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New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers - NYSACDL

New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers - NYSACDL
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Despite a snow storm which closed schools and cancelled flights, NYSACDL held it’s Annual Dinner at the Prince George Ballroom on January 27.   The Ballroom was filled with almost 250 guests who were on hand to congratulate George Goltzer on completion of his term in office and to welcome Kevin D. O’Connell as President for 2011. Kevin O’Connell is one of the founding members of New York County Defenders where he conducts training while carring a felony case load.  George Goltzer, a Manhattan private practitioner, starts trial on February 14  in the Eastern District of New York in US v. Basciano, et al., a case in which the government is seeking the death penalty against his client.

Joel B. Rudin received the Hon. Thurgood S. Marshall Award for Outstanding Criminal Practitioner.

Joel Rudin was honored for his body of work which includes obtaining a reversal of Danny Colon’s  Manhattan murder conviction in November 2009 by the Court of Appeals, following a 440 motion, due to People’s knowing reliance on false testimony from a “jailhouse snitch” witness minimizing the benefits he had received from the D.A.’s Office and other Brady violations.  Colon spent 20 years in jail including 3 years of pretrial detention.  Shih Wei Su’s Queens attempted murder conviction was vacated by the Second Circuit on federal habeas review in 2003 on similar grounds: the DA’s knowing reliance on false cooperating witness testimony denying any deal for leniency in his own case with the D.A.   Joel represented Su in the subsequent federal civil rights lawsuit brought against the City of New York for the unlawful Brady policies of the Queens DA’s Office.  The case settled in 2008 ago for $3.5 million.

Jabbar Collins’ 1995 Brooklyn murder conviction was vacated on federal habeas review in June, 2010 due to pervasive Brady violations and knowing reliance on false testimony by the Brooklyn DA’s office.  He is now employed by Rudin’s law firm as a paralegal.  A fourth client of Joel’s was also present at the dinner (although not pictured here) was the Rev. Nathaniel T. Grady, Jr. who spent 10 years in prison on a false child abuse allegation which was vacated on federal habeas review in 1996.  The case was later dismissed.

Manual D. Vargas (Manny) was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award

Manny Vargas Receives NYSACDL Lifetime Achievement Award

Manuel (Manny) Vargas is the Founder, former Director, and now Senior Counsel of the Immigrant Defense Project in New York.  A nationally known expert on the immigration consequences of criminal convictions, he is the author of several legal resource materials for advocacy on behalf of immigrants accused of crimes, including Representing Immigrant Defendants in New York (4th ed, 2006; 5th ed. coming in 2011), and provides training and immigration law backup assistance on criminal/immigration issues.  Mr. Vargas has also played key roles in litigation defending the legal rights of immigrants placed in removal proceedings based on criminal charges, including Padilla v. Kentucky, 130 S. Ct. 1473 (2010); Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder, 130 S. Ct. 2577 (2010), Lopez v. Gonzales, 549 U.S. 47 (2006); INS v. St. Cyr, 533 U.S. 89 (2001).  Pior to his work at the Immigrant Defense Project  (formerly affiliated with the New York State Defenders Association), Mr. Vargas spent eight years (1988-1996) representing and counseling immigrants in immigration proceedings as a staff and supervising attorney of the New York City Legal Aid Society Immigration Law Unit.   Mr. Vargas, a native of Colombia, South America, is a graduate of Yale College (B.A. 1979) and the New York University School of Law (J.D. 1984).  His advocacy work on behalf of immigrants has been recognized by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (2007 Jack Wasserman Award for Excellence in Litigation in the Field of Immigration Law), New York State Bar Association Criminal Justice Section (2002 Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Delivery of Defense Services), New York State Attorney General’s Office (2002 Award for Distinguished Public Service in the Legal Profession), and New York State Defenders Association (2000 Service of Justice Award).

Donald M. Thompson was honored with the Gideon Champion of Justice Award.

Although he was snowed in and could not make it to the dinner, Donald Thompson of Rochester was presented with the Gideon Champion of Justice award for his tireless pursuit for exonerations of three wrongfully convicted individuals, including Frank Sterling.  NYSACDL Past President presented the Award and accepted it for Don in his absence.


More scenes from the Event