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