Founded in 1893, the New York Criminal & Civil Courts Bar Association has been accurately described in the Congressional Record as a “crusading bar association when others were straight laced and never involved in controversy.” Beginning four decades ago when the Association caused the filing of anti-segregation petitions in Alabama courts and the “K.K.K.” threatened to kill Robert Daru, then our Justice Committee counsel, to the freeing of a man who had spent 7 years in Sing Sing Prison for a forgery he did not commit, the Association and its membership has always been undaunted and courageous in exposing injustices in the American body politic. Whether in the fight against injustice, protection of lawyers’ economic status, maintenance of the highest standards of professional ethics and craftsmanship, screening of judicial candidates, improvement of courts and court rules, the Association has insisted upon a total commitment to its objectives.
Among numerous significant endeavors, the Association was successful in an action to enjoin the Federal bureaucratic practice of indiscriminately invading individual rights by monitoring telephone messages in government agencies and facilities. This ensures individual privacy, privileged communications, and freedom from self-incrimination, which are among the keystones of our Nation’s constitutional guarantees.
- The only Bar Association in New York State to sue to enjoin and appeal a decision permitting the practice of “Storefront Law” under the names of “Jacoby and Meyers,” neither of whom were admitted to practice law in New York State.
- Challenged the Yankee Stadium Rehabilitation Project for its gross lack of planning and deliberate obfuscation of the cost factors, and fixing the cost overruns at $300 million, and marshalled public opinion regarding the deterioration of the Stadium’s foundation.
- Provided legal counsel for the student leadership at West Point during the last “cheating scandal.” Received wide credit for the return of 98 cadets to West Point.Issued a counter-attack to former Chief Judge Breitel’s vicious Law Day condemnation of alleged lawyer’s greed.
- Fought for and gained freedom for a man named “Campbell” who served 7 years in Sing Sing for a forgery he did not commit.
- Instituted a Lawyer’s Aid Panel for the purpose of assisting members of the bar who are charged with professional violations.
- Opposed proposed “open hearings” of misconduct charges and disciplinary hearings against lawyers and judges.
- Called for the elimination of unnecessary and burdensome time sheets required to be filed by 18B Counsel on the indigent Defendant’s Defense Panel.
- Sponsored numerous “nuts and bolts” lectures and seminars designed to equip the practicing trial attorney with practical knowledge in various fields of law.
- Exposed the inequities inherent in the PSAT and SAT examinations and called for the termination of such criteria for admission to colleges and universities.
- Mounted vigorous opposition to Retired Justice Francis T. Murphy’s proposal for public hearings of lawyer’s disciplinary proceedings and sponsored a statewide poll of the profession which overwhelmingly condemned public trials of grievances against attorneys.
- Condemns whenever and wherever the need arises, the dissemination of unfair or unjust defamation and denigration of the legal profession.
In the aftermath of the “Watergate Travesty,” the Association has reviewed, studied and issued an authoritative and comprehensive report concerning the apparently illegal and improper impeachment of New York State Governor William Sulzer in 1913. It has recommended his vindication by the State Legislature. Equally important, however, to the main goal of the Committee on Justice is the appointment of a commission to review and reconstruct the present Federal and State Impeachment procedures so as to avoid politically-inspired removal of duly-elected high officials by non-reviewable legislative fiat. The personnel for these and other important tasks will come from the ranks of the Association. You are invited to join with us and take an active part in our work.