Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - May 27, 2019 


The Brexit Party comes out on top in UK elections. Also, on our Monday rundown: South Dakota one of the states looking for emergency funding. Plus, we take you to one of the most dangerous states to drive over the long Memorial Day Weekend.

Daily Newscasts

New State Commission Seeks Justice for All

The Texas Supreme Court building. The court has established a new commission to help more low-and-middle income Texans access civil legal services. Credit: WhisperToMe/Wikimedia Commons
The Texas Supreme Court building. The court has established a new commission to help more low-and-middle income Texans access civil legal services. Credit: WhisperToMe/Wikimedia Commons
November 24, 2015

AUSTIN, Texas - Liberty and justice for all – that familiar ideal from the Pledge of Allegiance – isn't a reality for many Texans who have to face divorce, child custody, domestic violence and other legal challenges without an attorney.

However, that could change if a new commission launched by the Texas Supreme Court finds a way to close what Chief Justice Nathan Hecht calls a justice gap.

He says now more than ever, small businesses, veterans and average Texans need lawyers and lawyers need work, but high costs often stand in the way.

"A justice system that is only available for those who can afford it, is neither justice for all nor justice at all," says Hecht. "This is an effort to try to make basic civil legal services more affordable for people who need them."

The Chief Justice says the commission will study what's working in other states and come up with a plan to broaden access to services for low and middle income Texans. The 18-member commission of judges, attorneys, law-school deans and professors will present its initial report to the state's high court by Nov. 1 of next year.

Former Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson will lead the commission. He points to national surveys showing almost 80 percent of low- and moderate-income Americans can't afford an attorney. He adds lawyers who help nearly 100,000 of the state's poorest families free of charge each year are forced to deny services to some 75 percent of qualified applicants due to lack of resources.

"The problem is that, for those who cannot meet the requirements for the free legal services, they're left in the dark," says Jefferson. "There's no way they can afford to hire a lawyer."

Jefferson notes one of the biggest challenges facing the commission is the six-figure debt carried by many attorneys after law school, which drives up their hourly rates. He adds the group will consider all options, including loan forgiveness programs, to close the "justice gap."

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - TX