New Yorkers Sue State for Criminal Defense Lawyer Woes

You have a right to an attorney and if you can’t afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. The landmark Supreme Court case Gideon v. Wainwright ensures this right.

But what if that public defender is too busy to return your calls or show up for your court dates? According to a large class action suit against the state of New York, that’s exactly what’s happening in case after case of indigent defendants who have to rely on the state to appoint them representation.

According to the New York Times, New York isn’t the first state to be hit with a suit like this. Other public defense systems across the country have been similarly challenged by defendants who were less than pleased with the outcomes of their cases and allege their basic right to decent representation was withheld.

In New York, the system of court appointed attorneys consists of public defenders offices, private attorneys appointed by the court, and Legal Aid societies. These attorneys are said to be often overworked, carrying huge caseloads.

The New York Times estimates that more than 80% of criminal defendants have to rely on this public defense system to assist them when facing criminal charges. The majority of the other 20% hire their own criminal defense attorneys.

The civil case may go to trial but will likely settle out of court. The long term impact of the civil case isn’t yet known, however. Even the governor states that “the current system is a disgrace.” Recognizing the problem and doing something about it are two entirely different matters, however.

A defense attorney is a crucial part of the criminal justice process. When you are facing charges, you want to be confident that you have entrusted your case in the right hands. If you are facing criminal charges and seeking a criminal defense attorney, call us today.

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