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A landmark settlement increases funding for public defenders in New York State.

In January 2017, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo included substantial but partial funding for statewide public defense in the 2017-2018 budget in April 2017.Joel Stashenko, “Budget Contains Long-Sought Relief for Some Indigent Criminal Defense Costs,” New York Law Journal, April 10, 2017.  In addition to covering the cost of bringing five upstate counties’ public defense systems into constitutional compliance—which will cost the state an estimated $250 million—the bill establishes new standards for public defender services.Joel Stashenko, “Budget Contains Long-Sought Relief for Some Indigent Criminal Defense Costs,” New York Law Journal, April 10, 2017.

The move came as a result of a settlement in a 2007 lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union against the state, alleging that the public defender offices in those counties failed to meet minimum constitutional requirements.New York Civil Liberties Union, “Hurrell-Harring et al. v. State of New York (Challenging New York State’s Failure to Provide Adequate Public Defense Services),”  The settlement requires the state to contribute financially to legal defense in those counties, and for the counties to revamp their public defense systems by, among other things, adhering to new caseload standards and expanding the financial criteria for who is eligible for a public defender.New York Civil Liberties Union, “Hurrell-Harring et al. v. State of New York (Challenging New York State’s Failure to Provide Adequate Public Defense Services),”