NYCLA Joins in Filing Amicus Curiae Brief in Hurrell-Harring et al. v. New York

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NYCLA Joins in Filing Amicus Curiae Brief in Hurrell-Harring et al. v. New York


February 4, 2010 – New York, NY –The New York County Lawyers’ Association (NYCLA) joined in filing an amicus curiae brief yesterday in the New York Court of Appeals that supports a challenge to the adequacy of New York State’s indigent defense system brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union. The primary issue of the case, Hurrell-Harring et al. v. New York, is the viability of a claim to determine whether systemic deficiencies in the indigent defense system rendered it constitutionally inadequate. The lower court dismissed the claim, declaring the matter more appropriate for consideration by the legislative and executive branches.


“This brief is just the latest manifestation of NYCLA’s efforts to improve indigent defense,” declared NYCLA President Ann B. Lesk. “Our participation is the logical extension of NYCLA v. New York, a case in which NYCLA succeeded in having stagnant compensation rates for assigned counsel declared unconstitutional, as well as our advocacy of statewide standards for indigent defense providers. NYCLA is proud of its groundbreaking precedent on behalf of the indigent and is pleased to urge the Court of Appeals to uphold it and reach the claim.”


NYCLA joined a diverse group of bar associations representing 100,000 lawyers, law centers and dozens of law professors from all of New York State’s 15 law schools in filing the brief, which urges courts to address New York’s broken system for providing legal representation to poor defendants in criminal cases. The signers of the brief are united in the view that if the state’s system of indigent defense is constitutionally inadequate, a court must say so and fix it. The signers include the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, New York State Bar Association, New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Louis Stein Center for Law and Ethics at Fordham University School of Law, Jacob Burns Center for Ethics in the Practice of Law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Criminal Justice Center at Pace University School of Law, Center on Latino and Latina Rights and Equality at CUNY School of Law, and 40 New York law professors from all 15 law schools in New York State. Amici urge the court to reverse the Third Department’s 3-2 dismissal of plaintiffs’ action.


The New York County Lawyers’ Association ( 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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