NYCourts.govNew York State Unified Court System

Assigned Counsel Plan (18B)


Recertification Process back to top

Recertification Application

 

Overview
Application Process
Panel Requirements
Case Assignment Rules-Panel Attorneys
Expert Services
FAQ
CLE Courses
CLE DVDs

 

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OVERVIEW

Pursuant to Article 18B of the County Law, the Assigned Counsel Plan has been providing quality legal services to indigent persons within the Bronx and New York County Criminal Courts since 1966. The Plan provides compensation to private attorneys for representing indigent clients charged with criminal offenses.

Attorneys are assigned matters by the Court and the Administrator's office when a conflict exists prohibiting the institutional providers, such as The Legal Aid Society, from providing representation. Panel attorneys are screened and certified to the Panel by the Central Screening Committee. Attorneys are compensated at a rate of $60 per hour for misdemeanor matters and $75 per hour for felony matters. The Plan provides legal assistance for trial court matters as well as appellate matters.

If you are an attorney and wish to apply to the panel, you may obtain an application and information from this website. If you are a Panel Attorney, you may obtain forms and other information from this website. Finally, if you are a client seeking the services of a Panel attorney please click on the FAQ portion of this webpage to obtain further information.

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A. APPLICATION PROCESS

1. You may apply for membership in the panel by completing the Application for Panel Membership back to top and attaching any riders and other supporting documents that are required. Distribute the reference request forms to the individuals you list in answer to questions 28, 29, 30. Mail your completed application to:

Michael Alperstein, Esq.
Assigned Counsel Plan for the First Department
253 Broadway, 8th Floor
New York, New York 10007

2. Your application will be reviewed for completeness and satisfaction of the minimum requirements. Applications are not complete until all references are received. You can facilitate the application process by urging your references to respond promptly. If the application is facially deficient, it will be returned to you with instructions. Otherwise it will be referred to a member of the Central Screening Committee.

3. The assigned Committee member will review your references, contact several of them, and arrange an interview with you. Usually this is accomplished within two months.

4. After the interview, the Committee member will recommend an action to the Chair of the Central Screening Committee. You will receive a notice of the Screening Committee's determination by mail. If you are approved for one or more panels, the Appellate Division will be notified simultaneously.

5. If you are denied certification to the panel, you may appeal the decision to the full Central Screening Committee and you may further appeal to the Presiding Justice of the First Department, whose decision is final and unappealable.

6. Once certified to the panel, you will receive instructions on the assignment and billing process. All newly certified panel members must attend a training session concerning the billing process and use of the 18B Web system.

7. Panel membership is a privilege, not a right. Upon certification to the panel, an Attorney's conduct and performance is regulated by Article 18-B of the County Law, the Indigent Defendants Legal Panel Plan adopted by the Judicial Conference in 1966, the Rules and Regulations. You are urged to familiarize yourself with these documents.

Please note: Trial panel membership in more than one borough of New York City is not permitted.


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B. PANEL REQUIREMENTS

Misdemeanor Panel

Method A

1. Applicant must demonstrate actual court experience in at least ten criminal cases involving at least:

a. Five negotiated pleas, dismissals, or other non-trial dispositions;
b. Two litigated motions in which oral testimony was taken and a decision rendered or two preliminary hearings in which oral testimony was taken and a decision rendered;
c. One jury trial which proceeded to verdict;

2. Applicant must submit names and written references of each of the following:

a. Two judges before whom applicant has conducted a preliminary hearing, a litigated motion or a trial;
b. Two trial or hearing adversaries;
c. Two co-counsels with whom applicant has handled criminal cases, or attorneys who are familiar with applicant's work through actual in-court observation (no cross-references permitted).

Method B

1. Appearance in court as co-counsel with an experienced criminal law practitioner on at least five criminal cases involving at least:

a. Three negotiated pleas, dismissals, or other non-trial dispositions;
b. One litigated motion in which oral testimony was taken and a decision rendered or one preliminary hearing in which oral testimony was taken and a decision rendered;
c. One jury trial which proceeded to verdict;

2. Applicant has taken or agrees to take within the next three months, an approved intensive course in criminal law, practice or procedure and;

3. Applicant must submit names and written references of each of the following:

a. The attorneys with whom the applicant appeared as co-counsel;
b. One judge before whom applicant appeared as co-counsel;
c. Instructor with whom applicant has taken approved course;

4. If applicant fails to take an approved course and submit recommendations within a three month period, he/she will be automatically removed from the Panel.

Method C

1. Applicant has taught criminal law and/or procedure course at an accredited law school, or participated as an instructor or panelist in approved seminars or lectures involving criminal law and procedure, or applicant was a law secretary to a judge of the Criminal Court, or Supreme Court (criminal term), or Appellate Court handling criminal matters;

2. Actual court experience in at least three criminal cases including at least:

a. Two negotiated pleas, dismissals or other non-trial dispositions;
b. One litigated motion;
c. One preliminary hearing; or
d. One jury trial to verdict; and

3. Applicant must submit names and written references of each of the following:

a. The judge before whom the applicant has conducted a preliminary hearing, litigated motion, or trial;
b. One co-counsel with whom applicant has handled criminal cases, or attorneys who are familiar with the applicant's work through actual in-court observation (no cross-references permitted);
c. Instructor with whom applicant has taken the approved course.

Method D

A former judge of Criminal Court, or a former Justice of the Supreme Court (criminal term) who has recently retired or voluntarily resigned from the bench.

Felony Panel

Method A

1. Actual court experience in at least thirty criminal cases involving at least:

a. Fifteen negotiated pleas, dismissals or other non-trial dispositions, at least five of which occurred post-indictment;
b. Five preliminary hearings in which oral testimony was taken and a decision rendered or five litigated motions in which oral testimony was taken and a decision rendered;
c. Two post-indictment jury trials which proceeded to verdict;

2. Actual court experience on at least ten criminal cases as sole attorney, or twenty non-criminal matters including at least five jury trials as sole attorney;

3. Applicant must submit names and written references from each of the following:

a. One judge before whom the applicant appeared as co-counsel in a post-indictment jury trial;
b. Three judges before whom the applicant has litigated motions or conducted trials;
c. Three trial or hearing adversaries;
d. Three co-counsels with whom applicant has handled criminal cases or attorneys who are familiar with applicant's work through actual in-court observation (no cross-references permitted).

Method B

A former judge of a Criminal Court, or a former Justice of the Supreme Court (criminal term) who has recently retired or voluntarily resigned from the bench who receives favorable recommendations from at least three attorneys who practiced before him or her.

Homicide Panel

Method A

1. Actual court experience in at least sixty criminal cases involving at least:

a. Thirty negotiated pleas, dismissals, or other non-trial dispositions, at least ten of which occurred post-indictment;
b. Ten preliminary hearings in which oral testimony was taken and a decision rendered, or fifteen litigated motions in which oral testimony was taken and a decision rendered, at least eight of which occurred post-indictment;
c. Five post-indictment jury trials which proceeded to verdict as sole attorney and eight as co-counsel;
d. Cross-examination, during trial of at least four of the following:
-police officers -laboratory technicians
-under cover agents -psychiatrists or psychologists
-ballistics experts -fingerprint expert

2. Applicant must submit names and written references of each of the following:

a. Five judges before whom applicant has conducted a litigated motion or a jury trial;
b. Five trial adversaries;
c. Five co-counsels with whom applicant has handled criminal cases or attorneys who are familiar with applicant's work through actual in-court observation (no cross-references permitted).

Method B

A former judge of a Criminal Court, or a former Justice of the Supreme Court (criminal term) who has recently retired or voluntarily resigned from the bench, who receives favorable recommendations from at least three attorneys who practiced before him or her.

Appellate Panel

Applicants for certification to the appellate panel must have recent criminal law experience on either the trial or appellate level, be knowledgeable as to current criminal law and its constitutional requirements, and be able to perceive all relevant issues in a trial transcript. In addition, applicants must have knowledge and awareness of the legal issues that arise in criminal practice and to be able to skillfully enunciate the issues in a brief and support the points of law with thorough research, properly cited. Applicants must submit a sample of their writing, such as a brief, a memorandum of law, law review articles or other similar publications.

An attorney with good academic background, criminal law experience, the requisite writing and verbal skills, motivation and attitude should be able to skillfully handle appellate work. Therefore, the following minimum requirements must be met:

1. Actual experience in at least ten criminal cases, on either the trial or appellate level, during the past three years;
2. A writing sample consisting of a brief, law review article or similar publication;
3. Applicant must submit names and written references of each of the following:

a. Three judges before whom applicant has handled criminal matters on either the trial or appellate level;
b. Three trial or appellate adversaries;

* Panel requirements may be waived if, in the opinion of the Screening Committee, the applicant is otherwise qualified by reason of education, training and other substantial trial experience *

*For Attorneys applying to a trial or appellate panel, the Central Screening Committee will not entertain their applications unless they are accompanied by two or more writing samples, including:

1. an affidavit, affirmation or complaint (without legal argument) demonstrating the attorney's ability to persuasively present moderately complex set of facts; and

2. a brief or memorandum of law demonstrating the attorney's ability to persuasively present moderately complex legal argument. A brief or memorandum of law which contains a complete statement of facts may suffice for both writing samples. The complexity and quality of the writings must be commensurate.

3. If the attorney is currently a member of the panel and is seeking to upgrade his or her certification, the writing sample must include a brief or motion prepared for and actually submitted in an assigned case.

*In addition, applications for the Appellate Panel must further include papers in opposition, any reply briefs, and the written decision of the opinion rendered by the court. *

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CASE ASSIGNMENT RULES-PANEL ATTORNEYS

18-B Website

A. Assignment Rules

Assignment Procedures
Cases are assigned to attorneys in one of the following ways:

(1) Through Primary Day shifts.

(2) By the Assigned Counsel Plan. The Administrator of the Assigned Counsel Plan, First Department is authorized to make assignments when requested to do so by the court.

(3) By Judges of the Criminal Court and Justices of the Supreme Court. The court may make assignments on days other than Primary Days when there is a need for the immediate appointment of counsel to protect the interests of the client.

Attorneys Eligibility for Assignments

Homicide
Attorneys on the Homicide Panel are authorized to accept cases in which the top count is murder, manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide.

Felony
Attorneys on the Felony Panel are authorized to accept cases in which the top charge is any felony other than murder, manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide.

Misdemeanor
Attorneys on the Misdemeanor Panel may accept cases in which the top charge is a misdemeanor or a violation.

Appeals
Attorneys on the Appellate Panel are eligible for all First Department appeals.

Primary Days

Primary Day Assignment Rules

Assignments are reviewed and overseen by the Administrator, and may be adjusted or limited because of attorney caseload.

Attorneys receive Primary Day assignments by submitting availability electronically through the 18-B web system.

Requests should be submitted in accordance with the 18-B web manual.  Assignments are made on a rotating basis by the system taking into account the number of assignments recently received by the attorney and the number of requests submitted by panel members for a particular Primary Day assignment.

Duration of Primary Day Shifts
Day shift assignments are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or as designated by the court. Night shift assignments are from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. or as designated by the court. The attorney scheduled must work the entire shift.

Scheduling
Attorneys may not schedule any other cases during a Primary Day shift.

Attorneys may not split their primary day assignments with other panel attorneys. If due to scheduling, an attorney has a case which requires an appearance on a Primary Day, they must re-assign their Primary Day shift as they may not leave the courtroom which they are assigned to.

If an attorney is unable to cover his or her Primary Day shift, the attorney must notify the Assigned Counsel Plan at least one day in advance of the scheduled shift.

Attorneys should attempt to arrange coverage with another
panel attorney.

If the attorney cannot arrange for another attorney to cover
the shift, he or she may request that the Assigned Counsel
Plan re-assign the shift.

Attorneys must also notify the part where they are
scheduled to work and, if applicable, provide the name and
contact information of the attorney who will be taking over
the shift.

Retaining Cases on Primary Days
Panel attorneys must provide representation on all cases on a
Primary Shift except as follows:

(1) The client is not eligible for 18-B
representation;
(2) There is a conflict of interest that
precludes the attorney from continuing to
represent the client; or
(3) The attorney is not on the appropriate panel.

Suspension of Primary Day Assignments
Attorneys who repeatedly fail to notify the Assigned Counsel Plan that he or she will not be able to work a scheduled Primary Day shift or who do not appear for the Primary Day shift as scheduled will not receive any further Primary Day assignments. The Administrator will not assign Primary Day shifts to any attorney who does not satisfy the Primary Day scheduling obligations. Removal or reinstatement of Primary Day privileges lies within the discretion of the Administrator.

Primary Day Forms
At the conclusion of each Primary Day shift, the attorney will prepare an “ACP Order of Assignment Form” for each case on which the attorney will continue to represent the client subsequent to the Primary Day. The Primary Day judge must sign each form. The attorney will then send the form to the Assigned Counsel Plan for entry into the 18-Bweb system.

Case Assigned Through Means Other Than a Primary Day Shifts

Homicide Cases
Homicide Panel Attorneys
If an attorney from the Homicide Panel represents a client at arraignment on a case in which the client is charged with murder, manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide, the attorney will remain on the case for the duration.

Felony/Misdemeanor Panel Attorneys
If an attorney from the Felony Panel represents a client at arraignments on a case in which the client is charged with murder, manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide or a Felony, the attorney must notify the Administrator who will assign the case to a Homicide Panel attorney. The attorney must advise the court and the client that the attorney is handling the case “for arraignment only”. The Court will then transmit an “ACP Order of Assignment Form” to the Administrator who will assign counsel from the Homicide Panel for the next court date.

Parole Violations and Appeals
Parole violations and appeals will be assigned by the Administrator on a rotating basis.

Appeals
Appeals are assigned by order of the Appellate Division, First Department.

Other Assignment Issues

Length of Assignment
An attorney assigned to represent a client shall continue to represent that client until the case concludes, unless relieved by the court or the Administrator’s office. When a client requests that a matter be appealed, panel members are required to file a notice of appeal and perform other appellate preliminaries.

Clients with pending criminal matters
If an attorney represents a client at arraignments and that client has a pending criminal matter in the same county, the attorney must handle the case “for arraignment only”. The case will then be transferred to the attorney who is handling the open case.

Clients With Reduced or Elevated Charge

Felony
A Felony Panel attorney who represents a client on a felony case that is later reduced to a misdemeanor will continue to represent the client until the case is concluded.

Misdemeanor
A Misdemeanor Panel attorney who represents a client on a misdemeanor case that is later elevated to a felony must withdraw from representation as soon as the District Attorney serves notice of intent to present the case to a Grand Jury, unless the attorney is also on the Felony Panel.

Clients with Out-of-County Cases
In general, attorneys may represent clients only in the county on which they have panel membership.

If a client has a pending case in another county of New York City, the attorney may apply for approval to represent the client in that county. Requests will be reviewed by the Administrator.

Payment

All panel members must use the online payment system 18B Web. Upon certification to the panel all members must attend a training class concerning the 18B Web system.

Upon completion of a case, a voucher must be submitted through the 18B Web system within 45 days to the judge presiding at the time of final disposition. Vouchers submitted to the 18B Web system after 45 days will be locked and require additional actions in order for members to receive payment.

Duration of Representation

Once assigned to a case, you remain the attorney of record for the duration of the case unless specifically relieved by the court. This means that even if a client returns on a warrant after an extended period of time, you remain the attorney of record. You are obligated to make every court appearance yourself unless you have submitted an affidavit of actual engagement conforming to the Court Rules. In rare circumstances, your partner or another panel member may appear on your behalf; however, neither you nor the other attorney may bill for that appearance.

On several occasions a client's criminal matter may result in a parole violation hearing. If this arises you are to contact the Administrator's office for possible assignment to the parole matter.

Services Other Than Counsel

The services of experts, investigators, interpreter, and others may be obtained by an ex parte application to the court. All experts must meet the Assigned Counsel Plan's eligibility requirements.

The Assigned Counsel Plan retains a roster of experts, investigators and interpreters which is available to all members. The Assigned Counsel Plan does not make any representations as to the quality of those on the roster but simply states that they have met the Plan's eligibility requirements. It is the responsibility of each attorney to assess the needs of their case and properly vet the experts they seek to retain.

Acceptance of Fees

You may not solicit or accept any fees paid by or on behalf of a client on account of your representation on an assigned case, either during or after the case has concluded. If during your representation information comes to your attention that the client or someone on his behalf is able to pay for all or part of the legal costs, you must inform the court. It is the court's responsibility to decide whether the client is entitled to further Panel representation. In no event may you be relieved as counsel and then accept a private retainer for the client.

If a client whom you represent as an 18-B attorney is subsequently arrested and charged with another offense and offers to retain you as a private counsel, you may not accept the case without approval from the court.

Responsibilities

All panel members are required to maintain a local New York City telephone number and an office within the Bronx or Manhattan where they can interview clients and witnesses. Your office space must be accessible to your clients. It is your responsibility to make sure that your clients can meet with you in a private office space. Exceptions may be made for attorneys who are only certified to the Appellate Panel and have offices in near by counties.

Pursuant to the Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200), panel members are required to maintain files with contemporaneous time and billing records. Panel members must maintain all files and records from a case for a minimum period of seven years after the final disposition.

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EXPERT SERVICES

The Expert Roster of the Assigned Counsel Planback to top of the City of New York consists of experts who provide auxiliary services to individuals charged with crimes who are financially unable to pay for these services.

If you wish to be considered for the Expert Roster, please complete the Application for Expert Roster Certification.back to top

Affirmation for Expert Services back to top
Order Authorizing Expert Services back to top
Order Authorizing Linguistic Services back to top
Expert Compensation Rateback to top

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. How do I get an 18B/Panel attorney?

Judges determine who is eligible for 18B counsel. Therefore, before you are appointed an 18B attorney a judge must make a determination that you are indigent and cannot afford to hire private counsel. This is done at the Criminal Court arraignment.

If a judge determines that you are indigent, representation will be provide from the Legal Aid Society or other institutional provider. When a conflict prevents the Legal Aid Society and other institutions from providing representation, a judge will appoint a panel attorney. Therefore, you cannot have an attorney appointed to your matter until the case is arraigned.

2. How do I find out who my 18B/Panel attorney is?

If you were represented by an 18B/Panel attorney and lost your attorney's name and contact information you should call the Administrator's office.

For cases in Manhattan and the Bronx call 212-676-0081.

For cases in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island call 212-676-0099

**Please have your docket number readily available**

3. I am an attorney and I am interested in applying to the panel. How long is the application process?

Once your application is complete it will be sent to a Screening Committee member and a recommendation on the application should be made within sixty days. Please note that applications are not complete until all references are received by the Administrator's office. Therefore, it is the responsibility of each applicant to ensure that all their references are submitted. Incomplete applications will not be sent to Screening Committee members.

4. What are the panel compensation rates?

Attorneys are compensated at an hourly rate of $60 for misdemeanor matters and $75 for felony matters.

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Office Info

Assigned Counsel Plan, First Department
253 Broadway, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10007

Michael Alperstein, Esq.
Administrator
(212) 676-0061
malperstein@cityhall.nyc.gov

Lorraine Watson-Turner
Assistant to the Administrator
(212) 676-0081
lwatson@cityhall.nyc.gov

Co-Directors of Payment

Mimi Shui-Han
212-676-0057
Shuim@finance.nyc.gov

Larry Parkins
212-676-0093
ParkinsL@finance.nyc.gov