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Our Mission

To support and advance the criminal defense function by enhancing the quality of defense representation, taking positions on important defense issues, fostering understanding and consensus in areas of mutual concern to defense lawyers and prosecutors, and promoting collegiality among lawyers on both sides and the bench.

About Us

The New York Council of Defense Lawyers (“NYCDL”), established in 1986 as a not-for-profit professional association, has a membership of about 250 very experienced lawyers whose principal area of practice is the defense of criminal cases, particularly in the federal courts in New York. Many of our members are former Assistant United States Attorneys, including a number of former Chiefs of the Criminal Division in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. Our membership also includes lawyers from the Federal Defender offices in these two districts, including the Executive Director and Attorney-in-Chief of the Federal Defenders of New York. Our members also include lawyers from the Federal Defender offices in these two districts.

The NYCDL’s mission includes protecting and ensuring individual rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution by rule of law through education; supporting the criminal defense function by enhancing the quality of defense representation; taking positions on important defense issues; promoting study and research of the criminal justice system; and promoting the proper administration of criminal justice.

The NYCDL holds a biennial weekend retreat in the fall for members, invited prosecutors, judges and other distinguished guests, who meet informally and discuss topics of special concern to the defense bar; an annual luncheon at which the Norman Ostrow Award, in memory of a distinguished founding member NYCDL, is presented to a defense lawyer for “outstanding contribution to the defense of liberty and the preservation of individual rights”; panel programs for members and non-members on current topics of special interest; and informal luncheons for members and invited judges throughout the year.

The NYCDL’s committees include three Liaison Committees that meet periodically with the United States Attorneys for the Southern and Eastern Districts and the District Attorney for New York County to discuss issues of mutual concern; a Federal Sentencing Guidelines Committee that has, since the Guidelines’ inception, commented formally and often proposed Guidelines amendments; an Ethics, Legislation and Rules Committee that keeps current with these areas as they affect defense practice and prepares NYCDL positions; and an Amicus Committee that writes briefs on our behalf on significant issues in trial and appellate courts.