Breaking News

The Basic Defense All New Yorkers Deserve, NY Daily News, Jan. 6, 2017
NYS Bar Association Urges Action on Legislation to Strengthen Indigent Criminal Defense Services, NYSBA News, Dec. 31, 2016
All Criminal Justice Reform Is Local, Washington Monthly, Jan./Feb. 2017
DOJ: Let’s Make Eyewitness Identification More Scientifically Rigorous, Ars Technica, Jan. 10, 2017
America's Criminal Justice System Is Broken, CNN, Jan. 9, 2017
Bias in Criminal Risk Scores Is Mathematically Inevitable, Researchers Say, Pro Publica, Dec. 30, 2016



Governor's Veto of Justice Equality Act Decried. Governor Cuomo's New Year’s Eve veto of the Justice Equality Act, which would have phased in state reimbursement of counties' public defense costs, led to an outcry by over 200 counties, organizations, and policymakers. Sixty editorials, op-eds, and articles across the state addressed the veto, most critically. The Justice Equality coalition issued a News Release that can be viewed here. The Governor's veto message did recognize that quality criminal defense, guaranteed by Gideon v. Wainwright is a cornerstone of our criminal justice system. However, the veto message disregards the fundamental right of parents in New York to representation in Family Court when their rights to care for, protect, and live with their children are at stake. Demanding budget office oversight rather than oversight by the Indigent Legal Services Board and Office compromises the principle that public defense services must be free from political interference because lawyers must be able to serve their clients' interests, not those of the State. And the veto message ignores Gideon's holding that states – not counties – must provide quality public defense services. As the new legislative session begins, proponents of the Justice Equality Act are continuing the fight to pass the bill, and will hold an Advocacy Day in Albany on January 24. Call 518-469-5545 for more information.

VDP Attorneys Recognized. Gary Horton, Director of NYSDA’s Veterans Defense Program (VDP), received the first-ever Criminal Justice Award from the National Alliance for Mental Illness-NYS on Nov. 11, 2016. Just weeks earlier, VDP Deputy Director Capt. Art Cody (USN, Retired) received the National Four Chaplains Humanitarian Award from the NYS Council of Veteran Organizations. Learn about NYSDA’s VDP, which has assisted or trained over 1,000 veterans and defenders representing veterans, by viewing the VDP Activities Report (pdf).

NYSDA Executive Director Receives Multiple Honors, Announces Retirement. Jonathan E. Gradess, NYSDA’s first and only Executive Director, received several awards in November, including, most recently, the Reginald Heber Smith award from the National Legal Aid & Defender Association. Also in November, he formally announced his plans to retire in 2017. A national search is underway for a new NYSDA Executive Director.


Successful Families Matter Conference. The Families Matter: Parent Defense in New York conference held on October 14-15, 2016 in Albany drew nearly 170 participants and received high evaluation marks. Materials from the conference are available by contacting Family Court Staff Attorney Lucy McCarthy at the Backup Center. 518-465-3524. While the conference is over, NYSDA continues to provide backup services to public defense lawyers working in Family Court. Find other materials at Family Defense Resources here on the webpage, and for direct defender services, contact Lucy as noted above.




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