"At the time, I was very focused on logic and scientific philosophyBertrand Russell and those guyswhich intrigued me with its precision and focus on the basic truth. But at end of the day I found it to be without much content and way too scholastic for me," Maynard said. "I'd probably be a history major if I could do it again."
Maynard was steered into law after spending a summer working with the federal defender service in Washington, D.C., as a student.
"I think it was the process of investigating, understanding what happened in a case that appealed to me," Maynard said. "I found that process fascinating, and I greatly admired the lawyer I worked with. I was impressed by the importance of the relationship between the client and the lawyer. It all seemed very meaningful to me."
Maynard was admitted to the bar in 1987 and spent a few years with Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler before becoming an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District. Between 1990 and 1996, he prosecuted a number of high-profile Russian organized crime cases.
In 1996, Maynard went to Time Inc. as associate general counsel, handling libel and commercial cases before joining Akin Gump in 2002. There, Maynard had a varied practice, ranging from antitrust to white-collar criminal defense. He moved to One Police Plaza on Jan. 7.
"It wasn't anything I was looking for, but the opportunity to work with Commissioner Kelly and this department was too great to pass up," Maynard said. "As I am learning every day, this is truly a world-class organization, with high standards of excellence and engaged in very important work."
First Amendment Background
Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said from her perspective the most important quality in a police department lawyer is "a firm grounding in civil rights and civil liberties and a thorough understanding of what policing and public safety entails."
Lieberman said individual rights should not be viewed as subordinate to public protection, "an approach that has gotten us into trouble historically." She said she is hopeful that Maynard's background as a First Amendment attorney with Time Inc. will reflect an abiding respect for free-speech rights.
"Anyone who is giving legal advice to the NYPD is bound to understand and respect the fundamental obligation to ensure that the police department acts in accordance with such core values as due process, privacy, liberty," Lieberman said. "Hopefully, [Maynard's] First Amendment background will help guide the police department toward protest policies and practices that respect and cherish the right to protest."
Schaffer, a professor at New York University School of Law before, during and after his stint with the city, said the biggest challenge facing his successor is monitoring an ever-shifting legal landscape.
"The most challenging part of the job is keeping abreast of developments that affect the [police] department and the city on a daily basis," Schaffer said. "Court decisions happen frequently, and you have to analyze them and see what the impact is. It is very important to give advice not only as to what is allowed, but what is not allowed. Police have to balance between protecting civil rights and protecting public safety. It is doable lawfully, and it is very important that it be done lawfully."