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(NYLJ/Rick Kopstein)

When Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman spoke recently at a conference, he referred to the “right to counsel” in housing cases where eviction is the end game as “magic words.”

“What can be more important than a roof over our heads?” he posed, while speaking about “the most vulnerable and people of modest means” who are now seeking a “Civil Gideon.” The term is, of course, a nod to Gideon v. Wainwright, the 50-year-old guarantee of counsel in criminal cases. But in his remarks at New York Law School, Lippman was loud and clear in saying, “legal representation for the poor fighting in the housing arena is fundamental to equal justice.”

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