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PNS Daily Newscast - October 29, 2020 

Trump supporters left to battle frigid temperatures in Omaha; absentee ballots surge in Tennessee.

2020Talks - October 29, 2020 

The Supreme Court blocks North Carolina and Pennsylvania Republicans from requiring ballots to be delivered by Election Day. And a Texas court is requiring masks at polling places.

A Victory for Pennsylvanians Who Can't Afford a Lawyer

April 3, 2009

Harrisburg, PA – Life complications brought on by the recession are causing more Pennsylvanians to seek state-funded legal assistance. The Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network (PLAN) reports an increase in clients needing help with a range of economy-related issues, including home foreclosures, cases of domestic violence and health insurance. The State Supreme Court recently issued an order assessing a $25 surcharge on annual attorney registrations in order to fund the program.

PLAN executive director Sam Milkes says the recession is bringing more and more people through their front door.

"Many people have now lost jobs or lost their incomes, and they’re coming to us to help them save their homes or keep them from losing utilities."

The new funds will help legal aid programs hard hit by the recession, says Milkes.

"Staff are being laid off, services are having to be cut back and this action by the court, while it doesn’t completely solve that dilemma, is a real help."

The court order empowers lower income Pennsylvanians, according to Milkes.

"If somebody is a victim of domestic violence or has become disabled, there ought to be fairness in the system to make sure those people can have a lawyer when they need it."

Legal aid has historically been funded, in part, through interest on money held by attorneys in escrow on behalf of their clients. However, recent low interest rates have reduced that funding roughly $9 million. The court-ordered registration fee increase is expected to generate about $1.5 million in new revenue.

The Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network handles about 100,000 civil cases each year for residents who need representation on any number of issues ranging from housing to health.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - PA