This Law Day provides an opportunity to celebrate the contributions to the rule of law made by members of the New York bar who have worked at pro bono efforts on behalf of those in need. The New York State Bar Association issued a press release announcing its annual Pro Bono Awards honoring lawyers, law firms and law students who provided free legal services to the poor. The award is given to convey a message about the importance of helping to provide all New Yorkers, regardless of income, with equal access to the justice system. The awards are to be presented today at the State Bar Center in Albany.
Among the honorees is the New York law firm of Kaye Scholer LLP, which was selected to receive the prestigious Pro Bono Award in the Large Law Firm category. The firm, with more than a dozen alumni from Brooklyn Law School, was recognized for the 27,115 hours of pro bono work, averaging 79 hours per attorney. The matters handled covered a broad range of practice areas, from successfully convincing the Governor of Virginia to commute the death sentence of a mentally incompetent client one day before he was to be put to death, to petitions for Holocaust survivors seeking pension funds from the German government for work performed in ghettos, to political asylum applications for immigrant victims of torture and persecution.
With the debate about the legality of torture, it is gratifying to see members of the bar address the issue in a manner that merits the awarding of an honor rather than the prospect of prosecution. On this Law Day, the legal community has much to debate about the legality of torture. The BLS Library collection of material on this topic includes:
Why Not Torture Terrorists?: Moral, Practical, and Legal Aspects of the “Ticking Bomb”' Justification For Torture by Yuval Ginbar (Call #K5256 .G56 2008)
The United Nations Convention Against Torture: a Commentary by Manfred Nowak (Call #K5304.A41984 N69 2008)
A Question of Torture: CIA interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror by Alfred W. McCoy (Call #HV8599.U6 M33 2006)
The Torture Debate in America edited by Karen J. Greenberg (Call #JC599.U5 T665 2006)