New Maryland Rule Moves Toward Civil Gideon?
With the civil unrest in Baltimore still simmering, it seems a good time to pass on some potential help for indigent residents there who face civil court actions, like evictions or family law issues. A legal blogger for the Maryland Daily Record explains that the new rules might even be a small step toward “civil Gideon,” or the idea that people who need a lawyer for civil actions, but cannot afford one, should be provided legal representation the way they might be in criminal court.
The newspaper explains: “… the new rule should assist impecunious clients and the pro bono attorneys that represent them to receive prompt determinations as to the waiver of filing fees. Indeed, if the individual is represented by an attorney retained through programs on a list submitted by the Maryland Legal Services Corporation, the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau or the Office of the Public Defender there is a procedure for the clerk of the court to waive filing fees without need for a court order.”
Even better, the new rule “… also provides that circuit and district courts must consider the Maryland Legal Services Corporation income guidelines when determining whether to waive filing fees. This should promote some measure of uniformity across Maryland for determining when filing fees will be waived. This is a good reform and one that was promoted by the Maryland Access to Justice Commission.
Find our more here.