Counsel to the District Attorney
The appellate bureau handles all the litigation related to any challenges to a defendant’s conviction. The bureau is led by Counsel to the District Attorney, Peter Willis. Peter is a life-long resident of Schenectady County, and a graduate of Vassar College and the University of Buffalo Law School. He has been a member of the District Attorney’s Office since 2006, starting as an ADA in Schenectady City Court and then moving on to handle felony cases in the County Court and Major Crimes Units. Before becoming counsel, he was also Appeals Bureau Chief and the Homicide Bureau Chief. During that time he led the prosecution of several notable cases such as The People of the State of New York v. John Wakefield, a murder trial which included the first use of a new and ground-breaking approach to DNA analysis, as well as The People of the State of New York v Joevany Luna, which involved an interstate murder for hire plot that led to the death of a Schenectady man.
During that time he prosecuted several notable cases such as the People of the State of New York v. John Wakefield, a murder trial which included the first use of a new and ground-breaking approach to DNA analysis, as well as the People v. Joevany Luna, with ADA Jennifer Assini, which involved an interstate murder for hire plot that led to the death of a Schenectady man.
Legal Internship Program
The Schenectady County District Attorney legal intern program is also run primarily out of the appellate bureau. Law students who are accepted into the program become an invaluable resource for the office and provide much of the research support and initial drafts for appellate briefs and other motions that are filed with the Court of Appeals, Appellate Division, and County Court. Along with working in the appellate bureau, interns also assist prosecutors in Schenectady City Court and other local courts. Under the program interns are also allowed, under supervision, to represent the office as attorneys in minor court proceedings and non-jury trials. The combined focus of the legal research and writing from the appellate bureau and the practical opportunity to observe and participate in court proceedings, has given many law students a strong platform to pursue careers in prosecution not only in Schenectady County, but in numerous offices throughout the State.