State Bar honors area attorneys

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POUGHKEEPSIE – John Evans, a senior assistant public defender in Dutchess County and Clare Degnan, executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Westchester County were among those honored by the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) at a recent conference.

Evans received the Denison Ray Criminal Defender Award.  The announcement from NYSBA said, “In his six years with the Dutchess County Public Defender’s Office, Evans has earned a reputation as a zealous advocate, trying all types of cases – from misdemeanors to murder.  He is also known for his courtesy and professionalism, compassion and dedication to his clients, and as a mentor to young employees.”


Evans received praise from both County Executive Marc Molinaro and Public Defender Thomas Angell.  According to Molinaro, “Dutchess County’s dedicated public defenders serve a vital role in ensuring everyone, regardless of income, has access to a trial and representation.”

Angell said of his employee “Mr. Evans has found his true calling as an advocate for the poor caught up in what is often an unforgiving criminal justice system.”

Kelley Enderley, a defense attorney located in Poughkeepsie said, “John Evans is well-known in the legal community for providing his clients with the representation they deserve.  Additionally, he is well-respected by the courts, attorneys, and his clients.”  The award recognizes defense attorneys or organizations that exemplify the highest levels of professionalism in providing zealous representation to indigent clients.  It is named for Denison Ray, a career legal activist who led legal services in New York and other states.


Degnan has received the NYSBA 2019 Award For Excellence in Mandated Representation.

The association said, “Degnan has dedicated her entire legal career to representing indigent clients and fighting for their rights.  As executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Westchester County, she works on improving the system of mandated representation.  As part of this effort, she has used grants from the State Office of Indigent Legal Services to create an 18-B mentorship program and is program and is working to provide an office for the Center for Community Alternatives in the Legal Aid building.”

The award recognizes an attorney or organization that demonstrates the highest professional standards, innovative efforts to improve mandated representation, and works to ensure the high quality of that representation.