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Case Name Hurrell-Harring v. State of New York PD-NY-0002
Docket / Court 8866-07 ( State Court )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Indigent Defense
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
On November 8, 2007, criminal defendants with cases pending in New York state courts filed a class action lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 in the Superior Court of the State of New York, challenging the constitutionality of the state's public defense system. Plaintiffs alleged that New York's ... read more >
On November 8, 2007, criminal defendants with cases pending in New York state courts filed a class action lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 in the Superior Court of the State of New York, challenging the constitutionality of the state's public defense system. Plaintiffs alleged that New York's persistent failure to guarantee meaningful and effective legal services to indigent defendants was a violation of the New York and United States constitutions. Plaintiffs sought relief as a class of people with criminal felony, misdemeanor, or lesser charges pending in New York state courts in Onondaga, Ontario, Schuyler, Suffolk, and Washington counties who had been denied meaningful and effective counsel. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief to prevent further violations of their legal rights and to remedy the state's failure to ensure meaningful and effective representation for indigent defendants.

The plaintiffs asserted violations of the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and Article 1 Section 6 of the New York Constitution. Plaintiffs were represented by attorneys with the ACLU of New York.

On August 1, 2008 the Trial Court (Judge Eugene Devine) denied the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. The defendants appealed to the Third Appellate Division, which granted the defendant's Motion to Dismiss. The plaintiffs then appealed to the New York Court of Appeals.

In a published opinion (930 N.E.2d 217) issued May 6, 2010, the Court (Judge Jonathan Lippman) found for the plaintiffs, ruling that (1) the issue of whether the State of New York was meeting its constitutional obligation under Gideon v. Wainwright was ripe for review, the plaintiffs' preconviction status notwithstanding. The Court also found that (2) the issue of the state's compliance with the Gideon requirement to provide indigent people with lawyers was not an issue best left to the legislature, and could be considered and ordered by the Courts.

This opinion has legal significance because it is at odds with other interpretations of the justiciability of systemic 6th Amendment claims (most notably Duncan v. State (, which have essentially held that these kinds of claims against an entire system of providing indigent defense are categorically non-justiciable. The case was remanded to the Trial Court.

On January 6, 2011, the Third Appellate Division certified the plaintiffs' class in an unpublished opinion, and remanded the case to the Trial Court for discovery. Since then, there have been a series of discovery disputes pertaining to compelled deposition, requests for admission, and document disclosure.

At the time of this writing (July 2, 2012), a motion to compel a defendant to disclose documents is pending in the trial court. This case is ongoing.

Blase Kearney - 07/02/2012

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Quality of representation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action State law
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) State of New York
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are a class of criminal defendants with charges pending in New York state courts who have been "outright" or "constructively denied" the assistance of counsel.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Unknown
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
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 ]

  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 ]

Links 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)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

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

8866/2007 (State Trial Court)
PD-NY-0002-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/06/2012
Source: Bloomberg Law
General Documents
PD-NY-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/08/2007
Amended Complaint
PD-NY-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/28/2008
PD-NY-0002-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/13/2009
Source: ACLU
PD-NY-0002-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/15/2009
Source: ACLU
Opinion and Order (66 A.D.3d 84)
PD-NY-0002-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/16/2009
Source: ACLU
Opinion (930 N.E.2d 217)
PD-NY-0002-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/06/2010
Source: ACLU
Opinion and Order (81 A.D.3d 69)
PD-NY-0002-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/06/2011
Source: ACLU
Opinion and Order
PD-NY-0002-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/06/2011
Source: ACLU
Statement of Interest of the United States
PD-NY-0002-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/01/2014
Stipulation and Order of Settlement
PD-NY-0002-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/21/2014
Source: ACLU
Judges Devine, Eugene P. (State Supreme Court)
PD-NY-0002-0007 | PD-NY-0002-0008 | PD-NY-0002-9001
Malone, Janet C. (State Trial Court)
Peters, Karen K. (State Supreme Court)
PD-NY-0002-0004 | PD-NY-0002-0006 | PD-NY-0002-0009
Pigott, Eugene F. Jr. (State Appellate Court)
Rose, Robert S. (State Supreme Court)
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Dunn, Christopher (New York)
PD-NY-0002-0001 | PD-NY-0002-0002
Eisenberg, Arthur (New York)
PD-NY-0002-0001 | PD-NY-0002-0002
Freeman, Daniel J. (New York)
Greenberg, Daniel L. (New York)
PD-NY-0002-0001 | PD-NY-0002-0002
Hung, Palyn (New York)
PD-NY-0002-0001 | PD-NY-0002-0002
Kim-Reuter, Sena (New York)
PD-NY-0002-0001 | PD-NY-0002-0002
Konor, Estee (New York)
PD-NY-0002-0001 | PD-NY-0002-0002
Lieberman, Donna (New York)
PD-NY-0002-0001 | PD-NY-0002-0002
Lippman, Jonathan (New York)
Naranjo, Ximena (New York)
PD-NY-0002-0001 | PD-NY-0002-0002
Paris, Michelle (New York)
PD-NY-0002-0001 | PD-NY-0002-0002
Stein, Gary (New York)
PD-NY-0002-0001 | PD-NY-0002-0002 | PD-NY-0002-0005
Stoughton, Corey (New York)
PD-NY-0002-0001 | PD-NY-0002-0002 | PD-NY-0002-0005 | PD-NY-0002-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Cochran, David (New York)
Kapsalis, Leonard (New York)
McCarthy, William P. (New York)
Morris, Dennis (New York)
Reinhart, Michael G. (New York)
Scott, William A. (New York)
Other Lawyers Blumberg, Jeffrey (District of Columbia)
Gayle, Winsome (District of Columbia)
Kappelhoff, Mark (District of Columbia)
Katzman, Jennifer (District of Columbia)
Killebrew, Paul (District of Columbia)
Lash, Karen (District of Columbia)
Moran, Molly J. (District of Columbia)
Preston, Judith C. (District of Columbia)
Smith, Jonathan Mark (District of Columbia)

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