NY Law Professor To Speak About Enabling Former President Trump’s Degradation of the Rule of Law

By Susan DeSantis

February 15, 2021

NY Law Professor To Speak About Enabling Former President Trump’s Degradation of the Rule of Law


By Susan DeSantis

Accepting an award from the New York State Bar Association this month, Professor Bennett Gershman will discuss how lawyers allowed former President Donald Trump to subvert the rule of law, undermine constitutional rights and engage in conduct destructive of democracy.

The speech will take place at a ceremony at which Gershman, a distinguished professor of law at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, will receive the Sanford D. Levy Professional Ethics Award. The virtual ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. Feb. 17.

“We honor Professor Gershman for his lifetime of work in the area of legal ethics, including a long list of books and law review articles, with a special emphasis on prosecutorial ethics in New York,” said Richard Hamburger, chair of NYSBA’s Committee on Professional Ethics.

A fundamental tenet of the legal profession is protecting the rule of law, and lawyers often serve as champions of justice and challengers of tyranny. But throughout history, lawyers have also aided and abetted authoritarian regimes to pervert the rule of law. Lawyers designed and directed Hitler’s death camps, drafted Mussolini’s anti-Semitic race laws, prosecuted “Stalin’s show trials” and wrote China’s security laws to crack down on Hong Kong dissidents.

“But never before in the United States, even during Watergate, have lawyers so widely and so cynically enabled a president to subvert the rule of law,” Gershman said.

The Levy Award was established in 1981 by a bequest of a former chair of the Committee on Professional Ethics. The committee presents the award annually to an individual or institution that has significantly contributed to the understanding of professional ethics by the publication of an article, commentary or series of articles or commentaries on the subject.

To register for the event, go to https://nysba.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_6XaUKP9YQC-L5Vmhz_XRjw. The presentation is open to the press but email Susan DeSantis at [email protected] if you plan to attend.

About the New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, the Association has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.


Contact: Susan DeSantis
[email protected]

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