About Appeals and Legal Affairs

The Legal Affairs Bureau handles all appellate advocacy for the Office and serves as a legal department and research center for all of the Office's Assistant District Attorneys. Attorneys in the Legal Affairs Bureau help trial attorneys in the office formulate legal arguments and strategies, research case precedents and answer complex questions of law. They also advise senior staff members on policy matters that have legal considerations and weigh in on legislative proposals. Legal Affairs Bureau attorneys also shape the law by selecting and pursuing appeals in which the state is the appellant, thereby directly affecting how the laws of the state of New York are interpreted by the trial courts. The vast majority of the work remains writing briefs on points of law contested after trial and making those arguments in the appellate courts. The Bureau handles approximately 85 appeals on an annual basis and enjoys a greater than 95% rate of success.

The Bureau is staffed with experienced appellate attorneys who are skilled at identifying trial and legal issues.  They serve as advisers to trial counsel and act as aggressive advocates for the Office's legal positions in the handling of appellate cases. The Legal Affairs Bureau is also staffed with younger attorneys who are assigned on a temporary basis in order to hone their legal research and writing skills and to enhance their base of legal knowledge. They participate in a training program specifically tailored to the needs of the Legal Affairs Bureau and the handling of appellate work. After their legal skills have been sharpened, these younger attorneys are often moved into other bureaus where they can apply these skills in trial level courts.

The quality of the Bureau's advocacy has helped ensure that the appellate courts fashion legal rules that will not only have a fair and equitable application to the case at hand, but to the criminal justice system as a whole.

The Bureau's role as a legal advisor to the rest of the office is also an essential part of its mission. Legal Affairs attorneys act as liaisons with other bureaus in the office and regularly provide legal advice and guidance on difficult issues that arise during the course of investigations and prosecutions. In addition to its work on criminal appeals, the Legal Affairs Bureau handles office-related civil litigation in both trial and appellate level courts, including habeas corpus proceedings and Article 78 petitions. Assistant District Attorneys in the Bureau argue before the Appellate Division, Third Department, and the New York State Court of Appeals. Additionally, the Bureau provides training to local law enforcement agencies on a range of legal issues.