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 and 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.
The New Hampshire Access to Justice Commission’s duties include identification of the needs of individuals whose access to justice is impeded because either they can’t afford a lawyer or because they think they cannot afford any legal services. The commission will also work to increase resources and funding for civil legal services, reduce barriers to the justice system by examining existing court rules, procedures and policies and develop innovative ideas to enhance access to justice.