Kia Franklin

NYT, “Sins of Omission: The Forgotten Poor”

Hat tip to Legal Services NYC for sharing the link to this NYT Editorial, which I don't know how I missed. It furthers the case for Civil Gideon. Here's an excerpt:

The proven national program of civil legal aid for impoverished Americans, created in the 1960s, is suffering from multiple blows in funding. While the poor are caught increasingly by foreclosure, eviction and food-stamp fights for their daily bread, deficit-bedeviled statehouses across the country are cutting support for legal services or dropping the programs outright.

Creative funding that taps lawyers’ escrow accounts has evaporated because it is tied to the Fed’s fading interest rate. Local governments, charities and pro bono law firms are similarly tight-pursed. Scores of legal aid societies are cutting their staffs just as requests for help are booming, according to The Times’s Erik Eckholm.

Bar associations continue to help, and even in these tough times probably could do more. But federal funding is the ultimate hope in a dire situation. In 2008, Congress chipped in $350 million for the nonprofit Legal Services Corporation, which then distributed the money throughout the country. Given the tough times — underfunded programs and ever more desperate clients — more money is needed. Congress still has the opportunity to renew the regular appropriation in a coming omnibus budget bill, but it must bolster that with extra support for the program. (Read full editorial)

How timely that I come across this right after Touro Law Review published their 25th Anniversary Special Edition journal, which is dedicated to discussing issues related to Civil Gideon. My article on Civil Gideon and health proceedings is published there, and available here.

Also, I spoke w/ Touro Law professor Meredith Miller about Civil Gideon and other civil justice issues on her legal variety podcast website, Check it out.

Kia Franklin: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 3:45 PM, Feb 09, 2009 in Civil Gideon | Civil Justice
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WhiteCoat at his Blog Whitecoats call room has solved the whole problem of "Civil Gideon". He does this with EMTALA for attorneys.

Here is ELRALA

WHEREFORE, there is a disparity in the ability of the citizens in this country to obtain legal representation, and

WHEREFORE, every citizen in this country has a right to legal representation, and

WHEREFORE, a federal law guaranteeing access to legal representation in this country will advance the legal interests of the underserved clients,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT there shall be a new law enacted in this country titled “ELRALA” - the Emergency Legal Representation and Active Litigation Act.

The substance of this Act shall be as follows:

1. Any person that “comes to a law office” must receive a legal screening exam (”LSE”).
2. The LSE must be performed in a manner that is reasonably calculated to detect any emergency legal condition.
3. If an emergency legal condition is detected, the law office must stabilize that emergency legal condition within the best of its abilities. Such stabilizing measures shall include, but are not limited to:
a. Evaluation of the client’s complaint by a qualified legal provider
b. Retention of specific experts when the law office is unable to fully evaluate the validity of the client’s complaint
c. Initiation and maintenance of litigation until the client’s emergency legal condition has been stabilized
4. If the law office does not have the capability to stabilize the client’s emergency legal condition, the law office must make an “appropriate” transfer of the client to a law office that does have the capability to stabilize the client’s emergency legal condition.
5. Law offices providing specialized legal services shall not refuse to accept an appropriate transfer of a client who requires such specialized capabilities if the law office has the capacity to provide such services to the client.
6. The LSE must be carried out in an equal and nondiscriminatory fashion regardless of the client’s ability to pay.
7. Law offices must not engage in any actions that could delay the LSE, and may not inquire about a client’s ability to pay prior to providing the LSE.
8. Law offices may not request a “retainer” or any other form of advance payment prior to the stabilization of the client’s emergency legal condition.
9. Law offices shall assure that the legal care provided best meets the legal needs of the communities in which the law offices are located.
10. Legal specialists may arrange “coverage” for multiple law offices in smaller communities provided that the services best meet the legal needs for each community.
11. Law offices shall keep a “call roster” of attorneys specialized in each branch of law that will be available each day to provide specialty legal services to clients requiring such services.

ELRALA shall only apply to “participating law offices”. A law office that uses any services provided in a court house shall be considered a “participating law office” for purposes of this Act.
A law office shall be considered to have fulfilled its duties under ELRALA once the client’s emergency legal condition has been stabilized.
For the purposes of this Act, the term “emergency legal condition” shall mean any condition or situation that presents a significant threat to any of a client’s legal rights.
For the purposes of this Act, the term “stabilization” shall mean that there is no longer a significant threat to a client’s legal rights.
Violations of ELRALA will result in a statutory fine of not more than $50,000 and, in repeated or flagrant cases, loss of license to practice law or loss of privilege to use the court system.

Posted by: throckmorton | February 11, 2009 11:16 AM