Sarena Townsend is a Partner at Farber Schneider Ferrari LLP. Ms. Townsend focuses her practice on criminal defense and representing employees in disciplinary actions brought by their employers. She has over 16 years of criminal law and investigatory experience. She is a fierce advocate and a feared adversary in the courtroom.
Ms. Townsend has conducted and supervised countless hearings and trials, consistently achieving favorable jury verdicts and settlements. She has defended individuals facing all categories of felony charges and represents individuals in Sex Offender Registry Act ("SORA") Hearings. Ms. Townsend also consults for Campaign Zero, an organization committed to decreasing police violence and increasing police accountability. Additionally, she partners with jails and prisons across the country to develop training curricula for their Corrections staff.
Between 2016-2022, Ms. Townsend led the internal affairs and staff discipline units on Rikers Island as the Deputy Commissioner of the Intelligence, Investigation & Trials Division at the New York City Department of Correction. There, she oversaw thousands of investigations and dozens of trials at the Office of Administrative Trials & Hearings ("OATH"). Ms. Townsend's unmatched knowledge of the inner workings of law enforcement agencies gives her an advantage in litigating all matters involving police and corrections officers.
Prior to her position at the Department of Correction, Ms. Townsend was a Deputy Bureau Chief at the Kings County District Attorney's Office, where she prosecuted crime throughout Brooklyn for 10 years. With a stellar conviction rate, Ms. Townsend handled some of the office's most high-profile and complex cases. Ms. Townsend specialized in sex crimes prosecutions, including rape and predatory sex assault, but also achieved top count convictions in cold cases, homicide, robbery, burglary, DWI, narcotics, and gun possession matters. She has presented expert testimony on DNA collection and testing, Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kits, fingerprint lifting and comparison, firearm operability, and chemical analysis of narcotics. Ms. Townsend also trained and supervised prosecutors in the busiest trial bureau in the County.
Ms. Townsend was named as one of City & State's 2023 Law Power 100, a recognition of "the most influential legal professionals in the world of New York politics and government." She has been featured and/or quoted on television, radio, podcasts and in print, including Dateline, VICE News, NBC, NY1, New York Times, Forbes, New York Magazine, Daily News, Hell Gate, Gothamist, and The City.
Ms. Townsend received her J.D. from Fordham University School of Law in 2006 and graduated, with honors, from New York University in 2003, with a B.A. in Psychology.
NEW YORK UNIVERSITY
B.A., cum laude, Psychology, 2003
FORDHAM LAW SCHOOL
Juris Doctor, 2006
State: New York
Federal: Eastern District of New York