Message from the Chair of the Criminal Justice Section

Message from the Chair of the Criminal Justice Section

Below is Tucker Stanclift’s first “Message from the Chair” of the NYSBA Criminal Justice Section.

“Welcome to my first Chair’s Message in the Criminal Justice Section’s New York Criminal Law Bulletin. Most of you have been loyal members of our section. Many of you are also active in the “business” of our section. Thank you.

I am excited to begin my tenure as CJS Chair with a strategic planning session that will take place early this Fall in Nassau County. It is my hope that the leadership of this section can focus on redefining the ways in which we deliver CLE and other member benefits. We live in an ever changing technological world and you have many other choices in providers of CLE. Our goal will be to examine how the Criminal Justice Section can be your “go to” source for all your criminal law practice needs. To that end, I invite all of you to email me ( ) any of your ideas, comments, or concerns.

Why the Criminal Justice Section?

No other section of the New York State Bar Association, nor any other organization in my view, embodies such diverse perspectives on a single area of law. We are a unique blend of practitioners from varied walks of life, professional backgrounds, levels of experience, and ethnic diversity. We are judges. We are public defenders. We are private defense counsel. We are prosecutors. I believe this diversity allows us an inimitable environment to challenge each other and debate the critical issues facing criminal justice in New York. I also believe that a significant part of this organization’s duty is to improve your professional experience as a criminal lawyer. This section should provide you with skills training, resources, and professional development opportunities. I certainly have benefited greatly from the awesome influence of the venerable members of this section since I was a young lawyer. I am honored to be your Chair and to serve you together with the other officers: Sherry Levin Wallach (Former Chair), Robert Masters (Chair-Elect), David Cohen (Secretary) and Leah Nowotarski (Treasurer). Together with our distinguished Executive Committee, we endeavor to confront injustice, promote diversity, influence legislation, and learn from each other.

Our foremost objective is to carry on the section’s traditions of excellence. Our publications and CLE programs have always been among the best that the New York State Bar Association has to offer. The manner in which we continue these traditions may change in the coming year or so depending on the outcome of the strategic planning retreat this Fall. Every organization has traditions, but it also needs new goals and new initiatives from time to time. As a former Chair of the Young Lawyers Section, I appreciate fresh new ideas which take into account the time and budgetary constraints of today’s criminal lawyer. Again, please forward any ideas!

How can you be involved?

Get a seat at the table. Decisions are made by those that show up. Contact me with your area of interest and we can find a spot on a committee. Come to our meetings. Attend and participate in our programs. The Fall program will be on October 6, 2017, at the Nassau County Bar Association. More information about that meeting and program will be coming to you soon. As an active member, you can also help shape the future of our profession by helping us advance our initiatives.

We seek to continue some of the initiatives advocated over the last two years by former Chair, Sherry Levin Wallach. These initiatives include legislation for the sealing of convictions, addressing wrongful convictions, funding for indigent legal services, raising the age of criminal responsibility, counsel at first appearance, and bail reform. Our efforts in these areas have demonstrated that your involvement can lead to real change. Despite these successes, however, we still have a great deal of work to do to ensure the implementation of these reforms will be applied fairly and effectively. I will be calling upon all active members to play a role in advancing the objectives of this section, as well as, the initiatives of the New York State Bar Association that will be identified by our President, Sharon Stern Gerstman.

Our biggest project in the coming years will be Discovery Reform. An overhaul of New York’s criminal discovery rules will help innocent or over-charged defendants fairly prepare for trial and it will encourage guilty defendants to plead guilty without needless and costly delays. I expect nothing less than a healthy professional debate among our diverse leadership on how best to accomplish this reform.

As I look forward with anticipation to the exciting work to be done this year and next, I feel trepidation because it seems like times are changing for many criminal lawyers. I understand that with change comes challenge. If you want change, I challenge you to be an active member. Our membership is down year after year. The reasons for the decrease in membership, in my view, is a fundamental disconnect between the Section’s “business” and our existing members’ and potential members’ professional needs. I hope to explore solutions to these challenges in the coming year. Thank you for the privilege of serving as your Chair.”

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