The postings below present recent noteworthy CAL court appearances and case outcomes. Please use the
On March 10, 2020, the Appellate Term, First Department reversed CAL client A.B.’s conviction for a violation of Public Health Law 229. The Court concluded that the record failed to establish that A.B.’s plea was knowing, intelligent, and voluntary. The Court dismissed the accusatory instrument and ordered A.B.’s fine remitted. CAL Law Graduate Kyleen Breslin represented A.B. on appeal.
On March 5, 2020, the Appellate Division, First Department reversed CAL client W.S.’s conviction on more than 20 counts of gun-related charges. The Court held that W.S. was entitled to vacatur of his guilty plea because the plea court failed to advise him that his sentence would include a five-year term of post-release supervision. CAL attorney Megan Byrne represented W.S. on appeal.
In an article featured in the March 2020 issue of the NYSBA Journal entitled "Domestic Violence Survivor-Defendants: New Hope for Humane and Just Outcomes," Supervising Attorney Kate Skolnick discusses implementation of the new DVSJA provisions.
Our Books Beyond Bars project has partnered with the National Book Foundation for their Literature for Justice campaign.
Supervising Attorney Kate Skolnick named Co-Chair of the Statewide DVSJA Task Force. The Task Force was formed by New York's criminal defense bar in January 2020 to provide statewide coordination and support to defenders in the implementation of the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act.
Books Beyond Bars raised $30,000 through our holiday drive. Thanks to the generosity of our friends, we will be able to continue sending reading materials to people incarcerated across New York.
Immigrant Justice Project Attorney Sussan Lee discussed the importance of crimmigration work at the appellate level in the Winter 2020 Harvard Law Bulletin.
An article in the New York Law Journal features Justice First Director Claudia Trupp, describing her first post-conviction case and the lessons learned since.
The Princeton Alumni Weekly featured appellate fellow Shaina Watrous, who, prior to joining CAL, spent her undergraduate and law school careers fighting to make this country's most elite educational institutions more accessible to prospective students with criminal records.
Former CAL Attorney Nicolas Duque Franco authored an article on his experience working with our office for his first year in public defense for the New York State Bar Association's New York Criminal Law Newsletter. We will miss him very much!
CAL Attorney Alex Ferlise authored an article on the policing of low-level offenses published for the New York State Bar Association. The article, Summons or Arrest?, looks at the inconsistent way in which low level offenses are enforced in New York City. Some people are arrested, processed, and detained where, under similar facts, another person is simply given a summons. By prioritizing issuing summons for low level offenses rather than making arrests, the city can enforce the law without the enormous expenditure of resources and negative collateral consequences associated with arrests.
CAL's Books Beyond Bars initiative joined a host of other books-to-prisoners organizations to file an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court. The amicus urges the Court to decide whether the Florida Department of Corrections’ blanket ban of the widely-circulated publication Prison Legal News violates the First Amendment. Access the amicus brief on the Supreme Court's website.
We join our community in expressing our deepest regret over the untimely passing of Charles “Chas” Ransom on October 22, 2017. Though paroled for less than three months after serving 33 years in prison, he already was a beloved member of the re-entry community. Having begun his advocacy work while incarcerated, Chas was involved in various projects, including founding the Lifers and Longtermers Organization at Otisville Correctional Facility. As the Lifers President, he coordinated their annual Parole Summit, from which launched the National Lawyers Guild’s Parole Preparation Project, where volunteers prepare incarcerated individuals serving life sentences for their upcoming Parole Board appearances. In recent weeks, he had gained employment at Appellate Advocates as a Re-entry Program Associate. During his brief time as a returning citizen, he quickly became an integral part of CAL’s re-entry services, serving as a mentor and source of inspiration.
On May 18, 2017, several current and former members of the CAL staff were featured as guest speakers at the Brooklyn Reentry Consortium, focusing on the specific challenges that persons convicted of sex offenses face upon release into the community. CAL's resident social worker Susannah Karlin and Senior Appellate Counsel Lauren Springer both had the opportunity to speak on their areas of expertise, as did former CAL staff attorney Jill Sanders. The consortium was cosponsored by CAL and organized in collaboration with the Kings County Reentry Task Force -- a joint venture between the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, the NYS Department of Corrections & Community Supervision, and the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services to provide support for certain adults transitioning from incarceration back into Brooklyn’s communities.
On March 1, 2017, CAL had the pleasure of hosting a fundraiser benefiting the Immigrant Defense Project. CAL's Robin Nichinsky and Mark Zeno were honored for their work representing immigrant clients seeking post-conviction relief in partnership with IDP. The event featured sales of artworks by the Brooklyn Waterfront Artist Collective, which are on rotational display in CAL's office space at 120 Wall Street. Many thanks to all who participated in making the evening such a success for IDP and the featured artists.
CAL is proud to announce that, on January 28, 2017, Attorney-in-Charge Robert S. Dean was named a Fellow of the New York Bar Foundation. Fellows are nominated by peers and recognized for distinguished achievement, dedication to the legal profession, and commitment to the organized bar and service to the public. As Emily F. Franchina, Chair of the Fellows, stated, "Being a Fellow of the New York Bar Foundation is an honor. Fellows represent one percent of the New York State Bar Association membership. Being nominated and elected is a notable achievement."
On August 15th, CAL welcomed Marianne Yang as a supervising attorney and co-director of the recently renamed Immigrant Justice Project, formerly known as the Padilla Project. Marianne brings a wealth of knowledge at the intersection of immigration and criminal law from her experience at IDP and Brooklyn Defender Services. She looks forward to working with fellow project co-director Robin Nichinsky on expanding the breadth and depth of CAL's post-conviction advocacy for clients facing immigration consequences.
In July, CAL welcomed both John Santoro and Maya Hart as new Client Advocates. Maya graduated from Williams College in June and John graduated from Columbia University in May. They will be joining current Client Advocate Erika Parry in the north wing of the office, and they look forward to supporting CAL's appellate work as well as enchancing our mission of holistic advocacy and client services.
On June 11, 2015, CAL's social worker, Susannah Karlin, and CAL SORA specialist Jill Sanders, did a presentation at the bi-monthly meeting of the Bronx Re-entry Task Force. Their presentation dealt with sex offender registration and the challenges these persons face when re-entering their communities. After a 10 minute presentation, Susannah and Jill fielded nearly an hour of questions about the ins-and-outs of the sex offender registration process, how sex offender residency restrictions effect communities, and how to dispel the myths surrounding “stranger danger” and the rates of sexual recidivism. The presentation helped give members of the re-entry community important information about the topics discussed.
On January 24, 2013, CAL Attorney-in-Charge Robert S. Dean received the New York State Bar Association's 2012 award for Outstanding Appellate Practitioner. The award was established in 2003, to recognize "outstanding advocacy, protection of due process and the public welfare, and the integrity of the judicial system."
CAL Senior Supervising Attorney Abigail Everett was chosen to receive New York County Lawyers' Association 2012 Public Service Award. United States Attorney for the Southern District, Preeta Bharara, presented the award at the September 12, 2012 ceremony.
See the shout-out to CAL in the first report issued by the National Registry of Exonerations in the United States 1989-2012, a joint project of the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University Law School. The report details the 873 individual exonerations in the United States from January 1989 through February 2012. CAL's Justice First Project provided statistics to Professor Sam Gross on its cases over the course of a number of years.