News Release

Texas Access to Justice Foundation 
June 9, 2020

The justice system fails marginalized Texans when they need it most

By Betty Balli Torres


‘No Justice, No Peace’. These four words often permeate protests about the disparate treatment of marginalized people in our criminal justice system. The grim statistics show that the criminal justice system has a disproportionately negative impact on vulnerable communities and people of color. The system fails entire communities––and at its worst, results in lives lost. Generations have been irreparably harmed due to these dismal failures.

The civil justice system has also failed these communities. America’s greatness is based on the principles of equality and justice but the promise of “justice for all” holds empty for hundreds of thousands of Texans and has for decades. The doors of the civil justice system are most often closed to those in dire need of its support. The courthouse, a beacon of our democracy, is inaccessible when one cannot afford a lawyer––a reality for many.

Legal aid programs and pro bono lawyers across Texas are doing everything they can to ensure that communities in need have access to the courthouse doors. Other allies, including judges, corporations, court administrators, technology companies and law students also toil to make the courts accessible, but these efforts have failed to produce wide open doors for everyone who seeks justice.

How can there be peace for persons being abused in their homes, removed from their homes or whose children may have special needs that aren’t being legally met? Legal aid organizations help more than 150,000 Texas families each year, but due to a lack of resources, only approximately 10% of the civil legal needs of eligible Texans are being met. How can there be peace for those 90% who are promised justice, but find none? How can there be peace for the rest of us knowing that our democracy has failed in its promise? For those most in need in our society, the tragic truth is that there is “No Justice, No Peace”.

We, the people, are all better if the civil justice system honors its promise of justice. There must be a commitment to massive reforms in the judicial system so that everyone shares in this essential piece of our democracy. Foundations, along with other influencers and decision makers, must commit to making significant strides and investments to ensure that everyone has equal access to our courts. ##

Betty Balli Torres is the executive director of the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, the largest funding source for civil legal services for the poor in Texas. She has dedicated her professional career to public interest work serving as an advocate for civil legal services for vulnerable Texans and is the recipient of several awards for her commitment to this work.         



Recent News


June 16, 2021

Texas Legislature Provides Funding for the State's Legal Aid System

May 11, 2021

TAJF Executive Director honored with national Innovations in Equal Justice Award

Apr. 15, 2021

Help sexual assault survivors and support legal aid - Justice Eva Guzman, Houston Chronicle

Mar. 3, 2021

Hurting from the pandemic and storm, more Texans need legal aid - Chief Justice Nathan Hecht, Austin American-Statesman

Nov. 5, 2020

Texas Veterans Legal Aid Week goes virtual, free clinics held Nov. 9 - 13

Oct. 21, 2020

Stop TX Eviction Launches to Keep Renters Housed

Oct. 1, 2020

TAJF Creates New Tate Rural Justice Fellowship

Sept. 22, 2020

Hispanic Issues Section Raises Funds for Legal Aid

Sept. 2, 2020

TAJF Adds Houston Attorney Travis Torrence to Board

Aug. 25, 2020

TAJF Names Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Deborah Hankinson as Board Chair

Aug. 12, 2020

TAJF Sponsors Five Equal Justice Works Fellows

Aug. 10, 2020

American Bar Association Appoints TAJF Executive Director to New Positions

June 25, 2020

Nearly 50 Prime Partner Banks Remain Committed to Funding Civil Legal Aid

June 9, 2020

No Justice, No Peace - By Betty Balli Torres

May 21, 2020

Jamail Endowment Supporting Legal Services for Texas Veterans Reaches $1M  


More news

© 2021 Texas Access to Justice Foundation