Tennessee latest to add Access to Justice

On Friday, December 5th, the Tennessee Supreme Court announced an Access to Justice Initiative. Chief Justice Janice Holder offered a few remarks as to outline measures of the initiative as well as some general information as to the necessity of the initiative.

Only one in five income-eligible people will receive the legal help they need.

In our current troubled economy, the need for civil legal services among Tennessee’s indigent and working poor families can only be expected to increase as they face more legal problems caused by unemployment, predatory loans, uninsured medical bills, domestic violence, evictions, and foreclosures.

We send our best wishes to Tennessee with this initiative and offer our support. Congratulations and welcome aboard!

-RFW

Whodathunkit? Beijing embracing Civil Gideon!

 

Beijing lawmakers are drawing up a local statute to provide legal aid to low-income residents in civil cases, according to a September 24 report by the China News Service.

Although China has been criticized for their human rights policies, it appears that providing legal representation to people living in poverty has taken root in Beijing, the nation’s capitol and the People’s Republic of China’s second largest city.

-RFW

SC Access to Justice Commission Meets and Sets Up 3 Standing Committees

Cal Watson describes his vision of staffed programs
Cal Watson describes his vision of staffed programs
Dwayne Mazyck and Stephanie Nye preparing for the SRL working lunch
Dwayne Mazyck and Stephanie Nye preparing for the SRL working lunch
Judge Baxley
Judge Baxley

On Wednesday, September 24, 2008, the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission held its annual fall meeting at the Columbia office of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP. Stuart Andrews, Vice-Chair, presided over the meeting and introduced discussion of some of the findings from the Commission’s regional public hearings. Stuart Andrews, Stephanie Nye and Robin Wheeler presented preliminary findings to the Commissioners.

The full Commission divided into 3 Committees: 1-Self-Represented Litigants, 2-Pro Bono, and 3-Staffed Programs to begin work on these three initiatives.

Cal Watson & Jennie Stephens prepare for the working lunch
Cal Watson & Jennie Stephens prepare for the working lunch

South Dakota: Endeavor to Educate Self-Represented Litigants

Interesting article while the South Carolina delegation attends the Court Solutions conference about self-represented litigants –http://www.argusleader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080909/NEWS/809090323/1001.

As the South Carolina Delegation is learning, self-represented litigants are here to stay. During the conference this week, presenters from other states have advised and educated on ways to assist the rising number of self-represented litigants, appearing not only in the historical “peoples’ court” but also in higher courts including probate, family and circuit courts. Other states have described many actions to assist self-represented litigants in an effort to maintain reasonable efficiency as well as ensure that the documents prepared without an attorney meet minimal standards while at the same time adhering to ethical guidelines.

While many courts have described conflicts, detractors and other barriers, it is refreshing to see that they have perservered. Additionally, SC Access to Justice wishes only the best for the latest South Dakota endeavor.

-RFW

Boston Bar Association Press Release

On Tuesday, the Boston Bar Association announced plans to expand right to counsel in civil cases. This is in response to a study by the BBA’s Task Force on Civil Right to Counsel.

“Studies of courts and administrative agencies consistently show that indigent litigants without counsel routinely forfeit basic rights, not due to the facts of their case or the governing law, but due to absence of counsel. That violates even the most primitive concepts of fairness and decency,” said Task Force co-chair Mary K. Ryan, a partner at Nutter, McClennen & Fish.

To view the press release, visit http://www.bostonbar.org/prs/nr_0809/ExpRight2Councel090208.htm.

For a brief history of Right to Counsel, visit http://www.nlada.org/About/About_HistoryDefender.

-RFW