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Leonard Noisette

Adjunct Professor of Law

Telephone: 212-548-0655
Fax: 646-557-2517

Open Society Institute
400 West 59th Street
New York, New York 10019

Employment History


Open Society Institute, U.S. Programs, New York, New York
Director, Criminal Justice Fund July 2008 – Present

Oversee grant-making and programmatic activities of the foundation in the area of criminal justice, through which we seek to improve the administration of criminal justice and decrease the country’s over-reliance on mass incarceration and harsh punishment. Responsibilities include: management and supervision of the activities of a staff of seven; setting of programmatic priorities and annual plan of activities; oversight of grant-making and administrative budgets; participation as a member of senior management team.

Neighborhood Defender Service, Inc., New York, New York
Executive Director July 1993 – July 2008

As the chief executive officer of this neighborhood-based not-for-profit defender office, responsibilities include: overall management and oversight of all aspects of project; continuous evaluation and periodic modification of the key components of the program; development of new initiatives; preparation and oversight of annual $4.3 million budget; governance and board relations; fundraising; government relations; and management of relationships with other segments of the criminal justice community and local human service agencies.

Neighborhood Defender Service, Inc., New York, New York
Senior Attorney June 1990 - July 1993

As a senior manager and supervisor/senior litigator of a defense team, responsibilities included participation in ongoing evaluation and reshaping of experimental model of representation; management and supervision of a practice unit consisting of three to five lawyers, two investigators, one social worker and one paralegal administrator; representation of indigent clients in serious felony and delinquency matters; and the training and supervision of less experienced attorneys.

Legal Aid Society, New York, New York
Senior Supervising Attorney, Criminal Appeals Bureau April 1988 to June 1990

Responsibilities included review and supervision of appellate briefs and other post-judgement motions prepared by staff attorneys; briefing and arguing appeals; conducting trial court proceedings related to pending appeals, collateral attacks and appellate court reversals; and miscellaneous administrative duties, including monitoring caseload management and productivity.

Legal Practice

Legal Aid Society, New York, New York
Staff Attorney, Criminal Defense Division July 1986 to April 1988

Responsibilities included representation of indigent clients from the initiation of criminal proceedings through trial and/or final disposition; investigation; extensive motion practice; and interfacing with various social service agencies to arrange for assistance for clients and/or alternatives to incarceration.

Legal Aid Society, New York, New York
Associate Appellate Counsel, Criminal Appeals Bureau September 1984 to July 1986

Appellate representation of indigent clients convicted within the City of New York. Responsibilities included extensive research; preparation of appellate briefs, writs of habeas corpus, and other post-conviction motions; and oral arguments before the Appellate Divisions and Court of Appeals and related trial court appearances.

Teaching Experience

Columbia University School of Law, New York, New York
Adjunct Professor of Law January 2006 – Present

Community Defense Externship
Created the curriculum for the Community Defense Externship, a partnership between the Neighborhood Defender Service and Columbia University Law School. Serve as an Adjunct Professor of Law, teaching a weekly two-hour seminar component of the externship that supplements students’ fieldwork activities and examines the practical and ethical considerations related to the practice of indigent defense from a community-based, client-centered philosophy.

Fordham University School of Law, New York, New York
Adjunct Professor of Law August 2001 to Present

Fundamental Lawyering Skills
Work in small group sessions with 8–12 students in which we prepare, execute and critique various aspects of lawyering skills such as client interviewing, client counseling, and negotiation with opposing parties.


Regular lecturer for Criminal Defense Clinics at New York University School of Law, Fordham University School of Law and the City University of New York Law School at Queens College in the areas of Jury Selection, Evidentiary Objections, Case Preparation and Investigation, Preservation of the Record and Innovative Approaches to Indigent Defense Delivery.

Trainer for the National Legal Aid and Defender Association in its National Defender Leadership Institute (NDLI) and its week-long Defender Advocacy Institute (DAI) trial skills training program. Coach, New York State Defenders Association’s Basic Trials Skills Program. Faculty Member, National Criminal Defense College (NCDC).

Consultant and Trainer for the Vera Institute of Justice and South Africa’s Bureau of Justice Assistance in a project working with South African judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys to explore implementation of plea and sentence negotiations to address tremendous case backlog in its criminal justice system (October 2003).

Professional Activities

American Bar Association; National Legal Aid and Defender Association; American Council of Chief Defenders; New York State Bar Association; New York State Defenders Association

Committee Member, New York State Audiovisual Coverage of Court Proceedings Review Committee, September 1996 - April 1997 (Author of Minority Report of the Committee)

Member, Executive Session on Public Defense, a joint project of the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance and Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, November 1999 – May 2001.

Committee Member, New York State Bar Association Special Committee on Collateral Consequences of Criminal Proceedings, March 2005 – December 2006.

Board Member: New York State Defenders Association; New York State Justice Fund; National Legal Aid and Defender Association, Board Chair (2006-2008)

Published Work

Minority Report of the New York State Committee on Audio-Visual Proceedings, An Open Courtroom: Cameras in New York Courts, New York State Committee to Review Audio-Visual Coverage Of Court Proceedings, Fordham University Press, 1997.

The Best Defense is No Offense: Preventing Crime Through Effective Public Defense, N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change, vol. 29(1), 2004, co-authored with other members of the Executive Session of Public Defense.

Reentry and Reintegration: The Road to Public Safety, New York State Bar Association, Report of the Special Committee on Collateral Consequences of Criminal Proceedings, May 2006 (contributor)


New York University School of Law
JD, May 1984
Admitted to New York State Bar, May 1985

Queens College, City University Of New York
BA, June 1979
Major: Political Science/Communication

Volunteer Activities

Youth Basketball Coach and Workshop Instructor, B.A.K.E. (Brothers Against Killing Each Other), Jamaica, New York; Team Manager, St. Albans Little League, St. Albans, New York

References furnished upon request.