Brooklyn ADA, 35, killed on bike in Williamsburg, was known for her advocacy and pro bono work

September 8, 2020 Rob Abruzzese
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Sarah Pitts, a 35-year-old Brooklyn assistant district attorney, died on Monday morning after she was hit and killed by a charter bus just after midnight while riding her bike in Williamsburg. She had only joined the Brooklyn DA’s Office in March of 2018, but she quickly developed a reputation based on her background in advocacy and for her pro bono work.

“Our office is devastated by and mourning the tragic death of Senior Assistant District Attorney Sarah Pitts,” DA Eric Gonzalez said in a statement. “Sarah, 35, an avid cyclist, was fatally struck by a bus while riding her bike in Williamsburg early this morning. She was a brilliant and compassionate lawyer dedicated to seeking justice. We are overwhelmed by this sudden loss.”

Pitts graduated from Trinity College with a degree in biochemistry and then went on to the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, where she was the associate editor of the Journal of International Law, a member of the Homeless Advocacy Project and participated in the National Trial Competition, according to the DA’s Office.

While still in law school, Pitt interned for both the Montgomery County DA’s Office in Pennsylvania and with the Federal Community Defender Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. It was at the latter where she worked with a capital habeas team that obtained vacatur of a death sentence just six days before a prisoner’s scheduled execution, the DA’s Office said.

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After graduating law school in 2012, Pitts joined the Military Assistance Project in Philadelphia where she represented active and veteran military personnel in consumer debt and bankruptcy cases. She also provided counsel at the Veterans Multiservice Centers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and created a pro bono project in collaboration with Penn Law, according to the DA’s Office. As director of that pro bono project, she trained more than 30 students and attorneys in seven states.

“Sarah joined the office in 2018 to work towards bringing change to the criminal justice system, making it fairer and safer for everyone,” Gonzalez said. “She was assigned to the Appeals Bureau and also worked diligently with our Post-Conviction Justice Bureau to review parole applications to determine those our office should support.

“When the COVID crisis struck, Sarah selflessly volunteered to come into the office to help with urgent matters and to relieve the administrative staff so they would not bear the full burden of the pandemic,” Gonzalez went on to say. “She was a kind and generous co-worker who will be greatly missed. Our sincere condolences go out to her family and friends.”

According to the DA’s Office, Pitts began doing appellate work in 2016 when she became the court attorney to Justice Alice Beck Dubow of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania and worked on drafting intermediate appellate opinions in criminal, civil and family law cases. She then came to New York in 2017 when she became the court attorney for Judge Scott Dunn in the Criminal Court.

The people of Brooklyn certainly benefited from her commitment to social justice after she joined the local DA’s Office through her work as a member of the Overdose Prevention Committee and the Justice 2020 “Second Chances” initiative that is dedicated to legal issues surrounding parole. Gonzalez recalled her work with the Post-Conviction Justice Bureau, where she was known to routinely visit incarcerated people in state prisons to hear their full stories.

Pitts also worked with local students who took part in the DA Office’s Moot Court team that traveled to Chicago for a national competition, the DA said.

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  1. Walter Goodman

    Even more important then her legal work, in my opinion: Sarah Pitts was a member of Riders 4 Rights. They are the group who crucially provides bicycle cover for the Black Lives Matters demonstrations, stopping cars at every intersection. She was a beloved and valued member of that community. See their Instagram tribute @riders4rights. One more beautiful sole lost because of our failure as a city to create safe passage for cyclists and pedestrians.