NACDL News: New York State Settles Hurrell-Harring Indigent Defense Challenge

Parties in Hurrell-Harring et al. v. New York, a class action brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union challenging systemic deficiencies in the indigent defense services in several New York counties, settled on Oct. 21, 2014. While the settlement applies to only five of the 57 New York counties, it can be used as a blueprint by other counties in New York to meet the obligation to provide adequate representation to indigent defendants statewide. Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice, on behalf of the federal government, filed a Statement of Interest in the litigation that, while not taking a position on the merits of plaintiffs’ claims, declared that the right to counsel “is so fundamental to the operation of the criminal justice system that its diminishment erodes the principles of liberty and justice that underpin all of our civil rights in criminal proceedings.”