NYSBA Favors Expansion of Hate Crimes but Opposes Cuts in Criminal, Civil Legal Services

By Susan DeSantis

April 23, 2024

NYSBA Favors Expansion of Hate Crimes but Opposes Cuts in Criminal, Civil Legal Services


By Susan DeSantis

Richard Lewis, president of the New York State Bar Association, issued the following statement about the approval of the 2024-25 state budget:

Indigent Legal Services Fund

“The New York State Bar Association is disappointed with the sweep of millions of dollars from the Indigent Legal Services Fund to the general fund in the 2024-25 budget. Established in 2003 via enactment of State Finance Law § 98-b, the fund is intended to ‘result in real improvements in the quality of the public defense system in New York.’ The sweep is inconsistent with the fund’s legislative intent and earmarked purposes.”

IOLA Funding

“The New York State Bar Association opposes the transfer of $55 million of Interest on Lawyer Account funds that was supposed to pay for low-income New Yorkers who needed civil legal services. The budget moves $40 million of that money into the Homeowner Protection Program and $15 million into an eviction prevention program. While these initiatives are indeed worthy, this money was promised to low-income New Yorkers for civil legal services and should not be funding anything else.

“The New York State Bar Association criticized the initial removal of $100 million from the fund that was proposed by Gov. Kathy Hochul in her executive budget, and again opposed this latest transfer before the details of the budget were made public.”

Hate Crimes

“The New York State Bar Association’s Task Force on Combatting Anti-Semitism and Anti-Asian Hate’s report provided a number of recommendations, including expansion of the list of offenses that can be prosecuted as a hate crime. This report was adopted as policy by NYSBA’s House of Delegates at its January 2024 meeting.

Before the enactment of the 2024-25 state budget, the hate crimes statute applied only to offenders who committed a narrow list of “specified offenses.” The enacted 2024-25 state budget includes language to expand the list of offenses, by about 25, that can be prosecuted as hate crimes, as well as invests $35 million in the Securing Communities Against Hate Grant that protects houses of worship, religious schools and other at-risk sites.”


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