NYC Moves Closer To ‘Civil Gideon’ For Evictions

A regulatory watchdog is reporting that New York City may provide free legal counsel to low-income tenants facing eviction, advancing the idea of a “civil Gideon” right to council not only for criminal cases but for some life-changing civil issues like housing and family law cases. Writing an analysis for the Penn Law blog, Brandi Lupo says that the main question is “can the city afford it?”

Lupo reports that “… over 90 percent of tenants in New York City Housing Court do not have legal representation, while nearly 98 percent of landlords do. Tenants without legal representation reportedly receive warrants of eviction over four times more often than tenants with legal representation. If passed, the recent New York City proposal will create a new office, the “Civil Justice Coordinator,” that will provide the infrastructure necessary to provide legal services for eligible individuals in covered proceedings. Ultimately, this should lead to guaranteed access to legal counsel for low-income tenants in New York City facing eviction, ejectment, or foreclosure.”

Another source predicts that 2015 will be a “tipping point” for civil Gideon in the United States. Read the report here.