District Attorneys Annual Winter Meeting Honors 5, including Bronx ADA

The state district attorneys association held its annual winter luncheon where five prosecutors were honored with the prestigious Hogan and Morgenthau Awards.

District attorneys annual Winter Meeting luncheon honoring five prosecutors with the prestigious Hogan Award and Morgenthau Awards. Photo courtesy of DAASNY.

On February 3, 2019, Albany County District Attorney, President of the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York, David Soares was joined by District Attorneys and senior law enforcement officials from around the state for a luncheon to honor five prosecutors with the prestigious Hogan Award and Morgenthau Awards.

A special announcement was made by President Soares to name the Association’s building in Albany after retiring Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

“I will forever consider myself fortunate that I got to know Judge Brown and learn from his example of what a prosecutor and a public servant should be. Over the years Judge Brown has served at a time when the role of a District Attorney was constantly adapting and our role continues to adapt. He pioneered specialty courts for drug issues, mental health issues, Veterans and sex trafficking. He hired staff that stayed connected to the people of Queens County, one of the most diverse counties in the entire country. Judge Brown was also a vocal advocate for improvements in criminal justice legislation and procedures,” said President Soares. “District Attorney Brown will be greatly missed as part of our community of prosecutors, however we wish him the best in his retirement and hope enjoys the time he will be able to spend with family and friends.”

The Hogan Award, was awarded to Chenango County District Attorney Joseph McBride who retired after working more than two decades as a prosecutor. The Hogan Award honors a District Attorney who exemplifies the values for which DA Frank Hogan stood for — integrity and an unwavering commitment to achieving justice and fairness to all who come before the Court. Hogan was the esteemed District Attorney of New York County for more than 30 years and was elected to nine four-year terms.

McBride was first elected to the office of District Attorney in 1999 and was recently elected to New York State Supreme Court.

“ Joe McBride is a true gentleman with an outstanding commitment to the administration of justice,” said DAASNY President DA Soares. “Myself and many other prosecutors around the state are forever grateful for Joe’s intellect and guidance through out the years.”

The Morgenthau Award, established in 2009, recognizes one assistant district attorney from each of the four regions of the state whose professional accomplishments, honesty, integrity and commitment to justice exemplify Mr. Morgenthau’s high standards during his tenure as New York County District Attorney.

The 2018 Robert M. Morgenthau Awards were presented to:

Region 1: Odalys C. Alonso, Executive Assistant District Attorney, Bronx County. Nominated by Bronx County District Attorney Darcel Clark.

Ms. Alonso began her career in the Narcotics Bureau of Office of the Bronx District Attorney in 1986. She later became a supervisor in the Criminal Court and Grand Jury Bureaus where she mentored hundreds of new Assistant District Attorneys handling misdemeanor and felony cases. She was promoted to the Chief of the Arraignment and Complaint Room Bureau. In 1999 she joined the Executive Staff as Administrative Assistant District Attorney. When DA Clark took office in 2016, Ms. Alonso was asked to remain as Executive Assistant District Attorney of Operations and Budget. She further restructured the Complaint Room through the implementation of new policies and technology as well as the modernization of Witness Notification and Extradition Units to help victims and witnesses of crime to be well informed and to ensure defendants’ rights to fair and speedy justice.

Region 2: Edward D. Saslaw Counsel to Legal Affairs Division, Queens County. Nominated by Queens County District Attorney Richard Brown.

Mr. Saslaw has long served as Secretary to DAASNY and is currently DAASNY’s Chief Legislative Secretary. Mr. Saslaw has been described as one of DAASNY’s most dedicated members. Ed has advanced the mutual interests of prosecutors through his honest commitment to inform our elected officials of the complexity of our work and the unforeseen consequences of embracing flawed legislative proposals. At the Queens District Attorney’s office he remains an incredible resource to assist any assistant, from any office with any problem, regardless of its difficulty. Ed is a loyal and trusted advisor to all at considerable personal sacrifice.

Region 3: Alan M. Poremba First Assistant District Attorney, Saratoga County. Nominated by Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen.

Mr. Poremba began his prosecutorial career at the Albany County District Attorney’s Office in 1997 as an intern in the Narcotics Unit and was later hired by Albany County District Attorney Sol Greenberg when he graduated from Albany Law School in 1999. He joined the Saratoga County District Attorney’s office in 2004 as a Narcotics Prosecutor and also taken on a variety of other cases. Last year Poremba was appointed as First Assistant District Attorney by Saratoga DA Karen Heggen who said Poremba “strives each day to provide justice for all the citizens of our community.” Recently Mr. Poremba handled the trial of the “Sleeper Creeper” who was convicted after a 3 ½ week trial of burglarizing residences while the victims were sleeping.

Region 4: Colleen Curtin Gable Assistant District Attorney, Erie County. Nominated by Erie County District Attorney John Flynn.

Ms. Curtin Gable began her career as a prosecutor in the office of Robert M. Morgenthau. On the day Mr. Morgenthau administered the oath to Ms. Curtin Gable and her colleagues, he told them, “It is far better for one hundred guilty people to go free than for one innocent person to be convicted.” She has not only embodied that sentiment in her own work, but has also passed it on to the prosecutors she has trained and supervised, and the police officers with whom she has interacted. Ms. Curtin Gable has had a long and distinguished career as an Assistant District Attorney. She also helps train police officers in an effort to improve the quality of their investigations and to assure that they are acting within the boundaries of the law. She is on call 24 hours a day to answer questions during investigations, offer legal advice and draft search warrants. She insists on the highest ethical standards in both her work and the work of people around her.

The event culminated with the Annual Winter Conference Luncheon on Friday, February 1, 2019 with the keynote speaker, Ventura County (CA) District Attorney Greg Totten. DA Totten is currently the lead prosecutor of the “Golden State Killer” Joseph James DeAngelo.

Mr. Totten has been the District Attorney of Ventura County since 2002. He was re-elected in 2018 and is currently serving his fifth term in office. A Pepperdine University School of Law graduate, Mr. Totten is a well-respected and renowned career prosecutor.

In 1991, Mr. Totten was co-counsel on the successful prosecution of Gregory Scott Smith who abducted, sexually assaulted, and murdered an eight-year-old boy. Mr. Smith received the death penalty for this crime. Throughout his career, Mr. Totten has worked to protect public safety and to expand the rights of crime victims.

Mr. Totten has lectured at state and national prosecutor symposia and published numerous articles on a wide array of criminal justice topics including principle-centered leadership, elder abuse issues, gang strategies, contemporary trial issues, homicide prosecution techniques, asset forfeitures, and victim impact evidence in death penalty cases. He has provided extensive testimony before all major policy and fiscal committees of the California Legislature and numerous special hearings on criminal justice issues.

DAASNY’s Board of Directors also met at the conference at their formal Winter Board meeting and discussed the sweeping changes to the criminal justice system that are being proposed in Albany. Among these topics were changes to bail laws, changes to discovery procedures, issues related to speedy trial and the proposed overhaul of New York State’s Civil Asset Forfeiture laws.

“District Attorneys want to be part of any discussion that will make the criminal justice system better for all New Yorkers. From our unique perspective we can provide meaningful input on the impacts legislative proposals will have and provide solutions and suggestions for prudent proposals that balance the rights of the accused with the impact on public safety,” said DASNY President Soares.

The Board of Directors unanimously agreed to form emergency work groups to expedite the process of reviewing all of the proposals currently being discussed. “There was overwhelming support to my call to action so that we, as prosecutors, can thoroughly review existing proposals and offer prudent solutions. There was no doubt an incredible unity amongst our members and a sense of urgency to inform our legislators and the Governor about how each of the various proposals will impact the day to day work of prosecutors,” said President Soares.

DAASNY representatives hope to meet with members of the legislature and the Governor’s office in the next two weeks. “Our State has the opportunity to craft some of the most innovative changes and improvements to criminal justice practices in a generation, but this must be done with caution and input from all sides. District Attorneys need to be part of the conversation,” said President Soares. “Some of these proposals are fraught with problems and could have a negative impact on public safety in our state. We owe it to our witnesses and victims to protect their safety and the wellbeing of their families when they come forward. We want to make sure that meaningful criminal justice reform brings together all stakeholders including District Attorneys. The full impact of legislation needs to be examined and we need to take into consideration that the diverse urban, rural and suburban areas of New York all present different criminal justice challenge requiring different solutions.”

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