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NYCLU v. New York State

The New York Civil Liberties Union and the law firms, Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP and Felicello Law P.C., sued New York State in Albany County for failing to meet its public defense obligations under the historic settlement reached in the Hurrell-Harring v. New York lawsuit. After years of litigation culminating in a landmark settlement in 2014, Hurrell-Harring overhauled the state’s broken public defense system by requiring constitutionally-adequate representation for New Yorkers who are unable to afford a lawyer. The settlement’s fundamental reforms changed the indigent defense landscape statewide. But as the NYCLU argues, the state has recently violated the settlement by failing to adequately fund assigned counsel programs, creating a new crisis in public defense including chronic understaffing, overwhelming workloads, and ultimately, a lack of constitutionally-mandated counsel.

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