II. Defending Everyone to Defend Democracy
In 1954, when Sen. Joseph McCarthy denounced, in Newsweek, a City Bar member as a defender of Communists, the Association’s President, Bethuel M. Webster, responded in a letter to the editor that “the right to counsel requires public acceptance of the correlative right of a lawyer to represent and defend, in accordance with the standards of the bar, any client without having imputed to him his client’s reputation, views or character.” At the City Bar, it has always gone without saying that the right to a defense, and therefore to a lawyer, is sacrosanct.
1868
William M. Evarts, who would become the Association’s first President, defends Andrew Johnson in his impeachment trial.
William M. Evarts vintage imgage
1946
The City Bar and New York County Lawyers Association launch the Legal Referral Service, the oldest lawyer referral service in New York State.
1956
The Association publishes its “Report of the Special Committee on the Federal Loyalty-Security Program,” writing, “The approach of the Committee is that in striving to achieve security we dare not lapse into the oppressive measures of the Communist enemy.” The Washington Post writes, “The members and staff of the Association’s distinguished Special Committee…have performed a service for the American people — a service in the highest tradition of the Bar.”
2009
The City Bar Justice Center is featured on the front page of the New York Times for exposing the lack of due process for immigrant detainees at the Varick Street Detention Facility.
2018
Letter to U.S. Senate and House Judiciary Committees urging comprehensive hearings regarding Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security’s “zero tolerance” policy requiring criminal prosecution of all irregular entrants to the U.S.
The New York Times historical paper
1920
The Association condemns the New York Legislature’s expulsion of five socialist members.
1949
The Association’s Committee on the Bill of Rights issues a report with recommendations for how to preserve an individual’s rights when testifying, particularly in the wake of hearings by the House Un-American Activities Committee.
1987
The Association launches the Amnesty Counseling Program to assist immigrants affected by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.
Immigrant children embracing
2013
The City Bar issues report on the NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk Policy.