Communications Office:
David Bookstaver, Director
Mai Yee, Assistant Director
(212) 428-2500

Date: September 16,1999

Seal of the Unified Court System
Chief Judge Appoints Commission to Target Alcohol and Drug Abuse Among Lawyers and Judges
 ALBANY - Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye today announced the appointment of the Commission on Alcohol and Substance Abuse in the Profession, which represents the first systemic effort by the New York State court system to address substance abuse within the legal profession. Hon. Joseph W. Bellacosa, Senior Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals, will chair the 19-member committee.

At least 10 percent of all persons in the United States are chemically dependent, but experts agree that this number is higher for attorneys. A Washington study found problem drinking among 18 to 25 percent of lawyers, and a similar study in Arizona confirmed these numbers among young attorneys. The Washington study also found that 26 percent of the lawyers had used cocaine at some point in their lives, compared with 12 percent of the general population. Further, an American Bar Association study of attorney disciplinary cases in New York and California determined that up to 70 percent involved alcoholism.

"The legal profession - like the general population - includes individuals impaired by alcohol and drug abuse," said Chief Judge Kaye. "However, unlike the general population, lawyers, judges and court personnel are invested with a unique public trust. How to assist these individuals, and how to protect the public against breaches of that trust, is the challenge of this new Commission, which will look at prevention and early detection, as well as identifying all existing and potential resources to address this serious problem."

Judge Kaye added, "I want to extend my personal thanks to all of the Commission members for their willingness to participate in this important task, and to Judge Bellacosa for lending his superb leadership as chair. I also want to give praise and due recognition to the trail-blazing efforts of the New York State Bar Association, which for many years has operated a program to assist chemically dependent lawyers. They are to be heartily commended for their leadership in this area and their dedication to colleagues in need."

Judge Bellacosa, the Commission's chair, noted, "The goal of the Commission will be to widen our understanding of the problem of substance abuse within the legal community and to formulate a realistic action plan to mitigate the harmful consequences to the profession and the public. Since the Chief Judge and I have long shared a deep concern in this area, I feel honored to be asked to help and am pleased to accept the challenge."

The Commission on Alcohol and Substance Abuse in the Profession is an interdisciplinary panel, made up of lawyers, judges, law school deans, administrators and experts in the field of substance abuse.

Commission on Alcohol and Substance Abuse in the Profession: Member List

Chair: Hon. Joseph W. Bellacosa
 Senior Associate Judge, New York State Court of Appeals
 Albany, NY

Kenneth E. Ackerman
Mackenzie Smith Lewis Michell & Hughes, LLP
Syracuse, NY 13221

Terrance M. Bedient
Director, Committee for Physicians' Health
Medical Society of the State of NY
Albany, NY

Katherine S. Bifaro
Executive Director, Bar Association of Erie County
Buffalo, NY

Sheila L Birnbaum
Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, LLP
New York, NY

Peter J. DeLuca
Kaye Scholer Fierman Hays & Handler, LLP
New York, NY

Timothy D. Foley
Chair, Committee on Lawyer Alcoholism and Drug Abuse
Foley & Frye
Utica, NY

Robert P. Guido
Deputy Counsel, State of NY Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District
Syosset, NY

W. David Harmon, Ph.D.
Director of the Counseling Center, St. John's University
Jamaica, NY

John W. Keegan
Keegan Keegan & Strutt, LLP
White Plains, NY

Hon. Sarah L. Krauss
Criminal Court of New York City
Brooklyn, NY

Ray M. Lopez, Director
Lawyer Assistance Program, New York State Bar Association
Albany, NY

Frederick Miller
Executive Director, Lawyers Fund for Client Protection
Albany, NY

Eugene J. O'Brien
Hammill, O'Brien, Croutier and Dempsey, P.C.
Smithtown, NY

David R. Pfalzgraf
Renda, Pares & Pfalzgraf
Buffalo, NY

Hon. Ann T. Pfau
Deputy Chief Administrative Judge, Office of Court Administration
New York, NY

Hon. Vincent J. Reilly, Jr.
Schenectady County Family Court
Schenectady, NY

Eileen C. Travis
Director, The New York City Lawyer Assistance Program
Association of the Bar of the City of New York
New York, NY

Joan G. Wexler
Dean, Brooklyn Law School
Brooklyn, NY

Counsel: Patricia K. Bucklin
Director of Public Affairs, Office of Court Administration
Albany, NY

Margaret S. Morton
Assistant Deputy Chief Administrator, Office of Court Administration
New York, NY


Web page updated: August 16, 2006