Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman got support for his plan to boost spending on civil legal services for the poor in a report released last week. It backs the appropriation that the chief judge asked the Legislature and Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to consider when he submitted a $2.3 billion Judiciary spending plan for the 2012-13 fiscal year (NYLJ, Dec. 2).
The Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services in New York, which was created by Judge Lippman, held four public hearings around the state to document the need for additional funds to pay counsel to represent the poor in foreclosures, debt cases and other legal proceedings.
The commission is chaired by Helaine Barnett, the former president of the Legal Services Corp. It was formed in 2010 to give the courts a means of reporting annually on the need for civil legal services for the poor. The panel concluded in its report released Thursday that at least two thirds of the indigent who face civil legal problems are not represented by counsel.
Judge Lippman attempted to get a $25 million appropriation this spring for civil legal services, but reduced it to $12.5 million amid a round of budget-cutting under pressure from Mr. Cuomo (NYLJ, March 31).