Breaking News and Updates

Approval of Indigent Criminal Defense Improvements Nears, NYLJ, Jan. 20, 2015
End of an Era? The Impact of Drug Law Reform in New York City, Sent. Law & Policy, Jan. 20, 2015
Justice System Changes Would Treat 16-, 17-Year-Old Offenders as Children, Expand NY Family Courts,, Jan. 19, 2015
Cheating Scandal Fouls State Police Test, Albany Times Union, Jan. 17, 2015
False Confessions, New Data and Law Enforcement Interrogations: Research Findings, Journalist's Resource, Jan. 15, 2015
People Can Be Convinced They Committed a Crime That Never Happened, Assoc. for Psych. Sci., Jan. 15, 2015

National Association for Public Defense Opens Its Doors

The National Association for Public Defense is a national organization led by the dedicated people in the field who are singularly devoted to promoting the policies and ideals of strong and effective public defense services. NAPD is committed to being a powerful voice for the public defense community advocating for the right to counsel and appropriately resourced and independent indigent defense systems generally.

Working to Fulfill Gideon at 50th Anniversary Year's End
NYSDA and others have been observing the fiftieth anniversary of Gideon v Wainwright in a variety of ways on and since March 18, 2013. The right to counsel recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in Gideon and expanded upon thereafter remains unfulfilled. An area of the NYSDA website has chronicled Gideon events, writings, and more here.

NYSDA's Gideon Anniversary Blog
posts include news and musings, calls for advocacy, and reports on many things Gideon and public-defense related.

Throughout the year, NYSDA has advocated for settlement of a pending lawsuit, Hurrell-Harring v State of New York et al, in a way that leads New York into creation of a statewide, fully and adequately state funded public defense system headed by an Independent Public Defense Commission.

Budget Testimony, SOJ Highlight Need for Broad Public Defense Reform
The call for public defense reform continued at a budget hearing on Feb. 5, 2014, NYSDA Executive Director Jonathan E. Gradess urged legislators "to call on the Governor to settle Hurrell-Harring in a way that will create a public defense system that brings measurable results to clients." Gradess's written testimony and live remarks are available on the Assembly website. The Association also issued a press release about the testimony.

In the 2014 State of the Judiciary address, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman included a section on public defense, subtitled "FULFILLING THE PROMISE OF GIDEON." In it, the Chief Judge noted that variations in county funding have led to unsustainable caseloads and "a patchwork system in which the quality of legal representation in [public defense] cases can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction." He called for "adopting and funding caseload limits in all of the state's 62 counties" as an immediate step that would be a major breakthrough in solving the state's public defense crisis and would "make our state a national leader in providing this vitally important service." This followed his observation that ultimately, ensuring quality representation may require "a full state takeover of the cost and regulation."

NYSDA Honored

On June 14, 2013, NYSDA received a 2013 Outstanding Achievements in Promoting Standards of Excellence in Mandated Representation Award from the New York State Bar Association Committee to Ensure Quality of Mandated Representation. As noted here, NYSDA views the much-appreciated award as recognition not just of past work but of continuing commitment to quality public defense services.

NYS Office of Indigent Legal Services

The purpose of the Office of Indigent Legal Services ("Office") is "to monitor, study and make efforts to improve the quality of services provided pursuant to article eighteen-B of the county law." Executive Law Article 30, Section 832(1). The Office does not provide legal assistance or lawyer referrals to individuals. Rather, it operates under the direction and pursuant to policies established by the Board to assist county governments and indigent legal services providers in the exercise of their responsibility under County Law Article 18-B to provide the effective assistance of counsel to those persons who are legally entitled to counsel, but cannot afford to hire an attorney. For more information about the Office, click here