Supporting LSC and equal justice under law

Today, the President released his budget framework, including a proposal to eliminate the Legal Services Corporation, the largest single national funding source for free civil legal assistance to low income Americans. The Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission strongly urges Congress to continue its longstanding bipartisan support of LSC and reject this budget proposal. Eliminating LSC would undercut America’s promise of equal justice for all and harm our state justice system.

In Wisconsin, LSC provided $5.2 million in 2016 to two organizations, Legal Action of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Judicare, allowing them to provide free legal information, advice, and representation on civil matters to over 9,000 low income Wisconsin residents in cities, towns, and villages across Wisconsin. Together, these two organizations help people who have basic civil legal problems with their housing, children, safety, health care, and incomes.

Access to civil legal aid ensures fairness for all in the justice system, without regard to how much money you have. LSC funding in Wisconsin helps remove barriers to employment, obtain child support orders, prevent homelessness, and protect abuse victims. Hundreds of Wisconsin attorneys donate over $1 million of their time each year by volunteering through Legal Action of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Judicare. However, these organizations depend on LSC funding to provide volunteer training and support. Without the critical legal help that LSC funds, more people will be forced to go it alone in our legal system, leading to higher costs, clogged dockets, and further injustice.

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Legislative Council adopts access to justice recommendations

The Legislative Council met on February 15 and voted to accept both the report and the recommendations from its Study Committee on Access to Civil Legal Services. The three legislative proposals will: Create legislation encouraging the state departments of Administration, Children & Families, Workforce Development, Justice, and Health Services to use a portion of the federal block grantsContinue Reading

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New statewide help for elder abuse victims

By Sam Wegleitner, Legal Action of Wisconsin Legal Action of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Judicare will be providing statewide civil legal aid to elder abuse victims through the Elder Rights Project (ERP). The Elder Rights project seeks to help elder abuse victims in Wisconsin become safe and independent, stabilize their lives, and meet their emotional andContinue Reading

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Just Wisconsin News for November

In this month’s Just Wisconsin newsletter, we have updates on the Legislative Council Study Committee on Access to Civil Legal Services, upcoming changes to Wisconsin Legal Advice Online, a new eviction defense project in Milwaukee and some national news highlights. The Pro Bono Honor Society is also looking for outstanding attorneys who have provided atContinue Reading

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New study committee on access to civil legal services

A new Study Committee on Access to Civil Legal Services was recently launched by the Wisconsin Legislative Council. The 16-member committee includes 6 legislators and 10 public members, including Jim Gramling, President of the Access to Justice Commission. The chair is Rep. Cody Horlacher and the vice-chair is Sen. Duey Stroebel. A full roster is available here. The study committeeContinue Reading

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New funding for civil legal services is on the way

The Wisconsin Supreme Court issued its final order requiring that at least one-half of unclaimed funds in class action settlements and judgments be directed to the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation to support civil legal services to the poor. The court’s unanimous order was issued in response to Petition 15-06 filed by the Access to Justice Commission. This class actionContinue Reading

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The eviction spiral

The rising cost of housing has led to an increase in the number of evictions nationwide, and Wisconsin is no exception. For the two most recent years where numbers are available, there were 28,501 eviction cases filed in 2012 and 28,812 in 2013. Most tenants face these legal proceedings without counsel. But an eviction isContinue ReadingContinue Reading

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50 years of service at Wisconsin Judicare

“I felt hopeless until they stepped in.” “This service kept me from becoming homeless and bankrupt.” By Beth Richlen, Development Director, Wisconsin Judicare For 50 years, Wisconsin Judicare has provided legal services to individuals like these in northern Wisconsin. From Stevens Point to Superior, from Hudson to Marinette, and everywhere in between, the low-income residentsContinue Reading

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Supreme Court action on access to justice

On April 13, the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted unanimously to adopt a change proposed by the Access to Justice Commission that will result in a new source of funds for civil legal aid to the indigent in Wisconsin. The court acted following a public hearing on Petition 15-06, which was filed by the Access to JusticeContinue ReadingContinue Reading

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Comments sought on access to justice rule petitions

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is seeking comment on two pending rule petitions that support access to justice efforts in Wisconsin. The Access to Justice Commission filed Petition 15-06 seeking a rule change that would allocate 50% of unclaimed class action awards to support civil legal services to low income persons (aka cy pres). The State Bar of Wisconsin filedContinue Reading

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