New York

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At a Glance (as of 2013)

Percentage of state funding: 20%
Percentage of local funding: 80%
Percentage of alternative funding: 0%
State commission: yes – limited authority
Branch of government: executive


Structure & Funding of Indigent Defense Services

The state of New York has delegated to its counties the responsibility for administering the provision of right to counsel services at the trial level, along with almost all of the state’s obligation for funding those services. As a result, there is no consistency from one county to the next in the method employed, nor is there consistency in the level of funding provided across the state. As a result, the level of quality delivered varies dramatically across the state, with numerous recent reports finding services in general to be substandard, if not altogether unconstitutional.


The Office of Indigent Legal Services (ILS) is a state agency of the executive branch, overseen by a nine-member board, with limited authority to assist the state’s county-based indigent defense systems to improve the quality of services provided. It does so primarily through funding assistance grants to counties. The Board is appointed by diverse authorities. The chief justice serves a chairman of the Board with the Governor appointing other members based on recommendations by: President of the Senate; the Speaker of the Assembly, the New York State Bar Association; state association of counties (2); and, the Chief Justice (judge or retired judge). The Governor also appoints one attorney and one other person of his choosing.

Statutory Authority

County Law 18-B (county systems); Executive Law Article 30 (limited state oversight); Family Court Act Section 262 (right to counsel in family court matters); State Finance Law 98-b (state funding).

Source of data: original research conducted by Sixth Amendment Center staff, augmented by communications with the Office of Indigent Legal Services.  State/county funding split does not include state money for juvenile representation in delinquency and Family Court matters, civil commitment of all kinds, and many, though not all, sex offender registration appeals.