Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D – Columbia, Dutchess) announced that the Assembly passed legislation she is a sponsor of that will require the state to fully reimburse counties for the costs associated with indigent legal services (A.6202-C). This measure will relieve counties of a significant unfunded mandate.
“Mandate relief has long been a talking point that is repeated over and over,” said Assemblymember Barrett. “By having the state take over the costs associated with indigent legal services we are relieving our counties of a significant financial burden and at the same time improving the standards of our public defense system.”
This legislation will provide fiscal relief by requiring the state to phase-in a takeover of indigent defense services. The state will be responsible for 25 percent of the costs in year one, rising to 100 percent of the costs by year seven. In addition to the fiscal impact, the legislation will authorize the Office of Legal Services to establish and uphold defense standards that: ensure that criminal defendants have a lawyer present at the first court appearance; require that defendants receive quality legal representation; and limits on the caseloads of public defenders to ensure they have sufficient time to provide a sound defense for their client.
“Today, the State Assembly took a major step toward meaningful mandate relief and correcting an injustice in New York. Assembly Bill A06202, sponsored in part by our entire delegation, would require the state by 2023 to fully fund indigent legal services, a $3.7 million cost to Dutchess County,” said Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro. “Not only does this rectify an inequity – the state has funded these costs for five counties – but also ensures that every individual, regardless of means, has access to their constitutionally protected right to legal defense. I am especially grateful to Assemblymember Didi Barrett for her support and advocacy. With Senators DeFrancisco, Young and Serino working to see this measure adopted in the State Senate, we are just days away from significant and lasting mandate relief.”
“I have long made the curbing of unfunded mandates a priority in the Assembly and by sponsoring and passing this legislation I reaffirm my commitment to reducing the burdens placed on local governments,” added Barrett.