U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Says New York’s Legal Defense System is Failing the Poor

Attorney General Eric H. Holder is supporting a class-action lawsuit that accuses Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state of perpetuating a system that violates the rights of people who cannot afford to hire lawyers, writes the New York Times.

Holder has said in the past that there is a crisis in the legal defense system for the poor. The lawsuit claims that public defenders in New York are so overworked and overmatched that poor people essentially receive no legal defense at all.

Holder is using the legal arguments and the weight of the federal government to resolve what he sees as deep-seated unfairness and substandard legal aid in local criminal courts where children are taken from their parents; defendants in minor cases are jailed for long periods; and people are imprisoned for crimes for which they might not have committed.

The lawsuit, which was filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union, has been winding through the courts for seven years and is set for trial on Oct. 7.

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