A look at June

For some reason, I wanted to celebrate June on the blog. Maybe it’s because June introduces summer. And summer holds precious memories for many – school is dismissed, it’s a popular wedding month, the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere.

Let’s take a look at history in June:

  1. June 1st - Kentucky became the 15th state in 1792, Tennessee became the 16th state in 1796
  2. June 2 – 1924 President Calvin Coolidge signs the Indian Citizenship Act granting citizenship to Native Americans born in U.S. territories
  3. June 4th – 1919 Congress approves the 19th Amendment (Women’s Rights)
  4. June 6th – D-Day (1944)
  5. June 14th – Flag Day (USA)
  6. June 15th – Arkansas became the 25th state in 1836
  7. June 19th – Juneteenth aka Emancipation Day especially in Texas
  8. June 20th – 1863 West Virginia became the 35th state
  9. June 22-23 – Summer Solstice
  10. 3rd Friday – Midsummer (Finland & Sweden)
  11. 3rd Sunday – Father’s Day (USA)
  12. Gay Pride in honor of Stonewall Riots 1969
  13. Children’s Day in many countries
  14. June 30th – 1921 Former U.S. President (#27) William Howard Taft is Appointed as the 10th Chief Justice of the  United States

Enjoy!

-RFW

Summer Solstice: Famously Hot

Summer Solstice: Famously Hot

Oh Canada! Oh yeah.

When lawyers are only for the rich

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Self-represented litigants are on the rise, not only here in South Carolina or the United States, but also in Canada according to Macleans special report. Interestingly, law and legal practice in both Canada and the USA are based on English law. So it may not be so far-fetched to share common practices – including a rise in the number of self-represented litigants (SRLs or those previously known as pro se).

The premise of the Macleans article (part 1 of a 5-part series) is that as the economy has faltered, the cost of attorneys has remained and many people are now unable to afford to pay for legal representation. They turn to self-representation. And, what they’re seeing in Toronto is similar to South Carolina.

 As the cost of hiring a lawyer soars out of reach, unrepresented litigants are flooding the courts in unprecedented numbers. While no definitive figures exist, some judges, especially in family law, say it’s over 60 per cent in their courtrooms. Chances are, those numbers are going to rise, as the legal profession is now paving the way for even more people to appear without a lawyer. Self-help centres have sprung up in several provinces, and lawyers are offering limited services to entice clients who otherwise couldn’t afford them. Critics say it’s a cynical way to deal with the problem. Being your own lawyer is “like doing your own dental work or heart surgery,” says Judith McCormack, executive director of Downtown Legal Services, a law clinic for the poor, run by the University of Toronto’s law faculty. “It’s a desperate response.”

Historically in South Carolina we’ve not tracked numbers of SRLs, but we are in the process of doing so. The South Carolina Access to Justice (SCATJ) Commission has been working with Court Administration, County Clerks of Court and Judges at all levels to develop protocols for maintaining court efficiency while continuing to meet the needs of the public. Additionally we have been working with these entities to produce court-approved forms that are free to South Carolinians and that are more easily understood than traditional court forms.

The SCATJ Commission will continue to work on improvements for self-represented litigants as well as working with legal service entities and private attorneys to make equal access to justice a reality to all South Carolinians.

-RFW

Hey Bloggers – It’s National Freedom of Speech Week

Welcome to National Freedom of Speech Week, October 20-26, 2008!

First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

While the First Amendment offers quite a few freedoms – religion, speech, press, right to assemble, etc. – it’s only proper to examine the right of free speech.

You, dear reader, are currently taking part in this amazing information database – the internet. There are billions of websites available and so much more information and disinformation available via this incredible resource. The freedom of speech allows you, me, and us to access things, legal things, unavailable to previous generations. Court documents, court orders, case histories, etc.

Education also allows us to take advantage of this freedom. Sure YouTube has a LOT of visitors looking at the pictures, but so do blogs. Just this week I saw the increase in the number of “hits” to this blog simply due to a celebrity boost (Hey Stephen Colbert - should I say “the Springfield bump?” You know, like the Colbert Bump?) You may think that this is due to the photos of Rick Springfield, but how did people find out about these photos – they read about it – through an RSS feed, an email, etc. BECAUSE OF THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN THESE UNITED STATES.

So, next time you are about to gripe about someone’s opinion piece, the news or even a blog (hopefully not this one), consider how lucky you are to have that choice! You can choose to read, listen or change websites.

And I can choose to write.

How lucky are we!

-RFW