NYC Issues New Executive Order Confirming County Bars' Role In Indigent Defense Plan

Monday, August 30, 2010 - 01:00

On July 19, 2010, in response to a June 2, 2010 lawsuit filed by the New York County Lawyers' Association (NYCLA) and the four other county bar associations - Bronx, Kings, Richmond and Queens (the "County Bars") - against New York City challenging Mayor Michael Bloomberg's unilateral attempt to overturn the city's indigent defense plan, the city has conceded that an executive order issued earlier this year and other documents contained errors.

On July 13, 2010, Mayor Bloomberg issued a new executive order confirming the County Bars' historic role in overseeing the private attorneys from the Assigned Counsel Panels. The city also stated that there will be no decrease in funding for indigent defense.

In court filings in both the June 2 Article 78 proceeding and the civil action filed on June 18, the County Bars emphasized the actions were brought to protect the indigent, as well as the County Bars' almost 50-year role in the indigent defense plan. According to NYCLA President James B. Kobak, Jr., "Our goal is to ensure that the best possible indigent defense plan is available to the indigent accused and that the plan conforms to statutory requirements. NYCLA hopes in the future that there will be more dialogue with the city about indigent defense issues so that we and the other County Bars will not have to resort to lawsuits to ensure compliance with statutes and constitutional mandates."