DOJ Issues Guidance to Courts on Incarceration for Nonpayment of Fines or Fees.
In response to unlawful and harmful practices around the country related to the assessment and enforcement of fines and fees in state and local courts, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a guidance letter on the subject, which was sent to state chief justices and state court administrators. As noted in the DOJ press release, "[t]he letter addresses some of the most common practices that run afoul of the U.S. Constitution and/or other federal laws, such as incarcerating individuals for nonpayment without determining their ability to pay. The letter also discusses the importance of due process protections such as notice and, in appropriate cases, the right to counsel; the need to avoid unconstitutional bail practices; and due process concerns raised by certain private probation arrangements." The letter cites a number of key Supreme Court decisions: Williams v Illinois (399 US 235 ); Tate v Short (401 US 395 ); Argersinger v Hamlin (407 US 25 ); Scott v Illinois (440 US 367 ); Bearden v Georgia (461 US 660 ); Alabama v Shelton (535 US 654 ); and Turner v Rogers (131 S Ct 2507 ). Related New York authority includes People v Amorosi (96 NY2d 180 ) and CPL 420.10. DOJ has also developed a resource guide on reforming the assessment and enforcement of fines and fees.
Webinar on Government Surveillance Programs, Communications with Clients, and Encryption.
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is offering a free webinar,
How to Keep it Confidential: Get Equipped to Encrypt
, on Tuesday, March 29 from 1:30-4:00 pm ET, which "will address the ethical implications of government surveillance and client communications" and "how defense lawyers can keep their communications out of government hands." The webinar, sponsored by the Foundation for Criminal Justice, will be presented by Catherine Crump (Berkley Law Assistant Clinical Professor and Associate Director of the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic), Jack Gillum (reporter on The Associated Press' Washington investigations team), and Harlo Holmes (Digital Security Trainer).
Survey on Criminal Discovery in New York State.
A joint task force of the New York City Bar is conducting a
to gather information and opinions about criminal discovery rules and practices from defense lawyers, prosecutors, and judges who handle cases in New York's Supreme, County, town, and village courts. According to an
about the survey, the task force plans "to draft a report based on the survey results reflecting how criminal discovery is conducted in courts across New York State and whether the current criminal procedure law can be improved upon to ensure that the rights of defendants, victims and witnesses are protected."
New Edition of the Lawyer's Manual on Domestic Violence.
The New York State
Judicial Committee on Women in the Courts
recently issued the
of the Lawyer's Manual on Domestic Violence: Representing the Victim. The manual covers a number of topics, with chapters on interviewing and assisting domestic violence survivors; police response: mandatory arrest & primary physical aggressor; litigating family offense proceedings; the rights of domestic violence victims in criminal proceedings; child welfare cases and investigations involving domestic violence; batterer intervention programs: what criminal justice professionals need to know; and the role of probation in domestic violence cases. The first edition was published 20 years ago and it has been 10 years since the publication has been updated. Also of note is the new website for the
Office of the Statewide Coordinating Judge for Family Violence Cases
, which is run by the Hon. Deborah A. Kaplan. The site includes information about domestic violence and integrated domestic violence courts and links to a variety of state and national resources.
Revised Version of DAASNY's Ethical Guidelines for Prosecutors
. The District Attorneys Association of the State of New York has issued the
of its publication, "The Right Thing": Ethical Guidelines for Prosecutors. Topics addressed include the Rules of Professional Conduct, Brady and Giglio, CPL Article 240, Rosario and CPL §§ 240.44 and 240.45, political activity by prosecutors, and the consequences of unethical conduct. As noted in the letter distributing the publication, "[t]he Handbook is meant to supplement existing ethics training that is conducted by both the New York Prosecutors Training Institute (NYPTI) and individual District Attorneys. District Attorneys may use the Handbook as a foundation upon which additional protocols and procedures may be added, or to supplement their own training programs and ethics policies."
One of the Commissioners, Judge Patricia M. Martin, released a dissenting report, criticizing some of the Commission's recommendations and the lack of an effective process for deliberations. And the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform has issued its own critique of the CECANF final report, indicating, among other things, that CECANF's recommendations would increase child protective services caseloads by 700,000 per year, which "would inundate the system, so overloading workers that they actually would wind up missing more children in real danger."
State Loan Forgiveness Application Period Now Open.
The application for the state's District Attorney and Indigent Legal Services Attorney Loan Forgiveness Program (Education Law § 679-e) is now available on the NYS Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC)
. The application deadline is May 15, 2016. Attorneys who received a state loan forgiveness award last year should receive a payment application and verification directly from HESC. For more information about the state loan forgiveness program, contact HESC at 1-888-697-4372 or
. A summary of the state program and other loan forgiveness and repayment assistance programs is available here. Public defense attorneys with questions about these programs may also contact Susan Bryant at the Backup Center at 518-465-3524 or
National Public Defense Day Tomorrow, March 18.
Join us in celebrating the first national Public Defense Day and the 53rd anniversary of Gideon v Wainwright tomorrow. Started by Renate Lunn, Staff Attorney with The Legal Aid Society, the National Association for Public Defense (NAPD), and members of NAPD, #PublicDefenseDay will highlight the work public defense attorneys, investigators, social workers, and other members of the public defense community do every day. As Renate Lunn noted in an article about #PublicDefenseDay, "I see our audience as three concentric circles. In the center of the circle is us, the people who actually work for defender offices. The next larger circle includes our clients and their families. Finally the largest circle, encompasses us, our clients, and everyone else." NYSDA will be participating in NAPD's social media campaign on Twitter (@NYSDefenders) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/newyorkstatedefendersassociation/); we encourage others to do the same and to share with us what you post.
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