Breaking News

Legal Aid Calls for Public Defender Pay Parity With Corporation Counsel Lawyers, New York Law Journal, March 19, 2019

March 18, 2019: Public Defense Day, Twitter #PublicDefenseDay

He Spent 7 Years in Prison. Then a Court Changed the Rules, New York Times, March 18, 2019

2019 Advisory Committee Reports to the NYS Chief Administrative Judge, New York State Unified Court System, March 2019

State agency probes inmate death at Shawangunk Correctional Facility, Daily Freeman, March 9, 2019


NYSDA is Hiring!

State of Our Judiciary, Parent Representation Commission Interim Report, and Other Judiciary Reports Available. Chief Judge Janet DiFiore's State of Our Judiciary (SOJ) 2019 address, along with three reports mentioned in it, is available on the court's website. A webcast of the Feb. 26, 2019, is also posted. Highlights as to public defense include a request that the Governor and Legislature act to adjust assigned counsel rates. Bail reform and opioid treatment courts are also singled out for mention as to criminal justice.

As to public defense representation in Family Court, the Chief Judge noted key recommendations of an interim report issued by the Commission on Parental Legal Representation to coincide with the SOJ. NYSDA provided testimony at a Commission hearing and will be analyzing the report and the SOJ address, along with other developments regarding possible systemic or procedural changes affecting public defense lawyers and clients, as part of our continuing efforts to improve public defense representation.

NYSDA’s Budget Testimony Calls for Funding and Reform. NYSDA’s budget testimony presented on January 29 notes that both the Executive Budget and bills introduced in the Legislature address needed reforms in the areas of discovery, bail, and speedy trial. Keeping in mind that "details matter," NYSDA looks forward to working with the Legislature and the Executive to achieve just and lasting reforms. As to funding, NYSDA seeks restoration by the Legislature of amounts that would restore the Backup Center's budget to the level maintained for the past several years, and calls for additional funding to institute additional programing. Specifically, NYSDA wants to institute additional Social Worker/Sentencing Mitigation Training & Recruitment Assistance and Raise the Age Training. NYSDA also supports legislative funding to cover omitted or reduced amounts in the Executive budget for several public defense programs including Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York and the Indigent Legal Services Office (ILS). The testimony highlights the ILS request for a $3 million appropriation to fund an RFP for Parent Representation Caseload Relief and Quality Improvement; this is desperately needed to support public defense in Family Court while awaiting recommendations for reform by the Chief Judge’s Commission on Parental Legal Representation. NYSDA also asked the Legislature to increase the statutory rates for assigned counsel in a manner that provides for cost of living increases without further legislative action.

Funding Sought to Maintain and Expand VDP. Because state funding for NYSDA’s Veterans Defense Program (VDP) does not come from the Public Protection budget, VDP offered separate budget testimony, at the Human Services hearing on January 24. As the testimony notes, “VDP has assisted hundreds of justice-involved veterans and trained hundreds of public defense attorneys representing veterans in New York State’s criminal and family court systems at county-level trainings and intensive point-person regional trainings. NYSDA seeks renewal of VDP funding plus a strategic budget expansion for additional staffing for upstate New York and a Legal Practice Manual on Defending Veterans in Criminal Courts.


NYSDA Offers a Range of CLE Programs in 2019. TIn the first three months of the year, NYSDA has offered a variety of continuing legal education (CLE) training programs. They included the large, full-day 33rd Annual Metropolitan New York Trainer and smaller, topic-specific regional events like a “Doing Bail Better” 1.5-hour CLE training in Washington County. Often partnering with county public defense offices and other local and statewide entities, NYSDA offers affordable, high-quality training relevant to public defense lawyers. For upcoming training events from NYSDA and others, see the NY Statewide Public Defense Training Calendar.

Celebrating Jay Coleman's Life. Jay Colman, who was NYSDA’s Client Coordinator and Chair of its Client Advisory Board, died on Mar. 27, 2019 after a battle with cancer. A celebration of Jay’s life was held on Saturday, March 30. NYSDA extends sympathy to Jay’s family and his many friends and admirers. He remains in our memories and hearts as a cherished colleague and an inspiration to continue working for a humane justice system.

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