Helping recent veterans readjust to society and boosting New York's historically low voter turnout rates will be the dual focus of the New York State Bar Association's 2013 Presidential Summit.

The summit, the centerpiece of the Association's weeklong Annual Meeting, will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, January 23, in the Grand Ballroom West at the Hilton New York in Manhattan.

"We rely on our men and women in the armed services to protect our democracy," said State Bar President Seymour W. James, Jr. (The Legal Aid Society in New York City).  "So it's altogether fitting that our Presidential Summit this year focuses on assisting our returning military veterans and on finding ways to increase New Yorkers' participation in the democratic process."

The first panel discussion, "Attorneys Honoring Veterans Through Service" will be held from 2 to 3:30 p.m. to discuss a variety of issues faced by veterans when they return to civilian life. Those issues include combat-related physical and psychological disabilities, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, unemployment, consumer debt, family stress, substance abuse and homelessness.

Col. David W. Sutherland (Ret.) will deliver the keynote address. He is a veteran of two wars during his 29 years in the U.S. Army. His last military assignment was as special assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with principal focus on Warrior and Family Support. He is executive director of the Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Community Services in Chicago.

• Col. David W. Sutherland (Ret.);
• Army National Guard Col. Gary Yaple, President and Chief Executive Officer, Veterans Outreach Center, Inc., Rochester;
• Hon. Robert T. Russell, Jr., Presiding Judge, Buffalo Veterans Treatment Court, Buffalo;
• Carol Davidson, Veterans Program Director, Samaritan Village, Queens;
• John Powers, Partner, Hancock Estabrook, Syracuse.

• Vincent E. Doyle III, Immediate Past President, New York State Bar Association

In November, the Bar Association's House of Delegates approved a report by the Special Committee on Veterans that called for providing veterans of the U.S. military with better access to quality legal services and the creation of more specialized veterans courts.

The second panel discussion, "Access and Integrity: Enhancing Democracy Through Voter Participation," will be held from 3:30 to 5 p.m.  It will explore barriers to voting throughout the country, as well as proposed policy changes in New York that might improve voter turnout while protecting the integrity of the electoral process.

New York consistently ranks near the bottom of all states in voter enrollment and turnout. A State Bar committee has recommended changes in New York's laws to modernize the state's electoral system, including same-day registration, early voting, improved ballot design and enhanced policies to prevent deceptive election practices.

• Michael Waldman, President, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, New York City;
• Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, New York City;
• Jeremy Creelan, Special Counsel to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on public integrity and ethics reform, Albany;
• Professor Theodore "Ted" Shaw, prominent civil rights attorney and professor of professional practice at Columbia Law School, New York City;
• Hans von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow and Manager, Heritage Foundation's Civil Justice Reform Initiative, Washington, D.C.

• John R. Dunne of Albany (Whiteman Osterman & Hanna), co-chair, State Bar's Special Committee on Voter Participation;
• Daniel F. Kolb of New York City (Davis Polk & Wardwell), co-chair, State Bar's Special Committee on Voter Participation.

The State Bar's 136th Annual Meeting will take place from January 21-26 at the Hilton New York, 1335 Avenue of the Americas, New York City.

The New York State Bar Association, with 76,000 members, is the largest voluntary state bar association in the country. It was founded in 1876.


Contact: Mark Mahoney

Associate Director, Media Services and Public Affairs