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Bar News - March 21, 2008


News from the Judicial Branch Communications Office:
Access to Justice Commission Launches New Web Site


NH AJC part of Nationwide Effort to Assist Citizens Who Need Legal Services

New Hampshire’s Access to Justice Commission, established by the Supreme Court in 2007 to improve citizen access to the courts and civil legal services, today launched a new Web site,
www.courts.state.nh.us/access, designed to provide users with quick links to legal service providers, a self-help center and easy to read information about the state courts.

"We hope this Web site will be a tool that citizens will use when they need to find low cost legal help to resolve a problem," said Supreme Court Justice James E. Duggan, who co-chairs the 42-member Commission with Chief Justice Steven J. McAuliffe of the U.S. District Court in Concord.

New Hampshire is one of 26 states that have established similar commissions to both coordinate existing legal service delivery programs and develop new initiatives to help low-income citizens in civil cases who need a lawyer’s assistance to protect their rights.

"We can be proud of the effort that has been made in our state to serve the legal needs of the poor, through programs supported by the New Hampshire Bar, the Bar Foundation, the Campaign for Legal Services and others," Justice Duggan said. "The importance of the Access to Justice Commission is that it allows us to bring all those resources together to reach more citizens who need civil legal aid," Duggan said.

In addition to proving valuable information to citizens about legal services, the Commission’s new website is also a resource center for legal professionals who want to learn more about what other states are doing around the country to make the justice system accessible and affordable for all citizens—and how they can contribute.

The Supreme Court has identified a range of duties for the Commission including:

· Identification of current and future needs of persons whose access to justice is impeded because either they can’t afford a lawyer or because their perception is that they cannot afford any legal services.

· Work to increase resources and funding for civil legal services

· Reduce barriers to the justice system by examining existing court rules, procedures and policies

· Develop innovative ideas to enhance access to justice

· Provide long range planning and coordination for all legal service providers statewide.

Chief Justice Broderick
to Address National
"Access to Justice" Meeting

Chief Justice John T. Broderick, Jr. will be the keynote speaker at the 7th annual national meeting of state leaders of "Access to Justice Commissions" and similar groups that work to improve delivery of civil legal services to poor and low income individuals. The meeting will be held in May in Minneapolis in conjunction with the American Bar Association’s 2008 Equal Justice Conference which brings together lawyers, judges, court administrators, paralegals to discuss how to help low-income citizens in civil cases who need a lawyer’s assistance to achieve equal access to justice.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court established an Access to Justice Commission in 2007, joining 25 other states that have launched organized efforts to both coordinate existing legal service delivery programs and develop new initiatives. The Commission has 42 members and is chaired by Associate Supreme Court Justice James E. Duggan and Chief Justice Stephen J. McAuliffe of the U.S. District Court in Concord.

As Chief Justice, Broderick has focused on raising awareness in the New Hampshire legal community about both the need for accessible and affordable legal services and the professional responsibility lawyers have to help meet that need. In 2007, Broderick was selected by the New Hampshire Bar Association’s Pro Bono Referral Program to receive its annual pro bono award in recognition of his efforts to encourage lawyers in private practice to offer their services without charge, or at low cost, to help meet the legal needs of the poor. Also last year, Broderick received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Vermont Law School for his effort to focus attention and action on providing more volunteer and low cost legal services for the poor and for the growing number of consumers who come to court without lawyers.

 

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