The Legal Aid Society

News In Brief

Making the Case for Humanity

The Legal Aid Society is an indispensable component of the legal, social and economic fabric of New York City - passionately
advocating for individuals across a variety of civil, criminal and juvenile rights matters, while also pursuing a broad legal reform agenda.

February 28, 2009

Welcome to News in Brief, the newsletter of The Legal Aid Society. The newsletter will contain news items about the work of The Legal Aid Society and various events. We will also share updates on funding matters.

The Legal Aid Society In The News

Legal Aid's Chief Attorney Predicts Dire Consequences for Poor New Yorkers With Cuts in State and City Funding for Legal Services
Steven Banks, Attorney-in-Chief of The Legal Aid Society, warned (Read testimony, 2/24/09) that proposed State cuts for criminal defense and civil legal services on top of cuts already sustained in State and City funding will limit access to justice and hurt New Yorkers accused of crimes and families and individuals who need legal help in the midst of this severe economic downturn. "In the criminal defense area, we cannot keep taking on new cases, provide the constitutionally mandated defense for New Yorkers, and absorb new State cuts on top of $3 million in cuts that we have already sustained in the State and City budgets this year," Banks said. "Cuts in City and State funds for 2010 will further impair Legal Aid's ability to provide a constitutional defense." (Read testimony, 1/27/09)

The Legal Aid Society's Civil Practice is forced to turn away six out of every seven New Yorkers who seek our help, Banks said, "and we have also already suffered $3 million in cuts in the State and City budgets and now we will have to turn away more families and individuals who need legal aid to to get unemployment and disability benefits, flee from domestic violence, and prevent evictions, foreclosures, and homelessness which is at record levels in New York City." Banks' comments have been widely reported in the media. (New York Law Journal) He told The New York Times that legal services agencies throughout the country are forced to make wrenching choices about whom they can represent because of funding cuts. He compared current legal services delivery to MASH units.

Black History Celebration at The Legal Aid Society

The Honorable Jonathan Lippman, Chief Judge of the State of New York, and State Senator John L. Sampson, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joined The Legal Aid Society's celebration of Black History Month last night during a special reception at Legal Aid headquarters. The reception honored all the black women and men who are members of the Legal Aid family for their many accomplishments and contributions. Steven Banks presented Senator Sampson with a plaque that read: "in recognition of your outstanding support of The Legal Aid Society and its clients and your dedication to equal access to justice for all New Yorkers." Senator Sampson began his legal career at The Legal Aid Society where he served as a staff attorney in the Civil Practice. The event last night was part of The Legal Aid Society's celebration of awareness months over the course of the year in keeping with our commitment to diversity.

Promise of a Bright Future for Amadou Ly, Thanks to Legal Aid Heroes
The promising future of Amadou Ly, a young immigrant from Senegal, would have ended in deportation if not for the tireless efforts of Amy Meselson, a staff attorney in the Civil Practice's Immigration Unit, and the hard work of a number of her colleagues at Legal Aid . . . Read more

Robin Karasyk Receives 10th Annual Schinitsky Award
Robin Karasyk, a staff attorney in the Juvenile Right Practice's Brooklyn Office, received the 10th annual Charles Schinitsky Award for Outstanding Service on behalf of Children. Robin began her Legal Aid career in 1989 as a staff attorney in the Brooklyn Office of the JRP . . . Read more

Victory for Low Income Tenants; Judge Upholds City Ban on Section 8 Rent Bias
In a victory for low income tenants, New York County State Supreme Court Justice Emily Jane Goodman held that Local Law 10 and the J-51 law, which prohibit discrimination based on lawful source of income, apply to in-place tenants who tender Section 8 vouchers to their landlords . . . Read more

Prisoners' Rights Project Brings Lawsuit on Behalf of Beaten Inmate
Jonathan Chasan, a Supervising Attorney in the Prisoners' Rights Project of The Legal Aid Society, brought a lawsuit Tuesday on behalf of Tyreek Shuford, who reports he was beaten while an inmate at Rikers in 2007 for sitting in the wrong chair in the dayroom, denied medical care and beaten again two weeks later. This lawsuit was part of a New York Times story focused on inmate-on-inmate violence at Rikers in which a number of inmates said they were the victims of beatings by prisoners, and a pattern of guards looking the other way, or in fact, ordering the attacks on inmates . . . Read more.

Concern for Homeless Single Adults
Judith Goldiner, Supervising Attorney in the Civil Law Reform Unit, appeared at a City Hall press conference and expressed concern for the homeless singles who will be left out in the cold due to cuts in services provided by the City. The press conference was sponsored by City Council Members Bill de Blasio and Gale Brewer in opposition to the Administration's recent proposals which will result in a reduction of 232 beds city-wide for homeless individuals.

The Legal Aid Society Newsletter is written and edited by Pat Bath, Director of Communications, with technical assistance from Jason Smallwood, Web Developer.

© 2009 The Legal Aid Society • 199 Water Street, New York, NY 10038 •