Seymour W. James Named to Rikers Special Commission by Former Chief Judge Lippman
FRIDAY, MARCH 18, 2016

Seymour W. James, the Attorney-in-Chief of The Legal Aid Society, has been named to the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform to study the Rikers Island jail complex by former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman.

The commission will study the Rikers Island jail complex and determine whether inmates should be held there or whether alternatives to the jail complex should be found.




Members of Rikers Island Review Panel Selected
Joel Stashenko
New York Law Journal
March 18, 2016

Former chief judge Jonathan Lippman announced Thursday the members of a commission he is chairing to study the Rikers Island jail complex and whether alternative facilities are practical.

Lippman said he chose the 26 appointees because of their knowledge of corrections, the courts, juvenile justice and the legal system. He said no political office holders were selected because "the commission wants to be truly independent and to be able to stand back and look at the problem without being in the middle of the political cauldron."

Among those serving on the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform will be: Richard Aborn, president of the Citizen's Crime Commission; Mylan Denerstein, a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and former counsel to Gov. Andrew Cuomo; Seymour James Jr., attorney-in-chief of the Legal Aid Society of New York City; Jeanette Ruiz, administrative judge of New York City Family Courts; Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation and Kathryn Wylde, president of Partnership for New York City.

Lippman, who is now of counsel at Latham & Watkins, said the panel will tour Rikers Island, hold public hearings, release preliminary findings and make final recommendations in about a year.

The commission will initially study why the 14,000 Rikers inmates are there and whether they could be held elsewhere, and consider alternatives to the jail complex.

The commission's formation was announced last month by New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who said she ultimately hopes to see Rikers closed because of its harsh conditions and violence (NYLJ, Feb. 16 ). The full list of appointees is below.

  • Chairman Jonathan Lippman, of counsel at Latham & Watkins and former chief judge of the state of New York.
  • Richard Aborn, president of the Citizen's Crime Commission of New York City.
  • Juan Cartagena, president and general counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF.
  • Judge Matthew D'Emic, presiding judge of the Brooklyn Mental Health Court.
  • Mylan Denerstein, partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.
  • Robert Fiske, Jr., senior counsel at Davis Polk & Wardwell and former Southern District U.S. Attorney.
  • MaryAnne Gilmartin, president and chief executive officer of Forest City Ratner Companies.
  • Colvin Grannum, president and chief executive officer of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corp.
  • Michael Jacobson, executive director of the CUNY Institute for State & Local Governance and board chairman of the New York City Criminal Justice Agency.
  • Seymour James, Jr., attorney- in-chief of The Legal Aid Society of New York.
  • Judy Harris Kluger, executive director of Sanctuary For Families and former chief of policy and planning for the Office of Court Administration.
  • Peter Madonia, chief operating officer of the Rockefeller Foundation.
  • Glenn Martin, president of JustLeadershipUSA.
  • Julio Medina, executive director and chief executive officer of Exodus Transitional Community, Inc.
  • Ana Oliveira, president and chief executive officer of The New York Women's Foundation.
  • Rocco Pozzi, probation commissioner, Westchester County Department of Probation and former Commissioner of the Westchester County Department of Correction.
  • Laurie Robinson, Clarence J. Robinson Professor of Criminology, Law and Society at George Mason University and former assistant attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs.
  • Stanley Richards, board member of the New York City Board of Correction and senior vice president at The Fortune Society, Inc.
  • Judge Jeanette Ruiz, administrative judge of the New York Family Court.
  • Peter Samuels, partner at Proskauer Rose.
  • Alethea Simon, president and executive director of Greenhope Services for Women, Inc.
  • Herb Sturz, board chairman of the Center for New York City Neighborhoods.
  • Jeremy Travis, president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice and former director of the National Institute of Justice.
  • Nicholas Turner, president and director of the Vera Institute for Justice.
  • Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation.
  • Kathryn Wylde, president and chief executive officer of the Partnership for New York City.
  • Kenneth Zimmerman, director of U.S. Programs of the Open Society Foundations.