The Legal Aid Bureau is the largest provider in Erie, Genesee, Cattaraugus, and Orleans Counties of criminal appellate services for indigent defendants.
The Legal Aid Bureau is, with the exception of cases where there is a conflict of interest, the exclusive provider in Erie, Genesee, Cattaraugus, and Orleans Counties of criminal appellate services for indigent defendants seeking review of their convictions.
Those convicted in County Court and (or) New York Supreme Court in the counties we cover are eligible, upon approval, for representation by our Appeals and Post-Conviction Unit before the Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department, in Rochester. The court issues orders of assignment upon its satisfaction that the client is indeed a “poor person,” who cannot afford a private attorney. Each year we receive over 150 such orders. In Genesee County, our Unit represents appellant’s convicted in local courts (i.e., City, Town and Village courts), as well as in superior court.
Convictions may have resulted either from a verdict following trial, jury or non-jury, or from a plea of guilty. We also represent appellants who have been adjudicated under the Sex Offender Registration Act, as well as those who have lost state habeas corpus petitions. Most often, Appeals and Post-Conviction Unit clients are incarcerated during the process, though there are exceptions.
Client input is solicited by letter and either a personal visit or confidential phone call. Transcripts are reviewed, issues are researched and a brief is written and filed under careful supervision. After thorough preparation, oral argument is conducted before a five-judge panel without the presence of the client. When a decision is rendered, approximately four to six weeks later, an application to have further discretionary review is usually filed with our state’s highest court, the New York State Court of Appeals, in Albany. If there are significant constitutional issues not appearing in the trial record, we will investigate whether to file a post-conviction motion in order to further the client’s interests; and in the appropriate case, such a motion may be filed.