News Release

Texas Access to Justice Commission
Texas Access to Justice Foundation
 
 
February 16, 2011

Texas Senator Robert Duncan Receives Texas Access to Justice Legislative Hero Award

AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas Access to Justice Commission and Texas Access to Justice Foundation honored Senator Robert Duncan with the Texas Access to Justice Legislative Hero Award for his contributions to improving access to justice in Texas during a special presentation today in Lubbock.   Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan L. Hecht, the Court’s liaison for access to justice issues, presented the award to Senator Duncan during the 60th anniversary celebration of Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas.

Senator Duncan has a long history of supporting civil legal aid issues, including efforts that led to an appropriation of funding in the recent sessions for basic civil legal services. Through his leadership efforts, Senator Duncan has helped improve access to justice for those vulnerable Texans unable to pay for legal assistance from private attorneys.  

“Senator Duncan’s support in the Legislature helps many struggling Texans with basic civil legal services, such as benefits for veterans, foreclosures, health care for the elderly and domestic violence,” Justice Hecht said. “At a time of dwindling resources, we are grateful for the support as we continue to provide access to justice to Texans in need.”

“I am honored to receive this award for such an important cause from the Texas Access to Justice Commission and Foundation," Sen. Duncan said. “The success of our civil justice system depends on the ability of all types of citizens to access our courts.  It is important for the legislature to recognize this by supporting TAJC in its mission to provide Texans with the legal services they need.”

The Texas Access to Justice Commission and Foundation launched the Legislative Hero Award program in 2010 to recognize legislators who, through their efforts, have significantly advanced access to justice in Texas by assisting with the appropriation of funds and/or other substantive activities related to the provision of legal aid in the state.

Senator Robert Duncan is known in the Texas Senate for his tireless work ethic, keen understanding of complicated policy and stellar reputation. Since elected in 1996, he has crafted major legislation impacting: water rights; healthcare transparency and affordability; the integrity of public investment funds; public and higher education; and the efficiency and effectiveness of our civil justice system.

Each legislative session since 1999, Senator Duncan has served on the Senate Finance Committee. He has routinely compounded that victory for West Texas by earning a coveted seat on the budget conference committee, which hashes out the final appropriations bill.

Since 2004, Senator Duncan has served as chairman of the State Affairs Committee. He was elected and served as president pro tempore of the Texas Senate during the 81st Legislative Session. Senator Duncan is also a member of the Natural Resources Committee, the Committee on Higher Education, the Jurisprudence Committee, and served during the 81st interim on the Select Committee on Public School Finance Weights, Allotments and Adjustments. During the 82nd interim he will serve on the Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency.

Senator Duncan's efforts in the Senate have been highlighted by honors based on his work ethic, legislative accomplishments and leadership. Texas Monthly has five times named him among the state's 10 best legislators. It has also listed him as a "Texas Super Lawyer" for his professional reputation in the private sector.

Legal aid organizations funded by the Texas Access to Justice Foundation help more than 120,000 low-income Texas families each year with their civil legal needs. Yet, for every person who is helped with legal aid, a qualifying Texan is denied assistance due to a lack of resources. Currently, only one legal aid lawyer is available to provide assistance for every 11,152 Texans who qualify.

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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 120,000 Texas families each year.

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

 

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