The hours after arrest are not only anxiety-provoking. They’re also a critical window when a person’s rights can be violated. What happens during this period can complicate an individual’s case down the road, through statements given to police without a lawyer present or without the individual having full knowledge of his or her rights.
The nonprofit Good Call seeks to fill that gap for low-income New Yorkers who don’t have the luxury of calling private attorneys—and don’t yet have the right to a public defender. (In New York, the right to counsel in New York attaches at arraignment.)
Good Call operates a 24/7 hotline staffed by volunteer attorneys equipped to provide on-the-spot legal advice and help people understand their post-arrest rights and options.
This past summer, the nonprofit fielded thousands of calls a day from protesters, and its services are now available to people living in all five boroughs. As the organization expands, it is helping to close the access-to-justice gap citywide.
This semester, NYLS’s Criminal Defense Clinic has partnered with Good Call to create comprehensive, unified training materials for its growing base of attorney volunteers, who have a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.
Clinic students have begun a series of conversations with Good Call’s senior staff and are conducting research as they develop the materials. As the academic year progresses, the year-long clinic also plans to create materials that will help Good Call’s volunteer attorneys refer callers to housing, immigration, and other related resources. And students may later develop “know-your-rights” resources for New Yorkers who call the hotline.
The new partnership is a win-win-win—for Good Call, for NYLS students learning about criminal defense practice in action, and, most of all, for New Yorkers in need of legal assistance.
Learn more about NYLS’s clinics and experiential learning programs.