Grievance Against John Kosinski

Complaint filed on: May 3, 2021

Who: A group of law professors filed grievances against attorney John Kosinski in 2021 and 2023, alleging that Kosinski committed misconduct while prosecuting Jamel Langston and Kevin Anderson in two separate matters on behalf of the Queens District Attorney’s Office (QDAO). The law professors filed both complaints with the Grievance Committee for Second, Eleventh and Thirteenth Judicial Districts, the body that handles ethics complaints against attorneys in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.

What: The following summary is based on the complaints.

May 2021 Complaint: This ethics complaint, also known as a grievance, is primarily based on a court decision, People v. Anderson.

According to the complaint, in Anderson, the Appellate Division reversed the conviction because Kosinski had disobeyed the trial judge’s pretrial ruling, made prejudicial remarks that “were clearly intended” to suggest the defendant’s propensity for criminal conduct, denigrated the defense, and vouched for his two key witnesses. The court concluded that “the cumulative effect of the prosecutor’s misconduct during cross-examination and on summation deprived the defendant of a fair trial.”

March 2023 Complaint: The ethics complaint is primarily based on a court decision, People v. Langston.

According to the complaint, in the Langston case, the Supreme Court, Queens County, found that Kosinski improperly removed a prospective juror in violation of the State Constitution, making “a religious-based peremptory challenge… to exclude an Islamic juror,” which led the court to reinstate the prospective juror and to rebuke Kosinski’s “impairment of the integrity of the judicial system.” The complaint notes that the court found that Kosinski failed to provide a sufficient neutral explanation for his challenge of the juror; rather, he had “purposefully” used a peremptory challenge to exclude a prospective juror “because of his religion,” Islam.

What rules are involved: Prosecutors wield immense power, the power to seek punishment on behalf of the state, and should be held to the highest ethical standards.

Both grievances alleges that Kosinski’s conduct violated the following ethical rule:

  • Rule 1-102 (from the Code of Professional Responsibility, later replaced by the Rules of Professional Conduct) prohibited lawyers from engaging in conduct that was prejudicial to the administration of justice or that adversely reflected on the lawyer’s fitness to practice law.

What can be done about it: Both complaints call on the Grievance Committee to investigate and issue serious public discipline. The 2023 complaint also calls for a broader investigation into the trials conducted by the Queens District Attorney’s Office from 1990 to the present, including an examination of the prosecutor’s jury selection notes, in light of the racist and sexist notes revealed in another Queens case, People v. Morant and Valdez. Finally, both complaints call for an investigation into other cases prosecuted by the same prosecutor and to determine whether QDAO supervising and managing attorneys complied with their duties under Rule 5.1 of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct.

Update: As of January 1, 2024, the Grievance Committee has not informed the complainants whether there was (or will be) an investigation, what any investigation revealed, and whether discipline was (or will be) imposed as a result of this alleged misconduct. Deprived of such information, the public has no way to evaluate whether this government body is doing its job. We call on the Grievance Committee to make its proceedings and findings in this matter transparent to the public.

Any member of the public is able to see an attorney’s record of public discipline on the Attorney Detail Report.

Note: This is a summary based on the grievances, click on the grievances below for more detail. The grievance authors do not have personal knowledge of any of the facts or circumstances of the attorney or case(s) mentioned; the grievance is based on court opinions, briefs and/or other documents cited therein.