For Release: Immediate
Contact: Lise Bang-Jensen
Director, Media Services and Public Affairs
January 30, 2012
STATE BAR PRESIDENT CALLS FOR PASSAGE OF JUDICIARY
WHILE RAISING CONCERNS ABOUT FURTHER EROSION OF SERVICES
New York State Bar Association President Vincent E. Doyle III today
urged state lawmakers to approve the Unified Court System’s
proposed budget and to monitor the long-term impact of past budget cuts
on one of the world’s busiest court systems.
“We support approval of the Judiciary’s budget request as
submitted,” said Doyle of Buffalo (Connors & Vilardo) in
testimony submitted to the Legislature. “However, we ask that you
continue to monitor the effects of last year’s cuts, that you be
sensitive to any further erosion of services due to the cuts, and that
you take appropriate steps to help to assure public trust and confidence
in our system of justice.”
Doyle commended Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, former Chief
Administrative Judge Ann Pfau and newly-designated Chief Administrative
Judge A. Gail Prudenti for “overseeing a system of justice
responsive to the needs of the people of this state during the current
Earlier this month, the Executive Committee of the State Bar
Association released a report documenting how New York State’s
court system has struggled with recent cuts – including $170
million in budget cutbacks during the current fiscal year.
“Limited courthouse hours delay the resolution of cases,
increase backlogs and increase costs to litigants,” Doyle said,
highlighting some of the findings of the report. “Many emergency
matters, including domestic violence and family court cases, cannot be
heard on the same day that the underlying petition is filed. In criminal
cases, delays are leading to longer periods of pre-trial
The State Bar report on court budget cuts is available at www.nysba.org/CourtFundingReport.
Doyle’s testimony is available at www.nysba.org/VEDTestimony1-30-12.
One of the State Bar’s highest priorities is providing civil
legal services for low-income New Yorkers. “Unfortunately, the
need for civil legal services has far outpaced the available
resources,” Doyle said. He praised Chief Judge Lippman for
proposing $25 million in funding, an increase of $12.5 million.
He urged the Legislature to again appropriate $15 million to bolster
the Interest on Lawyer Account (IOLA) Fund, which uses interest
collected on escrow accounts to finance grants to legal service
providers. IOLA’s revenues have plummeted because of low interest
rates and a decline in real estate sales.
Doyle commended Governor Andrew Cuomo for maintaining funding for the
Office of Indigent Legal Services and noted that the office is a step in
the right direction toward making the constitutional guarantee of
effective assistance of counsel a reality for all. The Association
will work with the Governor, the Assembly and the Senate to enhance the
important function of the office – to provide support and relief
to localities in fulfilling the mandate of the U.S. and New York
He also addressed the Governor’s plan to expand the DNA
database to include the collection of DNA samples from individuals
convicted of all felonies and Penal Law misdemeanors. “No one can
seriously argue with the Governor’s objective of exonerating the
innocent and convicting the guilty,” Doyle said.
“My overriding concern with the proposal is that it is limited
in its scope and effect,” he said, explaining that addressing many
of the root causes of wrongful convictions requires a comprehensive
In addition to expanding DNA collection, Doyle said the Legislature
should consider such proposals as: requiring the videotape recording of
police interrogations; addressing mistaken-identity testimony with
changes in how police lineups are conducted; strengthening a
prosecutor’s obligation to turn over evidence favorable to the
defense; and allowing a defendant who had pleaded guilty to a crime to
petition a judge to obtain a DNA test.
“Too many innocent people are convicted and spend all or part
of the rest of their lives in prison,” Doyle said. ”Governor
Cuomo’s DNA proposal takes a serious step in the right direction.
The Legislature should build on the Governor’s proposal and enact
a comprehensive law that would allow New York to say that it has led the
way in minimizing the risk of wrongful convictions.”
The 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest
voluntary state bar association in the nation. It was founded in