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A (Not Brief Enough) History of Civil Legal Assistance for the Poor in America December 2013 Bruce Perrone Legal Aid of West Virginia.

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Presentation on theme: "A (Not Brief Enough) History of Civil Legal Assistance for the Poor in America December 2013 Bruce Perrone Legal Aid of West Virginia."— Presentation transcript:

1 A (Not Brief Enough) History of Civil Legal Assistance for the Poor in America December 2013 Bruce Perrone Legal Aid of West Virginia

2  In the 1800’s - - Immigrant support systems

3 1876 – First formally organized civil legal assistance program in America Consider the politics of the time – the 1876 disputed presidential election – decided in the House - that essentially ended post-Civil War Reconstruction. The “German Immigrants Society” predecessor to the Legal Aid Society of New York

4  1905 – Legal Aid Society of Cleveland  “5 th oldest in the world”  1909 – Detroit Bar Association: committee to provide free civil legal services to the city’s poor Ohio & Michigan

5 1911 – National Alliance of Legal Aid Societies (predecessor to NLADA) 1919 – Publication of “Justice and the Poor” by Reginald Heber Smith Director, Boston Legal Aid Society

6 1920 – ABA created the Standing Committee on Legal Aid, now called the Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants (SCLAID) Between 1920 and 1930 some 30 new legal aid programs were formed

7 Typically a “charity” volunteer Lawyer concept, primarily providing advice and guidance. Little direct representation in disputed cases – founding of first legal aid program WV. What later became Legal Aid Society of Charleston By the late-1950s, every major city in the country had a legal aid program

8 Early 1960’s: The Kennedy Years Not yet reached a Supreme Court decision establishing a right to counsel for criminal defendants. Much less civil legal assistance

9 Private foundations, especially Ford, began to fund legal services demonstration projects as part of multi-service agencies. Influenced by law reform efforts of organizations such as NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the ACLU Examples: Mobilization for Youth, in New York; Action for Boston Community Development; Legal Assistance Association in New Haven, CT; United Planning Organization, Washington, DC

10  Jean & Edgar Cahn – Community Progress Inc., in New Haven, CT  “A War on Poverty: A Civilian Perspective.” Article for Yale Law Review by the Cahns. The Cahns’ article provided a cohesive conceptual framework. They argued that neighborhood offices and lawyers were necessary to provide a vehicle for poor residents in local communities to influence anti-poverty policies and the agencies responsible for distributing benefits.

11 Five Major Elements 1.Concept of a “client community” to be served 2.Clients make decisions on types of poverty solutions pursued 3.Reform of harmful law as an explicit goal 4.Respond to “need,” not just the “demand” that makes it to the door 5.Full range of advocacy: court, administrative agency, appeals, lobbying, policy advocacy, law reform Ford Foundation Concept: Multi-service social service agencies

12 The Cahn article circulates in the Johnson Administration : OEO and the “War on Poverty” Sargent Shriver, first director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, the central agency in President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty.” Shriver included civil legal assistance for funding by OEO, added by Congress in in 1966 & Civil Rights March on Washington

13  Specialized training for legal aid lawyers  Clearinghouse Review, for nation-wide circulation of resource materials, pleadings, briefs, research  Litigation OEO Adopted the Ford Model

14 By the late 1960s, US Supreme Court cases being brought, and won. April 1968 Riots in every major city in America June 1968 RFK assassination August 1968 Chicago Democratic convention Advocacy in federal, state and Local administrative agencies Policy issues – development and lobbying But …inevitable political pushback and resistance April 1968 ML King Assassination And it began to work…. November 1968 Nixon - Agnew elected

15 1970 – 1971: OEO Tested In The Nixon Administration OEO Director Rumsfeld, Assistant Dick Cheney 1970 – California Gov. Ronald Reagan vetoed OEO funding for California Rural Legal Assistance. Lewis Uhler, former John Birch Society member, appointed by Reagan as state administrator of OEO funding, presented list of alleged abuses by CRLA OEO Director Donald Rumsfeld appointed a commission of state supreme court chief justices to investigate the alleged abuses

16  The Commission, led by Robert Wilkinson of Maine, found that none of Uhler’s claims of abuses were supported by the evidence. Reagan’s veto was then overriden Wilkinson Commission 1971 John Kerry, Vietnam Veterans Against the War 1971 – SCLC’s “Poor People’s March On Washington” 1971 – ABA recommends a more independent status for Legal Assistance, to remove from direct Executive Branch control

17 1973 – 1974: The LSC Act August 1974 The LSC Act was the last Legislation signed by Richard Nixon before his resignation 1973 Arab Oil Embargo – Gasoline shortages 1973 protests of Cambodian bombing Jan 1973 LBJ death; Roe v. Wade decision August 9, 1974

18  Independent, non-partisan board (11 members, no more than 6 of one party)  Nominated by President, confirmed by Senate  Separate budget approved by Congress  Largely carried over the Ford/OEO elements  1975 funding:$ 71.5 million (equivalent to $315 in 2013 dollars) LSC Act components

19 Later 1970s - Implementation 1978 Middle East Peace Plan 1978 Hilary Clinton chair of LSC Board Roll out of LSC funding to cover every county in the US. Creation of many new programs to cover large areas, mostly rural, previously not served.

20  Early 1980s – The Reagan Administration 1981 First Reagan budget proposes major reductions in LSC funding Congress enacts 25% reduction. From $321 million in FY 1981 To $241 million for FY 1982 Budget Director David Stockman (former Michigan Congressman) 1982 Unemployment 10.8% - Major reduction of LSC funding for National & State Support centers - Founding of CORT - Drop from 1406 local offices to 1121 Ed Meese recycles the 1970 Uhler claims of abuses by LSC programs

21 The 1980 s - Reagan recess appointees to LSC Board; Senate refused to confirm, as most were overtly hostile to LSC. (E.g., hired consultant to write opinion that LSC Act was unconstitutional!) - PAI requirement equal to 12.5% of LSC funding - Highly adversarial “monitoring” by LSC of local programs - Congressional oversight sometimes acted to block actions of the LSC Board

22 Late Eighties – Early Nineties Bush Administration turned away from overt hostility to LSC Funding trends upward: to $328 Million FY 1991, and $350 million for FY 1992 “Monitoring” becomes more reasonable

23 1992 – 1994 Early Clinton Years Congress increased funding to $400 million Clinton appointees to LSC Board were uniformly supportive of LSC New system for compliance monitoring - New system for peer review of programs to evaluate and improve program quality

24 Contract With America "It's a sin to help people who ought to be helping themselves,” - John Kasich, House budget chairman Among the House Budget Committee proposals: - Cut back rental assistance to the poor; - Cut back programs for subsidized lunches for poor school children; - Dismantle the Legal Services Corporation  1995 House of Representatives adopts 3 year phase-out of LSC funding, Beginning with 33% cut for FY First year accepted by Senate.

25 1996 – 1998 Major Restrictions No participation in class actions No receipt of attorney fee awards Legislative advocacy limited Restrictions apply to all sources of funds, not just LSC Cannot challenge state or federal “welfare reform” New “competitive grant” system of funding Public reporting of cases filed by LSC funded entities Client “Statement of Facts” required before filing suit 1996 Federal government shutdown, Forced by House Republican majority Congressional compromise: Continued funding in exchange for major restrictions

26  Non-LSC funded “unrestricted entities” in every state  Expanded IOLTA funding  Broader state and local funding  Strengthened private fundraising  Expanded pro bono efforts  Better utilization of new technology Late 1990s Revamping the Delivery System

27 “State Planning” – merging and “rationalizing” programs throughout the country “TIG” Technology Improvement Grants from LSC LSC Technology “baseline” criteria for all programs 2000’ s 2003 – US Supreme Court Upholds IOLTA Accounts ABA revised “Standards for Providers of Civil Legal Assistance for the Poor” and “Principles of a State System for Delivery Of Civil Legal Aid”

28 2000’ s Iraq War Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse; Worldwide US torture issues Expanding “partnerships” with other entities, such as Domestic Violence networks Continued diversification of funding base Monthly job losses 2004 Bush – Kerry election

29 Stimulus Funding 2009 Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act 2009 Auto industry bailout March 2010 Obamacare

30 House Republicans – “A Pledge to America” Jan 2011 Republican Speaker of the House June 2012 ACA Upheld; Expansion of Medicaid optional Oct 1, 2013 Government Shutdown April 2011 – Near shutdown 2010 to now

31 $321 million actual = 2013 Trajectory of federal LSC funding

32 $321 million actual = million adjusted 2013 Trajectory of federal LSC funding

33 $321 million actual = million adjusted 2013 $340 million actual Trajectory of federal LSC funding

34 $321 million actual = million adjusted 2013$133 = million adjusted (41%) $340 million actual Trajectory of federal LSC funding

35  Multiple Sources of Funding  Not solely dependent on LSC source  Partnerships with other organizations  Fundraising, and the political strength that comes from that work  Working with unrestricted entities  General reputation for solid, high quality, legal work  Frequent support from local bars, as opposed to frequent antagonism of the past Strengths of Where We Are Today

36  Look at recent “First Friday” topics:  Impact of the DOMA decision on legal services practice  Implementing the Affordable Care Act  Fair Housing  Veteran’s Issues and Protections  Special Education rights of children with disabilities  Violence Against Women Act protections against DV and for abused immigrants  Predatory Lending The Work We Do Today

37  And our “bread & butter” essentials:  Protecting victims of domestic violence  Keeping people in safe homes  Unemployment benefits  Food stamps  TANF support  Medicaid and other health care  Consumer protection  Bankruptcy “fresh starts” The Work We Do Today

38  “Securing Equal Justice for All: A Brief History of Civil Legal Assistance in the United States.” Alan W. Houseman & Linda E. Perle, Center for Law and Social Policy.   “Poverty Warriors: A Historical perspective on the Mission of Legal Services.” Gary F. Smith. 45 Clearinghouse Review 34 (May=-June 2011).   “The Future of Civil Legal Aid: Initial Thoughts.” Alan W. Houseman. 13 U.Pa.J.L.&Soc.Change 265 (2009).  https://www.law.upenn.edu/journals/jlasc/articles/volume13/issue3/Housema n13U.Pa.J.L.&Soc.Change265(2009).pdf https://www.law.upenn.edu/journals/jlasc/articles/volume13/issue3/Housema n13U.Pa.J.L.&Soc.Change265(2009).pdf Resources


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