Bill would turn public defender costs over to state gradually

The state legislature has passed a bill to relieve counties of the costs of defending poor defendants, by increasing the state support of legal services steadily beginning next year, and completely by 2023. This comes 10 years after a scathing report said the state was failing the poor and not providing them their constitutionally guaranteed legal representation. The measure also ensures poor defendants will have a lawyer at every arraignment and hearing plus sets up new workload standards to shield court appointed attorneys from becoming overwhelmed with cases. Governor Andrew Cuomo hasn’t said yet if he’ll sign it.