CHENANGO COUNTY – The National District Attorneys Association, a body representing the prosecution profession across the country, recently appointed a new president and board members, selecting Chenango County District Attorney Michael D. Ferrarese to be one of its representatives.
The NDAA Board of Directors announced on July 18 that it unanimously elected Erie County District Attorney John F. Flynn as president of the organization.
Ferrarese and Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie were welcomed and appointed to seats on the NDAA Board of Directors. Ferrarese also serves on the on the board for the District Attorneys Association of New York.
“I am honored to have been selected to serve on the board of directors for two amazing organizations, DAASNY and NDAA. Both organizations work every day towards advancing my chosen profession. I look forward to working with an amazing group of colleagues to continue this important work,” said Ferrarese.
Ferrarese served in the local DA office as an assistant district attorney for eight years before becoming Chenango County's top prosecutor in 2019.
Ferrarese joined the District Attorney’s Office in 2010 and was promoted to first assistant district attorney in 2015. During his initial tenure with the office, he handled more than 500 felony cases and thousands of misdemeanor cases involving all manners of crimes including homicides, violent crimes, domestic abuse and drug trafficking.
“Working in the trenches in the D.A.’s Office and being active in our community has given me a close and personal perspective on the challenges facing our region,” he said.
Ferrarese has been active in a number of local community organizations, having served as president of the board of directors for the Chenango Foundation, as well as a member of the Norwich YMCA Board of Directors, the Chenango County Council on the Arts, and Hospice and Palliative Care of Chenango County. He has also volunteered for the Chenango County SPCA and numerous additional community events and organizations.
Ferrarese is graduate of Manhattan College and Albany Law School. He lives in Oxford with his wife and daughter.
Speaking about his recent appointment to the NDAA Board of Directors, Ferrarese said, “My responsibilities on the board is to advance the profession of prosecution and make sure prosecutors are appropriately trained, aware of the ethical duties and responsibilities. And to advance the profession to make sure justice is sought and victims are heard, and that the constitutional rights of defendant are protected,” he said.
Since taking office, Ferrarese has advocated for community safety and spoken out against New York's bail reform laws.
Ferrarese said the constraints placed on law enforcement, prosecutors, and the courts make upholding justice in all cases a nearly insurmountable task.
“I believe that if the legislature really had care and concern about principals [defendants] as well as keeping the citizens of New York safe, they would have had meaningful floor debates on criminal justice reform, and they would have listened and allowed participation from stakeholders such as the judiciary, the district attorney’s association for the State of New York, and other law enforcement organizations throughout the state,” said Ferrarese in 2020, the year the reforms went into effect. “The law was written to skew everything in a principal’s [defendant's] favor; thus creating a much more dangerous society for all law abiding citizens in New York State,” he said.
The NDAA has reported the NY bail reforms enacted are the most strict in the entire country, especially on how prosecutors turn over discovery evidence in their cases, within specific time limits or have the cases dismissed.
Another major issue facing DA offices and police departments across NY is staffing shortages.
The issue has hit rural area hardest, with increased regulation and reforms requiring more hours and a smaller pool of people and resources to draw from. Since taking over the DA's office, Ferrarese has been coping with these issues on a constant basis, and they are becoming a new norm.
NDAA as an organization works to bring awareness of the reforms and these shortages, hoping lawmakers will help alleviate those challenges.
In July, J. Anthony Jordan, Washington County DA and President of the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York, told the Times Union, the state paper of record in Albany, "Increasing caseloads, expanded discovery requirements, pandemic backlogs and stagnant salaries are resulting in resignations of ADAs at unprecedented numbers. It is frustrating that our assistants are so overwhelmed, overworked and underpaid that they are looking elsewhere for better salaries and healthier work-life balances. Additional funding for staff is needed for prosecutors’ offices at all levels to keep up with the increasing demands and workloads.”
Read the Times Union's full article: “DA offices grapple with continued exodus of attorneys”
Rensselaer County District Attorney Mary Pat Donnelly said that for many district attorneys outside of New York City, the lack of resources to meet the pre-trial discovery mandates have been a "huge issue."
"It’s a real challenge upstate for us to have to figure out how to make these directives work with the same budget that we had in 2019," said Donnelly.
NDAA also works to bring awareness of mental health concerns, bias and public safety issues, such as discussions about curtailing gun violence.
NDAA is based in Arlington, VA.
According to www.daasny.com, the organization was “Founded in 1950, the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) is a national, non-partisan non-profit membership association that provides training, technical assistance and services to prosecutors around the country in support of the prosecution profession.”
“As the oldest and largest association of prosecutors in the country with over 5,000 members, our mission is to be the voice of America’s prosecutors and to support their efforts to protect the rights and safety of the people by providing its members with the knowledge, skills, and support they need to ensure justice is attained.
As part of NDAA’s commitment to the prosecution profession, we disseminate books, manuals, newsletters, and monographs on topics and trends in the field ranging from witness protection to crash reconstruction. Our staff conducts or participates in nearly 100 trainings, conferences, and webinars each year.”
“Our capable staff of junior and senior attorneys along with our training course program directors, aid in furthering the development of expertise in the program areas of gun violence, juvenile justice, DNA/forensics, violence against women, child abuse, capital litigation and human trafficking. The National Traffic Law Center, a division of NDAA, provides expertise on traffic safety issues with a focus on impaired driving and commercial driver’s license violations.”