Brooklyn Case May Set Precedent for Criminal Liability for Social Workers
Part I: The Case of Marchella Brett-Pierce
Neal Shechter, J.D. Candidate
For some, the future of the social work profession is being decided in an unassuming Brooklyn trial court in October, as New York prosecutors sift through a particularly brutal case of child abuse that has received national headlines, and ask the court to assign criminal liability to all those whom prosecutors claim were in a position to prevent the abuse.
For others, the case represents a dramatic step toward accountability and transparency in a system that many feel is broken and beyond repair.
Either way, the story of four-year-old Marchella Brett-Pierce has ignited a firestorm of attention and spawned a seemingly endless stream of litigation over the liability of a city agency and its employees for the wrongs inflicted upon a child by an allegedly negligent and abusive parent.