Overhauling New York’s criminal defense
system for the poor should be a top priority for state lawmakers and Governor
Andrew Cuomo during the current legislative session, New York State Bar Association President David P.
Miranda said today.
“Criminal justice reform in New York must
begin with ensuring that everyone accused of a crime, regardless of income, has
an attorney, as required by the U.S. Constitution,” he said. “Despite improvement in some geographic areas, our indigent criminal defense system still relies on
overworked and underfunded defense attorneys.”
“The State Bar Association strongly
supports legislation to require full state funding for—and oversight
of—indigent criminal defense services,” said Miranda. He praised Senator John
(R-Onondaga County) and Assemblywoman
Patricia Fahy (D-Albany County) for introducing similar bills to achieve those
On May 4, the Assembly Codes Committee
approved Fahey’s bill (A.6202-C). Link to Association memo in support: www.nysba.org/NYSBAMemo24A.
Earlier in the week, DeFrancisco said
enactment of the bill (S.6341-A), which would provide
fiscal relief to county governments, is one of his priorities for the 2016
“We are pleased that Senator DeFrancisco
and Assemblywoman Fahy continue to push for this critical legislation,” Miranda
At a joint press conference earlier this
year, DeFrancisco and Fahy were joined by other lawmakers, Miranda and officials
of the state Association of Counties, who all support state financing of
indigent criminal services.
In 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Gideon v. Wainwright that states must provide legal
representation to criminal defendants who cannot afford to hire a lawyer.
Instead of assuming the cost itself, New York has required counties—big and
small, urban and rural—to bear most of the expense.
The 74,000-member New York State Bar
Association is the largest voluntary bar association in the nation. It was
founded in 1876.
Contact: Lise Bang-Jensen
Director, Media Services and Public Affairs