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Letter: Series On Town And Village Courts Uncovers Tip of Iceberg (New York Times)

To the Editor:

William Glaberson’s shocking series (“Broken Bench”) on New York’s town and village court system demonstrates that the judges who preside over tens of thousands of cases in New York every year have little to no legal training or respect for the law.

But this is just one of the many obstacles that stand between defendants and the justice they deserve. Outside the New York City metropolitan area, defendants who cannot afford attorneys are routinely denied the counsel that they are guaranteed by law. Earlier this year a blue-ribbon commission assembled by the Chief Judge of New York issued a report that found “a crisis in the delivery of defense services to the indigent throughout New York State.”

Without lawyers to advocate on behalf of criminal defendants in the courts of New York’s towns, villages, counties, and cities, justice doesn’t stand a chance.

Our governor, legislature, courts, advocates must move now to reform the system. Failure to do so would be its own crime.

Donna Lieberman, Executive Director
Corey Stoughton, Staff Attorney
New York Civil Liberties Union

As bold as the spirit of New York, we are the NYCLU.
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Civil Liberties Union