Steuben Co. Gov’t Working To Reform Public Defenders System

February 22, 2016
 
BATH, NY – Steuben County lawmakers are sending a resolution to the state legislature, asking Albany to help pay for people who cannot afford to pay for their own attorneys in court cases.
 
The county legislature wants the state government to pay 100 percent of the indigent legal bills, because the state mandates that the counties cover the bulk of the costs.
See copy of resolution below:
 
TITLE: MEMORIALIZING THE GOVERNOR AND THE NEW YORK STATE LEGISLATURE
TO DEVELOP A 100 PERCENT STATE-FUNDED INDIGENT LEGAL DEFENSE
SYSTEM AS A WAY TO PROVIDE MANDATE RELIEF AND LOWER PROPERTY
TAXES.
 
WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court held in Gideon v. Wainwright that the right to counsel for
one charged with a crime is fundamental and that it is the State’s responsibility to supply counsel for those unable to afford them; and WHEREAS, in 1965 the State of New York delegated this State responsibility to the Counties; and WHEREAS, the decision to entrench responsibility at the County level in the State of New York has resulted in a system by which the County and local property taxpayers are burdened with the vast majority of the cost of this State responsibility; and
WHEREAS, the shift of costs for this State mandated service has become so imbalanced that the
Counties of New York now cover more than 80% of the cost burden; and WHEREAS, in 2006 the Kaye Commission on the Future of Indigent Defense Services declared that the New York State System of County-Delivered Indigent Services is in crisis and urged the expeditious establishment of an Independent Public Defense Commission; and WHEREAS, the State of New York and multiple Counties were defendants, and recently entered into a settlement, in the matter of Hurrell-Harring, et al. v. State of New York, a systemic lawsuit similar to many that have been successful across the country seeking to transform the indigent legal defense system; and WHEREAS, under this settlement, the State has assumed the costs of alterations to the indigent defense system in the five named Counties, while failing to develop a plan of financial support for the remaining 52 Counties that may soon be required to comply with enhanced standards; and WHEREAS, New York State Senate and Assembly members have introduced a bipartisan bill (A.6202B/S.6341) which would require the State, not the Counties, to incrementally take over payment for such service; and WHEREAS, this systematic change would directly lead to improvements to this vital service for residents in need, and provide meaningful fiscal mandate relief for Counties and property taxpayers.
 
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Steuben County Legislature calls upon the Governor and New York State Legislature to create a 100 percent State-funded indigent legal defense system and relieve the Counties of the burden imposed upon them since 1965; and be it further RESOLVED, that the Steuben County Legislature calls upon the Governor and New York State Legislature, to support and adopt A.6202B/S.6341, implementing gradual assumption of indigent defense costs by the State; and be it further RESOLVED, that the Clerk of the Legislature is hereby authorized and directed to forward certified copies of this resolution to Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo, New York State Governor, New York State Capitol Building, Albany, NY 12224; Honorable John J. Flanagan, Senate Majority Leader, 330 State Capitol Building, Albany, NY 12247; Honorable Jeffrey Klein, NYS Senate Coalition Co-Leader, 913 Legislative Office Building, Albany, NY 12247; Honorable Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Minority Leader, New York State Senate, 907 Legislative Office Building, Albany, NY 12247; Honorable Carl Heastie, Speaker, New York State Assembly, 522 Legislative Office Building, Albany, NY 12248; Honorable Joseph D. Morelle, Majority Leader, New York State Assembly, 926 Legislative Office Building, Albany, NY 12248; Honorable Brian M. Kolb, Minority Leader, New York State Assembly, 933 Legislative Office Building, Albany, NY 12248; Honorable Thomas M. O’Mara, New York State Senator, 415 Legislative Office Building, Albany, NY 12247; Honorable Philip A. Palmesano, New York State Assemblyman, 723 Legislative Office Building, Albany, NY 12248; Honorable Joseph M. Giglio, New York State Assemblyman, 439 Legislative Office Building, Albany, NY 12248; Honorable Bill Nojay, New York State Assemblyman, 527 Legislative Office Building, Albany, NY 12248.