Release Date: September 24, 2013
BUFFALO, N.Y. – New York State’s chief judge, Hon. Jonathan Lippman, will be at the University at Buffalo Law School on Oct. 3 to hear testimony about the unmet needs for civil legal services in the state, and what it will take to meet those needs.
Oral testimony at the hearing is by invitation only. Among those testifying are Makau Mutua, dean of the UB Law School; and two law students, Emily Dinsmore and Kerisha Hawthorne.
This is the fourth year that Lippman has conducted a series of public hearings on the issue. He has made access to justice a priority of his judgeship, most notably by imposing a requirement that aspiring attorneys perform 50 hours of pro bono legal services before they can sit for the state bar exam.
The hearing at the UB Law School, representing the Fourth Department of the Appellate Division, is the last of four hearings Lippman will hold this year. It will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Francis M. Letro Courtroom, on the first floor of O’Brian Hall.
Lippman will be joined at the hearing by Hon. Henry J. Scudder, presiding justice of the Fourth Department; Chief Administrative Judge A. Gail Prudenti; and David M. Schraver, president of the New York State Bar Association.
Individuals and organizations are invited to express their views on a number of related issues:
● The impact of Judiciary Civil Legal Services funding, which is set at $40 million for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
● How well civil legal services are being provided to low-income New Yorkers confronting legal problems involving the “essentials of life,” including housing, family stability and personal safety in domestic relations, access to health care or education, and subsistence income and benefits.
● The impact of natural disasters, like Hurricane Sandy, on the legal services that low-income New Yorkers need, and the experience of legal services providers in responding to those needs.
● The economic and social consequences of the lack of sufficient civil legal services in communities and for the courts.
● The costs and benefits, to the courts and to communities, of providing civil legal services in matters involving the “essentials of life.”
● The particular problems affecting the availability of legal services in rural communities and how to address them.
● The potential to meet more legal needs through preventive and early intervention services; enhanced use of technology; expanding the availability of pro bono legal services by private attorneys; greater law school and law student involvement through clinical, experiential and fellowship options for students; and programs being developed to help law students to complete their 50 required hours of pro bono service.
The deadline has passed for speakers, but the chief judge will also accept written comments. They must be sent by Oct. 26 to CivilLegalServices@nycourts.gov or by postal mail to the Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services in New York, c/o Jessica Klein, Sullivan & Cromwell, 125 Broad St., New York, NY 10004-2498.
Lippman will report on the results of these hearings to the State Legislature and will request state funding to address unmet legal needs.
Further information is available on the task force’s website, www.nycourts.gov/ip/access-civil-legal-services/.