This is great news.
The National Center for State Courts Board has just approved its Strategic Campaign for 2013-2016, and, under the title Solutions for Enhancing Access to Justice for All, it includes as one of its four key elements access to justice.
The issue is explained as follows:
If state courts are to remain viable they must over-come numerous challenges. None may be more important than providing access to courts for all citizens. Failure to solve this problem may relegate courts to a diminished role in our democracy. There are four aspects to this problem. First, current services for litigants with limited English proficiency are woefully inadequate. Second, courts must find ways to accommodate the growing number of self-represented litigants. Third, it is no longer just the poor who cannot afford lawyers. Most middle-income people find it difficult to hire a lawyer for anything other than a specific task. And fourth, under current court rules and procedures, the legal process for most civil litigants is too complex, lengthy, and expensive.
Moreover, the three identified objectives include rules simplification:
• Use “cloud” technology to provide remote court interpreters across the country and develop a process for state courts to cross-certify court interpreters.
• Help courts simplify and streamline their rules of civil procedure.
• Increase convenience for court users by developing models to allow appropriate transactions to be completed online.
This all represents a huge potential to help move the access agenda forward. In addition to the specific tools and services that NCSC will develop, it will surely be of use to access advocates at the state level to highlight the national priority being given to this issue.
When it comes to access to justice, it seems to me that one’s Constitutional Rights guaranteed are not contingent on budgetary constraints for the purpose of supporting those in the legal profession. When I come across the heart wrenching realities of our “judicial” system as is set forth in the article below, I can’t wrap my head around why it is that we citizens (including those in the legal profession) continue to financially support an exclusive system which has alienated the majority of American citizens, including those who are poor and of color. When did the right to justice, equal protection of the laws or to petition the government for redress become contingent on whether one has access to an attorney or funding? I thought we left that outside the door when we departed from English rule. Didn’t we learn anything from Gideon? This is one major underlying issue which must be discussed.