New York State Bar Creates New Racial Justice Task Force

June 8, 2020, 7:40 PM

The new president of the New York State Bar Association Scott Karson has announced the creation of a task force on racial justice and police brutality in light of protests that erupted following the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.

Long Island attorney Karson, who began his one-year term as NYSBA president June 1, wasted little time in asking the bar to examine how people of color are treated by New York’s criminal justice system.

“Police violence against people of color is just a symptom of the broader and more complex deep-seated racial disparities within our criminal justice system that undermine the rule of law,” Karson said in a statement. “Meaningful change will thus require much more than addressing the issue of police brutality but instead rethinking all aspects of our justice system—from arrest to sentencing and incarceration.”

The task force will look at issues of transparency, including the use of body cameras and other data-gathering techniques, as well as oversight of police conduct, and whether such reviews could become more inclusive and be improved through greater civilian participation.

Karson told Bloomberg Law on June 1 that the bar is “certainly well-qualified” to address the long-standing grievances from people of color about how justice is administered in the state.

He added then that he may enlist the help of one or more historically black bar groups to assist with the work of the task force.

Eleven days of protests in New York have attracted thousands of supporters and sparked some clashes with police.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sam Skolnik in Washington at sskolnik@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Tom P. Taylor at ttaylor@bloomberglaw.com

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