Real leadership from the Texas Supreme Court. Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson has responded to the State Bar’s position on forms with this letter to the President of the State Bar. Here is the key language:
“In accordance with its usual practice, the Court has decided to refer the [Uniform Forms] Task Force Report to the Supreme Court Advisory Committee. We expect the Advisory Committee members to engage in the careful critique they have always given to matters of profound importance to the administration of justice. We instruct the Committee to consider input from all sectors, including the judiciary, the legal profession, representatives of the Legislature, and the public.”
The Court set an approximate timetable, encouraged bar submissions, and promised that:
“We will approve forms only if they are substantively correct and are reasonably calculated to achieve the goal of greater access to the courts. Uniform forms are but one way of addressing the problems presented by pro se litigation. The State Bar may develop other recommendations.”
The final paragraph of the letter shows how deeply CJ Wallace Jefferson and the Texas Supreme Court understand the stakes, and the role of the courts in ensuring access to justice.
“The Constitution requires the Court to administer justice. This occurs not only by deciding cases but by establishing a judicial climate in which people who lack money to hire a lawyer have a reasonable chance to vindicate their rights in a court of law. We are pleased to have the Bar’s full participation towards that end.”
I anticipate that the first two sentences of that paragraph will be much quoted — and way beyond Texas, as they should be.
Update: The Texas Access to Justice Commission has posted a page with the proposed forms, as well as its research, and correspondence. Its all there.