NYSDA Veterans Defense Program: Defending Those Who Defended Us
The Veterans Defense Program provides training, support and legal assistance to engender zealous representation of veterans and service members involved in New York State criminal or family court matters. The VDP directly helps the most vulnerable of our veterans by assisting defense attorneys in providing justice to veterans with military-related mental health illnesses, such as PTSD, TBI or depression, and facilitating treatment to heal their wounds of war.
Hurrell-Harring Settlement: A Major Step on the Road to Justice
The historic settlement of Hurrell-Harring v. NY lawsuit overhauls New York’s public defense programs in five counties and lays the foundation for statewide reform of the broken public defense system. The State took responsibility for providing public defense for low-income people for the first time in over 50 years since the Supreme Court held that it is a state obligation. The NYCLU and Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP filed the class-action lawsuit against the State for public defense deficiencies in Onondaga, Ontario, Schuyler, Suffolk, and Washington counties. The settlement plan announced in October 2014 was finalized in March 2015.
NYS Indigent Legal Services Office to Implement Hurrell-Harring
The State’s Indigent Legal Services (ILS) Office will implement and monitor compliance with the Hurrell-Harring agreement. ILS received funding in the state budget to fulfill numerous obligations including creating standards and a step-by-step plan to improve public defense programs in the five counties. NYSDA will assist the ILS Office while continuing work to improve public defense representation statewide, helping the remaining 57 counties address deficiencies in their public defense systems, and providing training and backup services to public defense lawyers in all the counties. See NYSDA’s 2015-16 budget testimony and memo supporting the ILS Office budget.
Immigrant Defense Support
NYSDA provides backup services for public defense attorneys on the intersection of immigration and criminal defense through support from the Immigrant Defense Project. NYSDA also works with the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild and Bar Associations at training events.