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NYSDA advocates for the provision of high-quality public defense services in New York criminal and family law matters and encourages innovative practices, such as “client-centered advocacy.”

NYSDA’s work to improve public defense programs resulted in the creation of the State’s Indigent Legal Services Office (ILS). NYSDA assists the ILS in its statutory duty to evaluate defense services and distribute state funding, and serves on ILS Working Groups to create statewide standards.

Education: Presentations at state and local legislative hearings, courts, community meetings, media events and other venues provide a deep analysis of criminal justice and family court issues and recommendations for reform.

Publications: Op-ed columns, amicus briefs, written testimony, position papers, reports and Board of Director resolutions provide comprehensive information and innovative solutions.  See current Positions and Studies and archived Reports and Studies.

Expert Advice: NYSDA attorneys are appointed to a variety of statewide committees, including the NYS Office of Court Administration Committee on Criminal Procedure Law, First Department Indigent Defense Organization Oversight Committee, NYS Bar Association Committee to Ensure Quality of Mandated Representation, and the Indigent Legal Services Office Advisory Group.

Client Advisory Board: The Board, including formerly incarcerated individuals and  criminal justice professionals, provides advice and created Client-Centered Representation Standards that have been modeled in other states.

Special Projects: The Veterans Defense Program, Public Defense Investigation Support Project, Restorative Justice Program, Prisoner Pre-entry Mentoring Pilot Project and other projects advocate for innovative, client-centered reforms in the criminal justice system.

Reform Campaigns: NYSDA works closely with other organizations on various reform initiatives, including the creation of a state-funded, statewide public defense system under an Independent Public Defense Commission.

For instance, the March anniversary of Gideon v Wainwright, the historic right-to-counsel decision issued by the U.S. Supreme in 1963, provides the occasion for highlighting public defense issues. Across the years, Gideon Day has seen large groups of clients and lawyers in the State Capitol and opinion columns and media across the state.


Jonathan Gradess

Executive Director


194 Washington Ave., Suite 500, Albany, NY 12210


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