New York State Bar Association Says the Constitutional Rights of Children, Indigent Adults Must Be Protected
Sherry Levin Wallach, president of the New York State Bar Association, issued the following statement about the New York State budget:
“While Gov. Kathy Hochul and legislative leaders have recognized that the state budget must include funding to protect the constitutional right to counsel of children and indigent adults, the New York State Bar Association urges them to raise the rate for assigned counsel to $164 an hour across the state. We also call on the Legislature and the governor’s office to have this increase fully funded by the state. The pay of assigned counsel outside of New York City has not been raised in nearly two decades, leading to a shortage of attorneys who can afford to take on these cases in the criminal and family courts.”
“As budget negotiations continue, it is the position of the New York State Bar Association that this cost should not become an unfunded mandate on the counties. To avoid this issue continuing to resurface, the funding must include an annual Cost of Living Adjustment. A stable source of state funding will benefit all New Yorkers who are entitled to court-appointed attorneys. I think we can all agree that denying New Yorkers their constitutional rights is an injustice that can no longer stand.”
In November of 2022, the New York State Bar Association filed a suit to compel the state to raise pay to $164 an hour in the 57 counties outside of New York City, the same rate paid to court-appointed attorneys in New York’s federal courts. That suit is still pending.
In July of 2022, in response to a suit filed by the New York County Lawyers Association and other bar associations, state Supreme Court Justice Lisa Headley issued a preliminary injunction requiring that pay for assigned counsel in New York City be increased to $158 an hour.