The state’s court system today announced $24 million in aid to help upstate courts deal with a backlog of cases and provide public defenders for the poor.
A pilot program, first announced in 2011, that provides counsel at arraignment has already been started in seven counties, including Westchester and Erie, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said in a speech on “Law Day,” an annual celebration of the court system.
The program will be expanded to as many as 25 counties, he said.
“The goal I stated at that time was to make representation at arraignment the norm in New York as it is in many parts of the country,” Lippman said.
Lippman said $12 million in grant funding, part of the current state budget, would help as many as 25 counties find ways to reform their arraignment systems and ensure delivery of indigent defense services to defendants at arraignments.
Another $12 million will help courts over three years to deal with a backlog of cases.