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New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers - NYSACDL

New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers - NYSACDL
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NYSACDL Commends Judge Lippman’s Pledge to Improve Indigent Defense

New York’s Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman pledged on May 2 in a speech before the Court of Appeals to provide counsel to indigent defendants at arraignment in town and village courts throughout the state.  The appointment of counsel at arraignment is a critical step in protecting the rights of the accused and one which NYSACDL applauds. In  our Letter to the New York Times Editor, NYSACDL President Kevin O’Connell writes


Chief Judge Lippman should be commended for his interest in and advocacy for the constitutional rights of New York’s indigent criminal defendants. When people are arrested in many towns and villages, they are brought before a town judge or village justice without a lawyer. The result is that many are jailed for relatively minor offenses in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Every criminal defendant is entitled to the guiding hand of counsel at every step in the proceedings against him. An arraignment and accompanying bail hearing is one such critical stage. We strongly support Chief Judge Lippman’s initiative and urge New York’s Office of Indigent Legal Services to implement it forthwith. We disagree with the District Attorneys Association’s call for “an awful lot of research” before the program is implemented. It is high time the right to counsel is fully implemented for all New Yorkers.


Judge Lippman vowed to commit $10 million to improve the availability of indigent legal defense starting at arraignment.  This commitment of funds will mark the first major initiative of the State Office of Indigent Legal Services, created last year by Governor Patterson and the State Legislature.  Full New York Times Article