Committee on Civil Rights Home

“The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated.” -- President John F. Kennedy


Welcome to the home page of the Committee on Civil Rights for the New York State Bar Association. The term "civil rights" means many different things to many people. To some, the term evokes the epic struggle of the latter half of the 20th century for racial and gender equality, a struggle which still continues today. To others, it calls to mind the right of the individual to be free from arbitrary Government restraint on one's liberty and the exercise of freedoms held dear, such as the freedom of speech, assembly and religion. Still others see "civil rights" as covering the rights chiseled into local, state and federal laws preventing discrimination in housing, in school and at the work place. “Civil rights” fall under a broad umbrella of due process and equal protection guarantees found in our Constitution and laws. The understanding of a "civil right" has evolved and continues to evolve with the forward progress of our national conversation in the American experiment.

The Committee on Civil Rights was founded in 1952 and over the years has worked on a broad range of issues affecting the public and legal profession in New York. Most recently, the Committee has been active on issues of privacy and national security, Executive Detention and due process, the rights of immigrants, and marriage equality. The Committee’s participation on these various fronts takes many forms, from sponsoring programs to spark informed debate, to authoring encyclopedic reports on signal issues of the day, to honoring those who have done the most in our community to bend the long arc of history toward justice. If you want to learn more about the Committee's work in general, please click on the tabs on the left of this web page. If you would like to learn more about the Committee's work on habeas corpus and Guantanamo in particular, access the Committee’s blog.

Thank you for visiting the Committee’s website and we hope that you find it informative and maybe even a little inspirational. Check back often for informative updates to the website and timely blog postings.

Diana Sagorika Sen
Committee Chair

Jeremy Benjamin
Committee Secretary

Programs & events

Bail Reform in New York State: Moving Forward 
A program that will examine current law and address the issues regarding the need for reforming bail procedures in New York State courts.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016 | 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Fordham University School of Law

150 West 62nd Street, New York, NY
Moot Court Classroom

Light refreshments provided at a post-program reception 7:30 – 8:00 p.m.

There is no charge to attend, but advance registration is required.  
You may register online or via email at

This program will provide 1.5 MCLE credits in Professional Practice.  You must attend the program in order to receive credit. 

Please click here to access the coursebook for the Bail Reform in New York State: Moving Forward CLE Program. 

The Committees on Civil Rights and Diversity & Inclusion sponsored this program during The New York State Bar Association's 139th Annual Meeting.  Whether you are a criminal defense attorney, judge, law school clinician, legal services attorney or the managing partner of a major law firm, implicit bias affects you every day. This program demonstrated implicit or unconscious bias so all lawyers understand how it impacts our work. A few specific views of bias in our profession were explored: Are law schools preparing lawyers who have awareness of the impact of bias? How can implicit bias affect setting bail or jury deliberations? When do we see implicit bias in the courtroom? How can we overcome the impact of bias in law firm employment determinations including promotion and partnership? 

Justice, Race and Police Force -- Going Beyond Ferguson and Garner

Vince Warren Heashot

Vincent Warren is the Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He oversees CCR's groundbreaking litigation and advocacy work, which includes using international and domestic law to hold corporations and government officials accountable for human rights abuses; challenging racial, gender and LGBT injustice; and combating the illegal expansion of U.S. presidential power and policies such as illegal detention at Guantanamo, rendition, and torture. Prior to his tenure at CCR, Vince was a national senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, where he litigated civil rights cases, focusing on affirmative action, racial profiling, and criminal justice reform. Vince was also involved in monitoring South Africa's historic Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, and worked as a criminal defense attorney for the Legal Aid Society in Brooklyn. Vince is a graduate of Haverford College and Rutgers School of Law.

Vince is a frequent guest on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris Perry Show, The Reid Report, and Up with Chris Hayes, and has appeared on Moyers & Company with Bill Moyers. His writing has been featured in the New York Times Room for Debate, on the Huffington Post, and on, among many publications.


Committee on Civil Rights Report to the House of Delegates

Solitary Confinement in New York State