Task Force on the New York State Constitutional Convention

Statement of Purpose

The New York City Bar Association has convened a Task Force on the New York State Constitutional Convention and has asked its members to undertake an analysis similar to the one done by the City Bar 20 years ago.

In November 2017, when New Yorkers head to the polls, they will see this question on the ballot: “Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend the same?” For many New Yorkers, this will be their first time seeing a constitutional convention question on the ballot; others may remember being asked that question in 1997 because in New York, every 20 years, the voters get to decide if a convention should be held. The delegates at that convention can debate whether New York’s Constitution—the document that determines the structure of New York State government and the rights of its citizens—should be changed

Twenty years ago, in 1995, the City Bar established a similar task force to examine whether a convention should be held—a question that would appear on the ballot two years later in November 1997. As part of its work, the Task Force looked at the laws and procedures that governed the calling of a constitutional convention and made recommendations for change; undertook a review and analysis of the substantive provisions of the Constitution and identified areas for potential amendment; and debated whether, on balance, it would be a good idea to hold a convention.


Task Force Members

Margaret Dale, Co-Chair; Partner, Proskauer Rose LLP

Hon. Michael Sonberg, Co-Chair; New York State Supreme Court, New York County; Former Chair, New York City Bar Association (NYCBA) State Courts Committee; Former Co-Chair, NYCBA Council on Judicial Administration*

Lindsey Olson, Secretary; Associate, Proskauer Rose LLP

Robert Anello, Partner, Morvillo Abramowitz; President Emeritus, Federal Bar Council

Greg Ballard, Partner, Sidley Austin; Former Chair, NYCBA Government Ethics Committee

Richard Briffault, Professor of Legislation, Columbia Law School*

John V. Connorton, Jr., Hawkins Delafield & Wood LLP; former Assistant Counsel to Gov. Hugh Carey

Daniel L. Feldman, Professor of Public Administration, John Jay College of Criminal Justice; Former NYS legislator; Former Assistant Deputy Attorney General; Former Special Counsel to NYS Comptroller; Author of six books on American law and government

Jeff Friedlander, Former First Assistant Corporation Counsel, New York City Law Department

Michael Gerrard, Professor of Environmental Law, Columbia Law School; Former Chair, NYCBA Executive Committee

Loren Gesinsky, Partner, Sayfarth Shaw; Former Chair, NYCBA State Affairs Committee

DeNora Getachew, Campaign Manager & Legislative Counsel, Brennan Center for Justice, NYU School of Law

Nicole Gordon, Former Founding Executive Director, NYC Campaign Finance Board; Adjunct Professor, NYU/Wagner School of Public Service; Board Member, the Marshall Project

John Halloran, Attorney, Civil Litigation and Dispute Resolution, John J. Halloran, Jr., P.C.; Former trial attorney with U.S. Justice Department; Former Law Clerk to Judge Matthew J. Jasen, NY Court of Appeals

Dennis Hawkins, Executive Director, Fund for Modern Courts; Former Regional Anti-Corruption Advisor, ABA Central and East European Law Initiative

Alfreida Kenny, Owner, Law Office of Alfreida B. Kenny

Robin Kramer, Partner, Duval & Stachenfeld; Adjunct Instructor, NYU/Schack Institute of Real Estate

Terri Matthews, Director, Town+Gown, New York City Department of Design & Construction; Former Chair, NYCBA Construction Law Committee

Doug Muzzio, Professor of Legislation, Baruch College School of Public Affairs

Maria Park, Assistant District Attorney, Kings County District Attorney’s Office

David Rosenberg, Partner, Marcus Rosenberg & Diamond, LLP; Former Chair, NYCBA State Courts Committee

Alan Rothstein, Former General Counsel, New York City Bar Association

Ross Sandler, Professor of Law, New York Law School; Former Commissioner, NYC Department of Transportation*

Frederick Schaffer, General Counsel and Senior Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs, City University of New York

Annie Ugurlayan, Senior Staff Attorney, NAD; Former Chair NYCBA Consumer Affairs Committee

Hon. James Yates, Former Chief Counsel to NY State Assembly; Former Justice, New York State Supreme Court, New York County*

The Task Force members are serving in their individual, personal capacities. They are not representing any organization or employer; affiliations are for identification purposes only.

* Member, NYCBA Task Force on New York State Constitutional Convention (1995-97)

 

Resources

Report of the New York City Bar Association Task Force on the New York State Constitutional Convention (June 14, 2017)

Yes or No in November? Discussing a Constitutional Convention for New YorkEvent Details & Audio
March 15, 2017 | 6:00 - 8:30 PM | Hosted by the City Bar's Task Force on the New York State Constitutional Convention & John Jay College of the City University of New York, Office of External Affairs and Department of Public Management

  • Statement of Helen Hershkoff, Professor of Constitutional Law and Civil Liberties, NYU School of Law 
  • Statement of Adriene Holder, Attorney-in Charge, Civil Practice Legal Aid Society of NYC 
  • Written testimony of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys UAW 2325 (AFL-CIO) 

Rockefeller Institute: New York State Constitutional Convention 2017

The New York State Constitutional Convention Clearinghouse: Information Related to New York's Nov. 7, 2017 Constitutional Convention Referendum

New York State Bar Committee on the New York Constitution

Generation CitizenNew York State Constitutional Convention - 2 Lesson Plans to Initiate Informed Action in 8th-12th grade New York students, Fall 2017

Politico: The constitutional convention debate: A guide to what's true, and what's not, Nov. 2, 2017

Gotham GazetteYes or No? Three Questions on the Back of Your November Ballot, Oct. 25, 2017

CONNECT: NY: Con Con: A WCNY Forum on the Constitutional Convention, Oct. 23, 2017

Press ConnectsCon Con: What it is and why New Yorkers should care, Oct. 19, 2017

The Brian Lehrer ShowShould New York Hold a Convention to Amend the State Constitution?, Oct. 16, 2017

Times UnionChanging NY's constitution common, even if convention isn't, Oct. 10, 2017

The Buffalo NewsStrangest of bedfellows ally to stop state constitutional convention, Oct. 8, 2017

Eagle News OnlineThe constitutional question: Voters to decide on NY Constitutional Convention in November, Sept. 27, 2017

Times Union - Capitol ConfidentialWhat would they do at a con-con? Rockefeller Institute has some ideas, Sept. 26, 2017

Hudson Valley OneWhat would a New York State Constitutional Convention do?, Sept. 19, 2017

Politico: Series on New York's 1967 Constitutional Convention

Shaking New: Will New York have a Constitutional Convention? - an overview of the process, players and public positions to date, May 24, 2017

New York Law Journal: Benefits of Overhauling NY Constitution Is Focus of Judicial Task Force, July 20, 2016

Gotham Gazette: Cuomo’s Preparatory Commission Should Prioritize Fixing ConCon Process, Jan. 19, 2016

CityLand: New York’s Constitutional Convention Vote: Hit or Stand?, Dec. 14, 2015

Times Union: Preparation lagging for Cuomo’s latest route to ethics reform, June 20, 2016

Join the Conversation

For the latest news and updates on the potential Constitutional Convention, check out our Twitter feed. Join the conversation on social media by tagging #constitutionalconvention #concon #NYconcon

Non-City Bar Events

The Constitutional Convention: Learn the Facts!
Sponsored by Diverse Bar Associations of New York
Mon, October 30, 2017 | 6:00 – 7:30 PM 
Cleary Gottlieb
450 Park Avenue, 28th Floor | New York, NY 

The New York State Constitutional Convention: Process and Possibilities
Sponsored by Citizens Union & New York Law School
Mon., September 25, 2017 | 6:30 – 8:00 PM
New York Law School
185 W Broadway | New York, NY 10013

Speaker Series: Should NY State vote in November to have a Constitutional Convention next Year?
Sponsored by Fordham School of Law
Tues., September 26, 201712:30 - 1:50 PM
Featuring City Bar President John S. Kiernan
Feerick Center for Social Justice
150 W 62nd St. | New York, NY 10023 

Capitol Confidential Breakfast Forum: A Constitutional Choice
Sponsored by New Yorkers Against Corruption and Effective NY & The Times Union’s Capitol Confidential
Wed., October 4, 2017 | 8:00 – 9:00 AM
Hearst Media Center
645 Albany Shaker Road | Loudonville, NY 12211