Florida chief justice stresses need for greater access to civil court system; his commission studies issue this year

Chief Justice Jorge Labarga talked about Florida’s Commission on Access to Civil Justice, which aims to find solutions for those unable to defend themselves in civil court cases like foreclosure.

News Story (Florida)

Saphara Harrell
Florida Times-Union
February 22, 2016

Tags: Access to Justice, Justice for All

Organizations mentioned/involved: Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice (FCATCJ)


The chief justice created the commission by executive order in 2014 in order to combat problems created when people don’t have a way to defend themselves in court. There are currently 38 other states with similar commissions.

Labarga said federal funding for legal aid has declined since 2012 as a result of historically low interest rates and many working class Floridians find themselves stuck in a so-called legal services gap. They earn too much for legal aid but not enough to pay for a lawyer.

“Think about how many of these folks give up precious rights they have simply because they cannot afford a lawyer and just give up,” Labarga said. He said he saw a lot of these problems when he was a judge, especially during the foreclosure crisis.