Thanks to the Richland County Bar Association’s Public Service Committee!
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!
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
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
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
South Carolina has fewer judges with a heavier caseload than any other court system in the nation
SC has the highest number of general jurisdiction non-traffic case filings per judge (4,180) in the country. The next highest is 3,147 in North Carolina
SC has the fewest number of general jurisdiction judges per capita in the country at 1.1 per 100,000 population
SC’s general jurisdiction civil caseload increased 68% in the 10 years from 1996 to 2006
FY APPROPRIATIONS FINES & FEES FED’L FUNDS TTL SPENT
99-00 $41,065,091 $54,781 $0 $41,119,872
00-01 $46,486,500 $66,575 $0 $46,553,075
01-02 $39,014,860 $2,849,873 $928,311 $42,793,044
02-03 $35,685,629 $6,683,806 $2,897,322 $45,266,757
03-04 $31,849,253 $10,105,241 $5,831,459 $47,785,953
04-05 $32,650,207 $12,207,897 $4,664,535 $49,522,639
05-06 $33,958,408 $14,390,096 $5,755,279 $54,103,783
06-07 $36,631,439 $15,065,443 $5,053,703 $56,750,585
07-08 $38,101,765 $15,323,985 $5,000,000 $58,425,750
While criminal litigants can often take advantage of speedy trial demands to move their cases through the court system, civil litigants have no such rights and cases can drag on for years before reaching trial. At least one judicial district has temporarily suspended all civil trials because of crowded dockets.
You may be asking whether the number of judges has an affect access to justice. Yes, it does. It has a LOT to do with access to justice.
While it’s true that many cases settle before going to trial, many an attorney has realized that the possibility of a trial, especially a public trial involving an egregious civil rights’ action, can often bring about the same or sometimes better result as actually going to trial. BUT sometimes a person just wants their day in court. And the facts of the action are such that it’s appropriate to continue to the court and let either the judge or the jury decide the remedy.
THIS is when access to justice is affected by budget cuts in the judiciary.
For example, a female victim of domestic abuse has finally left her abusive spouse. Although she has been able to shield her children and herself from continued assault, she has no money for daily living expenses and really cannot continue to feed and clothe her children. She needs to go in front of the judge to petition for child support. Let’s even concede that she has no trouble finding an attorney to assist.
Ok, her attorney files the petition. Her case is assigned a date on the court calendar. Hurray, right?
Not so fast. The court date is four months away due to budget shortfalls and lack of judges.
She has to decide – go back to the abuse or stay away. If she goes back she may die. If she goes back, her children may be harmed. If she goes back, the cycle continues. BUT the children will have food and clothing. And so will she.
But if she stays away, she may become homeless. And maybe he’ll call DSS to have her children taken away.
True, this is one example. One egregious example that is also a very real possibility.
Please consider access to justice when you think about budget cuts in the judiciary. It affects a lot more than it appears.
 Slide 11 of 28 from the 2008 State of the Judiciary found online at http://www.sccourts.org/whatsnew/SOJ2008/StateOfJudiciary2008_files/frame.htm
  Information based on Slide 9 of 28 from the 2008 State of the Judiciary, http://www.sccourts.org/whatsnew/SOJ2008/StateOfJudiciary2008_files/frame.htm
A few weeks ago I wrote about Project H.E.L.P. and the attorney training scheduled for Friday, October 3rd. Here is an update from the apparently successful training.
Jeff Yungman, Director of Legal Services for the Homeless Project at Crisis Ministries in Charleston, started off the CLE with a general discussion of the issues that homeless clients face.
Rita Roache, a Charleston attorney with South Carolina Legal Services, spoke about Family Law.
Approximately 40+ attorneys attended the training and there are volunteers booked through spring ’09. The first service event will be held in November.
Stay tuned . . . .
The Richland County Bar Association, St. Lawrence Place, Midlands Interfaith Homeless Action Council, SC Cares and SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center are offering a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Seminar entitled “Legal Issues Affecting the Homeless in Support of the Columbia HELP Homeless Legal Clinic.” The CLE will be held Friday October 3, 2008 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Nelson Mullins Columbia location. (CLE credit is pending.) To register, contact Norah Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Project H.E.L.P. also known as Homeless Experience Legal Protection is an initiative started by Judge Jay Zainey, U.S. District Judge for the Easter District of Louisiana. Project H.E.L.P. started in New Orleans to assist homeless people with maintaining identification documents and providing their service providers with certified copies. Following Hurricane Katrina, the project grew dramatically and has expanded to other cities including New York, Chicago, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Shreveport, and Savannah, as well as Columbia.
In Columbia, the project will begin a once-monthly morning clinic offering pro bono legal services and providing basic information about access to government benefits, identification documentation, housing, child custody, and other common legal issues affecting the homeless.
-RFW with thanks to Coleman Chambliss