Calendars Decisions

Assigned Counsel Plan for the Second, Eleventh and Thirteenth Judicial Districts

Overview

The Assigned Counsel Plan was established in 1966 as the result of an agreement between the City of New York and six bar associations, which was known as the New York City Bar Association Plan (“The Plan”). The purpose of The Plan was to provide for representation of indigent individuals who were charged with crimes but who could not, due to a conflict of interest, be represented by an Institutional Provider, that is, a nonprofit organization which has as its primary purpose the furnishing of legal services to indigent persons through a contract with the City of New York. Under the Plan, the Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department appoints the Plan Administrator, establishes an advisory committee to assist with the oversight of the Assigned Counsel Plan and promulgates rules under which the Plan is operated. The cost of the operation of the Assigned Counsel Plan is borne by the City of New York. The agency responsible for paying vouchers for attorneys and ancillary services providers such as psychologists, investigators and interpreters is the New York City Department of Finance.

Becoming a Member

If you are an attorney admitted to the bar of the State of New York with your primary office for the practice of law located within New York City and adjoining the Second (Brooklyn), Eleventh (Queens) or Thirteenth (Staten Island) Judicial Districts, and you wish to become a member of the Assigned Counsel Plan, please read Part 678 of the Rules of the Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department (22 NYCRR Part 678). Please consult Section 678.6 specifically to determine your eligibility, as well as the guidelines promulgated by the Advisory Committee (Section 678.4 AND Section 678.5) of the Assigned Counsel Plan for the Counties of Kings, Queens and Richmond. If you believe that you meet the Committee’s criteria, please complete a Panel Membership Application, which you may then forward to the Administrator of the Assigned Counsel Plan. (Contact us)

The Screening Process

The bar associations in Kings, Queens and Richmond Counties are charged with the responsibility of maintaining a screening committee, which shall conduct an initial screening process to evaluate candidates who wish to join the Assigned Counsel Plan using the Advisory Committee’s Screening Guidelines. Once a candidate has been evaluated and deemed qualified, the candidate’s application is then reviewed by the Assigned Counsel Advisory Committee. If the candidate is recommended for admission to one or more Assigned Counsel Plan Panels by the Committee, the Committee will forward its recommendation to the Administrator of the Assigned Counsel Plan, who will present the application to the Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, for final approval and, if appropriate, designation to a panel.

Case Assignment Guidelines

Members of the misdemeanor and felony panels may be required to work day, night and weekend arraignment shifts. During these shifts, attorneys are assigned by judges to represent clients who cannot be represented by an Institutional Provider due to a conflict of interest. Members of the misdemeanor panel also provide representation to clients in the Summons Parts. Clients who appears in the Summons Parts have been charged with the commission of misdemeanors or violations.

The assignment of a panel member to represent an indigent defendant may also occur subsequent to arraignment. These assignments may be made directly by the trial court, or by the trial court in conjunction with the Assigned Counsel Panel Administrator.

Whenever an attorney on the Misdemeanor Panel has been assigned to a case which results in an indictment, such attorney must withdraw from the case as soon as practicable and an attorney from the Felony Panel should be substituted for the originally-assigned attorney.

Assignments on criminal appeals are made by order of the appellate court to which the appeal has been noticed. When the assignment is to a member of the Assigned Counsel Panel, rather than an Institutional Provider, that assignment is made in conjunction with the Administrator of the Assigned Counsel Plan.

Ancillary Service Providers

Ancillary service providers include investigators, interpreters, psychologists, pathologists, DNA experts, firearms examiners and social workers. The Assigned Counsel Plan compiles an Ancillary Service Provider Rooster, which contains the names of approved ancillary service providers. The Roster is a resource for panel members who require the services of an ancillary service provider in order to provide effective representation to a client. Ancillary services providers who would like to be included in the Roster must complete an application, which is available at www.nyc.gov/18b. A Background Review Manager will then verify such things as credentials and training. If the ancillary service provider passes the background review and possesses the appropriate training and credentials in his or her field of expertise, the provider will be added to the Ancillary Services Provider Roster which is posted on-line at www.nyc.gov/18b.

An attorney on the Assigned Counsel Plan may choose an ancillary service provider and submit an ex parte application for the appointment of such provider to the judge or justice presiding over the matter. The forms for the appointment of ancillary services providers can be found at www.nyc.gov/18b. Once an order appointing an ancillary service provider has been signed by the judge or justice, the attorney should send the original order to the ancillary service provider. The ancillary service provider should then review the order for accuracy and, if accurate, forward the order to the Assigned Counsel Plan Administrator so that an on-line voucher can be created. If the order is not accurate, it should be returned to the panel attorney for correction by the presiding judge or justice.

Compensation of Attorneys and Ancillary Service Providers

The City of New York has established an on-line payment system which can be accessed at www.nyc.gov/18b. Through the City’s on-line system attorneys and ancillary services providers submit vouchers for work performed on assigned cases electronically to the New York City Department of Finance. The Department of Finance prepares a paper voucher, which is sent to the judge or justice who presided over the case. That judge or justice reviews and, if appropriate, approves the voucher. Once the voucher is approved, it is forwarded to the Department of Finance for payment. The Bar Association Plan for New York City Assigned Counsel provides that vouchers for attorney’s fees, expenses and services must be submitted to the court within 45 days of the date of the disposition of the case. Vouchers may be submitted after 45 days from disposition if the court finds good cause for the delay in submission.

Attorneys and ancillary service providers must be enrolled as vendors with the City of New York to receive payment for their services. They must submit a Substitute W-9 form to the Assigned Counsel Plan. The form is available at www.nyc.gov/18b. Attorneys must also provide a copy of their panel acceptance letter to be enrolled as vendors with the City of New York. Once attorneys and experts are enrolled in the payment system, they may submit vouchers through the electronic system. Attorneys and experts mail in the orders of assignment which are then used to open a voucher in the City’s on-line system. After the voucher is opened, attorneys and experts may log in and provide details about time spent performing work on their cases. Once vouchers are submitted on-line to the Department of Finance, the Department of Finance prints out a paper version of the on-line voucher. The compensation rates for attorneys, as well as the limits regarding compensation, may be found in County Law 722-b. Ancillary service providers are paid pursuant to guidelines established by the Office of Court Administration.

Continuing Legal Education

Members of the Assigned Counsel Panel for the Second, Eleventh and Thirteenth Judicial Districts may attend continuing legal education programs offered by the Appellate Division, First Judicial Department. Information regarding those programs may be found at http://www.nycourts.gov/courts/ad1/Committees&Programs/18B/index18B.shtml.