**Information for Public Defenders on Coronavirus / COVID-19**

In an effort to keep public defenders up to date on the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the state court system, criminal and family law representation, jails and prisons, child protective services, and related matters, NYSDA has set up this informational resource.



NYSDA Keeps Defenders Current on Rapid Changes. Almost daily, public defense lawyers and their clients face changes in procedures as New York courts and related institutions cope with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Modifications to substantive and procedural law in response to ongoing demands for racial justice provide new opportunities for positive outcomes, but require quick adjustments in practice. Implementation of last year’s reforms of bail and discovery laws, and this year’s amendment of them, are still unfolding.

NYSDA’s Backup Center furnishes updated information on these developments, and others, in a variety of ways. One is our e-newsletter, News Picks from NYSDA Staff. Another is our continual expansion and updates to the various webpages found under the Resources drop-down menu that appears at the top of our website. Our 53rd Annual Conference, held online, afforded over 400 attorneys the opportunity to learn about a variety of timely topics. And we inform attorneys of upcoming continuing legal education (CLE) online events from NYSDA, and others, on our NY Statewide Pubic Defense Training Calendar. Questions about NYSDA’s CLE programs should be directed to Training Manager, Megan O’Toole, at

Addressing Racism and Racial Disparity. Recent efforts to effectuate the statement that Black Lives Matter to NYSDA include highlighting in the Aug. 18, 2020, News Picks racial disparities and racism in both the criminal and family legal systems. Planning for topical webpages on this website is underway. Watch for those and other developments soon.

Cautious, Informed Reopening of Offices Proceeds. Every office and institution faces both universal and unique challenges in reopening following COVID-19 closures. Find helpful information on our Coronavirus 2020 Office Re-opening Resources page. NYSDA itself is incrementally returning to its offices, with much of the staff continuing to work remotely full time.

The Backup Center’s legal staff responds to attorneys’ inquiries received through our contact form, email (, or voicemail (518-465-3524). Attorneys with questions about family defense can also be sent directly to Family Court Staff Attorney Kim Bode at

Inquiries about NYSDA’s Public Defense Case Management System can be made by phone at (518-465-3524, Option 3), or via email:

NYSDA’s Veterans Defense Program (VDP) can be reached using the contact information available at the VDP’s home page.

Budget Concerns Loom. While public defense appropriations for state fiscal year 2020-2021 reflected static or even increased funding, deep concerns are growing as localities begin preparing their budgets for the next year, and entities with state contracts face a growing threat that some or all funds will be withheld. NYSDA shares budget information and other developments with Chief Defenders across the state, and will continue advocating for needed public defense funding.







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