SJC Chief Justice Ralph Gants endorses right to a lawyer for tenants and landlords in eviction cases

Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants on Wednesday endorsed a bill pending before the state Legislature that would provide legal representation to indigent parties in eviction proceedings.

News Story (Massachusetts)

Shira Schoenberg
October 30, 2019

Tags: Housing: Right to Counsel


Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is also backing the bills. But they are likely to be held up in the Legislature due to concerns about the high cost of providing attorneys. Already, civil legal aid agencies turn away a majority of prospective clients because they lack funding.

Asked after the speech about the cost, Gants cited a report by the Boston Bar Association, which he said demonstrated that “the reduction in the cost of homelessness and other costs generally will make up for the actual costs” of providing an attorney.

Annette Duke, a housing attorney with the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, which is leading a coalition that supports the right to counsel bills, called the endorsement by Gants “significant, because the judiciary is a partner in this effort.”