Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Public Defender Work

The State's top judge, Chief Judge Kaye of the Court of Appeals, recently released a report concerning the status of the public defender system in New York. Currently, each county operates its own system. In some counties, all qualifying defendants are assigned a private lawyer who is then paid (at a statutorily-set rate) by the county. In others, such as Chautauqua, the county will operate a PD's office who will handle the majority of qualifying cases, with conflicts and overflow assigned to private counsel. In others, such as St. Lawrence, the county operates two PD office: the Public Defender and the Conflict Public Defender, which reduces the amount outsourced to private attorneys. In nearly every case, public defenders have a higher workload and lower pay rate than comparable positions with the District Attorney.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

i dont know where you get your facts from, but i do not agree with the statement that local public defenders have a higher workload then local adas. i think you should check your facts before you make a factual statement on your blog.

10:22 PM  
Blogger TMT said...

First, the statement was not "local" it was "generally", and if you have facts otherwise, I'll be open to a discussion.

4:55 PM  
Anonymous Dee said...

Reading articles about this subject, not just the one tnt linked to, there is a general agreement that public defenders have higher workloads than DA's do. Budget wise, there generally are more resources available to DA's across the board.

I think the general citizen, although proud of the fact that everyone is entitled to a defense, does see the DA's office as more important. And certianly they are--these are the people who are charged with making sure that criminals pay their dues and are punished. This is very important.

However, even though that average citizen may feel very strongly that the public defender's role is important--charged with giving a good defense for those who can not afford it, there also may be a bit of thinking that since these people are charged with a crime, perhaps they are indeed guilty.

It is also true that there may be a bit of a bias. While the Public Defender may be sen as good for society as a whole, the truth is that those who avail themselves of their services are poorer sections of society.

So while the DA works for everyone, it can seem that the Public Defender is only working for a small segment. I feel that the Public Defender role is very important for society as a whole, but I do acknowledge that there are others who feel differently about this.

So I do feel it is easier to get more funding, add on another attorney to an office, etc. than it is to do the same thing with the Public Defender.

1:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tmt, sorry for the comment, it is not true locally that the pd office handles more cases then the da office. it should also be noted that the pd office does not handle all of the cases in the county and percentage of the defendants charged hire their own attorney, the da office prosecutes all the cases.
also the da office has a different role then the pd office, they also have to give advice to police agencies on ongoing investigations, search warrants etc.
i agree with alot of what dee says, i think the pd office plays an important role within the county and they should be paid accordingly.
the nys budget just passed spends 1 dollar on aid to prosecution for every three dollars on aid to indigent defense.

8:05 AM  
Anonymous Dee said...

Anonymous said...

the nys budget just passed spends 1 dollar on aid to prosecution for every three dollars on aid to indigent defense.

With all the news about the budget, I never heard anything about the budget for prosecution or public defense. Is there a link to that info?

I am surprised, since as we both commented, the DA gets all the cases. On the other hand, there are resources available to the DA, such as investigation of crimes by police while a Public Defender will have to investigate or have someone else do investigation, both of which are going to come from the Public Defender's budget.

So I guess it is very difficult to come up with an equitable solution, but I am glad people are talking about this.

And Chautauqa County is very fortunate to have excellant people in the DA's office and in the Public Defender's office, as well as the many attorneys who take assignments or do pro bono work.

1:20 PM  
Blogger TMT said...

To be clear, my comment wasn't based on workload in office vs. office. Clearly the DA's office in any county will have a greater number of cases. While I'm sure it does vary, my understanding is that the individual attorney's workload vs. compensation differs dramatically in many places.

9:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i can only speak locally, but the workload per attorney is less then in the da office. the compensation for an apd is less then an ada, not across the board, but for i think at least half the pd office makes less then the da office.
the local apd also are part time, they all have private practices at which they make money. quite often an apd will appear in court as the apd and also have private cases.
there is only one ada that is part time.

12:06 PM  

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