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Post date: June 3 1999

Statement By Attorney General Eliot Spitzer Regarding Remuneration For Assigned Counsel

Chief Judge Kaye has presented a sound proposal for meeting a critical challenge to the court system.

Her proposal would reduce the widespread disruption caused by the unavailability of attorneys for assigned counsel work. This is a problem not only for those seeking representation, but for all those involved in the court system -- judges, prosecutors, court officers and jurors.

Judge Kaye’s proposal will help address the growing perception that adequate legal representation depends on wealth. This perception -- if left unaddressed -- could undermine respect for the law, which is the great civilizing force in our society.

At present, assigned counsel include some talented and dedicated attorneys. They deserve an increase in the 18-b rates. An increase would also encourage other qualified attorneys to make themselves available to handle cases.

I believe this proposal -- which the Chief Judge has designed to avoid imposing additional financial burdens on local governments -- will help build respect for the law and strengthen the court system.

I urge the Legislature and the Executive to work together to enact appropriate legislation as soon as possible.