April 29, 2011
STATE BAR ASSOCIATION URGES ACTION ON PRIORITIES: ETHICS, SAME-SEX MARRIAGE AND WRONGFUL CONVICTION
New York State Bar Association President Stephen P. Younger calls on the state lawmakers to enact sweeping reform of state and local government ethics laws, legalize same-sex marriage and ensure that individuals are not wrongfully convicted of crimes.
In a letter sent to members of the Legislature on the eve of their return to Albany Monday, Younger wrote the three issues "are of vital importance to the Association and to the people of New York State.”
The House of Delegates, the governing body of the State Bar, has approved comprehensive recommendations on ethics reform, same sex marriage and wrongful convictions.
On ethics reform, Younger wrote in his April 26 letter, “All those who serve in or seek to serve in public office should promote and enhance the public’s trust and confidence in government by adhering to the highest ethical standards.” (NYSBA's PDF report is available here: http://www.nysba.org/EthicsRpt )
His letter points to ways that the state's marriage law discriminates against gays and lesbians. “Under current state law, there are significant differences in the legal treatment of marital relationships and committed same-sex relationships in a wide range of matters such as property rights, financial support, responsibilities to children, health care, social security, long-term care, domestic violence, access to the court system, and other issues.” (Link to PDF report: http://www.nysba.org/LGBT)
Wrongful convictions, Younger wrote legislators, “cast serious doubt on a fundamental assumption of our criminal justice system—i.e., that the innocent are protected. With each reported wrongfully convicted and imprisoned individual, it becomes clearer that steps must be taken to lessen the likelihood of wrongful convictions.” (Link to PDF report: http://www.nysba.org/WrongfulConvictionsRpt)
The complete text of Younger’s letter to the Legislature is available at http://www.nysba.org/Lettertolegislature (PDF).
The 77,000-member New York State Association is the largest voluntary bar association in the nation. It was founded in 1876.