Pin It
.
Favorites

Some progress on indigent defense 

New York State has settled a lawsuit that accused it of systematically depriving poor criminal defendants of their right to counsel. And in doing so it has recognized, for the first time, that it is responsible for providing legal representation for those defendants, say state civil rights and indigent defense groups.

In a 50-year-old decision, the US Supreme Court said that states are obligated to provide attorneys for defendants who can't afford lawyers. But New York left it up to its counties to figure out how to provide that representation.

Seven years ago, the New York Civil Liberties Union sued the state, saying that New York's patchwork indigent defense system too often fails the people it is supposed to represent.

The settlement applies to five counties that were part of the NYCLU lawsuit: Onondaga, Ontario, Schuyler, Suffolk, and Washington. The state has agreed to provide sufficient funding for attorneys, investigators, and support staff for public defender offices in those counties.

The state will also create eligibility standards for defendants, set caseload standards, and ensure that defendants have lawyers at their first court appearances.

The NYCLU and indigent defense associations say that the settlement is good start, but that the state ultimately needs to make broader changes.

In particular, state officials need to devote more funding to public defenders in all counties so that the offices can provide the same level of representation across the board, says a statement from the Chief Defenders Association of New York, a statewide association of indigent defense agency heads

"It shouldn't take another lawsuit for the state to implement these improvements in the rest of the state," says Tim Donaher, Monroe County's public defender and president of the Chief Defenders Association of New York.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Browse Listings

Submit an event

"The Wild Pear Tree" (2018) @ Dryden Theatre

Flapjack Saturday Community Fundraiser @ First Baptist Church of Penfield

Flapjack Saturday Community Fundraiser @ First Baptist Church of Penfield

Proceeds support Resolve, dedicated to preventing domestic and sexual violence against women....

Annual Film Festival & Community Discussion on Race: Racism & the Power of Words on Communities of Color @ Spiritus Christi Church

The half-day event will include watching several film clips followed by small...

View all of today's events »

  • Re: County exec race will be Dinolfo versus Bello

    • Bello was Irondequoit supervisor for two years and two and 1/2 months, Jan. 1, 2016…

    • on February 15, 2019
  • Re: County exec race will be Dinolfo versus Bello

    • So, Happy, it sounds like you agree with me. There's nothing new and exciting in…

    • on February 15, 2019
  • Re: Diner series: Mt. Hope Diner

    • I have been going here for at least 50 years, back in the Pat and…

    • on February 15, 2019
  • More »
  • This Week's Issue

    Cover Story:
    Education... means emancipation
    What would Frederick Douglass think now of the state of education in the city he loved? Seven Rochesterians – community leaders, students, and parents – offer their assessment and their advice.
    read more ...

    Tweets @RocCityNews

    © 2019 City Newspaper.

    Website powered by Foundation.