Legislation that would make it easier for poor people to access legal services made its debut in the Senate this week, but the state Assembly has not taken up the measure, even though many lawmakers there have previously cosponsored it.
On Monday night, Senate Democrats advanced the Senate Courts of Justice proposal, S.3698, with a 34-0 vote. But the action is unlikely to clear one of the chamber’s minor hurdles: The proposal is chiefly opposed by Assembly Democrats, who objected to its inclusion of criminal-defense services.
It was among several such measures advanced on Monday night by Democrats who control the chamber, including a version of a bill that would raise the state’s $500 “fair-trial fee”—the penalty for people who flout court orders. A Senate version also would be required to disclose the role of funders of state court programs that fund the repayment of fines and court costs.
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins has promised the changes will be made.
The bill did not pass the Senate in 2016 and last year. But it was reintroduced this spring in response to a series of Times Square shakedowns and six-figure jury duty bills.