News Release

Texas Access to Justice Commission
Texas Access to Justice Foundation
 
June 4, 2011

Statement from Harry M. Reasoner and Richard L. Tate on Status of Legal Aid Funding in Legislature

AUSTIN, Texas – The following joint statement was issued today by Harry M. Reasoner, Chair of the Texas Access to Justice Commission and Richard L. Tate, Chair of the Texas Access to Justice Foundation:

“Late yesterday the Texas Senate amended Senate Bill 2 of the Special Session.  Following on the formal request for emergency relief by the Texas Supreme Court, and with the leadership of Senators Ogden, West, Rodriguez, Hinojosa, Ellis, and Duncan; Legal Aid was appropriated $17 million in general revenue funds for the upcoming two years. The Senate helped preserve legal aid by largely making up for the $20 million awarded last Session to mitigate the decline in interest on lawyer trust accounts (IOLTA) funds.  The lawyers of Texas will continue fundraising and pro bono efforts through bar associations and along with our partners in the banking industry to try to give as many disadvantaged Texans access to the legal system as possible. The Senate also approved a greatly needed $7 million in General Revenue funds for indigent defense programs.

All Texans should be grateful for the leadership of the Texas Supreme Court and the action of the Texas Senate in these efforts to provide access to justice for Texans who could otherwise not afford it.  Agreement by the House will provide desperately needed representation to tens of thousands of Texans who would otherwise be without legal help in cases like those involving child abuse, domestic violence, and denial of disability benefits to veterans.”

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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 more than 100,000 Texans each year.

Contact: Kimberly Schmitt
512-320-0099, ext. 104 or 512-944-4021
kschmitt@teajf.org

 

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