TenantNet Forum

Where tenants can seek help and help others

Chief Judge in New York Begins Campaign For Lawyers for Poor

NYC Housing Court Practice/Procedures

Moderator: TenantNet

Chief Judge in New York Begins Campaign For Lawyers for Poor

Postby TenantNet » Wed Sep 29, 2010 12:44 am

September 28, 2010
Wall Street Journal
Chief Judge in New York Begins Campaign For Lawyers for Poor
By Michael Rothfeld

The economic crisis has reverberated against poor people in many ways, only one among them that more and more poor people are going to court in civil cases without lawyers. It has been a national problem, as reported in the WSJ here.

On Tuesday, as New York’s chief judge launched his campaign to increase funding for the issue in the state, he was intent on stressing that this isn’t just about public poverty programs, however. In Manhattan, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman took testimony about the ramifications of the trend from Michael Helfer, the chief counsel for Citigroup, from Joseph Strasburg, head of the Rent Stabilization Association, a landlord’s group, and from Kenneth Raske, chief of the Greater New York Hospital Association.

“All of this is not only about doing the right thing and the ethical need to help those that are most vulnerable,” Judge Lippman said in an interview. “This is something that also helps the bottom line.”

The business leaders told him, essentially, that no, they don’t relish beating up on defendants in foreclosures, evictions, and other proceedings who are unschooled in the ways of the law, but rather would prefer to reduce the costs and length of litigation and reach resolutions. That is something more easily done with someone advised by a lawyer, they said.

Raske, for instance, brought up the demise of St. Vincent’s Medical Center nearby in Manhattan, saying that institutions can benefit when the poor people who get treatment from them receive advice on getting payment through Medicaid, for instance. Besides serving the poor, the hospital “was also serving rich patients and middle class patients, and now it’s serving nobody,” Raske said.

The problem in civil cases, of course, is that unlike in criminal cases defendants who can’t afford lawyers don’t automatically get them. The hearing was the first of four the judge has scheduled around the state; the tour continues in Rochester Wednesday and in Albany and Brooklyn early next month. Lippman plans to use the testimony as the basis for a request to state lawmakers to increase funding for lawyers for the poor in next year’s budget.

Lippman said 2.3 million people came to state courts without lawyers last year, a stark increase over years past. Others testified that bad outcomes resulting from the lack of lawyers drives up the use of shelters, foster care and other services of last resort. Currently, only a fraction of the 6.3 million New Yorkers eligible for publicly-funded lawyers can get them, state court officials say.

A big part of the problem is that the the aptly-named Interest on Lawyer Account Fund, which was created by the New York legislature to provide legal services for the poor using interest earned on money clients deposit with lawyers, has been depleted. It went from $25 million in 2009 to $6 million projected for 2011 because interest rates have dropped. Separately, the state pitched in $15 million last year, but Lippman plans to ask state lawmakers for more and a regular funding stream.
Posts: 9500
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2002 2:01 am
Location: New York City

Postby ronin » Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:32 am

I respond to this in the Law Journal version thread.


What a bunch of crap!
Posts: 419
Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2002 2:01 am

Return to Housing Court - NYC

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests