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November 30, 2011
NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION EXPANDS PROGRAM PROVIDING PRO BONO
ATTORNEYS FOR APPEALS TO THE THIRD DEPARTMENT
Recognizing that many individuals cannot afford to appeal court
decisions involving critical legal matters, the New York State Bar
Association is expanding its successful pilot program to provide pro
bono legal assistance in select civil cases in New York’s Third
The Pro Bono Appeals Program is available to individuals who had lost
civil (non-criminal) cases and lack the financial means to appeal the
decision, as well as to persons who won in the trial court but must
respond to an appeal by the opposing party. The program expands
upon a year-old pilot program for Family Court and matrimonial
appeals. In addition, the program now covers appeals involving
education, health, housing, and public benefits.
“New Yorkers shouldn’t be denied representation on appeal
solely because they lack the means to pay. The State Bar Association is
proud to be a national leader in providing pro bono legal assistance for
appellate cases,” said Bar Association President Vincent E. Doyle
III of Buffalo (Connors & Vilardo, LLP).
Cynthia F. Feathers (Cynthia Feathers, Attorney At Law), co-chair of
the Bar Association’s Committee on Courts of Appellate
Jurisdiction, said appeals can cost tens of thousands of dollars and
persons of modest means often cannot afford an appellate lawyer.
Feathers, of Glens Falls, said appellate court decisions may set
precedents, and, therefore can have far-reaching impacts beyond a single
“We’re happy to help one person, but this program has the
potential to help many people with one appeal,” Feathers said.
Cases are screened by a seven-member subcommittee, which will select
a limited number of cases for appeals. Income eligibility is based
on a cap of 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. For
example, the income limit for a family of three would be $46,325.
Collaborating with the Committee on Courts of Appellate Jurisdiction
in offering the program are the Legal Project in Albany and the Rural
Law Center of New York in Plattsburgh. These nonprofit organizations are
providing staff support and pro bono expertise. The program is supported
by a grant from the New York Bar Foundation.
For the next year, cases will be limited to appeals to the Appellate
Division, Third Department, which covers 28 counties: Albany, Broome,
Chemung, Chenango, Clinton, Columbia, Cortland, Delaware, Essex,
Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Hamilton, Madison, Montgomery, Otsego,
Rensselaer, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Schuyler,
Sullivan, Tioga, Tompkins, Ulster, Warren and Washington. Organizers
hope to expand the program to other Appellate Divisions in the