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Martin Delonis: President of the Brooklyn Law Student’s Death Penalty Project, Brooklyn, NY
[By Charisse Dengler] Martin Delonis, a graduate of Brooklyn Law School, was a student at Fordham University in the Bronx five years ago on the date of September 11. After graduating from Fordham University, he spent a year working for the Capital Defender Office of New York, which cemented his desire to become a lawyer.

Currently, Delonis is looking forward to moving to Michigan—his home state—and working as a criminal defense attorney. He said he hopes to work both as a defense attorney and as a prosecutor over the course of his career. “My decision to pursue criminal law came naturally and was reinforced by how much I enjoyed studying criminal law while in school,” he said. “Following my interest in philosophy into the study of law, criminal law was a natural fit for me because it is entirely focused on people and society. My career hopes have developed around what I would most like to be able to say that I accomplished as a lawyer: working for both defendants and the government to ensure that justice is served and that my clients are represented to the best of my abilities.” Delonis’ favorite courses included Law of War, Law and Police Policy, and a couple of seminars on developments in the areas of criminal procedure and evidence law. “Learning about police policy gave me new insight into operations of police departments that will no doubt be of use in my career, and taking the time to learn about the laws of war during this era of the ‘war on terror’ seemed all too appropriate,” he said. “Criminal law has been particularly alive with all of the developments in the war on terrorism, the changes in the Supreme Court, and the rulings about the sentencing guidelines that have happened during my three years in law school,” he said. While in his last year of law school, Delonis served as the President of the Brooklyn Law Student’s Death Penalty Project. The
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project’s goal is to inform students about the Death Penalty and give them a chance to discuss the issue. “The idea is to educate members of the Brooklyn Law School community about the current state of affairs surrounding the death penalty and about activities focused on the death penalty in New York, as well as the rest of the United States and around the world,” he said. Delonis’ responsibilities as president included working with members of the board to develop and implement programs that would be of interest to the students at Brooklyn Law School. He also worked with other student organizations to raise student awareness about issues outside of their law school courses by hosting guest speakers and other events. “We try to provide a forum for members of the Brooklyn Law School community to openly debate the issues of law and politics that have resulted in the dramatic increase over the past 20 years in the number of persons awaiting execution and provide information and contacts for those interested in getting involved in death penalty work on legislative, political, and legal fronts,” he said. Delonis first joined the group during his L year and served on the board as events coordinator his 2L year before becoming president. “My experiences working in the Capital Defender Office doing public death penalty defense made it a comfortable fit and an organization with a message and purpose that reflected my own interests,” he said.

Delonis thinks student organizations provide excellent networking opportunities, and he said the various people he met during his time in law school influenced him greatly. “My friends, many of whom are also passionate about criminal law, have been a great resource and have helped me learn and better understand the law as we’ve studied it together,” he said. “It’s amazing how many different perspectives can be found in just a handful of people.” Looking back on his time in law school, Delonis remembers the point when he and his friends stopped feeling like students and started feeling like lawyers; and it’s one of his favorite memories. “Sometime during my second year I made the transition from feeling like a tourist in the law to feeling like I really belonged,” he said. “I wasn’t looking at my future career in law as an interesting job anymore, but as a vocation. That transition came hand in hand with a recognition that my friends and I had grown from the people we were in our first awkward days of law school into a group of competent young lawyers with great potential and even greater commitment to the profession.” ON THE NET Brooklyn Law School www.brooklaw.edu Fordham University www.fordham.edu Capital Defender Office of New York www.nycdo.org