BUFFALO, N.Y. – Most people are familiar with the
made-popular-by-TV phrase “you have a right to a
lawyer.” Fifty years ago this year, the U.S. Supreme Court
ruled in Gideon v. Wainwright that criminal defendants had
the right to counsel, at government expense, if they couldn’t
Now a similar argument is being made on behalf of low-income
people who face civil court cases – actions that may result
in their being evicted from their homes, denied custody of their
children or affect their basic human needs.
Access to legal services for the poor has been a signature
initiative for Hon. Jonathan Lippman, chief judge of New York
State’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. Now Lippman and
other influential legal minds in the state are joining in a panel
discussion detailing the critical need for legal services among
indigent New Yorkers.
The program, called “Why We Need a Right to Counsel in
Civil Matters Where Basic Human Needs Are at Stake,” will be
broadcast statewide from 5-7 p.m. Oct. 3. It follows a public
hearing from 11a.m. to 2 p.m. at the University at Buffalo Law
School in which Lippman and others will hear testimony about the
unmet needs for civil legal services in the state, and what it will
take to meet those needs.
The public is invited to view the presentation in the Cellino
& Barnes Conference Center, on the fifth floor of the UB Law
School’s home, John Lord O’Brian Hall on UB’s
After pre-taped greetings from Lippman and David Schraver,
president of the New York State Bar Association, the live panel
discussion will include these participants:
- Fern Fisher, deputy chief administrative judge for the New York
City courts and director of the New York State Courts Access to
- Bryan Hetherington, chief counsel for the Empire Justice
- Martha Davis, a professor at Northeastern University Law
- John Pollock, coordinator of the National Coalition for a Civil
Right to Counsel.
- Andrew Scherer, senior fellow at the Furman Center of New York
University Law School, who will moderate the discussion.
The broadcast discussion is being sponsored by the New York
State Bar Association and a consortium of 19 law schools, including
the UB Law School.
Following the broadcast, a panel of local experts will continue
the discussion. Participants in that program will include:
- Melinda Saran ’86, the UB Law School’s vice dean
for student affairs.
- Keisha Williams of the Western New York Law Center, who will
serve as moderator.
- Lauren Breen ’89, associate clinical professor of the UB
- Daniel Webster ’08 of Legal Services for the Elderly,
Disabled or Disadvantaged of Western New York.
- David Schopp ’82, chief executive officer of the Legal
Aid Bureau of Buffalo.
- Joy McDuffie, a housing counselor at the Western New York Law
Since its founding in 1887, the UB Law School – the State
University of New York system’s only law school – has
established an excellent reputation and is widely regarded as a
leader in legal education. Its cutting-edge curriculum provides
both a strong theoretical foundation and the practical tools
graduates need to succeed in a competitive global marketplace,
wherever they choose to practice. A special emphasis on
interdisciplinary studies, public service and opportunities for
hands-on clinical education makes the UB Law School unique among
the nation’s premier public law schools.