David Bookstaver, Director
Mai Yee, Assistant Director
Date: September 16,1999
|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
Kenneth E. Ackerman
Terrance M. Bedient
Katherine S. Bifaro
Sheila L Birnbaum
Peter J. DeLuca
Timothy D. Foley
Robert P. Guido
W. David Harmon, Ph.D.
John W. Keegan
Hon. Sarah L. Krauss
Ray M. Lopez, Director
Eugene J. O'Brien
David R. Pfalzgraf
Hon. Ann T. Pfau
Hon. Vincent J. Reilly, Jr.
Eileen C. Travis
Joan G. Wexler
Counsel: Patricia K. Bucklin
Margaret S. Morton