Saturday, May 8, 2010

NY highest court revives action challenging public defender system

Back in March I reported that a class-action filed in New York to challenge the state's public defender program by arguing that the system is so "dysfunctional" and in such a “crisis” it resulted in a violation the indigent clients' rights. (See here)

A few days ago, NY's highest court decided the appeal and reinstated the case. The case is called Hurrell-Harring v. State of New York, and it is available here. In its 4-3 decision, the Court concluded that the case could go forward only to the extent that it claimed that lawyers had not appeared for the plaintiffs at crucial stages of the criminal proceedings against them or were otherwise "unavailable" to consult with their clients. It held that specific challenges to the performance of attorneys could only be considered in individual criminal cases after defendants are convicted.

Go to, the Wall Street Journal blog and the Legal Ethics Forum for more on the story - and don't forget to check out the readers' comments.

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