A Three-Decade Journey in Criminal Justice
Karen Friedman Agnifilo brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the field of criminal justice. With a career spanning over three decades, she has made significant contributions as a criminal defense attorney, a prosecutor, and a legal advocate. Today, she operates her own private practice, specializing in criminal defense in both state and federal courts. Her impressive range of legal services extends from handling accusations to conducting investigations, and from arrests to full-fledged trials.
A Trailblazer in Criminal Defense
Prior to establishing her private practice, Karen Friedman Agnifilo served as an Executive, Chief of the Trial Division, and Chief Assistant District Attorney at the renowned Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. During her tenure, she played a pivotal role in redefining the prosecutor’s office, ushering in a new era of modernization and reform in the criminal justice system. Her efforts were instrumental in reducing unnecessary incarceration and effecting positive change.
As the second-in-command, Karen Friedman Agnifilo assumed the role of Acting District Attorney whenever the DA was unavailable. Her responsibilities included overseeing complex and high-profile cases, as well as managing all aspects of personnel and hiring, including handling EEOC claims. She expertly managed a staff of 1500 and a budget of $120 million, skillfully restructuring the office and shaping criminal justice policy for New York City.
Under her guidance, the office embarked on numerous groundbreaking initiatives, such as ceasing the prosecution of crimes related to poverty, expanding diversion programs, implementing implicit bias analysis and training, and emphasizing alternatives to incarceration, collateral consequences, and reentry. Additionally, she spearheaded the creation of specialized units dedicated to combating antiquities trafficking, human trafficking, hate crimes, terrorism, and cybercrimes.
Collaborating for Change
Karen Friedman Agnifilo maintained a close working relationship with the press, advocates, and external stakeholders, including key government offices like the Governor’s Office, the Mayor’s Office, and the NYPD. Together, they formed the “Inside Criminal Justice” program, which paired prosecutors with incarcerated individuals striving to reintegrate into society. Furthermore, she played a vital role in establishing the Criminal Justice Investment Initiative, a program that invests in the betterment of youth, families, and communities. Notably, she also contributed to the development of the national Sexual Assault Kit Backlog Elimination Grant Program.
An advocate for innovation and reform, Karen Friedman Agnifilo actively participated in two executive sessions: “Reimagining the Role of the Prosecutor in the 21st Century” and “Adolescents and Young Adults in the Criminal Justice System.” She also co-chaired the Mayor’s steering committee dedicated to the closure of Rikers Island and the planning of borough-based local jails.
A Remarkable Journey
Before her return to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in 2010, Karen Friedman Agnifilo held the position of General Counsel to the New York City Mayor’s Office’s Criminal Justice Coordinator. During her time there, she collaborated with Mayor Mike Bloomberg on numerous criminal justice policy matters, managing citywide initiatives and projects. Her wide-ranging expertise encompassed areas such as human trafficking, internet safety, sexual assault, DNA analysis, domestic violence, mental health, technology projects, juvenile justice, identity theft, and fraud.
With a rich history at the Manhattan DA’s Office, Karen Friedman Agnifilo served as an Assistant District Attorney for 14 years. During this time, she held various roles within the office, including Deputy Chief of the Sex Crimes Unit, Homicide Investigation Unit, Family Violence and Child Abuse Bureau, and Asian Gang Unit.
Karen Friedman Agnifilo’s unwavering commitment to justice and her remarkable contributions have left an indelible mark on the field of criminal law. Her expertise, leadership, and compassion continue to shape the landscape of criminal justice, ensuring a fair and equitable system for all.