ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

May 28, 1998

1998.05.28: Executive Committee Statement on Daniel O’Donnell’s State Senate Candidacy

Filed under: 1994 Strike,Funding,Indigent Defense,Political Action,Scabs — nyclaw01 @ 12:00 am

On May 28, 1998, the ALAA Executive Committee voted by 14-0-2 to:

(1) Reaffirm the position consistently held by ALAA that the Giuliani administration’s RFPs for Legal Aid Society funding, bids in response thereto, and the establishment of runaway defenders thereunder, constitute both union-busting and an attack on quality indigent criminal representation*;

(2) Endorse as fully consistent with that position all action that has been taken in ALAA’s name by president Michael Letwin in regard to Daniel O’Donnell’s State Senate candidacy; and

(3) Continue to forcefully advocate the Union’s position on these issues both inside and outside the Society.

The EC will further articulate this position early next week.


*The Unions’ position has been evident in the following:

–On the verge of the first RFP, “[a] joint union-management committee . . . produced a summary briefing paper on why competitive bidding for indigent defense services is bad for New York.” Union Update #37 (Oct. 6, 1995).

–In response to the first RFP, the Unions called for the Society to announce that “it is impermissible for employees of the Legal Aid Society to bid directly for our work, or to otherwise aid, solicit, or in any other way participate in such bids by others.” Union Update #38 (Nov. 11, 1995);

–As the City Council was about to vote on the first round of RFP funding, ALAA called on Council members to “[e]liminate budget funding for the scab RFP groups.” ALAA, Urgent Appeal to City Council Members, DON’T SIDE WITH UNION-BUSTING AGAINST UAW & 1199 IN THE CITY BUDGET (June 12, 1996);

–Characterizing the first runaway shops as “Strikebreakers, P.C.,” the Unions identified known each RFP participant, and specifically emphasized “that [John] Yong is a former ALAA president, that [Alan] Rosenberg is a former ALAA Secretary . . . [and] that most of the other attorneys for the new group are former ALAA members who themselves participated in one or more of those strikes upon which they and the City now seek to justify the need for greater strikebreaker insurance.” Union Update #41 (July 5, 1996).

–After a state court ruling against the Society’s challenge to the RFPs, the Unions reported that among the “New Strikebreaker Recruits” were former Brooklyn CDD ALAA representative Michael Horn and dubbed the runaway defenders as “Scabs R Us.” Union Update #42 (August 1, 1996).

–On July 30, 1996, the ALAA Executive Committee voted unanimously to “[f]ile a federal lawsuit against the City for violating ALAA’s right to strike . . .” and to “[c]reate an ALAA committee of representatives from Brooklyn and Queens CDD and CAB to propose appropriate activities to expose the scab nature of these [RFP] providers.” ALAA EC Bulletin #48 (Sept. 17, 1996). On September 25, 1996, the EC unanimously voted to “[c]ontinue efforts to oppose and expose the scab providers (including ALAA lawsuit and ALAA attendance at the Oct. 12 bar association forum, which includes speakers from the RFPs) . . .” ALAA EC Bulletin #49 (Oct. 21, 1996).

–In Fall 1996, the Unions reported that a Brooklyn “Strikebreaker” RFP attorney had compromised the interests of a criminal defendant. Union Update #43 (Oct. 31, 1996);

–Also in Fall 1996, ALAA asked for and received endorsements by the Center for Constitutional Rights, National Conference of Black Lawyers, National Lawyers Guild and National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee for a resolution that called on “attorneys to withhold any and all aid and comfort to new strikebreaker indigent defense [RFP] agencies.” Resolution on Attacks by Giuliani Administration on The Legal Aid Society (n.d.)

–In early 1997, ALAA informed the board of National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers that “independent, high quality indigent defense is entirely incompatible with the political origins and designs of the RFPs: replacement of a strong, unionized, independent institutional defender with small, one-borough, non-union contractors in order to break the Union and weaken the Society’s advocacy on behalf of the poor.” ALAA, Questions & Answers Concerning NACDL Resolution on NYC Legal Aid (April 29, 1997);

–A year later, the Unions explained that “the Giuliani administration’s overriding intent – articulated most specifically by Old Guard Legal Aid managers, many of them subsequently City officials or RFP awardees – has been rollback of key reforms in indigent criminal representation won by ALAA since the early 1970s.” Workers for Justice #2, April 15, 1998.

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