NEW YORK, NY, November 6, 2023 – Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP announced today the addition of renowned attorney and leading advocate David Patton as partner. Mr. Patton joins the firm from the Federal Defenders of New York, where he has led the organization as Executive Director and Attorney-in-Chief since 2011.
As head of the Federal Defenders of New York, Mr. Patton oversaw the work of federal public defenders in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, with offices located in Manhattan, Brooklyn, White Plains, and Islip. During his tenure leading the Federal Defenders, he helped build the organization into a powerhouse for criminal justice reform, piloting litigation and policy programs that generated significant change in New York’s prisons and on behalf of the underserved in the legal system. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he led a coalition of the New York legal community, policymakers, and the private sector to protect the civil and human rights of inmates, ensuring access to counsel amid quarantine measures.
Mr. Patton has served as lead or co-counsel in dozens of federal trials, achieving outright acquittals of more than half of these cases tried before a jury. Between October 2022 and March 2023, David successfully represented a client in the first federal death penalty trial under the Biden Administration, which resulted in a life sentence. In July 2023, he concluded a deferred prosecution agreement on behalf of the lead defendant in a long-standing federal insider trading case about Medicare reimbursement rate changes. He had earlier tried the case, resulting in acquittals on the insider trading charges and a successful appeal on a variety of fraud counts.
A distinguished legal academic, he currently teaches Professional Responsibility in Criminal Practice as an Adjunct Professor at the New York University School of Law. From 2002 to 2008, Mr. Patton worked at the Federal Defenders as a trial attorney in the Manhattan office before transitioning to a full-time position as an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Alabama. He went on to establish Stanford Law School’s first trial-level criminal defense clinic while serving as a Visiting Associate Professor from 2010 to 2011. Mr. Patton also serves on the Board of Directors for Gideon’s Promise, a nonprofit public defender organization dedicated to transforming the criminal justice system. “I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside David as Chairman of the Board of the Federal Defenders and am delighted that he will be joining our team,” said Kaplan Hecker & Fink partner Sean Hecker. “His extensive trial and criminal defense expertise will no doubt be of tremendous benefit to our practice and clientele moving forward.”
Kaplan Hecker & Fink founding partner Roberta (“Robbie”) Kaplan added: “David is widely known to be not only one of the top trial lawyers in the country, but one of the top mensches in a profession that I must admit is not known for that. Since both of those qualities are core to the values at Kaplan Hecker, we are so delighted that he will be joining our partnership.”
“I am excited to enter the next phase of my career as a partner at Kaplan Hecker & Fink, a firm I have been fortunate enough to work with and have deeply admired for a number of years,” said Patton. “At such a young age, the firm has already achieved remarkable results for its clients and established itself as a premier trial representation destination. I am thrilled for the opportunity to work alongside such a talented group of attorneys.”
Prior to joining the Federal Defenders of New York, Mr. Patton was an associate at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. He graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he served as editor of the Virginia Law Review. He earned a B.A. from the University of Virginia. Mr. Patton clerked for the Hon. Claude Hilton of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Mr. Patton is a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and a member of the American Law Institute, as well as the recipient of numerous prestigious legal honors.
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