Friday Wrap 5.29.09

All the week’s “atj” newsworthy items wrapped up

Friday Wrap Friday Wrap

Texas – Texas Access to Justice Commission and Foundation Recognize Major Contributors to Texas Legal Aid

Chicago, Illinois – ABA Invites Obama to it Annual Meeting

Washington, D.C. – 2nd ABA National Conference on Employment of Lawyers with Disabilities (Hurry for the EARLY BIRD special because after June 1st the registration increases)

United States Supreme Court – President Obama nominates Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the U.S. Supreme Court (For more news links, click here. For blog coverage, click here.)

Brooklyn, New York – A Call for Pro Bono at Boro Hall

Lexington, Kentucky – Interview with a True Change Agent

Nashville, Tennessee – New Legal Advice Clinic to Help with Debt Issues

Richmond, Virginia - LINC Recognizes Outstanding Volunteers

Public Justice Center – Donor Inspires Us with $10,000 Gift 

Ventura County, California – New County Program Helping Low-Income Families Adopt

 Winston-Salem, North Carolina – Practical Paralegalism: Paying it Forward

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – Credit Card Reforms Could Help Statements

Fairfield, Connecticut – Hard Times Force People Into Family Court “Solo”

Honolulu, Hawaii – Starn O’Toole Marcus & Fisher Supports Access to Justice Commission

Australia – Pro Bono Work Good for Law Students

New York, New York – Pro Bono Recruitment Drive

San Diego, California – Law Made Public: Legal Research Class for the Self-Represented Litigant

-RFW

Friday Wrap-Up 5.22.09

Here’s a Wrap-up of the week ending 5.22.09

I know this is mostly pointing folks to other sources for news, but as you can see, there are simply too many stories from the week to cover.

Thanks to my new law clerk Allie! She’s already jumping in with both feet.

Enjoy the stories below and have a safe holiday weekend!

Honolulu – City Awards almost $4 million for Homeless Services

LSC – Update enewsletter

South Carolina – SC Statehouse Report

New Brunswick – New Brunswick is facing Legal Aid cuts

Minneapolis – Best & Flanagan wins Pro Patria Award

Memphis – TBA President ready with plans

Washington D.C. – Bread for the City - Beyond Bread: The Human Rights Clinic

Texas – Texas Access to Justice Foundation 25th Anniversary (thanks State Bar of Texas Blog)

Australia

- Homeless Person’s Legal Service Forum (Robert McClelland)

- Pro Bono Initiative to Strengthen Rule of Law (Robert McClelland) – Lawyers Beyond Borders

The Legal Intelligencer/Law.com – Use ‘Pro Bono Networking’ to Market Yourself into a New Job

New Jersey – TRENTON: State courts closed Fridayand again in June

JD Supra: Legal Articles – The 4 Ps of the Internet: Personal, Private, Professional and Public

Michigan

- Mental health court serves public interest

- The South End – Law School fellowships provide students with work opportunities, tuition dollars

California – New California Law School Unveils its First Clinic

InHouse Insider – 2009 Best Legal Department: And the Winner is . . . (be sure to track all 3 “winners”)

Tolerance.org: Teaching Tolerance – Use This Summer for Social Justice

NPR: Lawyers Make Pro Bono Leap into Foreclosures (thanks to Mercy Politics for pointing us to this story)

-RFW

SRL Assistance Down Under

 

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A recent article in the Queensland Courier Mail cited Chief Justice Paul de Jersey as saying that while the number of self-represented litigants (SRLs) in the Australian state of Queensland is down from previous years, they still continue to be a burden on both the civil and criminal court systems. 

Queensland courts are experiencing problems similar to those here in the states when SRLs enter the courtroom:  time-consuming case presentation and unnecessary costs.

Chief Justice de Jersey stated that the percentage of SRLs in civil matters was down from 42.1% in the previous year to 32%. This sharp decrease is partially attributable to the Queensland Public Interest Law Clearing House, Inc.’s Self-Representation Civil Law Service (SRCLS) which was established in 2007 to assist SRLs through the judicial process.

The SRCLS solicitors perform a myriad of services including: giving legal advice to SRLs,  drafting documents (e.g., pleadings and affidavits), conducting legal research, and referring appropriate cases for further advice, support, or representation.

SRCLS solicitors also assist SRLs with ancillary litigation-related issues including: understanding the process and procedures, observing courtroom rules and decorum and presenting their cases in the best possible light.

SRCLS will help any SRL, regardless of their means; however, the degree of assistance depends upon an SRL’s income and the extent to which the SRL can afford representation.

Queensland Public Interest Law Clearing House, Inc. also provides a similar service to SRLs in the Court of Appeals.

While efforts exist to introduce qualified immunity for court staff when assisting SRLs and an indemnity policy, these have yet to come to fruition.

Despite the need for qualified immunity and an indemnity policy, the SRCLS is a great first step.  The numbers seem to indicate that the program does  help in furnishing an effective way of handling SRLs’ cases.

While I have yet to come across any programs quite as extensive as this one in the United States, many states have implemented self-help kiosks in their courthouses that provide information and some limited assistance to SRLs.  While these are surely helpful, compared to the SRCLS, they do leave something to be desired.

The SRCLS appears to be a more comprehensive compromise  between providing actual legal representation and not providing any assistance at all.  While SRLs clearly have more work and resonsibilities to take on when representing themselves, they are at least provided with the tools and directions they need to present their cases in a more advantageous manner.

-Alex

We are not alone

South Carolina is not the first state to form an Access to Justice Commission, and it is certainly not the last.  Moreover, the United States is not the only country to recognize that many of its citizens are not getting the legal assistance they seek.

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Here’s a link to see what Australia’s been up to:  http://www.acoss.org.au/upload/publications/papers/info%20353_legal%20aid.pdf 

It seems as though Australia is facing issues quite similar to those that we face here in the U.S.

But ATJ initiatives are not limited to first world countries.  For instance, Pakistan has been funding its Access to Justice Programme (AJP) since 2001.  Thus far, Pakistan’s AJP has distributed pamphlets on a variety of topics such as consumer protection and how to acquire a national ID card and has revised Ombudsman laws in an effort to inform citizens of the services the Ombudsman’s office can provide, among other things.  Unfortunately, all of the articles I found about the  Pakistan’s AJP are not available to the public.

Facebook – The Next Legal Tool?

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Out of Australia comes news that Facebook, yes THAT Facebook, was approved for default judgment notices.

Master Harper of the ACT Supreme Court ordered that a default judgement could be served on defendants by notification on Facebook. 
. . .
Usually this is done by way of personal service or the mailing of the judgement to the defendant’s home. However, service can be difficult where the defendant is not easily located.
. . .
Master Harper ordered that the defendants in the case could be validly served by the plaintiff sending a message by computer to the Facebook pages of both defendants informing them of the entry of and the terms of the judgement.
Australian courts are regarded as being amongst the most technologically advanced in the world, and this innovation goes to further that claim.

Thanks to Yale Law Library who first broke the story for SCATJ.

-RFW