For nearly thirty years, Don has devoted his career to representing persons accused of crimes at trial, on appeal, and in post-appellate proceedings. He is frequently appointed as “learned counsel” in federal capital prosecutions and has represented death row inmates in conjunction with the Southern Prisoners’ Defense League, in state and federal habeas corpus proceedings, and before the United States Supreme Court.
Don has worked independently and together with the Innocence Project, to obtain the release and exoneration of wrongfully convicted defendants. Douglas Warney was released after serving 10 years of a 25-to-life sentence for a murder he did not commit. Frank Sterling was released after serving nearly 19 years of a 25-to-life sentence for a murder he did not commit. Freddie Peacock was exonerated after 21 years for a rape he did not commit. In each case, DNA testing proved their innocence. And in each case, Don assisted his clients in recovering damages for their wrongful convictions. As a result of Don’s work with the Innocence Project, ETKS maintains a co-counsel relationship with Neufeld, Scheck & Brustin, LLP on civil rights litigation actions. Part of Don’s practice is dedicated to representing persons whose civil rights have been violated.
Upon graduating law school and while awaiting his bar results, Don worked for his now-partner Brian Shiffrin at the Monroe County Public Defender’s Office. After being admitted, Don decided to hang his own shingle and open a solo practice. He maintained a successful solo practice for nearly twenty-two years before becoming a partner at ETKS. Don also served as a part-time Rochester City Court Law Clerk from 1990 to 2001.
Don is a frequent lecturer at continuing legal education seminars on criminal trial and appellate practice. Don also served as a trustee for the Monroe County Bar Association and chair of its Criminal Justice Section.
Don’s dedication to advocacy has not been without recognition. In 2010, he received the New York State Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Gideon Champion of Justice Award. He is also the recipient of the 2011 Judicial Process Commission’s Founders Award, the 2010 New York State Defender’s Association Service of Justice Award, the 2006 New York State Bar Association’s Charles F. Crimi Memorial Award, and the 2005 Monroe County Bar Association’s Charles F. Crimi Memorial Award for his commitment to the legal needs of the poor and disadvantaged.
Awards & Honors
- Founders Award, Judicial Process Commission (2011)
- Gideon Champion of Justice Award, New York State Criminal Defense Lawyers (2010)
- Service of Justice Award, New York State Defender’s Association (2010)
- Charles F. Crimi Memorial Award, New York State Bar Association (2006)
- Charles F. Crimi Memorial Award, Monroe County Bar Association (2005)