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Defense Attorney Joe LaTona Honored by Peers

By Tony Farina

Joe LaTona

I've been privileged to cover some top criminal defense attorneys in Buffalo over the last 40 years or so, and in the early 1980s, while I was an investigative reporter at Ch. 2, I made a list of the five I thought were the best. It was a series that was well received at the time, both by viewers and the legal community.

Three of the five who made my list, Harold Boreanaz, John Condon, and Bob Murphy, are no longer with us. The other two, Joel Daniels and Paul Cambria, are still practicing and still rank as among the best criminal attorneys in the area.

I bring that up now upon learning that another Buffalo attorney, Joseph LaTona, who actually began his legal career when he was hired by Condon way back in 1974 after he was graduated from Omaha's Creighton University Law School, has been recognized as one of the top lawyers in the area.

Best Lawyers, the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession, has named LaTona the 2014 "Buffalo Criminal Defense White-Collar Lawyer of the Year." The publication also named LaTona as one of Buffalo's best in the area of non-white-collar criminal defense and for his work in driving while intoxicated cases.

LaTona, a native of Niagara Falls, has been recognized numerous times for his criminal defense work in cases involving fraud, conspiracy, murder and criminally negligent homicide. In addition to being listed by Best Lawyers since 1987, he was featured in an article in the September 2008 New York Super Lawyers - Upstate Edition magazine.

LaTona first gained attention when he worked with Condon and Joseph Sedita in the highly publicized Richard Long case with LaTona and Condon representing two off-duty police officers who were accused of killing Long after Long's car cut off the officers with his sports car and he was knocked unconscious after a car chase.

Many more high-profile cases followed, with LaTona distinguishing himself with his courtroom skill and many successes. One that I covered from the beginning was his defense of Buffalo police officer Gregg Blosat who was charged with strangling a handcuffed prisoner during an arrest. Blosat was found not guilty of manslaughter in the case, with LaTona convincing the jury over what seemed to be uphill odds, that the victim's death was accidental.

And of course he made news again in the Lackawanna Six case which gained worldwide attention when the six young Yemini Americans who were accused of conspiring with Osama bin Laden while on a trip to Afghanistan in the first part of 2001 the tragic events of 9/11.

LaTona's client was the first to take a plea in that case and through LaTona's efforts avoiding pleading guilty to providing material assistance to bin Laden and also would not be considered an enemy combatant and wind up in Guantanamo. The 28-year-old got seven years.

LaTona told the Buffalo News that sometimes the best thing you can do for a client is work out a reasonable plea deal. That's exactly what he did in the Lackawanna Six case.

Best Lawyers, which named LaTona as its 2014 Lawyer of the Year in Buffalo, is often referred to as the gold standard in ranking lawyers because it is conferred on a lawyer by his or her peers. The list is of Best Lawyers is compiled by conducting peer-review surveys in which tens of thousands of leading lawyers confidentially evaluate their professional peers.

The Niagara Falls Reporter extends its congratulations to Joe LaTona for earning such a distinguished honor from his peers in the legal profession and we wish him continued success as one of the area's very best defense attorneys.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

OCT 01, 2013