Lawyers launch fresh push to get poor represented in Maryland civil courts

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and other top lawyers launch fresh push for more civil legal aid in Maryland.
News Story (Maryland)

Ian Duncan
Baltimore Sun
February 1, 2016

Tags: Access to Justice Commissions

Organizations mentioned/involved: Maryland Access to Justice Commission (MDATJC)


Some of Maryland’s top lawyers launched a fresh drive Monday to have poor people represented by attorneys in civil cases in an effort to spare the vulnerable from what they see as predatory legal practices, such as buying out lead paint settlements for cents on the dollar.

“If you do not have justice, then you’ll have the absence of peace,” Rep. Elijah E. Cummings told a group of lawyers at a breakfast in downtown Baltimore. “I’m seeing it more and more, and … at some point, people explode. So we have a duty.”

Courts have held that the Constitution guarantees people the right to a lawyer in criminal cases. Activists for the poor say a similar right ought to be recognized in some civil disputes, especially those in which housing or custody of children is at stake.