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)



Statement of Helen Hershkoff, Professor of Constitutional Law and Civil Liberties, NYU School of Law at 3/15 program "Yes or No in November? Discussing a Constitutional Convention for New York"

Statement of Adriene Holder, Attorney-in Charge, Civil Practice Legal Aid Society of NYC at 3/15 program "Yes or No in November? Discussing a Constitutional Convention for New York"

Written testimony of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys UAW 2325 (AFL-CIO) for 3/15 program "Yes or No in November? Discussing a Constitutional Convention for New York"

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

Connect: NY – Constitutional Convention: To help voters make informed decisions, WCNY will explore this important opportunity to reshape government beginning with a series of six episodes of Connect:NY. WCNY’s news and public affairs director Susan Arbetter will host monthly conversations on six of the key aspects of the issue on Connect:NY. Stakeholders in government, labor, the environment, law and business will join scholars and educators will join a lively, in-studio presentation that will be produced from WCNY’s Broadcast and Education Center.

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

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

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