Appointed to the bench of the New York State Family Court by Mayor Edward Koch, Daniel Leddy distinguished himself as a prolific writer of precedent-setting legal opinions and an outspoken, tireless champion of children's rights. For instance, his opinion in Matter of Maureen G., a child abuse case in which an infant was starved to death, established the proposition that an absent-from-the-home father who either knows or should know of abuse in the home, can be held liable for the abuse inflicted by the mother. Here is an excerpt from that opinion:
"He saw or should have seen a child dying, and offered no help, made no complaint, sounded no alarm. Although this inaction may not have hastened David's death, it certainly did not prevent it. And it is by this omission that Michael G. violated his paternal obligation to protect his child from recognizable harm." Matter of Maureen G. - 103 Misc.2d 109 -
In another precedent-setting opinion, Judge Leddy held that a father, who repeatedly taunted his son about his sexuality by calling him a "faggot", could be held liable for child abuse even though he did not inflict physical injury. Here is an excerpt from that opinion:
"To fail to acknowledge this boy's plight would be an affront to the clear legislative intent of article 10 of the Family Court Act; to fail to label the father's actions as child abuse would strip the phrase of all meaning; to fail to warn other parents against this insidious type of abuse would perpetuate the suffering of countless other defenseless children." Matter of Shane T. 115 Misc. 2nd 161
During Judge Leddy's two terms on the bench, he was assigned periodically to the arraignment part of the New York City Criminal Court, assignments for which he was highly-qualified from his years as a criminal defense attorney.
In another case that reached New York State's highest court, Mr Leddy sued the City of New York on behalf of Catholic students at two public colleges who objected to relentless attacks on their religion in the schools' newspapers. The novel case drew national attention and several amicus briefs from interested entities.
Mr. Leddy has substantial experience representing children who have been suspended or expelled from school. In two well-publicized cases, he sued the schools in State Supreme Court to overturn the disciplinary actions.
When the 11 year-old son of a prominent cancer surgeon was suspended from his Little League team, Mr. Leddy sued the organization in state Supreme Court, arguing that the suspension was illegal for several reasons. The Appellate Division agreed, ordering the child's reinstatement. The case attracted media attention throughout the world, with Mr. Leddy being interviewed by several outlets both in the United States and abroad.
Despite his thriving law practice, Mr. Leddy devoted countless hours to the pro bono defense of children in the Family Court on Staten Island before there was an indigent program in operation there. And, in fact, as Chair of the Bar Association's Family Court Committee, he was instrumental in setting up such a program for the borough.
Daniel Leddy graduated with honors from Augustinian Academy, a top college prep school, Fordham College, and Fordham Law School.
During his academic years, he developed outstanding speaking and speech-writing skills, winning oratorical contests throughout New York City. Not surprisingly, he was named editor-in-chief of the newspapers both at Augustinian Academy and Fordham Law School.
Upon his graduation from law school, he was the recipient of prestigious American Jurisprudence Awards in Constitutional Law and Comparative Law.
When a juvenile was scheduled to be tried for Murder in Family Court, Mr. Leddy brought a groundbreaking law suit against the presiding judge, seeking a jury trial in that forum. The suit produced an order from the State Supreme Court directing the Family Court Judge not to imprison the juvenile should there be a conviction but, rather, to place him in a treatment facility as a person in need of rehabilitation.
Daniel Leddy's interest in Family Law made him a veritable fixture in Family Court and led to his appointment as Chair of the Family Court Committee of the Richmond County Bar Association. Among other things, he defended countless kids in juvenile delinquency proceedings and numerous parents accused of child abuse and neglect.
Advancing the constitutional rights of children has been another of Daniel Leddy's passions. When, for instance, the City of New York declared a so-called Vietnam War Moratorium Day, he sued the city on behalf of a middle-school student who objected to being told that he had to attend school if he supported the war, but should absent himself if he opposed it. Mr. Leddy argued successfully that the compulsory education system couldn't be used as vehicle to force students to speak out on political issues. A Supreme Court Justice agreed, ordering the city to cancel its directive to the city's school kids.
While Daniel Leddy has handled a wide variety of cases involving virtually every area of the law, he has specialized primarily in Criminal Defense, Family Law, Children's Rights, and Constitutional Law. Several of the cases that he's handled in each of these areas received wide-spread attention by the media. For instance, his successful defense of a Staten Island woman indicted for Murder was especially newsworthy because of his decision to have the case tried without a jury, thus placing his client's fate in the hands of a judge alone. It is believed to be the only non-jury murder trial ever conducted on Staten Island.
Seeking to impart his legal expertise and experience to students, Daniel Leddy taught law and law-related subjects at St. John's University in New York City . As an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, and Assistant Director of the Criminal Justice Department, he also devised new courses for the curriculum and guided students in developing their careers.
Mr. Leddy has also given generously of his time to speak to countless middle school and high school students about the law. His lively presentations have been consistently well-received by the young people, and much appreciated by their teachers.
ATTORNEY AT LAW
Daniel Leddy has been the law columnist for the Staten Island Advance for over 20 years. His column, "On the Law" appears every Tuesday on the editorial page, and provides insightful commentary on timely legal topics. Mr. Leddy has also written articles for numerous other publications such as the New York Law Journal, Criminal Justice Ethics, the New York State Bar News, Today's Family, and the National Catholic Register.
Mr. Leddy has made numerous television appearances to discuss law-related news stories. He was also seen often on the Court Television Network where he provided commentary during its coverage of high-profile trials, including the Menendez Brothers murder case.