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New Five-Year Contract Approved to Benefit Indigent Representation

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New Five-Year Contract Approved to Benefit Indigent Representation

Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Legislature, by unanimous vote (Legislator Henry Granison and Leslyn McBean-Clairborne were excused), approved a five-year performance-based contract awarded to the Tompkins County Assigned Counsel Department by the New York State Office of Indigent Legal Services.  Over the five-year period, the contract will provide more than $2.5 million to support programming and representation through Assigned Counsel; its focus:  to improve the ability of the office to ensure quality mandated representation to its clients.  The contract is the first step in the State of New York’s expansion of the Hurrell Haring Settlement (initially affecting only five New York target counties) to all counties in New York State; the goal is to seek to remedy a decades-old imbalance in support to mandated representation in the state and to address issues of lack of resources to ensure the quality of mandated representation in New York.

The first-year allocation is nearly $170,000, with increases each year in the areas of quality improvement and caseload relief.  “The focus in implementation of the contract will be on increased training for attorneys, increased supervision, monitoring and support to the attorneys, the use of support or expert services by the attorney in the case, and the buildup of supports for trial and client support,” Supervising Attorney Lance Salisbury states in briefing materials submitted to the Legislature.  “In addition, we are looking at potential collaborative efforts with surrounding counties that will strengthen our support services to attorneys and potentially allow us to bu8ild and strengthen our panel of attorneys.”