How Rick Springfield brought Access to Justice into the Vernacular

You many remember reading about the Roadmap to Justice East Coast Symposium in October 2008. Or you may remember the Rick Springfield/TSA story. Either way, I’m pleased to announce that the efforts of the symposium paid off.

The Roadmap to Justice White Paper is now available for download.

From the website:

Please take a moment to download the recently issued white paper by Deborah L. Rhode and Dmitry Bam.  It explores the gap between principal and practice concerning access to justice, and what should be done to address it. Download the RTJ White Paper here.

Please share with anyone who may be interested.

-RFW

Chief Justice Toal Presents . . .

Recently Chief Justice Toal of the Supreme Court of South Carolina delivered two important speeches; one to the SC Bar at their annual convention at Kiawah, and one to the SC House Ways and Means.

The takeaway? The financial crisis is taking its toll on the efficiency of the courts. While this may seem like a “duh” moment to many and a “d’oh” moment to others, the repercussions to access to justice could be devastating.

Let’s support our courts and keep access to our courts.

-RFW

Last Week to Nominate for Ellen Hines Smith Award

You have until November 15th to nominate a South Carolina Legal Services attorney for the Ellen Hines Smith Award.

This year the award event is especially exciting because it will take place during the South Carolina Bar Foundation’s Annual Gala on March 11, 2010.

I can’t wait to learn who receives the award!

-RFW

earlier post

Blog Action Day 2009: Climate Change

You may wonder what Climate Change has to do with Access to Justice. And at first glance, it may not seem to have a connection. But when you consider the potential negative effects of Climate Change such as lack of clean water supplies and more natural disasters, the connection becomes less tenuous.

Consider clean water. If Climate Change impacts clean water supply, it is likely that costs of water purification will rise even if the demand remains constant. This would impact people living in poverty such that not only would they be less likely to have access to the clean water, but their health may be at risk. With many people in poverty already living without health insurance, the numbers of unhealthy poor people will be expected to rise. With people paying a premium for water, simply for sustenance, they are less likely to be able to afford legal assistance.

Now consider increasing natural disasters. The entire U.S. nation watched Hurricane Katrina unfold. Who suffered most in this historic natural disaster? People living in poverty. They were less likely to be able to transport their families and themselves out of harm’s way. Even if they were able to do that, they were less likely to have home insurance. Less likely to have skills necessary to relocate to another location where their job skills would easily translate into a new/different job.

As stewards of this planet, we need to consider how our actions affect not only ourselves, but our neighbors as well.

As noted on the front page of Blog Action Day: Climate change affects us all and it threatens more than the environment. It threatens to cause famine, flooding, war, and millions of refugees.

Isn’t it time we consider our actions?

-RFW

Should 3Ls Provide Legal Representation: POLL

Read about a decision by the Ohio Supreme Court that allows 3rd year law students to represent Felony Defendants UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF A LICENSED ATTORNEY!

The Rule.

Please feel free to add your own comments either within the poll or below.

Does this enhance access to justice? Or does it further disenfranchise people living in poverty?

-RFW

PS – Thanks to Commissioner Rangeley Chewning for pointing out the Ohio article!

Economy Impacts California Access to Justice

Budget cuts in California cause the state’s Judicial Council to decide to close the third Wednesday every month from September 2009 to June 2010, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times and confirmed by a press release from the California Courts.

While many of us in South Carolina may not tend to notice what happens in California (after all it’s on the “other” coast and several hours away by plane), this signals a tough time for us as well.  We look to California for trends; and for those of us in access to justice, we often rely on California for these trends. They provide the fertile classroom from which the rest of us glean ideas and then adapt them to fit our own state’s needs.

(Aside to the Other 49 States:  We learn from you as well and occasionally you learn from us, but c’mon, truthfully, don’t many of us look to California for ideas? Really?)

California has been a national leader in working with self-represented litigants (SRLs); creating a vast library of plain language forms, working on unbundled legal representation, and developing information in multiple languages. Additionally JusticeCorps has taken off in California, and has been successfully providing information to SRLs in five counties for some time.

California has offered bilingual court service for many years;  and information in many languages for a while as well.

And, according to the press release, the California Courts are the largest court system in the nation.

So how does this impact ACCESS TO JUSTICE?

By closing the courts one day per month, the third branch of government will close itself to its constituents. According to the LA Times, Chief Justice Ronald M. George noted that “the closures would result in delays in trials and more crowding in jails. Inmates who might have been released on the third Wednesday of the month will have to wait until the next day.” The hope is that the one-day closing will prevent additional closings.

California Courts – the nation’s courts are watching. We wish you the best!

-RFW

This American Life Features SRLs

Just posted this on Twitter, then realized, why not add to the Blog?

On this site, you’ve read about Self-Represented Litigants or SRLs numerous times. And, last December, SCETV’s The Big Picture featured Access to Justice with a focus on SRLs. This week, NPR’s This American Life features SRLs in their episode #385 entitled “Pro Se.”

Should be interesting. I’ll be tuning in!

-RFW