In 2008, in Rothgery vs. Gillespie County, Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the 6th Amendment right to counsel applies to a defendant's first appearance before a court officer, and in 2012 Attorney General Eric Holder called upon states and local governments to work toward making this right a reality. In 2014, the settlement agreement of Hurrell-Harring vs. State of New York decreed that counsel was required at first appearance in the five counties to the lawsuit, a principle that is currently being extended to the rest of the state. The potential benefits of early access to counsel seem apparent: lawyers may more effectively marshal information and present arguments for release or reasonable bail to judges; defendants may be more effective in developing their legal defenses; opportunities for pretrial treatment and diversion may be discussed more quickly; and any consequent reduction in jail time may benefit county budgets. But lofty talk of rights and benefits sidesteps the logistics and politics of expanding over-extended public defense programs to provide a consistent presence in criminal courts. This presentation, based on research currently funded by the National Institute of Justice, describes the implementation and impact of upstate New York counties' efforts to fulfill this mandate, focusing on the diversity of local programs and plans and on preliminary evidence about the impacts of these programs.
Who: Free & Open to the public
When: Thursday, February 23, 2017 – 5:30pm
Where: Bamboo Room, Campus Center