Kelley Drye Supports Civil Rights of Ex-Offenders by Drafting Amicus Curiae Brief on Behalf of New York Senator Bill Perkins

Kelley Drye partner Robert E. Crotty drafted a brief amicus curiae on behalf of Senator Bill Perkins to the New York Court of Appeals in Matter of Acosta v. New York City Department of Education, et. al. Senator Perkins represents the 30th Senatorial District which encompasses Harlem, the Upper West Side and Washington Heights. Senator Perkins asked Kelley Drye to file the brief to ensure that the public policy of the State, as articulated in Article 23-A, is fulfilled.

On October 12, 2006, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) denied Petitioner’s application for employment based on a determination that Petitioner would pose an unreasonable risk to the safety and welfare of the Cooke Center for Learning and Development community, in light of her conviction for robbery in the first degree in 1993, thirteen years prior to her application for employment at Cooke. Petitioner was 17 years old when she was convicted. She was in an abusive relationship and committed the crime under the influence of her boyfriend. She spent 46 months in prison and was released at her first parole hearing. After leaving prison, Petitioner attended college at night and, in June, 2001, earned her Bachelor of Science degree. Since then, she married and had a child. Prior to her employment at Cooke – where she had worked for 3 months before being required to undergo the DOE’s security procedures – she had been a paralegal at two law firms.

The Appellate Division, First Department, held that the DOE’s decision was arbitrary and capricious, violated the plain language of New York State Correction Law Article 23-A, and the public policy of the state of New York, which is to encourage the licensure and employment of persons previously convicted” of a crime. Kelley Drye’s brief argued that the Appellate Division’s decision was in accordance with the public policy of New York State and the plain intent of the statute.