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Melissa S. Horlick

  • Profile
  • Credentials

Ms. Horlick brings nearly 30 years of experience practicing criminal law, most recently serving as Senior Counsel at Appellate Advocates, where she vigorously represented clients unable to afford legal representation on appeal. As appellate counsel, Ms. Horlick handled some of the most challenging and complex appeals, with a concentration in fraud based cases, filing dozens of appellate briefs and post-conviction motions.

She is particularly skilled in finding appellate issues and has successfully obtained significant results for her clients convicted of second-degree murder, arson, robbery, burglary, grand larceny, sexually-based offenses, criminal possession of a weapon, and fraud-based crimes. Ms. Horlick’s work has resulted in the vacatur of two life sentences, as well as other substantial sentence reductions that have greatly benefitted her clients.

Ms. Horlick’s briefs often present novel issues of constitutional, evidentiary, and statutory state-wide importance. Her appellate practice has shaped New York state law on significant issues including the applicability of the depraved indifference murder statute, the handling of jury notes, the application of the predicate felony offender statute, and the waiver of the right to counsel in a case involving a former attorney.

Ms. Horlick has argued cases in the New York State Court of Appeals, the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, and the Appellate Division, Second Department. A highly seasoned oral advocate, she has trained and prepared countless attorneys for oral argument, served as a guest lecturer at law school clinics, and taught Continuing Legal Education courses.

Having begun her career at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, Ms. Horlick learned how to anticipate her adversary’s position to impact her defense strategy. As an Assistant District Attorney, she handled appeals and federal habeas corpus petitions; conducted investigations, hearings, and trials; and specialized in sex crimes and crimes against children. She also served as an Associate Court Attorney for the Honorable Barbara F. Newman in the Supreme Court of Bronx County, providing her with invaluable insight as to how decisions are rendered from the bench.

Ms. Horlick is a devoted criminal defense attorney committed to providing the highest level of representation to her clients. She has a reputation for earning their trust and confidence, as evidenced by her long-term demonstrated commitment to them.

Notable Outcomes:

  • Second-degree murder conviction reduced to second-degree reckless manslaughter (New York State Court of Appeals).
  • Second-degree grand larceny conviction reversed based upon trial court’s failure to conduct an adequate inquiry into disbarred attorney’s decision to proceed to trial pro se in real estate fraud prosecution (Appellate Division, Second Department).
  • Third-degree grand larceny and falsifying business records conviction reversed following People’s concession for improper admission of an exhibit (Appellate Division, Second Department).
  • Second-degree criminal possession of weapon conviction reversed for court’s failure to properly handle a jury note during deliberations (Appellate Division, Second Department).
  • Second-degree arson conviction reversed due to the admission of improper bolstering hearsay testimony (Appellate Division, Second Department).
  • Sodomy and sex crime related convictions reversed for prosecutorial misconduct (Appellate Division, Second Department).
  • First-degree robbery conviction reversed for improperly replacing a deliberating juror with a previously excused alternate juror (Appellate Division, Second Department).
  • Second-degree burglary conviction reversed where court improperly sat defendant’s peremptorily challenged jurors (Appellate Division, Second Department).
  • Attempted robbery conviction reversed and dismissed as against the weight of the evidence (Appellate Division, Second Department).
  • First-degree robbery sentence reduced from 53 1/3 years to life to 6 to 13 years’ incarceration (Supreme Court, Kings County).
  • First-degree reckless endangerment sentence reduced from 87 years to life to 9 to 18 years’ incarceration (Supreme Court, Kings County).
  • Attempted murder sentence involving police shooting reduced as excessive by 15 years (Appellate Division, Second Department).
  • Second degree murder sentence directed to run concurrently, reducing it by 7 ½ years (Appellate Division, Second Department).
  • Third-degree criminal possession of a weapon sentence modified from 3 ½ to 7 years to 2 ½ to 5 (upon remittal to Supreme Court, Kings County).
  • Second-degree criminal possession of a weapon sentence modified by vacating punitive fine in connection with a life sentence (Appellate Division, Second Department).
  • C.P.L. § 440.20 motion granted and illegal sentence improperly based on youthful offender adjudication vacated resulting in a more favorable resentence (Supreme Court, New York County).
  • C.P.L. § 440.20 motion granted, defendant resentenced (Supreme Court, Kings County)


  • Kings County Criminal Bar Association
  • Nassau County Bar Association


  • New York State Bar, 1995
  • United States Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit
  • Eastern District of New York, United States District Court
  • J.D. Brooklyn Law School - Graduate School 1994
  • B.A. George Washington University - University 1991

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