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County Executive Earns Excellence Award from State Bar Association

Posted: Wednesday, May 1, 2019 11:23 AM

Honor Recognizes Fight to Expand Funding for Indigent Legal Defense

Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy has recently earned the 2019 Award for Outstanding Achievements in Promoting Standards of Excellence in Mandated Representation from the New York State Bar Association. The prestigious award recognizes those who, among other things, have worked to innovate and improve the quality of indigent legal counsel.

The honor follows County Executive McCoy’s fight for historic criminal justice reform during the 2016 state legislative session, in which he and his team drafted the Justice Equality Act, which would have mandated the State cover the entire cost of indigent defense. The following year in 2017, the State committed $250 million for public defenders in New York counties by 2023 for counsel at first arraignment, caseload relief and general legal assistance.

“Our fight was one to uphold the US Constitution and the promise of the landmark Gideon v. Wainwright case so many years ago, to ensure someone’s fate in the legal system isn’t decided by how much money they have in their pocket or their bank account,” said County Executive McCoy. “This honor is an acknowledgment that for too long there appeared to be two systems of justice, one for those with means, and another for those without, and I look forward to continuing this important work to right the wrongs of the past.”

County Executive McCoy recently announced the expansion of indigent legal defense through funding from the State, bringing an additional $26.2 million to Albany County over the next five years and doubling the size of the Public Defender’s Office by 2023.

Funding will be used to add dozens of attorneys and support staff, which will dramatically lighten caseloads. Other improvements include caseload standards for providers and further improving the quality of mandated representation through enhanced training and mentoring, supervision, and IT and software upgrades.

The award will be formally presented to County Executive McCoy on Friday, June 7 during the luncheon ceremony at the New York State Bar Association Center, One Elk Street in Albany.

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Albany County ExecutiveDaniel P. McCoy