• Thursday, March 09, 2023 9:55 AM | Jennifer Van Ort (Administrator)

    On March 9, 2023, CDANY President Mark Funk's Important Commentary Was Published in the Times Union: 

    Commentary: Hochul’s justice system budget skimps on defense

    Without more funding for public defenders, justice will remain out of reach for too many New Yorkers.

    From the Commentary: 

    "Yes, the governor proposed nearly $100 million for district attorneys, an increase of $87 million over last year. But she allocated a comparatively paltry $7.5 million in “aid to defense” for public defenders. This follows $40 million provided to district attorneys last year that was likewise unmatched for public defenders. The budget also increased the hourly rate for “18-b” attorneys (private attorneys that accept cases on an ad hoc basis) but failed to fund the proposed long-needed raise, leaving it to the counties to foot the bill."

    Click Here To Read The Full Commentary

  • Wednesday, December 14, 2022 12:43 PM | Jennifer Van Ort (Administrator)

    CDANY has sent a letter to Governor Kathy Hochul urging her to sign S.2144/A.2441, which has passed both houses of the legislature. The bill would modernize the definition of mental illness in the NYS Correction Law.

    S.2144/A.2441 would replace the outdated definition of “serious mental illness” in the Correction Law, instead tying it to the definition of the term in Mental Hygiene Law § 1.03(52) which flexibly relies on the “most recent version” of the DSM.

    The Mental Hygiene Law defines a person with serious mental illness as “individuals who meet criteria established by the commissioner of mental health, which shall include persons who are in psychiatric crisis, or persons who have a designated diagnosis of mental illness under the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and whose severity and duration of mental illness results in substantial functional disability. Persons with serious mental illness shall include children and adolescents with serious emotional disturbances.” § 1.03(52).

    Read the full letter here (PDF).

  • Wednesday, December 14, 2022 10:48 AM | Jennifer Van Ort (Administrator)

    On Monday, December 12th, CDANY joined NYSDA on a letter to Governor Kathy Hochul regarding the slate of nominees for the NYS Court of Appeals Chief Judge vacancy. Together, they respectfully requested of Gov Hochul that she appoint one of the two candidates who best exemplify the diversity and strength of our state - either Corey L. Stoughton or Hon. Edwina G. Richardson-Mendelson, stating either would “reinforce public trust and confidence in the fairness of the justice system and the administration of justice.”

    Click Here For Full Letter (PDF)

  • Wednesday, December 14, 2022 10:40 AM | Jennifer Van Ort (Administrator)

    In June the Court Notifications Bill (S2903A) that strengthens immigrants’ right to receive advice about consequences of criminal convictions & pleas passed. Friday, Governor Kathy Hochul undermined this with a veto. CDANY Pres Mark Funk commented here:

  • Thursday, December 01, 2022 12:16 PM | Jennifer Van Ort (Administrator)

    CDANY Response to Albany DA David Soares
    Unfounded Attack on Raise The Age Legislation

    ALBANY COUNTY, NY – On Wednesday, Albany County DA David Soares bizarrely claimed the State should roll back the historic Raise the Age legislation because of a lack of investments for criminal legal system-involved youth. In response, Mark Funk, President of the Chief Defenders Association of New York released the following statement:

    “CDANY refutes DA Soares’ baseless assertion that there is a correlation between the Raise the Age legislation and a recent alleged carjacking in Albany County. His fearmongering is not grounded in the data or the science. Indeed, New York was the last state in the nation to raise the age of criminal responsibility, only after the rest of the country proved that raising the age benefited youth, families, and community safety. The data is clear: treating kids like kids is most effective at preventing future recidivism and is the only humane and just approach. To now claim that Raise the Age created a "removal of penalties" that makes teens believe unlawful or violent acts have been "legalized" is a nonsensical misrepresentation of these reforms for calculated political gain. Enough. District Attorneys like Mr. Soares must stop trying to tear down these reforms. Instead, he should pitch in to help treat the root causes of violence which have nothing to do with raising the age and everything to do with increasing the investments in programs that can meaningfully impact system-involved youth. Youth need safe housing, access to quality education, job training, summer youth employment, and mentorship opportunities. It’s time to tell New Yorkers the truth: The safest communities have the most resources, not the highest jail populations.”

    Click Here For PDF Statement

  • Monday, November 28, 2022 12:41 PM | Jennifer Van Ort (Administrator)

    CDANY has sent a letter to Governor Kathy Hochul urging her to sign the Parental Equity Act, which has passed both houses of the legislature. The Parental Equity Act (S06389/A07347) is a straightforward fix to the unintended consequences of an antiquated statute that was written primarily to facilitate private adoptions at a time when unmarried fathers were assumed to be uninvolved in their children’s lives. It is time to modify the statute to recognize the important role that fathers play in the lives of children who enter the foster system, and to provide children and families the greatest opportunity to preserve their family bonds.

    Read the full letter here. (PDF)

  • Wednesday, October 05, 2022 9:07 AM | Jennifer Van Ort (Administrator)

    Announcing The 

    5th Annual New York State Public Defenders Career Fair

    Friday, November 4, 2022 from 1:00 – 5:00 pm EST

    We are excited to welcome you to a robust virtual hiring experience using the Zoom platform.

    Registration and details at

    Participation is free. Registration deadline is Wednesday, October 19, 2022.

  • Wednesday, September 28, 2022 3:25 PM | Jennifer Van Ort (Administrator)

    On September 21, 2022, CDANY joined the New York State Defenders Association on a letter to the Commission on Judicial Nomination regarding the Nomination for New York State’s Chief Judge. 

    See below or click here for PDF

  • Tuesday, August 02, 2022 3:03 PM | Jennifer Van Ort (Administrator)

    On Tuesday, August 2, 2022, CDANY sent a letter to the Office of Court Administration commenting on adopting a new section 205.19 of the Uniform Rules of the Family Court to develop uniform standards of eligibility for Assigned Counsel that would apply in all Family Court proceedings. Read letter here (PDF)

  • Monday, May 02, 2022 10:03 AM | Jennifer Van Ort (Administrator)

    On April 29, 2022, CDANY submitted a memo of support requiring consultation with counsel before police interrogate children. Please see memo below or click here for PDF.

    Memorandum of Support for Requiring Consultation with Counsel Before Police Interrogate Children (S.2800-B Bailey/A.5891-C Joyner)

    The Chief Defenders Association of New York (CDANY) submits this memorandum calling for the legislature to pass S.2800-B/A.5891-C, to ensure that children’s Miranda rights are protected and minimize the risk of harm arising from false confessions. CDANY is a membership organization of the appointed Public Defenders, Conflict Defenders, Executive Directors of non-profit public defense offices and Administrators of Assigned Counsel Panels throughout New York State.

    Current Law

    The Netflix series “When They See Us”—a drama based on the prosecution of five innocent teens for a crime they did not commit—demonstrates the many ways in which the law fails to protect the rights of children when police seek to interrogate them. It has now been over three decades since the five teenagers were wrongly prosecuted. Still, New York law continues to fail to protect children under the age of 18. California and the state of Washington have passed laws to protect children in police custody by requiring a consultation with an attorney before a child may waive Miranda rights or be interrogated. New York State should afford children similar procedural safeguards. This is why the Chief Defenders Association of New York supports S.2800-B/A.5891-C, which amends procedures required for the custodial interrogation of children and for taking juveniles into custody to provide additional protections.

    Under current New York law:

    • Police are allowed to interrogate a child without a parent or guardian present.
    • Police can lie to a youth in order to induce that youth to waive their right to    remain silent.
    • Police are not required to allow a child to meet and talk with their parent or guardian before the police read the child their Miranda rights.
    • Police are not required to explain to the child and the child’s parent or guardian what it is the police want to question the youth about.
    • Police do not tell the child, parent and/or guardian that the child can stop answering questions any time the child chooses.
    • Even if present, a parent or guardian may be unable to protect their child’s right to remain silent because they do not understand the right either, the stress of their child’s situation renders them unable to think clearly, or they have conflicting interests.

    90% of youth waive their Miranda rights. Thirty years of research by psychologists, sociologists, and neurologists make it clear that even under controlled circumstances, children lack the capacity to fully appreciate the meaning and significance of the right to remain silent, and to appreciate the almost certain repercussions of waiving that right. Add to that the stress and tension inherent in a custodial interrogation, and the prospect of an intelligent and voluntary waiver of the right to remain silent becomes a myth.

    Research also demonstrates that the young people most likely to come into contact with law enforcement are those with the most limited capacity to understand their rights.  While false confessions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Miranda waivers, these are the same children who are most likely to say whatever they think will most immediately relieve them from the stress and pressure they are exposed to when being interrogated. The Exonerated Five highlighted in “When They See Us” were not an isolated case, but rather an example of what happens all too often. Empirical research also tells us that children are significantly more likely than adults to falsely confess to a crime, and that the presence of a parent or guardian does not result in fewer waivers of Miranda rights.

    S.2800-B/A.5891-C is not intended to demonize law enforcement. While abuses may occur on a case by case basis, the greatest risk comes from the limited capacity of young people to adequately appreciate what is at stake even when the police do everything right. On top of this, we know that the children most likely to come into contact with law enforcement and the juvenile legal system are African-American and Latinx children from over-surveilled schools and communities.  The result is a disproportionate number of Black and Latinx children interrogated by police without an attorney to help them decide whether to waive Miranda rights while their more affluent peers are protected by hired attorneys.  For Black and Latinx children from low income communities, the protections of Miranda are illusory.

    The Proposed Legislation

    S.2800-B/A.5891-C would provide the needed protection. When police determine that interrogation of a child is necessary, this bill would require that a youth first consult with counsel before any questioning can take place. Consultation with counsel would be a non-waivable requirement that would exclude any statement taken in violation of the rule from being entered into evidence against the youth. 

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