NYSBA in the News: Karson Lays Out Agenda, Legality of Curfews, and a Drive-by Parade

By Brendan Kennedy

June 3, 2020

NYSBA in the News: Karson Lays Out Agenda, Legality of Curfews, and a Drive-by Parade


By Brendan Kennedy

When Scott M. Karson was officially sworn in Monday, June 1 as the 123rd president of the New York State Bar Association, he became the first-ever NYSBA president to be installed virtually. The virtual swearing-in was conducted by New York State Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, and was attended by more than 250 guests.

President Karson was interviewed by Bloomberg Law and discussed what his priorities will be for his term. Among those priorities: studying legal issues surrounding civil unrest and police brutality, monitoring how law firms are handling re-opening, and monitoring issues related to September’s bar exam.

“Now we’re dealing with a whole new set of circumstances beyond the COVID-19 crisis, which deals with the issues of police brutality and civil unrest,” Karson told Bloomberg Law in an interview. “I think we’re going to be addressing that in fairly short order.”

“I can understand how people, and in particular African American people, might have lost confidence in our criminal justice system over the years,” he said. “It’s one of these incidents after another. I can’t sit here and tell you what the answer is, but it’s something that the New York State Bar Association is certainly well-qualified to look into.”

Karson defended the N.Y. State Board of Law Examiners’ plan. By moving the exam to September because of concerns about Covid-19 exposure, “they simply don’t have the number of facilities and the number of seats” to accommodate all the people who would have signed up for the now-delayed July exam, he said.

The New York Law Journal also spoke with President Karson about how the COVID-19 pandemic made him rethink his goals for his term as president.

“Not anywhere in the farthest recesses of my mind did it ever occur to me that I would be taking office in the middle of a plague or a pandemic.”

“The virus has opened up a Pandora’s box of issues concerning liability,” he said. That topic extends to tort liability and contractual liability, he said.

“I’m hoping that at some point before I leave office, I’ll actually get to participate in a live face-to-face event—that I won’t simply be the virtual president that nobody ever sees,” Karson said.

With protests occurring in hundreds of cities across the country and many imposing curfews, Spectrum News interviewed Karson in a report about the legal rights cities have to enforce them.

“There would have to be some measure of justification,” Scott Karson, President of the New York State Bar Association explained. “And I suppose under the current circumstances with the level of civil unrest that New York City and other cities have been experiencing, that would be sufficient cause.”

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle wrote about the unique welcoming parade that President Karson was treated to at his home on Long Island.

The 123rd president in the history of the New York State Bar Association had as unique an installation as any when members of the bar held a drive-through ceremony for him outside of his house on Sunday.


Six diverse people sitting holding signs
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