Breaking News and Updates
Advocates Recite Shortcomings of N.Y. Parole Review Process, NYLJ, Dec. 5, 2013
Report Details The Extent Of A Crime Lab Technician’s Errors In Handling Evidence, NY Times, Dec. 5, 2013
Prosecutors Draw Fire For Sentences Called Harsh, NY Times, Dec. 5, 2013
Community Meeting: Defending The Poor, WAMC, Dec. 5, 2013
Landmark Public Defender Case Out Of Washington, NAPD, Dec. 5, 2013
IACP: Police Can Take Lead Role In Preventing Wrongful Convictions, The Crime Rep., Dec. 3, 2013
Defending The Poor, At What Cost?, WHAM, Nov. 27, 2013
For the latest court opinions and filings, see US Sup Ct, 2nd Cir, and NY; for case summaries, see US Sup Ct Review, 2nd Cir Blog, NY Ct App Update, NY Criminal Defense, and 4th Dept.
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.
In Gideon's 50th Anniversary Year, NYSDA Keeps Working for Its Fulfillment
Fifty years after the U.S. Supreme Court's right to counsel decision in Gideon v Wainwright, this vital constitutional guarantee remains unfulfilled. NYSDA and others are observing Gideon’s golden anniversary by advocating for much-needed improvement in public defense services. An area of the NYSDA website chronicles Gideon events, writings, and more here; it includes NYSDA Executive Director Jonathan E. Gradess's Feb. 6, 2013 testimony at a joint legislative budget hearing; the call by NYSDA and many others at a press conference on March 18 -- Gideon Day – for New York's Governor to lead public defense reform in this anniversary year; a blog; and much more.
Statement in Opposition to Audio-Visual Arraignments
As counties and public defense providers work toward making counsel available at initial court appearances (see the Indigent Legal Services Office RFP on this issue here), some suggestion has been made that clients, and perhaps lawyers, participate only remotely, via video. NYSDA opposes this long-discredited idea, as set out in this position paper.
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
NYSDA's Client Advisory Board Member King to Receives Lifetime Achievement Award
Darryl King, a member of the New York State Defenders Association's Client Advisory Board, received the Eddie Ellis Life Time Achievement Award on November 30th. Created by Citizens Against Recidivism, Inc. the award honors the accomplishments of people who were formerly incarcerated.
2012 Expansion of DNA Databank—Effective August 1, 2012
Earlier this year, Governor Cuomo signed a bill to expand the list of designated offenders who are required to give a DNA sample [Executive Law § 995(7)] to include all persons convicted of a felony or a Penal Law misdemeanor, except for first-time offenders convicted of Penal Law § 221.10(1). (L 2012, ch 19, as amended by ch 55, Part A). The new list of designated offenses applies to convictions on or after August 1, 2012. A summary of the DNA legislation passed earlier this year appears in the January-March 2012 issue of the Public Defense Backup Center REPORT. (pp. 4-6). A list of the current DNA databank qualifying offenses is available on the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services' website at http://www.criminaljustice.ny.gov/forensic/dnaoffenses.htm.
NYSDA Joins a Host of Others – NYSACDL, It Could Happen to You, the NYCLU, NACDL, The Legal Aid Society of New York City, the New York State Bar Association, and The Innocence Project – Calling for Discovery and Innocence reforms.
Early and full disclosure to the defense of information that could help show a client's innocence would help prevent wrongful convictions. Need for such discovery reform, and support for the Lentol discovery bill (A. 6907) was stressed by NYSDA's Executive Director on May 30, 2012 during a press conference sponsored by The Innocence Project and the New York State Bar Association. Pending legislation highlighted at the event included bills requiring police to videotape interrogations in full as a way of preventing or revealing false confessions and mandating "double-blind" police identification procedures to avoid conscious or unconscious influence on witnesses to pick out a suspect. For more about the press conference, click here and here.
How and Why to Get Clients' and Witnesses' Rap Sheets
Lawyers representing clients in criminal and family court proceedings need to know what, if any, criminal histories their clients have, and also the criminal histories of potential witnesses in their clients' cases. A number of barriers exist to getting that information, especially for clients who lack financial means. NYSDA has prepared a document that describes why criminal history information is important, how attorneys can try to obtain it, and the reform measures needed to help public defense providers and their counties get the information efficiently at less cost. Read it here (PDF).