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At New York Ethics Review Commission Hearing, City Bar Bemoans JCOPE’S Lack of Independence and Initiative


Eric Friedman
(212) 382-6754

Kathryn Inman
(212) 382-6656

At New York Ethics Review Commission Hearing, City Bar Bemoans JCOPE’S Lack of Independence and Initiative

New York, October 14, 2015 – The New York City Bar Association presented testimony today before the New York Ethics Review Commission and offered a series of recommendations that could be taken immediately to strengthen the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE). 

Building on the work of its 2014 report “Hope for JCOPE,” which was issued jointly with Common Cause/New York, the City Bar expressed concern over “JCOPE’s lack of both actual and perceived independence” and its failure “to instill in officeholders, much less the public, any serious confidence or concern that JCOPE can or will deter, uncover or punish unethical or criminal conduct.” The testimony and supporting exhibits identified steps JCOPE can take right now, without legislative action, as well as necessary legislative amendments, to ensure that it is operating independently, vigorously and fairly to provide meaningful ethics enforcement for New York State.  

“It is unfortunate in our view that JCOPE has largely chosen to seek unnecessary new authority rather than to use its existing authority under the State Code of Ethics in a robust and purposive manner,” said the City Bar in its prepared statement. The testimony reiterated the City Bar’s belief that “vigorous ethics enforcement is in both the public interest and the interest of the many, many public servants who obey the law.”

The City Bar was represented at the hearing by members of its Government Ethics Committee, former President Evan A. Davis and Daniel E. Karson. The Committee has spent the last several years studying the effectiveness of JCOPE and was vocal in supporting the appointment of the Review Commission to ensure JCOPE realizes its original promise.   

Read the City Bar’s prepared statement, its “Hope for JCOPE” report (Exhibit 1), and its recommendations (Exhibits 3 and 4) here: 

About the Association
The New York City Bar Association, since its founding in 1870, has been dedicated to maintaining the high ethical standards of the legal profession, promoting reform of the law and access to justice, and providing service to the profession and the public. The Association, through its 24,000 members, continues to work for political, legal and social reform, while implementing innovative means to help the disadvantaged. Protecting the public’s welfare remains one of the Association’s highest priorities.