An article entitled A poor excuse for justice by Philadelphia Daily News Political Columnist John Baer, appears on Philly.com today.
The article discusses the lack of a right to legal counsel in civil cases, which is the state of affairs in Pennsylvania. Currently, low income people are forced to seek assistance from overextended legal aid programs or represent themselves in civil cases, even is there a risk of losing their home or a child, or if they are in need protection from abuse.
The PA Senate Judiciary Committee, spearheaded by Committee Chairman Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) is currently in the process of examining the problem through a series of public hearings, the next of which is to be held tomorrow in Philadelphia. The hearings are part of an effort by the local and state bar and social-justice advocates to raise awareness of the issue.
The major hurdle to addressing this, as well as many other problems, is the scarcity of funding available to pay for providing representation. Senator Greenleaf hopes to find consensus on the need, in order to move to provide new resources to address the issue.
He and others talk of some state funding coupled with surcharges on civil-suit filings and increased pro-bono work by the organized bar. These efforts are all worthy and should be pursued, but the ultimate thing that needs to be kept in mind in addressing the problem is that this is not just a commodity that people can learn to live without. The issue is equal justice for all citizens of Pennsylvania, which is something everyone is entitled to enjoy.
The article does a good job of making the points and I encourage you to read it: