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Criminal Justice

Terrorism Law Is Practice Niche in New York City

Posted Nov 26, 2012 7:40 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Some lawyers in New York City are developing a new expertise: defending accused terrorists.

The defendants are often tried in Manhattan or Brooklyn, and now there is a pool of qualified lawyers in the city to represent them, the New York Times reports. Often the lawyers are appointed by the courts; some of them work for the Public Defender’s office.

The story quotes Ronald Kuby, who represented a Queen Imam. “By any metric you use,” he said, “New York is home of the terror bar.”

Lawyers who represent terrorism clients often have to receive security clearances, and they are familiar with laws involving classified information and foreign intelligence searches, the story says. Often they travel overseas to interview witnesses and family members. At least one—Zoë Dolan—speaks Arabic. Another recently appointed to a new panel of qualified terrorism lawyers—Katya Jestin—works in BigLaw, for Jenner & Block.

Thirty-six lawyers were recruited for the panel by the federal court in Brooklyn. Magistrate Judge Cheryl Pollak tells the Times that many lawyers were eager to join the terrorism panel, as well as another panel for capital cases. Pollak says she was “surprised at the number of people who had already had that kind of experience, which obviously was what we were looking for.”

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