queens Acting Supreme Court Justice Toko Serita granted Katz’s request to vacate the open warrants and dismiss the cases pertaining to people who have been charged with loitering for the purpose of prostitution and other prostitution-related charges.
More than 200 cases involved the now-repealed loitering statute, which had come to be known as the “Walking While Trans” ban. An additional 443 cases had been for other prostitution-related charges. Some of the cases go back decades, Katz said.
Katz, at a virtual hearing this morning, also asked Judge Serita to seal the cases – so that those charged would not have criminal records related to the cases.
Judge Serita thanked Katz for making the request and called it a “righteous decision.”
“This is an incredibly emotional moment for me as I have seen thousands of cases over the years in my role as the presiding judge of the Queens Trafficking Intervention Court,” she said.
Judge Serita noted that many of those charged had been victims of trafficking and exploited in the commercial sex trade. She added that the laws have stigmatized those charged and prevented them from leading full and rewarding lives.
“This is something we recognize that you did not need to do but did so because it was the right thing to do,” the judge told Katz.
Several defense attorneys appeared at the virtual hearing and waived their clients’ appearances.