October 1, 2008

Access to Justice Commission report to be released next week

If you gotta go to court, you’re probably going to want to go in with some kind lawyer. That’s one of those things that seems plainly self-evident to most of us, but it turns out not to be true for a substantial portion of our populace. For instance, the vast majority of DC’s domestic violence cases and landlord/tenant court hearings feature parties without legal representation. It’s easy to imagine how a person who lacks the resources to afford a lawyer could swiftly drift into even more dire straits by attempting to navigate the legal system alone.

In 2005, the DC Court of Appeals created the Access to Justice Commission for the purpose of studying the lack of legal resources available to DC’s low income community. The commission (to which Bread for the City's legal clinic supervisor, Su Sie Ju, was recently appointed) has been working hard to diagnose the full extent of the problem and also put forth clear steps toward a more equitable and effective justice system.

Next week, the Access to Justice Commission will be releasing its report, entitled “Justice for All? An Examination of the Civil Legal Needs of the District of Columbia’s Low-Income Community.” The report will be released at a special event held at the law offices of DLA Piper (500 8th Street, NW), at 6pm on October 7th. Slated to speak are a range of DC councilmembers, judges, and community leaders.

If you’re interested in attending the event (space is limited and the RSVPs are due soon), or if you’d like to receive the report upon its release, contact me at gbloom [at] breadforthecity [dot] org. And stay tuned to Beyond Bread, where we’ll continue to cover this issue over the coming months.

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