The Legal Aid Society Adds New Homicide Unit, Appoints Jamal Johnson Director

Jamal Johnson, Director of the Homicide Defense Task Force

Jamal Johnson, Director of the Homicide Defense Task Force


(New York, NY) – The Legal Aid Society announced the creation of a specialized Homicide Defense Task Force today and the hiring of public defender veteran, Jamal Johnson, as the Task Force’s director. Jamal will manage the citywide unit and work to create a best practices model to serve New Yorkers in all five boroughs.

“The Legal Aid Society has served as New York's primary public defender for decades, and we are proud to have Jamal Johnson – an exceptional litigator, leader and advocate – supervise this unit. While we have always represented clients in homicide matters, and have incredibly experienced litigators and professionals already working at our organization, the Homicide Defense Task Force centralizes all these resources for the betterment of our clients,” said Tina Luongo, Attorney-In-Charge of the Criminal Defense Practice at The Legal Aid Society. “I am extremely thrilled and honored to be selected Director of the Homicide Defense Task Force. Throughout my years at Legal Aid, I have been privileged to work with some of the best and brightest minds in criminal defense. I now look forward to utilizing many of the superb resources we have, including our in-house mitigation specialists and our DNA and Forensic Units, to make our citywide homicide practice the best in the country," said Jamal Johnson, Director of The Legal Aid Society’s Homicide Defense Task Force.

Previously, homicide representation for low-income New Yorkers was divided between defender organizations and 18B attorneys. However, the City is taking a best practices approach and recognizing that defender organizations are better positioned to fully counsel individuals accused of these serious crimes.

The Task Force will officially start representing New Yorkers on January 1, 2019.

Jamal Johnson Biography:

Mr. Johnson first joined The Legal Aid Society 17 years ago as a staff attorney in the Bronx Criminal Defense Practice. He quickly obtained senior status while establishing himself as a highly successful trial attorney.

He then went into private practice, opening the Law Office of Jamal Johnson. His primary focus was criminal defense and civil rights law. During this time, he represented clients facing a multitude of different charges, from low-level misdemeanors to crimes as serious as homicide, as well as submitting civil claims for false arrest and sexual harassment.”

In 2013, Mr. Johnson returned to Legal Aid as a Supervising Attorney where he assembled, mentored and supervised various trial teams resulting in numerous acquittals. Additionally, he has kept his superb trial skills sharp by leading or otherwise playing an active part in many trials ending very successfully for the clients.

Mr. Johnson has tried cases in the boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx. He has also practiced in the federal district courts of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Mr. Johnson earned his Bachelor's Degree at Howard University and his law degree at the Syracuse University College of Law where he was named best advocate “among 22 teams from NY, NJ, and Connecticut” in NYSBA’s National Trial Competition.

He is a recipient of the American College of Trial Lawyers “Medal for Excellence in Advocacy”.

Mr. Johnson has lectured in trial advocacy issues at CUNY Law School and in other forums on the topics of the science of cross examination and opening statements.


The Legal Aid Society exists for one simple yet powerful reason: to ensure that New Yorkers are not denied their right to equal justice because of poverty. For over 140 years, we have protected, defended, and advocated for those who have struggled in silence for far too long. Every day, in every borough, The Legal Aid Society changes the lives of our clients and helps improve our communities.