Justice Gap Remains Wide, Hearing Witnesses Say

, New York Law Journal

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Speakers at a public hearing Monday said the state is nowhere near closing a "justice gap" in legal representation for low-income New Yorkers despite increased funding for civil legal services in recent years.

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What's being said

  • sst

    Providing civil legal services to the poor is not constitutionally mandated, says the US Supreme Court, and even if was, the legislature alone is responsible for providing aid to the needy under our state constitution. The judiciary‘s recent role in siphoning off budgeted judiciary monies and paying them over to a select group of not-for-profit legal services firms chosen by court administrators, including some judges, clearly violates Article XVII of the state constitution and the separation of powers doctrine. Contrary to the spoken word of some court administrators, who assert that the legislature authorized such expenditures, no act of the legislature, formal or informal, may right these constitutional wrongs.

    In addition, the judiciary‘s penchant for publicly favoring and advancing the interests of a particular class of litigants is repugnant to traditional notions of independence and impartiality upon which the judiciary is founded. If these practices are not halted, this disregard for the law shall become, de facto, the law, itself.

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