State Bar President Stephen P. Younger of New York lauded Hon. Jonathan Lippman, chief judge of New York State, for addressing the growing crisis in unmet civil legal service needs through a series of statewide Office of Court Administration hearings that the chief judge will chair.
The NYSBA has long been committed to ensuring greater access to justice for indigent New Yorkers by developing solutions to fund the state's chronically under-funded civil legal service programs. At the request of the chief judge, President Younger will help preside over the hearings.
The hearings will assess the extent and nature of unmet civil legal services needs throughout the state in order to help formulate recommendations to the governor and legislature on the appropriate level and source of public resources to meet those needs. Funding these services greatly improves the chances of low-income New Yorkers keeping and securing basic necessities such as housing, safety and employment - the keys to safety, stability and self-sufficiency - and helps build stronger, more stable communities. Investing in civil legal services now will save millions of dollars in future added state costs for public assistance, housing, health care and other safety net spending.
"In these turbulent economic times, the need for indigent legal services has never been greater. At the same time, tough fiscal choices have sharply reduced public financing of this assistance even as attorneys volunteer record amounts of pro bono services. Chief Judge Lippman understands that such inequality runs counter to our basic concept of fairness, undermines the public's faith in the judicial system and in the long run puts more pressure on state budgets," said President Younger.