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The Constitutional Convention: Judiciary and Justice

Total Credits
2 - 2.4
CDs/DVDs Only
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Every 20 years voters decide if a Constitutional Convention should be held to propose changes in the New York State Constitution. That vote will be held on November 7, 2017.

A Constitutional Convention is the only way to make changes in the face of Albany’s legislative paralysis and to focus state government on solving the problems facing society today. The voters decide whether to call it, who will represent them, and whether to adopt the Convention’s recommendations.

Our expert panel will focus on the two key issues that are likely to be discussed in any Convention -- the judiciary and criminal justice.

Hear about the significant reforms to the judicial system that have previously been adopted and an overview of the issues that still need to be addressed, such as: the structure of the judicial system and whether it is too complex; whether the retirement age for judges should be changed; and whether judges should be selected or appointed.

Then learn about some of the major criminal justice reforms which have historically expanded the rights of defendants adopted by prior convention before the panel tackles two key aspects of the hot button issue of criminal justice reform -- the age of majority for criminal cases and the use of solitary confinement.

The key issues will be hotly debated by our panel of experts and the interactive discussion will include a question and answer session with the audience.

Lecturer Bios

Hon. Albert Rosenblatt

Hon. Albert Rosenblatt (Keynote), a seven-year veteran of New York’s Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court. Prior to this service, Judge Rosenblatt was Chief Administrative Judge of the State of New York from 1987 to 1989, a Justice of the Supreme Court, Appellate Division from 1989 to 1998 and a Justice of the New York State Supreme Court from 1981 to 1987. As New York State’s Chief Administrative Judge from 1987 to 1989, Judge Rosenblatt had responsibility for the day-to-day administrative management of New York State’s Court System. He also served as Dutchess County Court Judge from 1975 to 1981 after two terms as Dutchess County District Attorney from 1969 to 1975. He currently serves as of counsel for McCabe & Mack LLP, a law firm headquartered in Poughkeepsie.

Catherine A. Christian, esq.

Catherine A. Christian serves as the New York County District Attorney’s Office Special Assistant District Attorney for External Affairs and as Chief of the Elder Abuse Unit. After graduating from Dickinson School of Law in 1988 she began her legal career as an Assistant District Attorney in the Office’s Trial Division under Robert M. Morgenthau. She prosecuted a wide variety of crimes, including, domestic violence and homicides. In 1995, she joined a private law firm, and later served as an Assistant Counsel for the New York State Commission of Investigation. She subsequently served as the Principal Law Clerk to the Honorable Rosalyn Richter. Catherine was reappointed as an ADA in 1998 and assigned to the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor, serving in various positions, first as Senior Trial Counsel in the Special Investigations Bureau where she conducted complex long term investigations of international drug trafficking organizations. She was ultimately promoted to the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Executive Staff. In 2014, District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr appointed Catherine Chief of the Elder Abuse Unit. Catherine is a member of the Office’s Conviction Integrity Program and its Police Brady/Giglio and Exoneration Review Committees. Catherine is a member of the Appellate Division First Department’s Departmental Disciplinary Committee and Character and Fitness Committee. From 2007-2008, Catherine was President of the New York County Lawyers' Association.

Richard Brodsky

Richard Brodsky is a senior fellow at Demos and NYU Wagner. He previously served fourteen terms in the New York State Assembly, where he chaired the Committee on Environmental Conservation and the Committee on Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions. During his tenure as a Member of the Legislature, Assemblyman Brodsky was active in numerous constitutional reform issues and authored an amendment to the New York State Constitution.

Christopher Bopst

Christopher Bopst is chief legal and financial officer of Sam-Son Logistics, Inc. in Buffalo; co-author (with Peter Galie) of The New York State Constitution, 2d ed. (Oxford University Press, 2012); and, as earlier stated, is contributor and co-author of New York’s Broken Constitution: The Governance Crisis and the Path to Renewed Greatness. Mr. Bopst has, additionally, co-authored (with Peter Galie) five articles that have been published in the Albany Law Review about the New York Constitution or New York constitutional history and has been involved in efforts to educate high school students statewide about the New York State Constitution.

Gerald Benjamin

Gerald Benjamin is the associate vice president for regional engagement and director of the Benjamin Center for Public Policy Initiatives at SUNY New Paltz. He previously served as chair of the Department of Political Science and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the college. Professor Benjamin is also former director of New York State and Local Studies at the Rockefeller Institute of Government. From 1993-95, he served as research director for the NYS Constitution Revision Commission; was co-editor with Hank Dullea of the Commission’s papers, published as Decision ’97 by the Rockefeller Institute (1997); and is co-editor (with Peter Galie and Christopher Bopst) of the forthcoming volume, New York’s Broken Constitution: The Governance Crisis and the Path to Renewed Greatness (SUNY Press, 2016).

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