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“Access to counsel is not just a convenience that makes the litigation process more efficient. Legal representation can dramatically affect the outcome.

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Presentation on theme: "“Access to counsel is not just a convenience that makes the litigation process more efficient. Legal representation can dramatically affect the outcome."— Presentation transcript:

1 “Access to counsel is not just a convenience that makes the litigation process more efficient. Legal representation can dramatically affect the outcome of a given case.” Justice for All? An Examination of the Civil Legal Needs for the District of Columbia’s Low-Income Community, at page 1.

2 “In criminal cases, a defendant facing the risk of incarceration is entitled to an attorney even if he or she cannot afford one. In most civil cases, however, a person is not entitled to an attorney, even though civil legal proceedings can affect things we hold most dear - custody of our children, our physical safety, our ability to work and need for shelter, just to name a few.” “In criminal cases, a defendant facing the risk of incarceration is entitled to an attorney even if he or she cannot afford one. In most civil cases, however, a person is not entitled to an attorney, even though civil legal proceedings can affect things we hold most dear - custody of our children, our physical safety, our ability to work and need for shelter, just to name a few.” Justice for All? An Examination of the Civil Legal Needs for the District of Columbia’s Low-Income Community, at page 1.

3 Frank (“Rusty”) Conner III Managing Partner, DLA Piper Mr. Conner was the emcee of the October 7, 2008 release of the civil legal needs report. DLA Piper researched and prepared this report pro bono.

4 Mayor Adrian Fenty District of Columbia “We will do everything we can to address this issue. It will get our full and committed support.” - Washington Post, Oct. 8, 2008 at page B01

5 Peter B. Edelman Chair, DC Access to Justice Commission “While the legal services community has made great progress in recent years to increase service delivery, this report illustrates just how much more must be done. Moreover, the recent downturn in the economy has made the need for civil legal services more acute than ever.”

6 Hon. Eric T. Washington Chief Judge, DC Court of Appeals Hon. Lee Satterfield Chief Judge, DC Superior Court

7 Vincent C. Gray Chairman, DC City Council For Fiscal Year 2009, Mayor Fenty proposed $3.6 million for civil legal services. The City Council, under the leadership of Chairman Vince Gray and Councilmember Phil Mendelson, approved this funding. Councilmember Phil Mendelson Chair, DC Council Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary

8 Helaine Barnett President, Legal Services Corporation “All of us at the Legal Services Corporation salute the hard work by the DC Access to Justice Commission and DLA Piper in conducting this comprehensive study and shining a spotlight on the unmet civil legal needs of the District of Columbia’s low-income communities and the devastating consequences of unaddressed civil legal matters.”

9 Robert Spagnoletti President, DC Bar “The Commission’s call to action is thoughtful and concrete. By answering that call, we can make a real difference in the lives of District residents. As members of the DC Bar with the privilege of practicing law in the nation’s capital, we have a moral and ethical obligation to use our skills to improve the lives of those who cannot afford legal representation.”

10 Sunil Mansukhani Executive Director, DC Access to Justice Commission Hon. Inez Smith Reid Associate Judge, DC Court of Appeals Hon. Anna Blackburne-Rigsby Associate Judge, DC Court of Appeals

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12 Report Methodology Written surveys distributed to the District’s legal services community in 2006 (asking for fiscal year 2005 data). A short data collection form the legal services providers and law school clinics were asked to fill out for each person who sought legal assistance from October to November Interviews of 28 community-based organizations (that are not legal services providers) and government agencies. Court Statistics. Listening sessions with various stakeholders. Social science reports concerning the District.

13 Areas of Study ConsumerEducationEmployment Estate Planning/Wills/Probate Family Public Benefits Health/DisabilityHousingImmigration

14 Pro Se Statistics Almost 45 percent of formal probate matters, 98 percent of the small estate matters and 60 percent of the trust matters before the Probate Division of the DC Superior Court involved pro se plaintiffs. About 98 percent of both petitioners and respondents in the Domestic Violence Unit of the DC Superior Court proceeded pro se. Approximately 77 percent of plaintiffs in divorce/custody/miscellaneous cases in Family Court were pro se. More than 98 percent of respondents in paternity and child support cases were pro se. About 97 percent of defendants who had to appear in Landlord/Tenant Court were pro se.

15 “The pro se statistics from the Superior Court, which take into account representation from legal services providers, government attorneys and pro bono lawyers, indicate that thousands of people enter the DC Courts every year without a lawyer at their side. It is difficult to imagine a person of means making the same decision if given the choice.” Justice of All? An Examination of the Civil Legal Needs of the District of Columbia’s Low-Income Community, at page 84

16 Recommendations Increase Staff of Legal Service Providers Make the Legal Services Delivery System Even More Accessible to the Low-Income Community Expand Systemic Advocacy Expand Pro Bono While Ensuring Effective and Efficient Use Increase Outreach and Community Education to the Low-Income Community

17 Recommendations (continued) Expand Partnerships and Outreach to Community- Based Organizations Strengthen the legal services Network’s Capacity to Serve Populations that are Difficult to Reach Enhance Training Keep up with Technological Change Improve Data Collection

18 “The DC Courts’ vision of being an institution that is ‘Open to all, trusted by all, with justice for all’ will never be fully realized as long as so many of our low- and moderate- income residents lack adequate civil legal representation to help protect their basic rights and liberties.” Hon. Eric T. Washington, Chief Judge, DC Court of Appeals, quoted in Justice for All? At page 84

19 Commissioners: – –Peter B. Edleman, Chair – –Hon. Inez Smith Reid, Vice Chair – –Muneer Ahmad – –Rawle Andrews – –Shelley Broderick – –Joanne Doddy Fort – –Patty Mullahy Fugere – –Nathalie Gilfoyle – –Maria S. Gomez – –Su Sie Ju – –Hon. Hiram Puig-Lugo – –Andrew H. Marks – –Shirley Massey – –Hon. Stephanie Duncan-Peters – –Stephen J. Pollak – –Hon. Vanessa Ruiz – –Jonathan M. Smith Executive Director –Sunil H. Mansukhani To receive a copy of this report, or for more information about the DC Access to Justice Commission, please visit Presentation prepared by Don Tanguilig, King & Spalding


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