Monthly Archives: June 2004

2004.06.16: NDS v. ALAA (Legal Aid)

From: Michael Letwin
Sent: Wednesday, June 16, 2004 11:19 AM
Subject: NDS v. ALAA

It is certainly understandable that LAS attorneys facing possible layoff might apply to NDS.  But given the very real (and entirely predictable) threat of new RFPs for LAS criminal funding, we have an obligation to be honest about NDS’ collaboration with Giulaini’s attack on LAS (reported, e.g., in the January 9, 1996 NYLJ (attached)).

The NDS bid (on file at the Union office) played to the administration’s illegal animus by contrasting itself to the unionized Legal Aid Society:  “[W]e seek to play an integral role in the city’s effort to provide indigent defense services in a responsible manner.”  As an example, it emphasized NDS’ willingness to compromise continuity of representation, which the city administration despised as a symbol of ALAA’s hardwon improvement in representation for indigent defendants.  While NDS’ bid was unsuccessful, NDS deputy director Robin Steinberg successfully submitted a separate bid on behalf of “Bronx Defenders.”

In 1990, for exactly such reasons, the ALAA had warned:  “We believe that [NDS] deserves credit for pioneering ways to better serve indigent defendants, and that Legal Aid management should create an atmosphere that encourages such experimentation within the Society. However . . . we are concerned that this project has come about in the context of an attack on the union representation that exists at Legal Aid. . . . because the union, often on its own, has been the most ardent advocate for quality representation of indigent clients in New York City.”  ALAA History.