Image

September 24, 2010

STATE BAR PRESIDENT YOUNGER COMMENDS CHIEF JUDGE LIPPMAN FOR EFFORTS TO IMPROVE ACCESS TO CIVIL LEGAL SERVICES

 Statewide OCA hearings will shed light on growing crisis 

State Bar President Stephen P. Younger of New York (Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP) lauded the Hon. Jonathan Lippman, Chief Judge of New York State, for addressing the growing crisis in unmet civil legal service needs through a series of statewide Office of Court Administration hearings that the Chief Judge will chair.

The New York State Bar Association has long been committed to ensuring greater access to justice for indigent New Yorkers by developing solutions to fund the State's chronically underfunded civil legal service programs. At the request of the Chief Judge, Younger will help preside over the hearings. The first hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, September 28, 2010 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Appellate Division, First Department courthouse, 27 Madison Avenue, Manhattan.

The hearings will assess the extent and nature of unmet civil legal services needs throughout the State in order to help formulate recommendations to the Governor and Legislature on the appropriate level and source of public resources to meet those needs. Funding these services greatly improves the chances of low-income New Yorkers keeping and securing basic necessities such as housing, safety and employment - the keys to safety, stability and self-sufficiency - and helps build stronger, more stable communities. Investing in civil legal services now will save millions of dollars in future added State costs for public assistance, housing, health care and other safety net spending.

"In these turbulent economic times, the need for indigent legal services has never been greater. At the same time, tough fiscal choices have sharply reduced public financing of this assistance even as attorneys volunteer record amounts of pro bono services. Chief Judge Lippman understands that such inequality runs counter to our basic concept of fairness, undermines the public's faith in the judicial system and in the long run puts more pressure on State budgets," said President Younger. "Having the highest judicial authority in New York put a spotlight on this crisis is a tremendous public service for the millions of men and women who are denied this basic right."

The other 2010 hearings will be:

? Fourth Department: September 29; 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.; Appellate Division; 50 East Avenue, Rochester
? Third Department: October 5; 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.; New York State Court of Appeals; 20 Eagle Street; Albany.
? Second Department: October 7; 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.; Appellate Division; 45 Monroe Place, Brooklyn.

For more information about the hearings, go to www.nycourts.gov/ip/access-civil-legal-services.

 # # #

Founded in 1876, the 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New York and the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. The State Bar's programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years. For more information, visit us at our Web site at www.nysba.org