Contact: Andrew Rush
Director, Media Services & Public Affairs
arush@nysba.org
518/487-5530

April 15, 2008

NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION LAUNCHES RADIO CAMPAIGN

"Protecting Our Rights, Protecting Our Courts" Will Highlight the Role of the Judiciary

The New York State Bar Association unveiled its latest radio campaign, "Protecting our Rights, Protecting Our Courts," featuring radio spots that focus on two key issues: educating the public on the important role the judiciary plays in our system of justice; and highlighting the need to extend the 'right to counsel' to indigent New Yorkers in cases where basic human needs are at stake. The radio announcements are narrated by New York State Bar Association President Kathryn Grant Madigan (Levene Gouldin & Thompson LLP).

"More Americans can name a judge on American Idol than the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court. Fewer than one-third know that our courts are one of the three co-equal branches of government. These radio spots are intended to raise awareness about the vital role judges play in protecting the rights of all New Yorkers and why an independent and impartial judiciary is essential to our system of justice," Madigan said. "We hope this campaign will help the public understand that when a judge issues a decision it is based upon the facts and the law, not politics and perhaps think twice before unfairly criticizing a judge for a decision that has been correctly decided. Another radio spot dispels a commonly held belief that poor New Yorkers have guaranteed right to counsel in civil matters. When basic human needs are at stake -- family law/domestic violence, housing, health, wrongly denied benefits such as social security and veterans' pensions -- no one should be denied access to justice because they cannot afford a lawyer."

The radio ads were produced and distributed in coordination with the New York State Broadcaster's Association as part of an on-going campaign to raise public awareness about a wide variety of legal issues that affect the lives of New Yorkers.

The radio spots will run from April 14 through May 11, 2008. It is anticipated that the ads will air several thousand times throughout the month-long campaign. The four radio spots are as follows:

Civil Gideon (60 Seconds; MP3 format)

This is Kate Madigan, President of the New YorkState Bar Association. If you are accused of a crime, you have the right to a court appointed lawyer if you cannot afford one. But if you are in danger of being evicted from your home, face the loss of health care or public benefits, there is no guaranteed right to counsel. It can mean the difference between losing a home or keeping it, suffering from domestic abuse or finding refuge, gaining or losing custody of a child. Despite the thousands of hours of free legal services provided by New YorkLawyers each year, we can only meet 20 percent of the civil legal needs of the poor. We can and must do better. The promise of equal justice for all must extend to every citizen. When basic human needs are at stake, everyone deserves the right to counsel.

Brought to you by the New York State Bar Association in cooperation with the New York StateBroadcasters Association.

Lawsuit Explosion (30 seconds; MP3 format)

This is Kate Madigan, President of the New YorkState Bar Association. You may have heard that there is a litigation explosion in New York. But that is not the case. In fact, the number of lawsuits filed in New Yorkis actually lower than it was 10 years ago. We need to preserve our justice system, which gives every one the ability to protect their rights in court. Access to justice. That's what democracy is all about.

Brought to you by the New York State Bar Association in cooperation with the New York StateBroadcasters Association.

Our Courts: Least Understood Branch of Government (60 seconds; MP3 format)

This is Kate Madigan, President of the New YorkState Bar Association. Did you know that more people can name the three judges on American Idol than the Chief Justice of the United StatesSupreme Court? Did you know that even fewer can identify our three independent branches of government? Our founding fathers created this system to protect us from abuses of power. Three separate and co-equal branches -- the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary - with checks and balances to prevent any one branch from breaking the law or violating our rights. The founders of our country believed an independent judiciary was essential - they didn't want judges beholden to politicians - and it has remained that way for over 200 years. Independent judges protect our Constitution, protect our rights and deserve our respect.

Brought to you by the New York State Bar Association in cooperation with the New York StateBroadcasters Association.

Judges as Referees (30 Seconds; MP3 format)

This is Kate Madigan, President of the New YorkState Bar Association. Fair and impartial judges who make decisions based on the merits play a vital role in our democratic society. Judges are like referees. They make tough decisions and enforce the rules, even if it's unpopular. They consider the facts and the law, not politics. A fair and impartial judiciary is essential to protecting our rights under the Constitution.

Brought to you by the New York State Bar Association in cooperation with the New York StateBroadcasters Association.

The 74,000-member New York State Bar Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New Yorkand the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Founded in 1876, NYSBA programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.

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