I suspect that most in the non-judicial branches are still largely unaware of the the Chiefs’ 100% Resolution, making access to justice the office bi-partisan policy of the United States, let alone that they have thought about the implications for their governing and policy missions.
So, it is excellent that Governing Magazine has just published Mary McClymont’s piece, A Solution for the Access Crisis in Our Civil Justice System.
As the piece puts it, after summarizing the access crisis:
Two years ago, in an unheralded but path-breaking move, the Conference of Chief Justices of the United States and the Conference of State Court Administrators unanimously passed a resolution supporting the goal of 100 percent access to effective assistance for people with “essential civil legal needs.”
The resolution calls on states to develop systems in which everyone can get legal help through a comprehensive approach that provides a continuum of meaningful and appropriate services. It also calls on core players — courts, Access to Justice commissions, civil legal aid organizations, the private bar and other essential partners — to work together across organizational boundaries in their states to find solutions. Now, Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota and New York are seizing the opportunity to bring the vision expressed by the resolution closer to reality through what’s known as the Justice for All Project.
Housed at the National Center for State Courts, overseen by a distinguished advisory committee and funded by the Public Welfare Foundation with others on deck, the project will assist the seven states with resources to assess their systems’ strengths and weaknesses, make coherent action plans that integrate services to close the gaps, and begin making changes. They will harness an array of practical solutions — such as self-help services, automated court forms, and limited scope representation — to better match users who have specific needs to the appropriate level of help. . . . The potential benefits for our communities are substantial.
This spreads the word throughout the judiciary that “this train is leaving the station,” unless you want to be way behind the curve of the rest of the country (It later tells of the 25 state applications for grants).
Perhaps more importantly it puts the other branches of government on notice that something is going on here — something that impacts a broad range of their missions, and to which they can contribute. This perfectly lays the groundwork for bringing the US DOJ Legal Aid Inter agency Roundtable approach to the state level.