With the state Legislature entering the final weeks of budget negotiations, the two major agencies that provide support for upstate public defense offices are pushing for additional funds as Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman renews his commitment to ensuring that defendants in city, town and village justice courts are represented at their initial appearance.
The state Office of Indigent Legal Services and the not-for-profit New York State Defenders Association are seeking substantially more money than recommended by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, arguing that public defenders upstate are straining under a system that results in too many cases, too few lawyers and an underfunded backup support system.
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