Karl focuses on providing legal counsel and strategic advice to clients that operate in highly regulated environments having an active government oversight component. Karl was recognized for his accomplishments in the field, when he was named to the City and State Law Power 50 which listed the “50 most powerful people in New York politics working in the law.” He assists clients among a broad spectrum of sectors including gaming, Title IX, health care and emerging industries. He also advises on governmental ethics and lobbying compliance. Karl represents individuals, businesses and institutions in complex civil litigation, government administrative investigations, cases against the State Attorney General and white collar criminal defense matters. He often represents individuals and institutions in high profile matters containing a public or political element. He has represented numerous Fortune 100 companies as well as private citizens and political figures involved in government inquiries and has served as special counsel for Major League Baseball.
Karl has served as counsel to casino and gaming interests on a variety of matters and assisted clients in successfully navigating the statewide casino site selection competition and process in 2014, continuing to represent successful bidders in this regard. Notably, in the field of thoroughbred racing, Karl represents entities in the field and is also a licensed horse owner, a member of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders and the managing partner of a racing stable that annually finishes in the top 10 percent by earnings of all licensed owners in North America. He serves on the organizing committee of the Albany Law School Saratoga Institute on Racing and Gaming Law, which sponsors the annual industry conference in Saratoga Springs in August, where he has been a featured speaker and commentator on issues of ethics and racing.
Karl regularly serves as counsel in high profile government inquiries. He was engaged as counsel in both of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Moreland Commission investigations. An experienced trial lawyer, Karl also represents selected individuals and businesses in white collar criminal defense matters. Since returning to private practice in 2007, he was lead counsel in the jury trial of a corporate executive who was acquitted of all larceny and tax charges, and he forged a negotiated plea disposition in a multimillion dollar larceny case whereby the president of the company was able to avoid incarceration.
Since leaving government service, Karl has testified before the New York State Legislature on the topic of ethics reform, and at the request of the New York State Bar Association president, chaired the Due Process and Investigations subcommittee for the association’s 2011 Task Force on Government Ethics. The subcommittee’s recommendations have been credited with influencing important aspects of the groundbreaking Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011. Karl has also served as Special Counsel to the New York State Legislative Ethics Commission and is a frequent commentator on issues involving ethics and government in the media.
Karl served as the Executive Director of the New York State Ethics Commission from March 2001 through March 2007. During his tenure, he was responsible for conducting investigations of high ranking government officials and private sector entities that interact with government officials. He also provided advice and interpretation of the state's ethics and integrity laws to statewide elected officials, including the governor and attorney general, as well as private sector business leaders that interacted with the government. His term at the commission was marked by fair and effective enforcement of the ethical principles that apply to state employees and strong, effective support for legislation to improve the ethics laws.
Karl previously served in the Office of the Attorney General and was primarily responsible for prosecuting complex narcotics organizations, government corruption and homicide cases. He was the only attorney in the office assigned to both the Organized Crime Task Force and the Capital Assistance to Prosecutors unit.
Karl also served as Deputy Inspector General with the Office of the State Inspector General (OSIG), where he was responsible for overseeing investigations into corruption, fraud and criminal activity. In 1997, Karl received the Attorney General’s Louis J. Lefkowitz award in recognition of exceptional effort for his prosecution of a narcotics cartel operating throughout the eastern United States and Latin America. In 1999, he received an award from the New York State Police in recognition of exceptional public service in a high profile homicide prosecution. From 1992 to 1995, he was the Chief Assistant District Attorney in Cayuga County. From 1991 to 1992, Karl was an Assistant District Attorney in Fulton County.
RECENT PUBLICATIONS + SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS
- "New Year’s Eve Marks End of Municipality Opt-Out Window for Cannabis Retail Dispensaries, Consumption," Harris Beach Legal Alert, September 2021.
- "Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Proposes 'The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act'," Harris beach Legal Alert, July 2021.
- “Recreational Marijuana Use Legalized in NYS – Your Questions Answered,” Harris Beach Podcast, June 2021.
- “Appellate Division Decision in Article 78 Proceeding Triggers Dismissal,” Harris Beach Insight, April 2021.
- “Why New York banks and credit unions may be reluctant to work with marijuana companies,” Harris Beach In the News – Albany Business Review, April 2021.
- ‘Attorney: "If there are individuals looking to get involved in [NY's marijuana] industry, they need to do it now",’ Harris Beach In the News – Albany Business Review, April 2021.
- “Karl Sleight Featured in Syracuse.com Article on Adult-Use Marijuana Legalization and What Happens Next,” Harris Beach In the News – Syracuse.com, March 2021.
- “Agreement Reached on Legalization of Recreational Adult Use of Marijuana,” Harris Beach Legal Alert, March 2021.
- “Harris Beach Wins Summary Judgment for Contractor and Insulates It from Liability,” Harris Beach Legal Alert, February 2021.
- “Lobbying Compliance for Energy Organizations,” Harris Beach Advisory, January 2021.
- “JCOPE Issues Advisory Opinion On Third-Party Gifts,” Harris Beach Legal Alert, October 2020.
- “Legal Underpinnings of New York Attorney General Investigations of Police-Involved Deaths,” Harris Beach Advisory, September 2020.
- “JCOPE Publishes Changes to Lobbying Regulations,” Harris Beach Legal Alert, August 2020.
- “Integrity and Oversight Processes in CARES Act Warrant Careful Review,” Harris Beach Legal Alert, April 2020.
- “New York State Appeals Court Finds Daily Fantasy Sports Law Unconstitutional,” Harris Beach Legal Alert, February 2020.
Karl has authored articles on topics related to ethics in government in the New York Times, New York Law Journal and many other publications. Some examples include:
- “Ethics and Lobbying Reform In State Government (Again),” New York Law Journal, December 6, 2011.
- “Ethics and the Constitution,” Government, Law and Policy Journal, New York State Bar Association, Spring 2010.
- “Ethics Laws and the Public Authorities of New York State,” Government, Law and Policy Journal, New York State Bar Association, Fall 2009.
- “Unending Quest for Ethical Government,” Times-Union, May 31, 2009.
- “Update on Ethics, Lobbying Reform In New York State Government,” New York Law Journal, May 29, 2009.
- “Ethics, Lobbying and Public Integrity in New York State Government,” New York Law Journal, May 15, 2007.