Assigned Counsel Defender Plan of Suffolk County, 120 Fourth Avenue, Box 5591, Bay Shore, NY  11706
Phone: 631-666-2500, Fax: 631-666-8401, Email:
© Suffolk County Bar Association
1.         All applicants must reside and/or maintain an office in Suffolk County

2.         All attorneys are screened by committees consisting of lawyers well respected
in the area of Criminal and/or Family law.  Candidates are screened in person
after a careful review of the candidate’s qualifications.  A majority vote of the
screening committee is required for placement on the panel.  

3.        Attorneys to the Felony, Murder and/or Family Court-Law Guardian Panels must
have the specified minimum number of years of experience within that particular
area of the law.  While the remaining panels do not have such minimum
requirements, it is recommended that attorneys seeking appointment to those
panels have at lease one year experience practicing law.

4.        An attorney may not be placed on more than one criminal trial list.  The
only exception to this rule is that qualified Murder Panel applicants may be
included in the Felony Panel.  

5.        The various panels are divided between the Courts located in the eastern
and western towns of Suffolk County.  An attorney may be placed on either the
east end or west end, relative to the location of their residence and/or office        

6.     All 18b attorneys are required to complete 4 CLE credits in the appropriate area
of law on an annual basis.  Compliance of each attorney is monitored by the
Plan Administrator.   
All indigent defendants in Suffolk County charged with Murder are represented by private attorneys assigned under the
Assigned Counsel Defender Plan.  Pursuant to the Plan, the Legal Aid Society handles no murder cases.  Attorneys
interested in participating on the Murder Panel must submit a resume with their  application and be screened by a joint
committee of the Suffolk County Bar Association and Suffolk County Criminal Bar Association consisting of four
appointed members and the Administrator.  A majority vote is required to place an attorney on the Murder Panel.  

An attorney must meet the minimum qualifications set out for the Felony Panel below and must also impress the panel
with his or her experience and ability to handle a case of such significance.  Unlike the Felony Panel, murder
assignments are not given out on a strictly rotational basis.  Private attorneys who qualify are placed on a list which is
transmitted to each County Court and Supreme Court Judge sitting in a criminal part.  The judges can then choose an
attorney from the list to represent an indigent defendant charged with murder.  In cases which initiate in the District
Court, the Administrator’s office is called upon to make an assignment of an attorney from the Murder Panel.       
All 18b attorneys are
required to complete 4 CLE
credits in the appropriate
area of law on an annual
basis.  The performance of
each attorney is monitored
by the Administrator for
quality review.  
Felony assignments consist of cases which are initiated by an assignment from District Court in Central Islip, County Court
in Riverhead and\or the Village/Justice Courts.

The Felony Panel is divided into two lists, West End and East End.  The West End Panel services felony assignments
which are initiated in the western towns of Suffolk County.

The East End Panel services felony assignments which initiate in one of the Justice or Village Courts of the eastern towns.

Both West End and East End Panel members receive felony assignments out of County Court in Riverhead.

Admission to the Felony Panel requires that an attorney be admitted for at least five years or that he/she shows to the
review committee significant experience in the practice of criminal law and criminal trials.  Generally, this means that an
attorney for whom the five year requirement is waived must be a former District Attorney, Legal Aid attorney, or from a firm
that does a substantial criminal practice.  Attorneys must also submit a resume explaining their background and are only
admitted upon a majority vote of the review committee.

The Plan for Suffolk County requires that assignments, other than from the Murder Panel or in extraordinary
circumstances, be made on a strict rotational basis.   

Cases emanating out of the East End Justice Courts are treated similarly, except that in all cases, the clerks place the
calls to the attorneys.

1.        DISTRICT COURT CALENDAR ROTATION - The Assigned Counsel Defender Plan also has a volunteer calendar
rotation in place for District Court, Central Islip, New York.  Attorneys participating in the calendar are rotated on a
monthly basis and assigned a day in court in which they are to be available for any 18b assignments.  In addition,
the court will automatically assign a case to an attorney-of-the-day if such date is known in advance.

2.        WEEKEND ARRAIGNMENTS -  Attorneys in Part D-11 for weekend arraignments.  As part of this “on-call” system,
attorneys are required to provide a telephone number where you can be reached and be available to the court on
that date for arraignments.  The Court  must be able to get in touch with you personally.
The Misdemeanor Panel is subdivided into West End and East End.  Again the West End Panel services the District
Court in Central Islip, while the East End Panel services the Justice and Village Courts of the five eastern towns.  

There is also a calendar rotation in the Domestic Violence parts of District Court (D31 & D32), as well as D-11.
In November, 2004, the Assigned Counsel Plan and the Law Guardian Panel began an  “Attorney-of-the-Day” system in
Family Court.   This system was designed to cover the assignment of neglect, abuse and termination of parental rights
cases only; all other Family Court matters will be discussed below.

Members of the 18-b Panel who are also presently members of the Law Guardian Panel form the group of “Attorneys of
the Day”  Any other member of the 18B Panel or any new applicant must be approved by a Family Panel Screening

Eligibility for this group is similar to the requirements for the Felony Panel in Criminal Courts.  All attorneys must be
admitted at least five (5) years or show “exceptional circumstances” justifying their eligibility; must show a familiarity with
abuse, neglect and/or termination of parental rights cases; and must submit a resume, which must include the year and
department of admission to the bar, educational background, work history, experience and training in family law; their
experiences with these types of cases, including the Courts and judges before whom they have appeared, as well as
information concerning any trials in this area of practice; a record of continuing legal education courses attended over
the previous four years in the area of Family Law and any other factor which the applicants believe will reflect upon their
ability to represent respondents facing these charges.  “Exceptional circumstances” may include, but are not limited to,
experience in Family Law through a position with a Legal Aid Society, Public Defenders Office or County Attorney’s
Office where the applicant has practiced primarily in the area of Family Law and shows familiarity with these
types of proceedings.

An additional requirement is that after approval by the Bar Association’s Screening Committee, the applicant must make
application to and be approved for membership in the Law Guardian Panel.  After acceptance by both panels, the
attorney will be placed in the next rotational calendar.  

During the rotation period, the attorney will be assigned one day as the “18-b Attorney of the Day” on the 3rd floor of
Family Court and one day as “Law Guardian of the Day” on the 2nd floor of Family Court.   When the next calendar is
issued, the assignment to Law Guardian or 18-b will be reversed so that the assigned attorney will now be on the other
floor. Since these attorneys will be on both panels, they will be available for any Law Guardian Assignments or 18-b
abuse, neglect or termination of parental rights cases.  If a conflict should arise requiring the assignment of an
additional 18-b attorney, that attorney will be chosen from the abuse, neglect and termination of parental rights
lists in the standard manner.

This calendar is maintained by Judge David Freundlich and effective this year, it was instituted in the East End as well.
Attorneys qualified for the Appellate Panel receive assignments directly from either the Appellate Term or Appellate

An attorney may be on the Appeals Panel, Family Court Panel,  Murder Panel, and one of the Trial Panels (either
Misdemeanor or Felony).   All assignments of appeal attorneys to cases are made by the Appellate Division, Second
Department or the Appellate Term, Ninth and Tenth Judicial Districts, both in Brooklyn.

Applicants must have recent experience on either the trial or appellate level and up-to-date knowledge of criminal/family
law and constitutional requirements.  Applicants must submit a sample of their writing, such as a brief, memorandum of
law, or other recent publication.

On felony and misdemeanor cases, Assigned Counsel attorneys are only assigned if there is a conflict which prevents
the prime provider under the Assigned Counsel Plan, the Legal Aid Society, from representing a defendant.  Generally,
this occurs in circumstances where Legal Aid represents a co-defendant and, therefore, cannot ethically represent
another defendant on the same charge, or where there has developed some conflict between the client and the Legal
Aid attorney which requires the court to remove Legal Aid.
An amendment to Section 35 of the Judiciary Law was made requiring counsel to be appointed for indigent adults in
Supreme Court, if such appointments would be required in Family Court under Section 262 of the Family Court Act.    
Effective January 24, 2007 Assignment of Counsel as provided in Article 18-B of the County Law was incorporated into
this amendment.  Applicants interested in this Panel must be screened and approved by the committee.
The Family Court panel is also subdivided into the West End list and East End list.  Again the West End Panel services
the Family Court in Central Islip, while the East End Panel services the five eastern towns.   There presently is a
Regular 18b Family Court Calendar in place for the assignment of the following types of cases:

  1.        Visitation and Custody, not connected to neglects;
  2.        Family Offenses;
  3.        Adoption;
  4.        Guardianship matters; and
  5.        Support and Paternity.