State Awards Albany County Public Defender’s Office Caseload Reduction Grant Funding
3/14/2014 2:36:11 PM
Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy today announced Albany County has been awarded state grant funding for the Upstate Quality Improvement and Caseload Reduction project.
The three-year grant of $299,528 was awarded by the NYS Office of Indigent Legal Services, the state agency responsible for the administration of County Law Article 18-B, which requires counties to provide legal representation to people who cannot afford to hire an attorney. The funds will be utilized by the Albany County Public Defender’s Office and the Alternate Public Defender’s Office, which provide representation to those charged in Albany County who cannot afford legal representation.
“I am pleased that the state has recognized that excessive caseloads pose a significant problem for the Public Defender’s Office,” said McCoy. “This funding will help alleviate the problem while enabling our office to provide quality legal services to those who truly need it. I appreciate that the state is working as our partner in this effort.”
The statewide grant program assists counties in Upstate New York improve the quality of representation by local public defenders. The county will provide additional staff to help reduce the caseloads carried by the office at present. The state has allocated $12 million for the grant program and the county received close to the maximum award of $300,000.
In surveys conducted by the Office of Indigent Legal Services, the agency has determined that excessive caseloads are a consistent problem faced by those who represent indigent clients. The agency also found that by reducing caseloads clients would benefit due to giving attorneys more time to prepare for cases and supervision of staff would improve.
In addition to this grant, the Albany County Public Defender’s Office was recently awarded a grant for the Counsel at First Appearance Project, which will help the county improve the delivery of legal services at a defendant’s first appearance before a judge or arraignment.