In litigation a zealous advocate seeks to win and place obstacles to winning in an adversary’s path. In settlement negotiation of significant reform litigation affecting public policy, advocates and the parties have separate interests, but also have a collaborative purpose, seeking to overcome conflicts in order to achieve a settlement based upon shared interests and policy goals. In the two landmark correctional reform settlements in which Richard, as an Assistant Attorney General, served as lead attorney for the State defendants, he served his client agencies in their negotiations with plaintiff advocacy groups. In both cases the State and plaintiff advocacy groups achieved nationally recognized, ground-breaking settlements:

Disability Advocates, Inc. v. NYS Office of Mental Health, et al., 02 CV 4002 (GEL), 8th Amendment challenge to mental health services within the prison system, primarily focused on prisoners with serious mental illness in solitary confinement. Systemic settlement (2007) establishing a heightened level of care, involving daily out-of-cell therapeutic activity, and alternative residential mental health programs, for prisoners with mental illness subject to disciplinary confinement in excess of 30 days. Post-settlement compliance audits, including expert tours and reports (2007-2011).

Peoples, et al. v. Fischer, et al. 11 CV 2694 (SAS), systemic 8th Amendment challenge to the State’s prison disciplinary system and the use of solitary confinement as a disciplinary sanction. Class action settlement (approved April 2016), diverting juveniles, developmentally disabled prisoners and certain drug offenders to rehabilitative alternative programs; establishing behavioral incentives, including “step down” programs, to reduce length of sentences and change behaviors leading to disciplinary confinement; ameliorating conditions of confinement; and establishing comprehensive guidelines for disciplinary sanctions.