NYLON — The New York State Bar Association is asking the state to fund county public defenders offices in the wake of deep changes that made millions of New Yorkers eligible for representation by public defenders.
The NYS Bar Association said in a press release that funding indigent criminal defense services in New York should be a top priority for Governor Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers during the current legislative system.
“Criminal justice reform in New York must begin with ensuring that everyone accused of a crime, regardless of income, has an attorney, as required by the U.S. Constitution,” said NYS Bar Association President David P. Miranda. “Despite improvement in some geographic areas, our indigent criminal defense system still relies on overworked and underfunded defense attorneys.”
This pressure has been felt locally in Livingston County as a result of recent state mandates. Effective October 2016, those who make up to 250 percent of the federal property line qualify for the public defender in Livingston County. In 2015, only those who made up to 125 percent of the poverty line qualified.
“We are obviously expecting an increase in the number of cases for the Public Defender’s Office,” said Ian Coyle at the April 13 Livingston County Ways and Means Committee meeting. “I’ve seen surrounding counties in similar circumstances have their caseloads increased by anywhere from 12 to 50 percent. I’m expecting us to fall right in the middle of that, and we will most likely need more employees in that office to cover this increased caseload.”
NYLON is the New York Local Online News section of the GeneseeSun.com, dedicated to uniting communities outside of Livingston County.