Progressive mayoral candidate Maya Wiley wants to defund the police to help end racial discrimination, but she cut her teeth as a federal prosecutor defending correction officers accused of brutality and racism, according to The Post’s review of her government cases.
Wiley, 57, a former counsel to Mayor de Blasio who also chaired the Civilian Complaint Review Board, told the New York Times last month, “I’ve been a civil rights lawyer and advocate my whole career.”
But as a young lawyer, Wiley worked to dismiss civil rights suits against the federal government as an Assistant US Attorney in the Southern District of New York between 1994 and 1997.
And that experience — in which Wiley defended federal corrections officers who allegedly threw a prisoner down a flight of stairs and US Post Office employees accused of harassing a black co-worker after she filed a discrimination complaint — is missing from her official campaign bio and her LinkedIn profile.
Wiley’s work as a federal prosecutor came directly on the heels of the two years she spent as a staff attorney for the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which ended in 1994. There is a gap of three years between the NAACP work and her tenure as a senior advisor at the Open Society Institute, which began in August 1997, according to LinkedIn.
In more than 25 cases reviewed by The Post, Wiley defended various federal agencies, including the Bureau of Prisons, Veterans Affairs and the Post Office, in complaints involving civil-rights challenges.
In 1996, Wiley acted for two corrections officers and another employee at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan who allegedly beat up a prisoner “and tried to throw him down a flight of stairs while he was handcuffed,” according to federal court documents.
The prisoner, Christopher Moore, said that Officers George Agosto and Jose Herrera punched him while the prison’s recreational director William Langehenning “hit my face into the wall,” court papers say.
Moore, who acted as his own attorney, claimed in court papers the trio used excessive force and left him with “bruises on his body, headaches, and pain in his shoulders and upper back, and that he continues to suffer from impaired mobility in his left shoulder.”
Wiley lost the case on its most important claim — the use of excessive force — although she managed to get most of Moore’s other claims dismissed, according to court papers. But because Moore sued the workers and not the prison agency itself, he was denied monetary damages, according to court papers.
In a case that began in 1994, Wiley represented Postmaster General Marvin Runyon Jr. in a discrimination suit by black postal worker Nettie Christian, who alleged that soon after she filed a complaint under the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, “management incited other workers against her,” court papers say.
Christian, who suffered from multiple health problems, was “forced to work standing at a conveyor belt while other workers were permitted to sit down” even after bringing in copious doctors’ notes outlining chronic leg and back pain that prevented her from spending long hours on her feet, court papers say.
“Kevin, a white worker … started hurling profanity at her” after she filed her complaint, court papers say. “Plaintiff claims she could not go to lunch or break for coffee on her own because she believed she would be ‘written up.’”
Christian said she suffered alleged discrimination and abuse from at least six employees, including a black supervisor, court papers say.
Christian’s claims were dismissed in February 1998, six months after Wiley had already left her job in the Southern District.
Wiley also worked on a handful of cases in which she did successfully fight discrimination at the Manhattan US Attorney’s Office, most notably on behalf of Innovative Health Systems, a clinic that sued the city of White Plains for zoning discrimination when the city tried to prevent them from setting up a drug and alcohol rehab program.
Wiley’s campaign did not return messages seeking comment.