Breaking News

NYS Office of Indigent Legal Services Holding Public Hearings on Financial Eligibility for Counsel in Family Court, May 31 (Manhattan); June 19 (Albany); July 17 (Brooklyn); August 14 (Rochester)

NYC makes calls from jail free, 1st major US city to do so, Washington Post, May 1, 2019

Power and Partnership: A Guide to Improving Frontline Practice With Parents in the Child Welfare System, Rise Insights, Spring 2019

USA Today Releases List of Police Officers Who Lost Law Enforcement Certification in 44 States, USA Today, April 25, 2019

New York Restricts Immigration Arrests In Courthouses, Patch NYC, April 17, 2019


NYSDA is Hiring!

Board Appoints Bryant Executive Director. On May 10, 2019, NYSDA's Board of Directors unanimously voted to appoint Susan C. Bryant as Executive Director. In announcing the appointment of Bryant, who has served as Acting Director recently and for much of 2018, Board President Edward J. Nowak said "Susan’s commitment to NYSDA and defense services cannot be overstated. We know that we will continue to benefit from her intellectual acumen, hard work, energy, and commitment to NYSDA and NYSDA’s mission."

Reforms In the State Budget Must Now Be Implemented. Landmark reforms passed in the recent State Budget include changes to bail, discovery, and speedy trial that take effect on Jan. 1, 2020. A one-day reduction in the maximum sentence for class A and unclassified misdemeanors, intended to curtail the removal from this country of people who are not US citizens, was passed in a bill, with an amendment, and took effect on April 12, 2019. Expansion of eligibility for the SHOCK incarceration program to include persons convicted of second-degree and second-degree robbery also passed, as did a series of reforms to remove barriers hampering successful reentry from incarceration. NYSDA advocated strongly for reforms, and the Backup Center will be deeply involved in implementing these new measures through training, publication of information, and more. Among reforms yet to be secured are an increase in assigned counsel fees and full state funding of public defense provided in Family Court; advocacy on these issues continues.

NYSDA provided initial information about the new legislation, and about public defense funding contained in the budget, in the April 17, 2019 News Picks From NYSDA Staff. NYSDA's budget testimony, presented on Jan. 29, 2019, can be found here.

NYSDA Helps Lawyers, Improves Parental Defense. Through continuing legal education programs and direct defenders services as well as reform advocacy, NYSDA works to help public defense lawyers who represent parents/respondents in Family Court provide quality legal services. Contact Family Court Staff Attorney Kim Bode at the Backup Center for more information:

Having provided testimony to the Chief Judge's Commission on Parental Legal Representation, and apprised family defenders and others about the release of its interim report, NYSDA will continue to assess and address public defense needs in family representation.

VDP Improves the Representation of Those Who Served. NYSDA's Veterans Defense Program (VDP) has helped hundreds of justice-involved veterans through consultation and assistance in their cases, and trained hundreds of public defense attorneys representing veterans in New York State’s criminal and family courts. Information about VDP is set out in the separate budget testimony offered in successfully seeking continued funding for the Program. NYSDA now operates VDP offices in two locations: Batavia (585-219-4862) and Central Islip, at Touro Law School (631-650-2331). VDP's Director is Gary Horton (, Art Cody ( is the VDP Deputy Director, and Blair Hill ( is a VDP Staff Attorney.


Relevant, Affordable, High-Quality CLE Offered From regional training events across the state to its award-winning Basic Trial Skills Program offered during a week each June and the Annual Conference every July, NYSDA provides the training public defense lawyers need to provide client-centered representation in every case. For upcoming training events from NYSDA and others, see the NY Statewide Public Defense Training Calendar.

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