For decades, activists, scholars, and attorneys decried the state of public defense in New York. Report after report uncovered a broken system that underpaid public defenders and contact attorneys alike as the state shirked its responsibility to adequately support the counties in their effort to provide counsel to the poor. Even after a landmark study, mandated by the state’s chief justice, it would take another decade and a lawsuit from the NYCLU, to finally start the process toward reform.

For much of her career, today’s guest zealously advocated for poor clients facing the death penalty. As such, Patricia Warth was able to see first-hand the incredibly positive impacts that a well-funded, well-staffed public defender office could have on the lives of the accused and the community writ large. Today, her experience as a death penalty lawyer informs her work as the Director of the New York Office of Indigent Legal Services. While not fighting battles in the courtroom, Patricia is still caught in a daily struggle to help legislators from around the country understand the necessity for the state to continue to expand its support for public defense. With her incredible experience at nearly every level of public defense in New York, Patricia is the perfect guest to help us understand what we can learn from the rehabilitation of New York’s Public Defense System.