Saturday, December 1, 2007


As previously posted, Rudy Giuliani billed several little known city agencies for expenses unrelated to those agencies. One of those agencies was the Assigned Counsel Administrative Office. This is the agency that provides Legal Aid lawyers for the indigent. Ironically, it is the very same organization that Giuliani constantly battled with. It would appear that he cut their funds in public and subsequently billed them for his trysts in private. The following archived article from the NYT details his relationship with the agency.

Legal Aid's Last Challenge From an Old Adversary, Giuliani

Published: September 9, 2001
Ever since Legal Aid Society lawyers went on strike in 1994, 10 months after Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani took office, the mayor has set about cutting the organization's financing and reducing its influence as the chief defender of the indigent in New York City's courts.
As he enters his last months in office, Mr. Giuliani has dealt Legal Aid one final blow, ending the automatic renewal of its contract with the city and forcing it to compete with any other groups that want the job.

The mayor's plan, timed to be in place before he leaves office on Dec. 31, divides representation of the poor into separate contracts for each borough. Legal Aid will be allowed to seek those contracts and is likely to win most of the indigent defense work, but there will no longer be a citywide defender's office, or a dominant voice for criminal defendants. The plan was laid out in a request for proposals issued two weeks ago.

The executive director of Legal Aid, Daniel L. Greenberg, called the mayor's plan a ''frontal attack'' on the organization. The move, he said, comes as Mr. Giuliani is being forced to sit for depositions in a federal lawsuit filed by Legal Aid that accuses him of illegally retaliating against the organization because of the strike.

Mr. Giuliani's criminal justice coordinator, Steven M. Fishner, said Friday that the changes were not aimed at Legal Aid, but reflected the mayor's desire for competition and open bidding for all city contracts. ''It's not driven by a political agenda,'' Mr. Fishner said. ''It's driven by good government. Competition in the legal marketplace will provide the best possible services for the city and for legal clients.''
The dozen new contracts begin next July and run through June 2004, two and a half years into the next mayor's term.

Several Democratic candidates criticized Mr. Giuliani's move.
''This is just an extension of the mayor's ongoing feud with Legal Aid, and what it does is fragment the ability of the indigent to get adequate counsel,'' said Fernando Ferrer, the Bronx borough president and one of four major candidates in the Democratic mayoral primary on Tuesday. He said Mr. Giuliani was ''trying to tie the hands of the next mayor.''
Far from diminishing Legal Aid, Mr. Ferrer said, he would expand its role to make it ''the indigent defender of choice.''

Joseph DePlasco, a spokesman for Mark Green, the public advocate and another mayoral candidate, said Mr. Giuliani's move appeared to be a vendetta and added, ''It is wrong for the mayor to attempt to bind a new administration to his policies.'' Legal Aid, he said, ''is a venerable and respected institution with dedicated public interest lawyers who work for low pay.''

Another mayoral hopeful, Alan G. Hevesi, the city comptroller, said the plan was ''hamstringing'' the next mayor. ''I think it's not appropriate for Mayor Giuliani to commit the next administration to a new system of providing legal assistance,'' he said.
A spokesman for the campaign of Peter F. Vallone, the City Council speaker, said that Mr. Vallone has long pushed to restore money for Legal Aid, and questioned Mr. Giuliani's motives in rushing the changes through.

A spokesman for Michael R. Bloomberg, the wealthy executive who is running in the Republican mayoral primary, said the candidate had no comment on the matter. The campaign of Herman Badillo did not return a call seeking comment.
The Legal Aid Society, a nonprofit organization, was first designated the primary defender of the poor in 1965 by Mayor Robert F. Wagner, in response to Gideon v. Wainwright, the United States Supreme Court decision that established the right to counsel for indigent criminal defendants. Legal Aid functions like a public defenders office, the government agency that represents the poor in most other big cities.

Over the years, as arrests rose sharply, private lawyers were allowed to take increasing numbers of cases, tens of thousands by 1994, when Mr. Giuliani took office. He said at the time that he planned to drastically reduce the role of the private lawyers and shift their work to Legal Aid. But he reversed course after the strike, saying the society had grown bloated and inefficient and vowing to limit what he referred to as its monopoly.
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