Jonathan Pressment in the New York Law Journal: City Defends Assigned Counsel Plan Over Bar Groups'


A lawyer for the Bloomberg administration faced persistent questioning from Court of Appeals judges yesterday about whether New York City's plan to tap more institutional legal service providers to represent poor criminal defendants would undermine the city's 18-B assigned counsel system...

Under the existing plan in New York City, the Legal Aid Society or another provider is initially assigned to handle indigent criminal cases. If Legal Aid cannot represent a defendant due to a conflict of interest, the case is assigned to one of the more than 1,000 private 18-B attorneys on the assigned counsel panels, which are created and screened by the bar associations...

Jonathan Pressment of Haynes and Boone, LLP, representing the county bar associations, accused Bloomberg of presenting a plan that largely writes out the bar groups' participation, but which "masquerades" as a combination plan using both 18-B attorneys and the institutional providers.

"What we have here is a race to the bottom," Pressment said. "It's an attempt to save money. It's an attempt by an executive to insert himself into the judiciary process."

Excerpted from the New York Law Journal, September 6, 2012. To view full article, click here (subscription required).

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