NEW YORK COUNTY LAWYERS’ ASSOCIATION
Home of Law – 75th Anniversary Year
CONTACT: Anita Aboulafia (212) 267-6646, ext. 225 (phone) (212) 406-9252 fax) firstname.lastname@example.org
NYCLA ENDORSES RESOLUTION TO RIGHT TO COUNSEL
IN HOUSING COURT
March 18, 2005 – New York, NY – New York County Lawyers’ Association’s (NYCLA) Board of Directors has endorsed a resolution on a right to counsel for residential tenants in New York City’s Housing Court. The resolution is based on the consensus of participants at a working conference, “The New York City Housing Court in the 21st Century: Can It Better Address the Problems Before It?” held in October under the auspices of NYCLA’s Justice Center.
The resolution acknowledges that “the vast majority of tenants facing eviction are unable to obtain legal representation, while the vast majority of landlords in such cases are represented.” It calls for funding to provide “free counsel for all tenants in Housing Court who cannot afford counsel” and states that the costs of providing counsel to such tenants “may well be outweighed by the projected savings” in shelter, foster care and other costs associated with homelessness.
Council Member Alan Jay Gerson (D-WFP – District 1, lower Manhattan) said, “I salute the New York County Lawyers’ Association for its leadership and vision concerning the right to counsel. People should not end up homeless through lack of legal representation and I look forward to working with NYCLA to secure representation for people in need in Housing Court.”
Norman L. Reimer, NYCLA President, acknowledged, “You cannot have justice without a lawyer, and at present you cannot have a lawyer if you cannot afford to hire one. The close correlation between eviction and the terrible blight of homelessness makes the appointment of counsel a fundamental necessity. Access to justice requires it. Fundamental human decency demands it.” He concluded, “NYCLA urges the implementation of this basic right, and funding to establish a pilot program to provide counsel to particularly vulnerable groups such as the elderly.”
The Right to Counsel resolution is based on findings of a conference sponsored by NYCLA’s Justice Center, which is chaired by John D. Feerick, former Dean at Fordham Law School. The Center was established in 2003 in part as a response to the American Bar Association’s challenge to the nation’s judiciary, state and local bar associations to actively seek solutions in partnership with the communities they serve. In January, the Justice Center received the New York State Conference of Bar Leaders’ 2004 Award of Merit for Local 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 or gender. Since its inception, NYCLA 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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