Court Leaders Want Poor To Have Better Access To Lawyers

An influential coalition of jurists and legislators is hoping to change this inequality.
News Story (Connecticut)

Daniela Altimari
Hartford Courant
January 11, 2016

Tags: Access to Justice, Justice for All

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Services Corporation (LSC)


They are seeking to bring balance to the scales of justice by creating a new system that would give the poor access to lawyers in civil matters. The movement has been dubbed “Civil Gideon,” after the landmark 1963 Gideon vs. Wainwright, which held that those accused of a crime have a right to a lawyer, whether they can afford one or not.

Culver’s experience is fairly typical: in about 90 percent of the cases in housing court at least one side, usually the tenant facing eviction, does not have an attorney.

“We are all used to the idea, and have been for decades, that people who are facing criminal charges deserve a lawyer; our entire system is predicated on that,” said Timothy Fisher, dean of UConn School of Law. “Now we need to do that on the civil side as well. The courts depend on both sides having somebody speak up for them … It’s such an uneven playing field when there’s a lawyer on one side and not the other.”