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Hurrell-Harring v. State of New York

Court of Appeals of New York
930 N.E.2d 217 (N.Y. 2010)


Facts

Hurrell-Harring, et al. (plaintiffs) were similarly situated, indigent defendants in various criminal proceedings in New York. The plaintiffs brought a class action lawsuit against the State of New York (defendant), seeking a declaratory ruling that the state’s system of providing counsel for indigent defendants violated those defendants’ Sixth Amendment right to effective counsel. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed the following: criminal defendants often went unrepresented during arraignments; if and when attorneys were appointed, they were often unavailable or unresponsive; appointed attorneys often missed court appearances or were not prepared for the appearance; and appointed attorneys often waived important rights without consulting the defendants. The lower court granted the state’s motion to dismiss on the grounds that ineffective assistance of counsel claims are case-specific under Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), so the plaintiffs’ claim of systematic deficiencies was not cognizable. The plaintiffs appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Lippman, C.J.)

The holding and reasoning section includes:

  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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Dissent (Pigott, J.)

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