Joan Illuzzi-Orbon, recently retired from law practice and now serving as a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, has been called one of the top prosecutors in New York. She worked at the Manhattan district attorney’s office for 33 years, where her roles included trial lawyer, senior trial counsel, chief of hate crimes, then executive assistant and chief of the trial division. A graduate of New York University and St. John’s University School of Law, she entered the district attorney’s office upon graduation, and has spent her life in an urban environment, building a career in public service.
Illuzzi-Orbon has tried some of the most complex and high-profile cases in New York, such as the murder of “realtor to the stars” Linda Stein, the double murder at Scores nightclub, the kidnapping and murder of six-year-old Etan Patz thirty years after his disappearance from lower Manhattan, and most recently the prosecution of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. For over three decades in the district attorney’s office, she has conducted intricate, exhaustive investigations into murders, conspiracies, kidnappings, and serial killings. During many of these investigations she has cooperated dozens of felons, monitoring them for extended periods of time, and providing structure and security to prevent repeat criminal activity.
A fellow with the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers, Illuzzi-Orbon is a public service awardee, recognized by her peers in the legal community, both prosecutors and the defense bar, for her trial accomplishments and dedication. Eager to share her skills, she has mentored students and lawyers, supervising 400 lawyers in her last role at the district attorney’s office, and providing advice and opportunities to other young professionals. She has been called upon to lecture lawyers regularly on topics such as the role of the prosecutor, and the preparation, writing, and delivery of summations. She has also guest lectured before numerous New York state judges, at Columbia Law School, and at Fordham Law School, and is an adjunct in St John’s University graduate program on homeland security and criminal justice.