Law in the 21st Century: Enduring Traditions, Emerging Challenges

Chief Judge of New York Jonathan Lippman spoke at Law Day 2010 on the importance of ensuring ensuring adequate legal representation in civil cases.

Speech (NATIONAL, New York)

Jonathan Lippman
May 3, 2010

Tags: Civil Right to Counsel


Forty-seven years ago, the United States Supreme Court in Gideon v. Wainwright, said in regard to criminal case representation that:

“In our adversary system of justice, any person hauled into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided for him. This seems to us to be an obvious truth.”

Nearly half a century later, it is an equally obvious truth that in civil proceedings involving fundamental human needs, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for a person to be assured a fair outcome without a lawyer’s help.

As Chief Judge, I see this as one of the great challenges facing our justice system today. No issue is more fundamental to our constitutional mandate of providing equal justice under law than ensuring adequate legal representation.