Board Resolution ~ 02/27/2010

Regarding Proposed Changes to the City of New York’s Criminal Legal Services System

Resolution of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Regarding Proposed Changes to the City of New York’s Criminal Legal Services System 

Austin, Texas
February 27, 2010

Whereas, NACDL supports the model principles promulgated by the ABA and NLADA for the implementation of an indigent defense delivery system to protect the Sixth Amendment rights of the indigent accused;

Whereas, the City of New York has a longstanding tradition of providing a model of balanced criminal legal services to indigent defendants through a dual system of public defender offices and court-appointed private lawyers to prevent heavy caseloads and avoid conflicts of interest;

Whereas, the City of New York is contemplating a sudden, swift change, abolishing the role of appointed assigned counsel and reallocating caseloads to the heavily burdened public defender system; and

Whereas, this proposed change -- without consultations, studies, and hearings regarding how much public defender caseloads will increase if the private bar is eliminated -- constitutes a severe disruption of the system that will cripple its ability to fulfill the constitutional responsibility, under the Sixth Amendment, to guarantee indigent accuseds the effective assistance of counsel;

THEREFORE IT IS RESOLVED, that NACDL opposes any swift change to the current, balanced indigent defense system of the City of New York under these circumstances.

IT IS FURTHER RESOLVED that NACDL supports and urges studies, consultations, and hearings on any proposed changes to the City of New York’s system to examine issues including, but not limited to, excessive caseloads, compensation, protection against conflicts of interest, training for the lawyers, and proper oversight of the criminal legal services delivery system.

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