New York State’s chief judge, Hon. Jonathan Lippman, will
be at SUNY Buffalo Law School on Oct. 3 to hear testimony about the
unmet needs for civil legal services in the state, and what it will
take to meet those needs.
Oral testimony at the hearing, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the
Francis M. Letro Courtroom, is by invitation only, although the
public is invited to attend. Among those testifying are Law School
Dean Makau W. Mutua and two law students, Emily Dinsmore '14 and
Kerisha Hawthorne '14.
This is the fourth year that Lippman has conducted a series of
public hearings on the issue. He has made access to justice a
priority of his judgeship, most notably by imposing a requirement
that aspiring attorneys perform 50 hours of pro bono legal services
before they can sit for the state bar exam.
Lippman will be joined at the hearing by Hon. Henry J. Scudder,
presiding justice of the Fourth Department; Chief Administrative
Judge A. Gail Prudenti; and David M. Schraver, president of the New
York State Bar Association.
Individuals and organizations are invited to express their views
- The impact of Judiciary Civil Legal Services funding, which is
set at $40 million for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
- How well civil legal services are being provided to low-income
New Yorkers confronting legal problems involving the
“essentials of life,” including housing, family
stability and personal safety in domestic relations, access to
health care or education, and subsistence income and benefits.
- The impact of natural disasters on the legal services that
low-income New Yorkers need, and the experience of legal services
providers in responding to those needs.
- The economic and social consequences of the lack of sufficient
civil legal services in communities and for the courts.
- The costs and benefits, to the courts and to communities, of
providing civil legal services in matters involving the
“essentials of life.”
- The particular problems affecting the availability of legal
services in rural communities.
- The potential to meet more legal needs through preventive and
early intervention services; enhanced use of technology; expanding
the availability of pro bono legal services by private attorneys;
greater law school and law student involvement through clinical,
experiential and fellowship options for students; and programs
being developed to help law students to complete their 50 required
hours of pro bono service.
Later that day in a program to be broadcast statewide from the
NY State Bar Center in Albany, Judge Lippman and NYS Bar President
Schraver will offer pre-taped remarks introducing a web-streamed
panel discussion detailing the critical need for legal services
among indigent New Yorkers.
The program, from 5 p.m. to 7 pm called “Why We Need a
Right to Counsel in Civil Matters Where Basic Human Needs Are at
Stake,” will be shown in the Cellino & Barnes Conference
Center, on the fifth floor of O’Brian Hall. The public is
Broadcast from Albany, the live panel discussion will include
- Fern Fisher, deputy chief administrative judge for the New York
City courts and director of the New York State Courts Access to
- Bryan Hetherington, chief counsel for the Empire Justice
- Martha Davis, a professor at Northeastern University Law
- John Pollock, coordinator of the National Coalition for a Civil
Right to Counsel.
- Andrew Scherer, senior fellow at the Furman Center of New York
University Law School, who will moderate the discussion.
Following the broadcast, a panel of local experts will continue
the discussion at SUNY Buffalo Law. Participants in that program
- Melinda Saran ’86, the Law School’s vice dean for
- Keisha Williams of the Western New York Law Center, who will
serve as moderator.
- Lauren Breen ’89, an associate clinical professor at the
- Daniel Webster ’08 of Legal Services for the Elderly,
Disabled or Disadvantaged of Western New York.
- David Schopp ’82, chief executive officer of the Legal
Aid Bureau of Buffalo.
- Joy McDuffie, a housing counselor at the Western New York Law