The New York State Bar Association will host a forum titled “Summit on the Future of Indigent Defense in New York” in Albany on March 26th. The discussion, which will be held at the State Bar Center (One Elk Street, Albany), beginning at 1:00 p.m., will include remarks from State Bar Association President Mark H. Alcott and New York State’s Chief Judge, Judith S. Kaye.
A panel of distinguished members of the legal profession from across the state will consider - among other issues - a report of the Kaye Commission on the Future of Indigent Defense in New York, which concludes that New York’s current “county-based” system of indigent defense is seriously flawed and should be replaced by a statewide program, and that statewide enforceable standards on indigent defense should be introduced. The report further concludes that funding for these programs should be provided entirely by the state. Albany County Executive Michael G. Breslin will address the forum following the panel discussion.
“Over the last several years the Association has specifically advocated for changes in the State’s fractured and inefficient system of indigent defense services. I am pleased that the Kaye Commission’s report recommends wholesale reform, including improvements called for by the Association, such as oversight, enforcement of standards and specialized training,” State Bar Association President Mark H. Alcott of New York City (Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Warton & Garrison, LLP) said. “Chief Judge Kaye has once again demonstrated leadership in advocating for improvements in New York’s legal system and we look forward to a full discussion regarding these proposals.”
In April 2005, the New York State Bar Association’s Special Committee to Ensure Quality of Mandated Representation produced and adopted statewide standards, which have been widely distributed throughout the state and are in line with the recommendations of the Kaye Commission report.
Chairman of the Special Committee to Ensure Quality of Mandated Representation, Vincent E. Doyle III of Buffalo (Connors & Vilardo), said, “The standards that the Bar Association has set to better serve indigent defendants, along with the Kaye Commission report, highlight the need for statewide reform in the legal system. In New York State, one’s access to quality legal services should never be determined by socioeconomic status. The state should take the necessary steps to ensure that equality becomes common practice in the Empire State.”