ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

May 15, 2001

2001.05.15: Open Letter to NYSACDL

May 15, 2001
Russell Gioiella, Esq.
President
New York State Association of
Criminal Defense Lawyers
45 Broadway Atrium
New York, NY 10006
Via USPS & E-Mail

Dear Mr. Gioiella:

We were troubled to find that Lisa Schreibersdorf of “Brooklyn Defender Services” represented NYSACDL before the April 12, 2001 hearings on the Rockefeller Drug Laws held by the Statewide Black and Puerto Rican/Latino Substance Abuse Task Force.

Since 1995, the Giuliani administration has transferred some $25-30 million a year to BDS and six other nonunion defense contractors established by the city for the express purpose of undermining high-quality unionized representation at The Legal Aid Society.

As discussed in recent New York Times articles (April 8-10) these retaliatory Giuliani administration policies have, predictably, fragmented and weakened an already-troubled indigent defense system.

Indeed, as discussed in the attached materials, the Society’s cumulative loss of $160 million in city funds since 1994 has whittled the number of Legal Aid’s public defenders from 520 down to 370. Those who remain to represent an undiminished 200,000 clients each year–without surrendering their commitment to quality–are near, at, or well beyond the breaking point.

Thus, in its 1998 report, the Indigent Oversight Panel of the Appellate Division, First Department concluded found the Society “[t]hese conditions have, in large measure, been created by the City’s decision to contract with [the Giuliani defender] organizations.”

Given these facts, we believe it sends the wrong message for NYSACDL to be publicly represented by those who have actively collaborated in, and have sought to lend legitimacy to, the Giuliani administration’s campaign to fragment and weaken indigent criminal defense.

Sincerely,

Michael Letwin

President

cc: NYSACDL Board Members

Statewide Black and Puerto Rican/Latino Substance Abuse Task Force

enc.

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