News Release

Texas Access to Justice Commission
Texas Access to Justice Foundation
State Bar of Texas
 
June 24, 2011


Texas Access to Justice Foundation Honors Senator John Cornyn for Access to Justice Efforts

SAN ANTONIO, Texas—The Texas Access to Justice Foundation, in conjunction with the Texas Access to Justice Commission and State Bar of Texas, honored U.S. Senator John Cornyn with the prestigious Harold F. Kleinman Award on Friday, June 24, during the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan L. Hecht, the Court’s liaison for access to justice issues, presented the award to Sen. Cornyn for his efforts in protecting the federal insurance coverage on IOLTA (Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts), thereby preserving legal services funding for those who otherwise would have no access to our justice system.

“Throughout my career, I have witnessed firsthand how important access to legal services is, regardless of socioeconomic status. Legal services have helped countless low-income Texans resolve housing and employment issues, as well as recover from natural disasters like hurricanes or wildfires. I’ve been proud to work on this issue, and I’m honored to receive the Harold F. Kleinman Award,” Sen. Cornyn said.

Late last year, Sen. Cornyn joined several of his colleagues in the Senate in a bipartisan effort to gain support for an important piece of legislation that corrected an oversight in the Dodd-Frank Act regarding IOLTA accounts. U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett filed H.R. 6398, legislation that continued full FDIC insurance coverage of IOLTA, a primary source of funding for legal aid.

“Through Senator Cornyn’s leadership in the Senate on this bipartisan issue, he has made a significant impact in helping provide access to justice to the more than 5.7 million Texans who qualify for legal aid,” Justice Hecht said. “The decline in funding for legal aid in Texas would have been much worse without this effort of our Congressional leaders.”

In Texas, the IOLTA program provides critically needed funding for basic civil legal services for poor and low-income Texans. IOLTA funding in Texas has suffered a 73 percent decline since 2007 due to declining interest rates. To be eligible for legal aid, an individual must earn no more than $13,613 a year. For a family of four, the household income cannot exceed $27,938. 

Established by the Texas Access to Justice Foundation in 1995, the Harold F. Kleinman Award, named for the Foundation’s first chairman, is given to individuals whose outstanding character, commitment and public service to the people of Texas, make them true leaders in access to civil justice. Sen. Cornyn is the fourteenth recipient to receive the award.

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The Texas Access to Justice Commission was created in 2001 by the Supreme Court of Texas to develop and implement policy initiatives designed to expand access to and enhance the quality of justice in civil legal matters for low-income Texans. The Commission has created several initiatives to increase resources and awareness of legal aid. For more information, please visit www.TexasATJ.org.

 The Texas Access to Justice Foundation (www.teajf.org), created by the Supreme Court of Texas in 1984, is the primary state-based funding source for the provision of civil legal aid in Texas. The organization is committed to the vision that all Texans will have equal access to justice, regardless of their income. The Foundation administers a variety of funding sources, which are earmarked to assist nonprofit organizations in providing legal aid to approximately 100,000 Texas families each year.

The State Bar of Texas is an administrative agency of the Supreme Court of Texas that provides educational programs for the legal profession and the public, administers the minimum continuing legal education program for attorneys, and manages the attorney discipline system. 

 

Contact: Kimberly Schmitt
512-320-0099, ext. 104
kschmitt@teajf.org

 

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