NYLJ: Bar Challenge to New York City Described as 'Assault' on Indigent Defense

07/19/2010

New York City has sharply criticized a suit brought by five bar associations in June as "an assault" against its indigent defense system undertaken "in a hope to protect the pecuniary interests of their members."

David Siegal, an attorney representing the bar groups at Haynes and Boone, said the city's characterization of the lawsuit "woefully misstates our position and we will respond at the appropriate time and in the appropriate forum."

The plaintiffs filed New York County Lawyers' Association et al. v. Michael R. Bloomberg, 107216/10, as an Article 78 proceeding, charging that the city's proposal ignores the bar groups' authority over indigent defense plans with a private-lawyer component and "severely impede[s]" the constitutional rights of indigent defendants to competent counsel.

The plaintiffs include the New York County Lawyers' Association, and the Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Richmond bar associations.

The bar associations have asked Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Anil C. Singh for a preliminary injunction barring the city from proceeding with a bidding process that will result in the award of conflict cases to institutional providers. Oral argument on the motion is set for Thursday. 

Excerpted from New York Law Journal.  For full article, click here

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