DA Melinda Katz
Melinda Katz became the District Attorney for Queens County in January 2020, making history as the first woman to hold the office.
Under her leadership, the District Attorney’s office ensures that all defendants are treated fairly and in a non-discriminatory manner, while protecting the communities it serves in the most diverse county in America. District Attorney Katz restructured the office with new bureaus and mandates to manage challenges including taking guns off the street, empowering victims of domestic violence and human trafficking and seeking justice even in the oldest of cold cases.
A new Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau merged the office’s former Narcotics Investigations and Gang Violence Bureaus to focus on dismantling criminal organizations operating in Queens. The bureau targets the drivers of violence, including members of street gangs, narcotics distribution operations and firearms dealers. In March 2023, the bureau worked with the NYPD on one of the largest gang-takedowns in Queens history, resulting in a 151-count indictment brought against 33 alleged gang members, five of whom were charged with murder.
District Attorney Katz established a Cold Case Unit to solve the borough’s oldest and most challenging homicide cases. The unit and NYPD worked to solve a 46-year-old homicide case of an 81-year-old World War I veteran killed in 1976. The office’s Human Trafficking Bureau – the first of its kind in the city – uses a range of strategies and resources to find exploiters who engage in sex and labor trafficking. In October 2022, two defendants pleaded guilty to trafficking teenage girls by holding them at a Jamaica hotel and forcing them to have sex for money.
District Attorney Katz created a 24/7 Domestic Violence Helpline to assist those in need to connect with safety planning measures and other resources. Through the Queens Community Violence Prevention Project implemented by District Attorney Katz, six local groups received a total of $300,000 in grants to help improve public safety with community-based violence prevention strategies.
On her first day in office, District Attorney Katz created a Conviction Integrity Unit with a mandate to reinvestigate and resolve credible claims of actual innocence or wrongful convictions. The unit has vacated 99 cases, including one in which a teenager was wrongly accused of murder and had served more than eight years in prison. She also ended the office’s longstanding practice of requiring defendants to waive their 180.80 rights to order to initiate plea bargain negotiations and refusing to consider plea bargains on anything less than the top count after an indictment.
District Attorney Katz was born and raised in Queens and educated in public schools. She graduated with honors from the University of Massachusetts and received a Juris Doctorate from St. John’s University School of Law.
Her long record of public service began with her 1994 election to the New York State Assembly where she wrote and passed legislation to protect New York’s most vulnerable residents. District Attorney Katz was a member of the New York City Council from 2002 to 2009 and served as chair of the influential Land Use Committee. She used her legal background and community ties to steward major projects that helped pull New York City out of the 2001 recession.
In private practice, District Attorney Katz worked as a securities litigator for Weil Gotshal and as a shareholder of Greenberg Traurig, a position she held until her 2013 election as the 19th Borough President of Queens.
District Attorney Katz lives in Forest Hills with her two sons.