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NYCLA AND FOUR OTHER COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATIONS’ RESOLUTION CITES “GRAVE CONCERNS” ABOUT PROPOSED CHANGES TO INDIGENT DEFENSE PLAN
March 11, 2010 – New York, NY – The New York County Lawyers’ Association (NYCLA) and four other county bar associations in New York City – Bronx County Bar Association, Brooklyn Bar Association, Queens County Bar Association and Richmond County Bar Association – have adopted a joint resolution, expressing “grave concerns” about the proposed changes to the City’s Indigent Defense Plan. On February 3, the Criminal Justice Coordinator issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) which, coupled with an Executive Order adopting a new Indigent Defense Plan, would, according to NYCLA President Ann B. Lesk, “eliminate the oversight role of bar associations in indigent defense and dramatically reduce the role of the private bar in providing services to the indigent accused.”
“NYCLA considers itself to be a stakeholder in the indigent defense system, by virtue of 45 years’ involvement as a signatory of the original Indigent Defense Plan for New York City. We are deeply disappointed that the City chose to try to make radical changes to the Indigent Defense Plan without notice to or consultation with NYCLA or the other county bar associations that were signatories of the 1966 Plan. We urge all governmental entities that are involved in this process to consult with NYCLA and the county bars, as well as the other stakeholders in the indigent defense system, and to examine all of the effects of any proposed change on the nature and quality of the representation of the indigent,” according to Ms. Lesk.
NYCLA, along with the four other county bar associations in New York City and City Bar, was an original sponsor of New York City’s Assigned Counsel Plan, established in 1966 under Article 18-B of the County Law to provide representation to indigent criminal defendants in New York. The plan had two components – institutional providers and a panel of experienced private attorneys designated by the bar associations.
The New York County Lawyers’ Association (www.nycla.org) was founded in 1908 as the first major bar association in the country that admitted members without regard to race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual identity. Since its inception, it has pioneered some of the most far-reaching and tangible reforms in American jurisprudence and has continuously played an active role in legal developments and public policy.
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To read the Resolution, visit the News section of NYCLA’s homepage at www.nycla.org.