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The push to raise pay for New York's assigned counsel

Three men sit side-by-side behind a table with a blue table skirt. Each with a name card infront of them.
Mike Groll
Office of Governor
Assemblymembers Bill Magnarelli, left, and Al Stirpe, right during a lighter moment at the New York State fairgrounds.

Low wages for assigned counsel are causing a backlog in cases in Onondaga county.

Local New York State Assemblymember Bill Magnarelli said that the pay offered to assigned counsel to represent children and indigent adults in New York is far below the set counsel rates paid in the federal court system.

Magnarelli said since 2004, the rate for assigned counsel is $60 per hour for misdemeanors and $75 for felonies. The federal hourly rate, however, is about $158 per hour.

Because of this, he claims less than half of the 142 assigned council members in Onondaga County are able to take on cases, causing a backlog.

He’s calling on the Legislature and governor to approve a counsel rate increase in the next state budget.

John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.