The Criminal Appeals Bureau is the largest provider of post-conviction services to indigent criminal defendants in New York City. The Bureau has a significant impact on criminal law and procedure, including on constitutional issues in New York and nationally. Volunteers can assist attorneys in reviewing transcripts, contacting family members, and reviewing research and arguments from the Bureau’s extensive brief database.
Examples of individual projects include the following: In Padilla v. Kentucky, the United States Supreme Court held that non-citizen defendants are denied the effective assistance of counsel when their attorneys fail to inform them of the potential immigration consequences of a conviction or fail to make efforts to resolve the matter in a way that results in no (or less severe) immigration consequences. Since this time, so-called Padilla motions have become an important part of post-conviction criminal practice. Volunteers can assist in the creation of a best practices nuts-and-bolts manual for the litigation of Padilla claims. Similarly, increasingly, appellate courts are requiring litigants to file their briefs and related materials electronically, but the rules governing e-filing are often complex and differ markedly from court to court. Volunteers can assist in the preparation of a manual detailing the procedures governing e-filing in the Appellate Division, First Department, the New York Court of Appeals, the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York and the Second Circuit. Similarly, volunteers can assist in the representation of clients in direct appeals to the Appellate Division seeking the reduction of the sentence imposed by the trial court or clients who have been arbitrarily assigned a "risk level" for a past sex offense.