Richard Willstatter



IMG_2178A graduate of Duke Law School, Richard Willstatter has emerged as a leader among New York’s criminal defense lawyers. He is a past President of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NYSACDL), an organization of more than 800 lawyers across the state, dedicated to protecting the rights of the accused and strengthening the criminal defense bar. For several years, Mr. Willstatter has headed the Amicus committee of NYSACDL, which coordinates the filing of “friend of the court” briefs on important legal issues before state and federal courts. He is also an active member of the nationwide National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), where he serves as a vice-chair of the Amicus Curiae committee.

Mr. Willstatter is a tenacious advocate for his clients, well known among his colleagues for a no-nonsense approach that stresses preparation, research, solid paperwork, investigation, and assistance of experts when needed. Mr. Willstatter is also dedicated to educating himself about new developments in the law and having a continuing dialogue with his criminal defense colleagues on “cutting edge” issues. He has given numerous Continuing Legal Education lectures on such topics as current appellate issues, the Federal Rules of Evidence, Obtaining and Reviewing Digital Evidence, and the cross-examination of a forensic chemist.

He has also published articles in the NACDL’s magazine, The Champion, on fingerprint evidence, habeas corpus challenges to the Federal Bureau of Prisons on release of inmates to half-way houses, and litigating mental competency issues in the Federal system. He also writes for NYSACDL’s quarterly magazine, Atticus. This commitment helps give Mr. Willstatter the creativity to “think outside the box” and find issues helpful to his clients that are not always so obvious. Among his numerous success stories, Mr. Willstatter convinced a Federal appeals court to overturn a $100,000,000 civil RICO verdict, won a new trial for a client who was convicted of murder, and won reversal of a conviction and release from prison for a client who received an unfair trial in a rape case.

Areas of Practice:

  • Criminal Law
  • Federal Criminal Law
  • Litigation & Appeals
  • White Collar Crimes

Representative Cases

Published Works:

  • “Dealing with Fingerprint Evidence: Confronting the Prosecutor’s Evidence and Creating Your Own”, The Mouthpiece, NYSACDL Newsletter, January/February, 2003
  • “Habeas Corpus Challenges to the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ New Policy on CCC Placement”, The Mouthpiece, NYSACDL Newsletter, May/June, 2004
  • “The Federal Criminal Mental Competency System”, The Champion, June, 2006
  • “What must you do if you are relieved as counsel?”, Atticus, Summer 2011
  • “Supreme Court Updates,” Atticus, Summer 2013
  • E-Discovery and Use of Digital Evidence,” The Champion, November 2017

Amicus Briefs:

Professional Associations and Memberships:

  • New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
    • President, 2012-13
    • Chair, Amicus Committee, 2004-2011
    • Member since 1990
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
    • Vice Chair, 2nd Circuit Amicus Curiae Committee, 2002-present
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
    • Member, 1992 to present
  • Westchester County Bar Association
    • Member, 1990-present
  • New York Council of Defense Lawyers, 2012-present
  • Federal Bar Council, 2010-present

Past Employment Positions:

  • The Legal Aid Society, Bronx, NY, Criminal Defense Division, 1981 – 1989

Bar Admissions:

  • New York, 1981
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, 1981
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York, 1997
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, 1981
  • U.S. District Court, Western Disrict of New York, 2016
  • U.S. District Court, District of Vermont, 2014
  • U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, 2011
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit, 1992
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit, 1996
  • Supreme Court of the United States, 2008


  • Duke University School of Law, Durham, North Carolina, 1980, Juris Doctor
  • Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, 1977, Bachelor of Arts
  • Honors: Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa
  • Major: Political Science

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