Pro Bono News

For Richer, for Poorer (NJ)

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

For Richer, for Poorer

"The appellate division of the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender is never short on work.

The 1,300 appeals per year the OPD takes on for indigent clients can often take up to a year and a half each, according to Deputy Public Defender Joseph Russo. To help with the case load, the office developed a pro bono partnership with 13 private New Jersey and New York law firms. Launched in April, the partnership is already handling 35 appeals.

The goal is two-fold, said Russo, who runs the program with First Assistant Deputy Public Defender Alison Perrone: to shorten the time between receipt of a case and filing an appeal and to provide every indigent client the best possible representation.

Reasons for appeals are numerous. Perhaps a trial judge didn’t take mitigating evidence like age into account and sentenced a youthful offender to more time than necessary. Or maybe evidence was deemed admissible even though it had been acquired illegally by police without a search warrant..."

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