Constitution of the New York Democratic Lawyers Council
We, the members of the New York Democratic Lawyers Council, are a coalition of lawyers and others dedicated to fostering universal participation and trust in the electoral process by ensuring that:
All eligible persons can register to vote easily,
All registered voters are able to vote simply, fairly, and without intimidation, and
All votes are counted and all voting systems are open and reliable.
Article I. Organization and Purpose.
Section 1. This organization shall be known as the New York Democratic Lawyers Council (the “NYDLC”).
Section 2. The NYDLC is the New York section of the Democratic National Committee’s Democratic Lawyers Council and is affiliated with the New York State Democratic Committee.
Section 3. The purpose of the organization shall be for lawyers and others who live and or work in New York State and who support the goals of the Democratic Party to use their skills: to support the goals so stated in the NYDLC’s Preamble set forth above and take actions in furtherance of the Preamble; to monitor and improve election processes; to advocate on behalf of voters and registrants, and those who would be voters and registrants; to promote reform of Voting Rights laws; to stimulate an active interest in governmental affairs and promote involvement in the political process; to promote the policies and practices that are consistent with the highest principles of the legal profession and the Democratic Party; to increase the efficiency of popular government, expand democracy and to provide the highest degree of justice and social welfare for the citizens of our country.
Section 4. This organization shall foster, supervise and coordinate the activities of the local chapters of the Democratic Lawyers Council located in New York State.
Article II. Membership.
Section 1. Any person who shares our goals and wishes to associate with us and who lives and/or works in New York State may be accorded regular membership in this organization. Membership is open to, but not limited to (by profession or otherwise), any person who has been admitted to the practice of law, is either an attorney in good standing or a retired attorney, and resides and/or practices in New York State or any law student who lives and/or studies in New York State.
Section 2. This organization shall be composed of members, who may be organized into duly chartered chapters (each a “Chapter”) of the NYDLC as hereinafter designated. Such Chapters shall be created as provided in section 3 of this Article.
Section 3. The Steering Committee of the NYDLC shall have the authority, in its discretion, to create a Chapter and issue a chapter charter to any group representing a geographic region or law school which requests recognition as a Chapter and which demonstrates that it has established a core of active members and demonstrates a commitment to the mission of the NYDLC.
Article III. Dues and Affiliation.
Section 1. The NYDLC and/or each Chapter shall have the authority (but not the obligation) to determine the amount of annual dues (including tiered dues), if any, for active membership in its organization. No individual shall be excluded from membership in the NYDLC or its Chapters by virtue of an inability to pay dues.
Section 2. Any organization desiring to become affiliated with the NYDLC shall submit a written request to one of the Co-Chairs of the NYDLC together with a list of and contact information for its current members. The matter shall be brought before the Steering Committee for action.
Article IV. Structure and Officers; Voting.
Section 1. The governing body of the NYDLC shall be the Steering Committee. The NYDLC shall hold elections at a meeting of its membership held in the first quarter of the calendar year in odd-numbered years to elect the following officers, who shall serve for a term of two years or until their successors are elected and installed:
1) Co-Chairs. Between Two (2) and Four (4), as established by the Steering Committee, not less than thirty (30) days prior to the Membership Meeting,
2) Regional Vice Presidents, including:
a) Downstate Vice President (who shall be from either New York City, Dutchess, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk, or Westchester Counties)
b) Upstate Vice President (who shall be from either Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, St. Lawrence, or Warren Counties)
c) Western Vice President (who shall be from either Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Chemung, Cortland, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Ontario, Orleans, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Wayne, Wyoming, or Yates Counties)
d) Central Vice President (who shall be from either Albany, Chenango, Columbia, Delaware, Fulton, Greene, Madison, Montgomery, Otsego, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster, or Washington Counties)
5) National Committeeman,
6) National Committeewoman
7) Standing Committee Chairs, including:
a) Advisory Committee
b) Communications Committee
c) Finance Committee (who may be the Treasurer)
d) Operations Committee
e) Political Outreach Committee
f) State Coordination Committee
g) Law School Coordination Committee
h) Minority Voting Rights Committee
i) Recruitment Committee
Section 2. Any NYDLC member who shall be elected by and to a National Democratic Lawyers Council office shall be an ex-officio voting member of the Steering Committee of the NYDLC. The immediate past Co-Chairs shall be designated as Co-Chairs Emeritus and shall serve as ex-officio voting members of the Steering Committee of the NYDLC.
Section 3. The Chairs may appoint or hire an Executive Director and any other officers or staff, as well as Chairpersons of Special Committees which they deem necessary to carry out the program of the NYDLC, with the advice and consent of the Steering Committee.
Section 4 There shall be the following standing committees:
1. Advisory Committee
2. Communications Committee
3. Finance Committee
4. Operations Committee
5. Political Outreach Committee
6. State Coordination Committee
7. Law School Coordination Committee
8. Minority Voting Rights Committee
9. Recruitment Committee
Section 5. All meetings of the Steering Committee shall be open to the attendance and participation of the membership and may be attended in person or, when available, by telephone or internet.
Section 6. The Steering Committee shall consist of those officers listed in this Section 1, and the appointed officers listed in Section 3, and all members of the Advisory Committee, as well as any member who qualifies under Section 7 below.
Section 7. Any other member of the NYDLC may also be a voting member of the Steering Committee provided:
1. That they are in attendance, either in person or, as available, by telephone or internet, at the meeting at which they propose to vote, and
2. They have attended three (3) out of the last four (4) consecutive Steering Committee meetings.
The Secretary, with the assistance of the Operations Committee, shall be responsible for maintaining Steering Committee attendance lists, and the Secretary’s list shall be considered final for purposes of determining attendance.
Article V. Officer and Committee Responsibilities.
Section 1. The Steering Committee shall be responsible for chartering of new Chapters and shall perform other general administrative roles as outlined by this Constitution and directed by the Co-Chairs with the advice and consent of the Steering Committee.
Section 2. The Co-Chairs shall direct the officers of the organization as its chief administrative officers. The Co-Chairs shall chair the Steering Committee and shall be ex-officio members of all other committees. In the event of the death, resignation or removal of the Co-Chairs, or if any other NYDLC elected office shall become vacant, the vacancy shall be filled by appointment of the Co-Chairs, until the next occurring Steering Committee meeting, at which time an election shall be held to fill such vacancy.
Section 3. The Upstate, Downstate, Western and Central Vice Presidents shall promote recruitment and activity within their respective regions.
Section 4. The Secretary shall keep a record of all meetings of the NYDLC, a roll of its members, and a copy of the formal reports of its officers. The Secretary shall be responsible for sending out notices, as required.
Section 5. The Treasurer shall receive and disburse all funds of the NYDLC. The Treasurer shall keep a budget and shall keep records of all receipts and disbursements, which may be audited upon demand of the Steering Committee. Additionally, the Treasurer shall work with the Advisory Committee and the New York State Democratic Party to ensure compliance with all applicable campaign finance laws.
Section 6. The Executive Director, if any, and staff, if any, shall perform such duties as directed by the Co-Chairs in accordance with the policies set forth by the Steering Committee.
Section 7. The National Committeeman and National Committeewoman shall represent the interests of the NYDLC at all meetings and conventions, if any, of the National Democratic Lawyers Council.
Section 8. The following Committees and their Chairs will engage in those activities noted:
a. The Advisory Chair and Committee shall consist of election law practitioners with experience and expertise in election law and campaign finance law. The Advisory Committee shall be responsible for advising the Treasurer to ensure the NYDLC is in compliance with all applicable state and federal campaign finance laws. The Advisory Committee shall further provide advice and oversight on election law and voter rights issues.
b. The Communications Chair and Committee shall disseminate the NYDLC’s message to the press and public. The Committee will aid Chapters in attracting press to events and activities of the NYDLC and will be responsible for the newsletter and other articles for the Democratic publications, newspapers, and other media throughout the State of New York.
c. The Treasurer and the Finance Committee shall be responsible for activities and ideas for statewide fundraising, as well as acting as a resource for local Chapter fundraising activities.
d. The Operations Chair and Committee shall be responsible for all operations of the NYDLC, including but not limited to, website development and maintenance, database support, physical space, materials, etc.
e. The Political Outreach Chair and Committee shall be responsible for communications with politicians and political groups, including developing and maintaining relationships with politicians and political groups throughout New York State and nationally. The Political Outreach Committee shall be responsible for coordinating any lobbying activities of the NYDLC.
f. The State Coordination Chair and Committee shall be responsible for working in unchartered counties to help establish new Chapters and provide support and assistance to existing Chapters.
g. The Law School Coordination Chair and Committee shall be responsible for establishing law school networks and recruit law school volunteers for general membership as well as special intern projects.
h. The Minority Voting Rights Chair and Committee shall address voting rights issues that have a high impact on minority communities, particularly those racial and ethnic groups that have previously or currently experienced disenfranchisement.
i. The Recruitment Chair and Committee shall be responsible for growing the membership of the NYDLC.
Section 9. The Steering Committee shall, by a two-thirds vote, be empowered to remove elected and appointed officers for good cause. Good cause shall include officers’ inability or refusal to adequately fulfill their duties.
Section 10.1 Elected and appointed officers of the NYSDLC may be impeached for good cause by a simple majority at any regular or special meeting of the Steering Committee. Upon passage, a resolution of impeachment must be forwarded to the accused within ten days.
Section 10.2 An impeached officer shall be entitled to make his or her case before the next meeting of the Steering Committee, which must take place not less than ten days nor more than thirty days following passage of said impeachment resolution. The meeting shall be chaired by one of the Co-Chairs, chosen by lot or, in the case of the Co-Chairs being impeached, by one of the remaining Co-Chairs, chosen by lot. The impeached officer shall have the right to present documents, witnesses and/or his or her own presentation in his or her defense. Other members of the Steering Committee shall be allowed to state and support the charges against the impeached officer.
Section 10.3 The Steering Committee shall, by a two-thirds vote, be empowered to remove the impeached officer from office.
Section 10.4 As used herein, the term “For Good Cause” shall mean malfeasance, misfeasance, actions serving to bring the NYDLC into disrepute, failure to attend three out of five consecutive meetings, or demonstrated failure to support the goals of the NYDLC or the Democratic National Committee.
Article VI. Support of Democratic Candidates.
The NYDLC shall support the duly nominated candidates of the Democratic Party.
Article VII. Meetings.
Section 1. The Steering Committee shall meet at least four times a year at the discretion of the Co-Chairs or upon petition of 1/4 of the elected officers. Additional meetings may be called at the discretion of the Co-Chairs or upon petition of 1/4 of the elected officers.
Section 2. The meeting of the membership for the purpose of electing officers shall be held in accordance with Article IV Section 1 at a time and place specified by the Steering Committee. If the Co-Chairs fail to issue a call to a meeting for the purposes of elections prior to December 15 prior to the election to be held in the first calendar quarter of the next year, a call shall be issued by a majority vote of the Steering Committee.
Article VIII. Amendment.
Section 1. This Constitution may be amended by a two-thirds vote of the Steering Committee which is then ratified by a two-thirds vote of the NYDLC at either a meeting of the membership called for the purpose of electing officers or at a special meeting of the membership called for the purpose of ratifying such amendment.
Section 2. By-Laws may be amended by a majority vote of the membership at either a meeting of the membership called for the purpose of electing officers or a special meeting of the membership called for the purpose or also by a two-thirds vote of the Steering Committee.
Article IX. General Membership Meeting.
Section 1. A quorum at a meeting of the membership shall consist of representation of at least 50% of the chartered Chapters, and 50% of the elected officers. A quorum, once established at any meeting, shall not be lost by depletion of membership prior to adjournment.
Section 2. Notice of meetings of the membership must be given to all NYDLC Chapters at least thirty (30) days prior to said meeting. The preferred method of notification shall be e-mail. E-mail sent, whether individually or by so-called “blast e-mail”, to the last e-mail address provided by a member, shall be presumed to be valid notification to such member.
Article X. Representation of the Organization.
Except as provided for in Article V, Section 7, the Steering Committee shall appoint those persons who shall be duly accredited delegates at all meetings and conventions where the NYDLC is to be represented.
Article XI. Ratification.
This Constitution and by-laws shall be ratified by a two-thirds vote of the Steering Committee.
Article XII. Effective Date.
This Constitution shall take effect upon its adoption.
CERTIFICATION OF CHARTER The undersigned hereby certifies that the foregoing is a true and correct copy of the Constitution of the New York State Democratic Lawyers’ Council as adopted at a meeting of the Steering Committee on _____
By-Laws of the New York Democratic Lawyers Council
Article I. Rules.
Section 1. Except as specifically contradicted by the By-Laws, the Constitution, or altered by majority vote of the Steering Committee, the most recent edition of Robert's Rules of Order shall govern the proceedings of all meeting of the New York State Democratic Lawyers Council (the “NYDLC”).
Article II. Proposed Amendment in Writing.
Section 1 All amendments to these By-Laws and the Constitution, proposed for adoption at a meeting of the membership or by the Steering Committee must be presented in writing to the Steering Committee prior to the opening of such membership meeting or the Steering Committee meeting at which such amendment is proposed.
Article III. Resolutions.
Section 1 All resolutions offered to any general membership meeting of the NYDLC must be presented in writing to the Steering Committee and approved by said committee before presentation to any meeting of the membership for adoption.
Article IV. No Primary Activity.
Section 1 No officer or member of this organization may use his/her official designation or the official stationery or emblem of the organization to advance the cause of any individual primary candidate, and any officer or member who does so shall be subject to discipline, including possible expulsion by action of the Steering Committee.
Article V. Membership Cards.
The NYDLC and any chartered Chapter shall be authorized to issue membership cards for that particular organization.
Article VI. Nomination of Officers. Procedures for nominating officers shall be determined by the Steering Committee as outlined in the call to the meeting of the membership called for the election of officers.