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Cayuga County public defenders join statewide symbolic boycott over wages, caseloads

Cayuga County attorneys are joining other assigned counsel and public defenders across New York to protest heavy caseloads and stagnant rates through a symbolic boycott.

From Monday, April 18 through Wednesday, April 20, members of Cayuga County’s panel for assigned counsel are not taking on new clients, according to The Citizen. Attorneys across the state are participating in the boycott during the same period.


The boycott is in response to an assigned counsel and public defender wage increase not being included in the finalized state budget. The hourly pay rate has not been increased since 2003. The rate is currently $75 for felonies cases and $60 for misdemeanors. The boycott is considered “symbolic” because attorneys involved are not set to take on more cases until Thursday, April 21.

Attorney J. Justin Woods, a local organizer of the boycott, said in a letter to local officials that he will fulfill his ethical obligation to serve existing clients and resume accepting new ones after April 20, adding that local panel attorneys will likely file motions for increased rates in the near future.



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