First Assistant Monroe County Public Defender Honored

Paperno Receives NYSDA's Wilfred R. O'Connor Award

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY (07/25/2017) (readMedia)-- SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY (07/25/2017)- The professional roles that attorney Jill Paperno fills include public defender, author, blogger, and trainer. On Monday night (July 24), at the New York State Defenders Association (NYSDA) Annual Conference in Saratoga, NYSDA presented her with the 2017 Wilfred R. O'Connor Award for exemplifying in all those roles the client-centered sense of justice, persistence, and compassion that characterized the life of the award's namesake. Bill O'Connor was NYSDA's Board President for 19 years and helped shape the mission of the Association, celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year.

At the Monroe County Public Defender's Office, where Paperno has worked for 30 years, she represents people in criminal matters who cannot afford counsel. As Paperno developed expertise in providing quality representation, including in the most difficult cases, she began sharing her knowledge and experience with colleagues. As First Assistant Public Defender, she supervises and participates in training of staff; she also trains lawyers across the state. "Jill's willingness to put her formidable practice and research skills at the service of other public defense lawyers as well as her own clients makes her a champion many times over," said Charles F. O'Brien. O'Brien had primary responsibility for planning most of NYSDA's training for decades prior to his recent selection as the Association's Executive Director.

Besides the many continuing legal education presentations Paperno has done on a variety of topics for NYSDA and others, including the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Monroe County Bar Association, she developed the training program for her office. She has also made her research and insights available online; her posts can be seen on the New York Criminal Defense blog and the National Association for Public Defense blog. A review of Paperno's book, Representing the Accused: A Practical Guide to Criminal Defense, called it a "Mentor in Your Pocket." The reviewer, NYSDA Staff Attorney Stephanie Batcheller, who had worked with Paperno in Rochester, said about the book, "Ms. Paperno's personal holistic approach is readily discernible in the way she encourages the reader to consider every aspect of a client's situation in order to develop positive attorney-client relationships and advocate for innovative resolutions."

"Jill graduated from our first Basic Trial Skills Program (BTSP) thirty years ago," recalled Jonathan E. Gradess, "and she has always embodied the client-centered approach to defense work that we advance. It was a pleasure to welcome her back to BTSP recently as a coach imparting that approach to public defense attorneys new to trial work." Gradess received NYSDA's Service of Justice Award at the same awards ceremony where Paperno was honored, based on his accomplishments as NYSDA's Executive Director for nearly 40 years.

Paperno, who recently completed a term as President of the Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys, has received other recognition including the Jeffrey A. Jacobs Memorial Award for outstanding trial work and the Rochester Daily Record's Nathaniel Award.

The Wilfred R. O'Connor Award, named in honor of founding member and long-time President of NYSDA, Bill O'Connor, is presented to an attorney who has been in practice fifteen or more years, practices in the area of public defense, and exemplifies the client-centered sense of justice, persistence, and compassion that characterized Bill's life.