Newly-Retired Head of Westchester Legal Aid Honored by Defenders Association

 Stephen Pittari receives Service Award of Justice:
Stephen J. Pittari, recently retired chief counsel and executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Westchester County, received the 2011 Service of Justice for the New York State Defenders Association on July 25 in Saratoga Springs.

Pittari was recognized for his dedication not only to clients of the office, where he spent his career as a lawyer, but the principle that all customers of public defense should receive respect and quality representation.

Beginning as an associate of the Legal Aid Society of Westchester County, Pittari developed a reputation as an excellent lawyer, and became head of the office. As the main advocate, NYSDA member - who joined the Association in 1983 - and member of the NYSDA Board, Pittari looked beyond Westchester County, and participated in the efforts of many designed to improve public defense services New York State, including efforts to secure necessary public defense of state funding. He has spoken forcefully about the threats to "our customers" from the criminal justice planning and partnerships that exclude defense and the point of view of the defense.

Recognition of past achievements include awards Pittari of the Colombian Association of Westchester County Bar (1994), the Westchester Civil Liberties Union (1993), the New York State Bar Association Criminal Justice Section (1999), Society Legal Help Westchester County (2011), and NYSDA (Special Recognition Award [1999] and Wilfred R. O'Connor Award [2006]).

Others honored by the Association this year include Norman Shapiro, a lawyer practicing in Orange County and founding member of NYSDA, who also received the Service of Justice, Gary Horton, Public Defender Genesee County, which received the R . WilfredPremio O'Connor, which honors a public defense attorney in the practice of fifteen or more years exemplifies the meaning of customer-focused justice, persistence and compassion that characterizes the life of the late Bill O ' Connor and Heather Toole, Ulster County public defender, who presented with an award created by the Genesee County Office of Public Defender in the memory of a young staff lawyer, Kevin M. Andersen, whose seal was a sense of fairness, determination and compassion.

NYSDA, a non-profit membership organization, has been supporting the community of New York criminal defense since 1967. Its mission is to improve the quality and scope of publicly supported legal representation to low-income people.
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