Breaking News

The False Promise of DNA Testing, The Atlantic, June 2016

Citing 'Bedessie,' Split Panel Overturns Murder Conviction, NYLJ, May 20, 2016

Reclaiming Innocence: Brooklyn’s Fight to Reverse Wrongful Convictions, The Crime Report, May 19, 2016

“Speedy Trial” Guarantee Does Not Apply to Sentencing, SCOTUSBlog, May 19, 2016

When Parole Boards Trump the Supreme Court, The Marshall Project, May 19, 2016

The Legal Aid Society Calls on the State Legislature to Reform New York's Gravity Knife Statute, Legal Aid News, May 18, 2016


NYSDA Board Endorses ILS Eligibility Criteria and Procedures and State Funding of Public Defense Including Compliance with All ILS standards. The Board of Directors passed two resolutions recently. One, passed on April 29, 2016, endorses the criteria and standards for determining eligibility when individuals apply for public defense representation; those standards were issued by the NYS Office of Indigent Legal Services (ILS) on April 4 after well-documented work by ILS to determine current practices, best practices, and needed reforms. The NYSDA Board found that implementation of the new eligibility standards "will improve the fairness and efficiency of eligibility determinations across the state, benefitting potential public defense clients, the judiciary, and justice[.]"
The second NYSDA Board resolution, passed on May 2, 2016, "supports the timely implementation of the State's responsibility" to fully fund county public defense programs including costs incurred by complying with ILS standards. All existing ILS standards, including the eligibility standards and the standards for trial level representation, appellate representation, and representation of parents in Family Court, can be found on the ILS website.


State Budget Lacks Public Defense Reform Component. NYSDA’s Public Defense Backup Center, from which much of Our Work emanates, and NYSDA’s Veterans Defense Program, were both included in the final 2016-2017 state budget at last year’s levels, but statewide public defense funding reform was not. Read more about the budget in the Jan.- April 2016 issue of the Backup Center REPORT. Executive Director Jonathan E. Gradess’s February budget testimony can be read here.

Justice-Involved Veterans Report: Learn about NYSDA’s Veterans Defense Program (VDP) which has assisted or trained nearly 1,000 veterans and public defenders representing veterans, by viewing the VDP Activities Report (PDF).

Save the Dates! Oct. 14-15, 2016: Families Matter Conference. Planning for the 2nd annual statewide conference for public defense attorneys providing parent representation in Family Court is well underway. As part of its Family Defense work, NYSDA is again co-sponsoring this major program to enhance the defense of people threatened with the loss of their parental right to raise their children. Make your Oct. 14 hotel reservation at this Albany Hilton event by calling 866-691-1183 with the conference code 1DEFEN. Cosponsors include the Indigent Legal Services Office and NYS Unified Court System Child Welfare Court Improvement Project.

ILS Issues Assigned Counsel Eligibility Procedures. New standards for determining the eligibility of individuals seeking mandated legal representation were released by the NYS Indigent Legal Services Office (ILS) and are available here with extensive documentation about their creation on the ILS website. The first standard states succinctly that people who lack resources to pay for a qualified lawyer, release on bond, the expenses of a competent defense, and reasonable living expenses shall be eligible for public defense representation. A list of factors that make applicants “presumptively eligible” for public defense includes incarceration and eligibility for needs-based public assistance. Resources of a third party, including a spouse, or parent of a minor, do not make an applicant ineligible. NYSDA congratulates ILS on the new Criteria and Procedures, and was pleased to assist in their creation.
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