- Associated Press - Sunday, June 5, 2016

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York’s Assembly has passed legislation to gradually transfer responsibility to fund public defenders from the counties to the state.

Assembly member Patricia Fahy, an Albany Democrat, says the bill will relieve the burden from counties, where services and funding are uneven.

It follows a 2014 settlement between the Cuomo administration and New York Civil Liberties Union requiring better indigent defense services in Suffolk, Washington, Ontario, Onondaga and Schuyler counties.

Under current law, New York City and the 57 counties outside it are required to fund attorneys for criminal defendants unable to afford one.

That’s based on the 1963 Supreme Court ruling on the constitutional right to counsel.

A companion bill with 20 co-sponsors has been introduced in the Senate by Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco, a Syracuse Republican.


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