Carl Kaplan

Lecturer in Law

Carl S. Kaplan, a Long Island native, graduated magna cum laude from Amherst College with a B.A. in English in 1976. He received his J.D. from Columbia University School of Law in 1994. At Columbia, he was a New York Times Fellow in Law, a Human Rights Fellow, a staff editor at the Columbia-VLA Journal of Law & the Arts and a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. Prior to entering law school, Carl worked as a writer or editor at a number of publications, including the late and lamented New York Newsday, where he was a business reporter.

After law school, Carl spent three years as a litigation associate at Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler. Since September 1997 he has worked as appellate counsel and senior appellate counsel at the Center for Appellate Litigation, a non-profit defender organization that handles appeals for indigent defendants convicted of serious felonies in Manhattan and The Bronx. He has written well over 120 appeals and orally argued numerous times before the Appellate Division, First Department. He has appealed to and argued before the New York Court of Appeals, and has handled post-conviction motions and post-Rockefeller Drug Law sentence-reduction motions before trial courts in Manhattan and The Bronx. Among Carl’s most interesting cases: He represented for three years in various fora Darryl Best, a married man with five children who was convicted of first-degree drug possession and sentenced to 25 years to life for accepting a Federal Express package containing cocaine that was addressed to someone else. Mr. Best received executive clemency from Governor Pataki on Christmas Day, 2005. In People v. Smith, 306 A.D.2d 225 (1st Dept. 2003), a case of first impression in New York, Carl’s client, an amateur screenwriter, was accused of plagiarism by a film company and subsequently found guilty by a jury of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree and sentenced to 2˝ to 7 years. The Appellate Division reversed the judgment and dismissed the charge, and Mr. Smith walked out of jail. The court agreed with counsel that Mr. Smith was not impersonating anyone when he signed his own name to a screenplay allegedly written by someone else. Thus the Smith screenplay at issue could not have been a “forged instrument” under the New York Penal Law. Mr. Smith currently is suing New York State for his needless imprisonment. In addition to his appellate work, Carl has taught in the Profession of Law course at Columbia Law School. He wrote a popular weekly (and later fortnightly) legal column, “Cyberlaw Journal,” for the Web site of The New York Times from 1997 to 2002. Throughout that period he also gave lectures and presentations on Internet-related legal topics at several law schools and bar committees. In 2002 he was a Markle Fellow at The Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Wolfson College, Oxford University.