NYSBA Calls for Statewide Equity for the Increase in State-Funded Compensation for Assigned Counsel
Sherry Levin Wallach, president of the New York State Bar Association, issued the following statement today following the release of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s 2023-24 executive budget proposal:
“Gov. Kathy Hochul recognized the need for increased pay for assigned counsel in New York State. But her proposal calling for lower rates upstate relative to downstate is not equitable. Creating two separate geographic tiers of justice is unconscionable for the persons seeking access to justice and the lawyers that represent them.
“The association has filed a lawsuit against the state seeking a statewide pay rate of $164 an hour so 18-B lawyers who take the cases of children and indigent adults in New York’s courts will be on par with court-appointed attorneys in its federal courts. This increase must be fully funded by the state to help bring equity to the criminal justice system. Under no circumstances do we support an unfunded mandate on the counties.
“The current compensation structure is unworkable and results in a shortage of attorneys to take on this important work. Access to justice, which is fundamental to our democracy, depends on the ability of individuals to receive legal representation. It’s imperative that this long-standing injustice be fixed in this year’s final budget agreement.”