The Court of Appeals has reinstated a civil suit contending that the constitutional right to counsel of indigent criminal defendants in five New York counties was abridged under a system for providing representation that is funded and controlled by the localities.

However, the New York state high court concluded in its 4-3 decision in Hurrell-Harring v. State of New York, 66, that the case could go forward only to the extent that it claimed that lawyers had not appeared for the plaintiffs at crucial stages of the criminal proceedings against them or were otherwise “unavailable” to consult with their clients. It held that challenges to the performance of attorneys could only be considered in individual criminal cases after defendants are convicted.

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