LWVNYS - Donate online! LWVNYS Education Foundation - Donate online!


Join the Conversation




judical court system: legal services for the indigent

legal services for the indigent:
Criminal Legal Services & Civil Legal Services

legal services for the indigent: History of League Activity

The League believes that indigent criminal defendants and indigent civil litigants are entitled to legal services at no cost to them in order to provide them with access to the third arm of government – the judiciary.  The League has worked to improve the quality of and funding for such services.  It has also advocated for an Independent Public Defense Commission to protect constitutionally and statutorily required legal services from control by those with conflicting interests and to provide a single, accountable entity to which any and all concerned groups could turn when quality representation is not met. The commission would act as a conduit for transmitting state funds to localities that meet its standards.

In 2010, the state enacted the Legislature passed a public defense reform bill as part of the Public Protection budget. The bill did not create the Independent Public Defense Commission sought by the League; However, it did create an Office of Indigent Legal Services and an Indigent Legal Services Board in the Executive Branch to monitor, study, and make efforts to improve the quality of services provided under County Law article 18-B, relating to public defenders, legal aid offices, assigned counsel, conflict offices, and representation in Family Court.

The full budget bill can be accessed from the NYS Assembly website: assembly.state.ny.us/leg/. Search for 2010 bill number A09706C, then look for Part E.

Governor Paterson’s press release announcing the bill is available at:

legal services for the indigent: Summary of Current Action

The League is unaware of current plans within the Legislature to move forward on the court restructuring issue.

The League will continue to educate the public about this issue in two ways:

  • Providing Speakers: First, it will provide speakers to local Leagues and outside organizations.   Contact the state League office to arrange a speaker.
  • Court Watching Programs: Second, the League organizes court watching / monitoring projects in the various counties throughout the state. Getting an inside view of how the courts function serves as an eye opener to recognize the needs and the shortcomings of the current system.  For help in arranging a program in your area, contact the state League office.

The League will continue to advocate for change, as opportunities arise, both    individually and with its coalition partners such as the Fund for Modern Courts.

legal services for the indigent: League Position
judicial court system: Non-League Written Materials
transparency: Archived Materials

Contact the League Office to request archived materials.