Washington, DC (March 1, 2010) – The Mayor’s Office of the Criminal Justice Coordinator for the City of New York issued a request for proposals in February, with a short March 15, 2010, deadline, that contemplates a sudden and severe change abolishing the role of appointed assigned counsel in the City’s indigent defense delivery system. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), through its indigent defense project, is concerned that without adequate study, consultation and public hearings, such a significant disruption in the manner by which indigent defense counsel is provided in the City of New York may contribute to, rather than ameliorate, a system already at the breaking point.
At its quarterly meeting last week, NACDL’s Board of Directors passed a resolution opposing any swift change to the city’s current, balanced indigent defense system and urged studies, consultations, and hearings on any such proposed changes. The board resolution points out that in connection with any proposed change to the current system, it is critical to examine matters such as excessive caseloads, compensation, protection against conflicts of interest, training for lawyers and proper oversight.
“Any significant change to the indigent defense system in the City of New York, particularly one as radical as that now being contemplated by Mayor Bloomberg’s office, should come only after careful study, consultation and hearings,” explained William P. Wolf, a Cook County Assistant Public Defender in Chicago and co-chair of NACDL’s Indigent Defense Committee. “This is about much more than a budget line item in a challenging economic environment. What’s at stake are the well-established constitutional rights of the rapidly growing ranks of poor persons and the unambiguous constitutional responsibility of New York to ensure that indigent persons accused of a crime enjoy their Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel. It is critical to acknowledge that increasing defender caseloads will lead to overworked lawyers and increased risk of conviction for the innocent, a cost that society cannot afford.”
Added NACDL President Cynthia Hujar Orr, “Across the nation, we are witnessing a deeply troubling squeeze of constitutional dimensions on already overburdened indigent defense delivery systems. In all their forms, programs everywhere are in a state of crisis with overwhelming demand and unacceptable cuts in resources. Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to abolish the role of appointed counsel in the City of New York, in what has historically been a dual system that relied on both the private bar and public defender offices, without the benefit of any serious investigation and public discussion, risks degrading further an already overburdened system.”
NACDL, the nation’s largest criminal bar association, urges the City of New York not to change course without a meaningful study of the proposed changes, including substantive consultations and hearings exploring the range of critical issues implicated by the proposal.
Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence: A Trial Strategy Guide
NACDL’s Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence will assist criminal defense practitioners in scoring points when cross-examining forensic experts in cases involving DNA and biological evidence. This resource contains thousands of questions that will help defense lawyers cross-examine challenging witnesses without reinventing the wheel with each new case. It includes pattern questions that can be used to dominate prosecution DNA experts and level the playing field at trial.
Cross-Examination of the Analyst in Drug Prosecutions (2nd Ed.) By James M. Shellow
Now in its second edition with some new material, James M. Shellow’s book offers what its title promises: ways of thinking about cross-examining the forensic analysts in drug cases. But the book is so much more than that. It offers a look inside the mind of one of the finest cross-examiners and defense lawyers the United States has produced in the last seventy years. This small book can inspire and direct you in making big changes in the way you defend your clients and think about the entire project of trying any case.
Justice For All, Justice Now White T-Shirt (Women’s)
This custom, vintage-faded NACDL t-shirt is 50% polyester, 25% cotton, and 25% rayon weighing 5.2 oz. and is lightwieght, flexible and soft, providing maximum comfort. It features the "Justice For All, Justice Now" slogan and Lady Liberty image on the front, with the NACDL logo on the back. Currently available in both men's and women's sizes in both black and white colors. View the full line-up of colors and sizes on our online store, as well as our other popular and best-selling t-shirt designs at: nacdl.org/store.
Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection - CD-ROM
NACDL’s Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection is the sweeping culmination of every single article of written materials ever published from each installment of NACDL's annual "Defending Modern Drug Cases" seminar. Totaling over 12,000 pages, this vast collection includes 12+ years of motions, briefs, reports, outlines, transcripts, case citations, scholarly articles, powerpoints and other written commentaries. This collection provides trial strategies and tactics you can immediately apply to your current cases.
Mental Illness & the Law: Addressing and Litigating Behavioral Health Disorders in Criminal Cases
Whether it is insanity, impairment, a disorder, or adolescent brain development; mental health and intellectual competence issues affect pretrial supervision, trial and sentencing, and your chances of successfully advocating for your impaired client. This training provides ideas and proven solutions to assist you in advocating for your client during trial, whether it be insanity defenses, jury selection, cross of expert witnesses, persuasion, or mitigation at sentencing.
NACDL Communications Department
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.