Case: New York County Lawyers' Association v. State of New York

00-102987 | New York state trial court

Filed Date: April 3, 2000

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On April 3, 2000, the New York County Lawyers' Association (NYCLA) filed a 42 U.S.C. §1983 action in the Supreme Court for New York County against the city and state of New York and Governor George E. Pataki. Plaintiff alleged that Defendants' failure to increase compensation rates from 1986 levels for assigned indigent defense counsel in New York City criminal and family court proceedings violated indigent clients' constitutional and statutory right to counsel. Plaintiff sought declaratory an…

On April 3, 2000, the New York County Lawyers' Association (NYCLA) filed a 42 U.S.C. §1983 action in the Supreme Court for New York County against the city and state of New York and Governor George E. Pataki. Plaintiff alleged that Defendants' failure to increase compensation rates from 1986 levels for assigned indigent defense counsel in New York City criminal and family court proceedings violated indigent clients' constitutional and statutory right to counsel.

Plaintiff sought declaratory and injunctive relief to remedy the alleged deficiency. Specifically, Plaintiff requested that the court issue an order requiring Defendants (1) to increase hourly compensation rates from $25 per hour of in-court work and $40 per hour of out-of-court work to $100 per hour with no distinction between rates paid for in-court and out-of-court work, (2) to remove ceilings on total compensation allowable per case, and (3) to comply with the forgoing until Defendants reformed the indigent defense system to enable it to carry out its constitutional obligations. Plaintiff further requested that the court issue a second injunctive order scheduled to take effect two months after the first order. Plaintiff requested that this second order require Defendants to (1) provide sufficient numbers of indigent defense attorneys, (2) limit caseloads, and (3) enforce existing standards and guidelines relating to assigned counsel.

On January 16, 2001, the Supreme Court for New York County (Judge Lucindo Suarez) dismissed all claims against the Governor, but held that Plaintiff had standing and stated a justiciable claim against city and state Defendants. New York County Lawyers' Association v. Pataki, 727 N.Y.S.2d 851 (Sup.Ct.N.Y.Co.2001). On May 9, 2002, the Appellate Division (Judges David B. Saxe, Ernst H. Rosenberger, Richard W. Wallach, George D. Marlow, and Louis A. Gonzalez) affirmed the decision of the Supreme Court. New York County Lawyers' Association v. State of New York, 742 N.Y.S.2d 16 (1st Dep't 2002).

On May 3, 2002, the Supreme Court for New York County (Judge Lucindo Suarez) issued a preliminary injunction requiring Defendants to increase the compensation rate to $90 per hour for both in-court and out-of-court work. The court refused, however, to issue the second requested injunctive order requiring defendants to limit caseloads and abide by performance standards on the ground that such an order would constitute judicial usurpation of the legislative function. The court also declined to declare the compensation statute unconstitutional on grounds that a trial was necessary to decide the matter. New York County Lawyers' Association v. State of New York, 745 N.Y.S.2d 376 (N.Y. Sup., 2002).

On February 5, 2003, after a bench trial, the Supreme Court for New York County (Judge Lucindo Suarez) found that inadequate statutory compensation rates generated assigned counsel shortages and denied indigent clients effective assistance of counsel in criminal and family court proceedings. The court thereby declared the statutory caps unconstitutional as applied and issued a permanent injunction requiring a rate increase to $90 per hour without distinction between in-court and out-of-court work, and without ceilings on total per case compensation, until such time as the Legislature acted to increase rates. New York County Lawyers' Association v. State of New York, 763 N.Y.S.2d 397 (N.Y.Sup., 2003).

The city and state filed an appeal of the Supreme Court decision but on December 2, 2003, agreed to stipulate to the withdrawal of this appeal. Following the enactment of state legislation reforming the assigned counsel compensation system, the parties agreed, in November 2003, to settle the suit. The 2003 state legislation (a) increased compensation rates to $60 per hour for misdemeanors and $75 per hour for all other cases, (b) increased per-case maximums, and (c) provided that per-case maximums could be waived upon a showing of extraordinary circumstances.

We have no further information on this case.

Summary Authors

Vidhya Reddy (2/19/2008)

People


Judge(s)

Friedman, David (New York)

Gonzalez, Luis A. (New York)

Lerner, Gayle (New York)

Marlow, George D. (New York)

Nardelli, Eugene L. (New York)

Rosenberger, Ernst H. (New York)

Saxe, David B. (New York)

Suarez, Lucindo (New York)

Tom, Peter (New York)

Wallach, Richard W. (New York)

Judge(s)

Friedman, David (New York)

Gonzalez, Luis A. (New York)

Lerner, Gayle (New York)

Marlow, George D. (New York)

Nardelli, Eugene L. (New York)

Rosenberger, Ernst H. (New York)

Saxe, David B. (New York)

Suarez, Lucindo (New York)

Tom, Peter (New York)

Wallach, Richard W. (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

McGee, Zachary S. (New York)

Moseley, Frank (New York)

Stenstrom, Kelli J. (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Cardozo, Michael A. (New York)

Cohen, David B. (New York)

McGrath, Stephen J. (New York)

Olson, Carolyn Cairns (New York)

Paladino, Victor (New York)

Pines, Jonathan (New York)

Ravitch, Ellen (New York)

Smirlock, Daniel (New York)

Spiegel, Nancy A. (New York)

Spitzer, Eliot (New York)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [Westlaw]

April 21, 2003 Docket

Opinion of New York Supreme Court [Denying in Part Defendants' MTD]

New York County Lawyers' Association v. Pataki

727 N.Y.S.2d 851

Jan. 16, 2001 Order/Opinion

Opinion of New York Supreme Court [Granting Preliminary Injunction]

192 Misc.2d 424

May 3, 2002 Order/Opinion

Opinion of Appellate Division [Affirming Denial of Defendants' MTD]

New York state appellate court

742 N.Y.S.2d 16

May 9, 2002 Order/Opinion

Brief for City Defendant-Appellant

New York state appellate court

Aug. 5, 2002 Pleading / Motion / Brief

Opinion of New York Supreme Court [Issuing Permanent Injunction]

763 N.Y.S.2d 397

Feb. 5, 2003 Order/Opinion

Order of Appellate Division [Dismissing Defendants' Appeal from Preliminary Injunction as Moot]

New York state appellate court

759 N.Y.S.2d 653

May 22, 2003 Order/Opinion

Order of Appellate Division [Withdrawing Appeal by Stipulation of Parties]

New York state appellate court

767 N.Y.S.2d 603

Dec. 2, 2003 Order/Opinion

American Bar Association Report

No Court

Jan. 1, 2005 Press Release

Docket

Last updated May 13, 2022

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: New York

Case Type(s):

Indigent Defense

Key Dates

Filing Date: April 3, 2000

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

New York County Lawyers' Association

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

State of New York, State

City of New York (New York), City

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

State law

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief granted

Issues

Reproductive rights:

Fetus Identity

General:

Funding