How States Are Failing to Provide Justice for All

With a patchwork, piecemeal system of civil legal aid, states are a long way from fulfilling the Constitution’s promise of “equal protection under the law.”
News Story (NATIONAL)

Jared Keller
Pacific Standard Magazine
May 11, 2016

Tags: Justice for All

Organizations mentioned/involved: National Center for Access to Justice (NCAJ) at Fordham Law School


The 2016 Justice Index, created by the National Center for Access to Justice at Cardozo Law School, seeks to look beyond just the treatment of citizens by juries and judges, and to instead evaluate how well states ensure that all residents have equal access to the civil legal system in the first place. Administered by 37 attorneys from five law firms, the Index surveyed the chief justice and chief court administrator from every state (plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico) and undertook a rigorous examination of each state’s legal policies and practices.

The results are appalling: Despite the Sixth Amendment’s mandate of the right to counsel, there are only 6,953 civil legal aid lawyers in the nation serving people who can’t afford counsel, out of a total sector of 1.3 million lawyers.