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Defense attorneys are essential personnel: New coronavirus restrictions fail to protect lawyers who serve the accused

Published on March 23rd, 2020

Friday, through Executive Order 202.6, Gov. Cuomo ordered that any business not designated “essential” close its doors until further notice. Yet while designating law enforcement as “essential,” Cuomo didn’t designate criminal defense firms such as mine the same way. In fact, his executive order is devoid of the words “attorney” or “lawyer.” By not designating criminal defense lawyers as “essential,” the governor is gutting the constitutional right to an attorney, guaranteed in the Sixth Amendment for those facing criminal charges.

In response to COVID-19, employees at my firm were given the option of working from home, and those who have continued to work in our Wall Street office have practiced “social distancing.” We still have limited but necessary face-to-face meetings with clients. Sometimes those facing prison need to meet with their lawyer in person — whether that’s at a police precinct house or in a hearing room or a jail.

Read more here.

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