Monday, February 15, 2016

New York State considers bill to overhaul indigent criminal defense system
New York state requires counties to provide lawyers to represent poor people charged with crimes, but when it comes to paying for those attorneys, the state coughs up only about a quarter of the costs.

That's an unfunded mandate on local governments that State Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, and Assemblywoman Pat Fahy, D-Albany, want to eliminate. They introduced bills last month that would require New York State to begin paying a greater percentage of the bill each year until 2019, when the state would become responsible for 100 percent of the cost of lawyers for indigent defendants.

If passed, the bill would also set statewide standards on the quality of legal services provided to poor people.