Breaking News

Cuomo Should Sign Legislation Requiring the State to Pay for Defense Lawyers for the Poor, Buffalo News, Aug. 17, 2016

Two Courageous Defenders, NAPD News, Aug. 15, 2016

Hebephilia Flunks Frye Test, In the News, Aug. 14, 2016

Michigan Moves Slowly to Fix Shoddy Indigent Defense, Detroit Free Press, Aug. 14, 2016

I'm a Judge and I Think Criminal Court Is Horrifying, Marshall Project, Aug. 11, 2016

An Open Letter to the Next Missouri Governor, Sixth Amendment Center, Aug. 11, 2016

Former Porco Attorney, Terence Kindlon, to Revamp County Public Defender’s Office, Spot Light News, Aug. 7, 2016



Public Defense Reform Act Sponsors Honored. Two legislators received NYSDA's Service of Justice Award during the Association's 49th Annual Conference. Assemblymember Patricia Fahy (D-Albany) and Senate Deputy Majority Leader John A. DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) were honored for their bipartisan legislation that, if signed into law, will require the State to reimburse counties for public defense services costs, phased in over seven years. Stephen Button, County Attorney and former Public Defender, St. Lawrence County, was a co-awardee, for providing support that was instrumental in passing this historic bill. NYSDA has supported the legislation since its inception, as noted in testimony during State budget hearings, and lauded its passage. Editorials calling on the Governor to sign the legislation have appeared from Niagara County to the Hudson Valley and the City, and elsewhere across the state. The New York State Association of Counties, which released a white paper on the legislation, strongly advocates for its implementation; many county legislatures and county executives have issued statements of support as well.


Public Defense Lawyers Recognized for Achievements, Passion for Justice. For her tireless work helping ensure that immigration consequences for clients are addressed in public defense cases across the state, Joanne Macri received NYSDA's Wilfred R. O'Connor Award. Macri is currently Director of Regional Initiatives for the New York State Office of Indigent Legal Services; she was lauded for her excellent and passionate work in a variety of settings, from direct client representation and assisting other attorneys to training and policy development.

Also presented at the conference was the Kevin M. Andersen Award; it recognizes public defense attorneys who exemplify the sense of justice, determination, and compassion that were the hallmarks of its late namesake from the Genesee County Public Defender Office. The 2016 award went to Scott Levy, Director of The Bronx Defenders Fundamental Fairness Project.

A Year's Worth of CLE, Relevant and Well-Presented. Hundreds of public defense lawyers received up to 12 mandatory continuing legal education (CLE) credits over two days on subjects relevant to their practices on July 25-26. They heard appellate court updates, information on working with – or challenging – pathologists providing testimony in gunshot cases; ethical and constitutional issues, as well as tactics, in plea bargaining; representing juveniles in criminal court; new tactics for overcoming prosecution non-compliance with Brady; and asserting clients' rights to addiction medication. That last topic featured materials from The Legal Action Center, available here.

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.

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.




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