Monday, March 18, 2019

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“Mr. Pro Bono” opposes mandatory voluntary work

Miller: "... anathema to the nobility of
our profession"

POUGHKEEPSIE – New York State Bar Association President Michael Miller, who has the reputation as “Mr. Pro Bono” for all of his free legal services, is opposed to attempts by the state to make it mandatory.

Miller, a Manhattan attorney, addressed the Dutchess County Bar Association last Thursday saying “The idea of making pro-bono work mandatory is anathema to the nobility of our profession.”

Miller spent time in Kosovo helping families after the bloody war there and aided countless families who lost loved ones during the September 11th attack in New York City. 

He claims that "there's no group on the planet that gives more, in more ways, than we lawyers do.”

Miller showed support for bail reforms.

“Certainly for non-violent, low-level crime, what are we locking people up for?” he asked.

He denounced Governor Cuomo’s proposal to increase the Biennial Attorney Registration Fee, which Miller refers to as BARF, for the purpose of providing indigent people with counsel.

Miller agrees that people who cannot afford legal representation must receive it at no charge, but he said the funding is not the responsibility of the attorneys.

 “It’s a state obligation under the United States Supreme Court ruling. It is a state obligation,” he said.

Miller said it is not about the proposed $50 per year increase in the lawyer registration fee.

The right to discovery in criminal proceedings is also an initiative being undertaken by the state bar.  "You don't know anything that the prosecution has until the eve of the trial," Miller said which makes trial prep difficult. 

The association president also claimed that changing the discovery rules to provide the defense with the evidence earlier would expedite a number of criminal court cases by encouraging those charged to take a plea and avoiding tying up court resources by requiring several appearances just to obtain all of the information. 

 


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