South Florida Sun-Sentinel
July 13, 2015
Tags: Access to Justice, Delivery Systems, Funding: State & Local, Information Centers, Pro Se/Self-Help
Organizations mentioned/involved: Coast to Coast Legal Services of South Florida
Under the leadership of Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga, an effort is underway to make the courthouse more accessible to working-class Floridians. It’s a worthwhile goal, one that deserves wholehearted support from business leaders and elected officials. Unfortunately, the initiative may stall without a sign of support from Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature, who regularly find themselves at odds with the court system.
In this year’s record-setting state budget, for example, Florida’s 67 clerks of court were shorted $22 million and now must decide whether to lay off staffers or close courthouses early, which would hardly help with access. Funding for legal-aid programs has shriveled, too, and last week the Supreme Court rejected a proposed dues increase for Florida Bar members that would have better funded such efforts.