First Lawyer Assigned to Criminal Cases
The founders of The Legal Aid Society expressed a desire to assist the poor in criminal matters as early as 1879. A passage from our third annual report reveals a concern for those who had
fallen into the hands of the police through ignorance of the law.
Accused criminals were often imprisoned for weeks without a hearing. Their poverty and ignorance of the language prevented them from seeking aid or judicial protection.
For the first time, we assigned a lawyer to the Essex Market Police Court to handle criminal cases. That court was selected because of the extreme poverty on the lower east side.