ASSEMBLY STANDING COMMITTEE ON CODES
ASSEMBLY STANDING COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
ASSEMBLY STANDING COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENTAL OPERATIONS
ASSEMBLY STANDING COMMITTEE ON CORRECTION
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING
ORAL TESTIMONY WILL BE BY INVITATION ONLY
The provision of quality legal services to all regardless of economic and social status is, indeed, the underpinning of any fair and just society. This hearing will provide the Assembly standing committees with an opportunity to assess the ongoing need of such services provided through state funding to those requiring civil or criminal legal services who cannot afford them, and as well to those who are incarcerated. Special attention will be given to the current economic downturn, the state budget and the concomitant increased demand for legal services by those who have felt its harshest effects.
Persons invited to present testimony at the above hearing should direct their testimony to those selected issues set forth in this notice and complete and return the enclosed reply form as soon as possible. It is important that the reply form be fully completed and returned so that persons may be notified in the event of emergency postponement or cancellation.
Twenty (20) copies of any prepared testimony should be submitted at the hearing registration desk. The Committees would appreciate advance receipt of prepared statements.
In order to meet the needs of those who may have a disability, the Assembly, in accordance with its policy of non-discrimination on the basis of disability, as well as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has made its facilities and services available to all individuals with disabilities. For individuals with disabilities, accommodations will be provided, upon reasonable request, to afford such individuals access and admission to Assembly facilities and activities.
Whether current needs for civil legal services are being met;
Increased needs for civil legal services, including the effect that the deteriorating economic environment has had upon such needs;
The impact of lack of adequate funding on the ability to meet the growing need;
The extent to which the lack of adequately funded civil legal services impacts directly and indirectly upon the administration of justice, and in particular the difficulties faced by the courts in administering justice to the unrepresented;
The direct and indirect costs of not providing civil legal services;
The need for steady and consistent state funding of civil legal services;
The role the Interest on Lawyers' Account funding stream plays in supporting civil legal services, the effect of the economic downturn on such support, and what changes, if any could be made to law to assist it in better fulfilling its mandate.
How New York is meeting its constitutional obligation to provide meaningful appointed criminal defense counsel;
Steps that could be taken to make New York's assigned counsel system more efficient and effective including the possible state take over of such services;
The effect of the 2004 increase in hourly rates paid to counsel assigned pursuant to County Law Article 18-B;
The use counties have made of financial support received from the state, including monies received through the new Indigent Legal Services Fund;
The statutory formula for distribution of such funds and its relationship to the quality of legal services;
The effect of proposed cuts to funding on the provision of criminal legal services; and
The effect the deteriorating economic environment is having upon the demands for services.
The direct and indirect costs of not providing criminal legal services
The type and adequacy of the professional legal services currently available;
Whether the current level of service meets the needs of prisoners and ensures meaningful access to the courts;
The positive impact that providing sufficient legal services to prisoners can have on prison safety and the successful reentry of inmates upon release; and
The past and current funding of such services and the need, if any, for additional resources that are necessary to ensure that inmates have sufficient means to resolve disputes and seek redress for mistreatment.