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Case Name New York County Lawyers' Association v. State of New York PD-NY-0001
Docket / Court 2000-102987 ( State Court )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Indigent Defense
Case Summary
On April 3, 2000, the New York County Lawyers' Association (NYCLA) filed a 42 U.S.C. §1983 action in the Supreme Court for New York County against the city and state of New York and Governor George E. Pataki. Plaintiff alleged that Defendants' failure to increase compensation rates from 1986 ... read more >
On April 3, 2000, the New York County Lawyers' Association (NYCLA) filed a 42 U.S.C. §1983 action in the Supreme Court for New York County against the city and state of New York and Governor George E. Pataki. Plaintiff alleged that Defendants' failure to increase compensation rates from 1986 levels for assigned indigent defense counsel in New York City criminal and family court proceedings violated indigent clients' constitutional and statutory right to counsel.

Plaintiff sought declaratory and injunctive relief to remedy the alleged deficiency. Specifically, Plaintiff requested that the court issue an order requiring Defendants (1) to increase hourly compensation rates from $25 per hour of in-court work and $40 per hour of out-of-court work to $100 per hour with no distinction between rates paid for in-court and out-of-court work, (2) to remove ceilings on total compensation allowable per case, and (3) to comply with the forgoing until Defendants reformed the indigent defense system to enable it to carry out its constitutional obligations. Plaintiff further requested that the court issue a second injunctive order scheduled to take effect two months after the first order. Plaintiff requested that this second order require Defendants to (1) provide sufficient numbers of indigent defense attorneys, (2) limit caseloads, and (3) enforce existing standards and guidelines relating to assigned counsel.

On January 16, 2001, the Supreme Court for New York County (Judge Lucindo Suarez) dismissed all claims against the Governor, but held that Plaintiff had standing and stated a justiciable claim against city and state Defendants. New York County Lawyers' Association v. Pataki, 727 N.Y.S.2d 851 (Sup.Ct.N.Y.Co.2001). On May 9, 2002, the Appellate Division (Judges David B. Saxe, Ernst H. Rosenberger, Richard W. Wallach, George D. Marlow, and Louis A. Gonzalez) affirmed the decision of the Supreme Court. New York County Lawyers' Association v. State of New York, 742 N.Y.S.2d 16 (1st Dep't 2002).

On May 3, 2002, the Supreme Court for New York County (Judge Lucindo Suarez) issued a preliminary injunction requiring Defendants to increase the compensation rate to $90 per hour for both in-court and out-of-court work. The court refused, however, to issue the second requested injunctive order requiring defendants to limit caseloads and abide by performance standards on the ground that such an order would constitute judicial usurpation of the legislative function. The court also declined to declare the compensation statute unconstitutional on grounds that a trial was necessary to decide the matter. New York County Lawyers' Association v. State of New York, 745 N.Y.S.2d 376 (N.Y. Sup., 2002).

On February 5, 2003, after a bench trial, the Supreme Court for New York County (Judge Lucindo Suarez) found that inadequate statutory compensation rates generated assigned counsel shortages and denied indigent clients effective assistance of counsel in criminal and family court proceedings. The court thereby declared the statutory caps unconstitutional as applied and issued a permanent injunction requiring a rate increase to $90 per hour without distinction between in-court and out-of-court work, and without ceilings on total per case compensation, until such time as the Legislature acted to increase rates. New York County Lawyers' Association v. State of New York, 763 N.Y.S.2d 397 (N.Y.Sup., 2003).

The city and state filed an appeal of the Supreme Court decision but on December 2, 2003, agreed to stipulate to the withdrawal of this appeal. Following the enactment of state legislation reforming the assigned counsel compensation system, the parties agreed, in November 2003, to settle the suit. The 2003 state legislation (a) increased compensation rates to $60 per hour for misdemeanors and $75 per hour for all other cases, (b) increased per-case maximums, and (c) provided that per-case maximums could be waived upon a showing of extraordinary circumstances.

We have no further information on this case.

Vidhya Reddy - 02/19/2008


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
General
Funding
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action State law
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) City of New York
State of New York
Plaintiff Description New York County Lawyers' Association
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Indigent Defense Reform: The Role of Systemic Litigation in Operationalizing the Gideon Right to Counsel
Written: May. 07, 2007
By: Vidhya K. Reddy (Washington University in St. Louis)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

  Justice Denied: America's Continuing Neglect of Our Constitutional Right to Counsel.
Written: Apr. 14, 2009
By: National Right to Counsel Committee (The Constitution Project)
Citation: National Right to Counsel Committee, Justice Denied: America's Continuing Neglect of Our Constitutional Right to Counsel (2009)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Securing Reasonable Caseloads: Ethics and Law in Public Defense
By: Norman Lefstein (Indiana University--Indianapolis)
Citation: (ABA 2011)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  The Third Generation of Indigent Defense Litigation
New York University Review of Law and Social Change
By: Cara Drinan (Columbus School of Law, Catholic University)
Citation: 33 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 427 (2009)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
0102987/2000 (State Trial Court) 04/21/2003
PD-NY-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
General Documents
Opinion of New York Supreme Court [Denying in Part Defendants' MTD] 01/16/2001 (727 N.Y.S.2d 851)
PD-NY-0001-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Opinion of New York Supreme Court [Granting Preliminary Injunction] 05/03/2002 (192 Misc.2d 424)
PD-NY-0001-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Opinion of Appellate Division [Affirming Denial of Defendants' MTD] 05/09/2002 (742 N.Y.S.2d 16)
PD-NY-0001-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Brief for City Defendant-Appellant 08/05/2002
PD-NY-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Opinion of New York Supreme Court [Issuing Permanent Injunction] 02/05/2003 (763 N.Y.S.2d 397)
PD-NY-0001-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Order of Appellate Division [Dismissing Defendants' Appeal from Preliminary Injunction as Moot] 05/22/2003 (759 N.Y.S.2d 653)
PD-NY-0001-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Order of Appellate Division [Withdrawing Appeal by Stipulation of Parties] 12/02/2003 (767 N.Y.S.2d 603)
PD-NY-0001-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
American Bar Association Report 01/01/2005
PD-NY-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Judges Friedman, David (State Appellate Court)
PD-NY-0001-0008
Gonzalez, Luis A. (State Appellate Court)
PD-NY-0001-0005 | PD-NY-0001-0008
Lerner, Alfred D. (State Appellate Court)
PD-NY-0001-0007
Marlow, George D. (State Appellate Court)
PD-NY-0001-0005 | PD-NY-0001-0008
Nardelli, Eugene L. (State Appellate Court)
PD-NY-0001-0007
Rosenberger, Ernst H. (State Trial Court)
PD-NY-0001-0005
Saxe, David B. (State Appellate Court)
PD-NY-0001-0005 | PD-NY-0001-0007 | PD-NY-0001-0008
Suarez, Lucindo (State Trial Court)
PD-NY-0001-0003 | PD-NY-0001-0004 | PD-NY-0001-0006 | PD-NY-0001-9000
Tom, Peter (State Supreme Court)
PD-NY-0001-0007
Wallach, Richard W. (State Appellate Court)
PD-NY-0001-0005
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers McGee, Zachary S. (New York)
PD-NY-0001-0005
Moseley, Frank (New York)
PD-NY-0001-0003 | PD-NY-0001-0004 | PD-NY-0001-0005 | PD-NY-0001-0006 | PD-NY-0001-0007
Stenstrom, Kelli J. (New York)
PD-NY-0001-0006
Defendant's Lawyers Cardozo, Michael A. (New York)
PD-NY-0001-0001 | PD-NY-0001-0004 | PD-NY-0001-0006
Cohen, David B. (New York)
PD-NY-0001-0006
McGrath, Stephen J. (New York)
PD-NY-0001-0001
Olson, Carolyn Cairns (New York)
PD-NY-0001-0004 | PD-NY-0001-0006
Paladino, Victor (New York)
PD-NY-0001-0005 | PD-NY-0001-0007
Pines, Jonathan (New York)
PD-NY-0001-9000
Ravitch, Ellen (New York)
PD-NY-0001-0001 | PD-NY-0001-0007
Smirlock, Daniel (New York)
PD-NY-0001-0005
Spiegel, Nancy A. (New York)
PD-NY-0001-0005
Spitzer, Eliot (New York)
PD-NY-0001-0003 | PD-NY-0001-0004 | PD-NY-0001-0005 | PD-NY-0001-0006
Other Lawyers None on record

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