The Office of the Appellate Defender (OAD) is saddened to learn of the passing of Roy Reardon. Roy was a founding member of the Board of Directors and served for 31 years. In the early years, Roy used his considerable stature in the New York legal community to help OAD develop and build relationships with the bench and bar. When OAD was facing potential defunding, Roy helped facilitate important conversations with the New York City Corporation Counsel and the City Council. Our standing in the legal community today as one of New York City’s oldest providers of appellate representation to indigent individuals convicted of felonies and a leader in holistic representation rests, in large part, on Roy’s shoulders.
Roy also helped OAD shape a knowledgeable and deeply supportive Board of Directors by giving his personal time to recruitment efforts. He offered sage advice and counsel to board chairs, other board members, and OAD’s internal leadership.
Roy was as an outstanding trial and appellate attorney. He supported OAD’s Volunteer Appellate Defender (VAD) program, where law firm associates have the opportunity to represent a client in a criminal appeal under the tutelage of an OAD supervising attorney. As a revered leader at Simpson Thacher for many decades, Roy ensured the firm’s participation in the VAD program. But Roy’s work and dedication to OAD’s mission was not always in the background. He was a champion of bringing powerful representation in the courts to those who did not have access to financial resources and demonstrated that by providing representation in a case before the Court of Appeals (People v. Diggins, 990 N.E.2d 129, 21 N.Y.3d 935, 967 N.Y.S.2d 891, 2013 N.Y. Slip Op. 3872 (N.Y. 2013)).
Roy helped create the First Monday in October, a mock Supreme Court argument on an issue pending before the United States Supreme Court. For decades he led the charge as the event’s Honorary Co-Chair and worked tirelessly to make event a successful one. Not only did he ensure Simpson Thacher’s support of First Monday, but he also used his vast contacts in the legal community to draw others to the event. First Monday in October is OAD’s premier fundraiser and continues to a be a unique, go-to event for members of New York’s legal and judicial community and beyond.
E. Joshua Rosenkranz, OAD’s first Attorney-in-Charge and Orrick partner, remembered Roy’s quiet gravitas and ability to command a huge boardroom by speaking just above a whisper. Former OAD Attorney in Charge, Richard Greenberg, described Roy as an inspiration, a friend, a colleague, and a wonderful person. Christina Swarns, former OAD Attorney-in-Charge and currently the Executive Director of the Innocence Project, commented that Roy exhibited such an enthusiasm for OAD and was always open to brainstorming office structural issues and sharing his deep knowledge of New York’s appellate courts. His support of OAD and its leadership never faltered.
Roy Reardon was an invaluable member of the OAD family, and his mentorship and many contributions continue to bear fruit. In his honor, OAD will rename its Volunteer Appellate Defender program as the Roy Reardon Volunteer Appellate Defender Program.