ALBANY, N.Y. (WWTI) — The Public Defender Community in the North Country was recognized on the state level for its efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the 54th Annual Meeting and Conference held by the New York State Defenders Association, the Public Defense Community was named the recipient of the 2021 Johnathan E. Gradess Service of Justice Award. Among those named to represent numerous individual lawyers and defense offices was the St. Lawrence County Public Defender’s Office.
According to NYSDA, it chose honor the Public Defense Community for many reasons. This included efforts sought to protect the heath and safety of individuals convicted of crimes, seeking their release from incarceration and calling for government action to end risk of infection in prison and jails.
NYSDA noted that attorneys who represented parents and other caregivers worked to keep families connected during COVID-19. Many also were highlighted for taking time to share strategies and information with colleagues.
“From New York City to the North Country and across the state, public defense providers fought for their clients,” NYSDA Executive Director Susan C. Bryant said at the conference.
Additional named honorees of the Johnathan E. Gradess Service of Justice Award included offices and individuals from across New York State. This included Ontario County Assistant Public Defender Chelsea Carter, Schenectady County Conflict Defender Tracey Chance, Monroe County Family Court Bureau Chief Adele Fine, Brooklyn Defender Services Legal Director Yung-Mi Lee, The Bronx Defenders Legal Department, The Bronx Defenders Policy Counsel Miriam Mack and Brooklyn Defender Services Supervising Attorney and Policy Council Nila Natarajan.
The Jonathan E. Gradess Service of Justice Award commends individuals or organizations that have provided outstanding support to public defense and to NYSDA. Those public defense lawyers who sought information and ideas from NYSDA and used what they received to help their clients, like those who shared their insights and templates with others, were noted for furthering NYSDA’s mission.