WSJ Story Notes Civil Gideon Trend
The Wall Street Journal is taking notice of momentum for a “civil Gideon” approach to lawsuits involving life-changing decisions, like foreclosure or family custody. The WSJ reports that the newly approved state budget “… allocated $85 million for indigent civil legal services at the request of the state judiciary, an increase of $15 million from the previous fiscal year.”
And in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio recommended in his preliminary budget proposal spending $36 million on free legal services in housing court, which would bring the city’s total spending on civil legal services up to about $50 million.
By way of background, the deep-dive WSJ story noted that the trend has a history of success and “… in 2009, California passed the Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act, which created several pilot programs, supported by court fees, free legal counsel in civil cases. In its third year, the program has succeeded despite a modest $8 million annual budget, its coordinators say. More than 15,000 people have been served so far, most in eviction cases.
“One of the big takeaways is that attorneys help settle cases,” said Bonnie Hough, managing attorney for California’s Judicial Council. Read the story here: New York Officials Push Right to Counsel in Civil Cases