People are Talking...



"It is time, it is past time, for this great nation to embrace a civil analog to Gideon, and to ensure that in those life-altering situations that so many of our fellow citizens face, the right to adequate legal representation is mandated.  There will be those who reflexively say, “well, we don’t have the resources to do” that which I call on the nation to do.  But let’s be honest: we do not lack the resources or at least the means by which those resources might be generated.  We lack the will.  We have turned away from and chosen not to hear the cries who live on the margins of our society.  This is a stain on our democracy."

- Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

"Establishing publicly funded legal services for low-income families in housing court would be a cost-effective measure that would prevent homelessness, decrease evictions, and give poor families a fair shake …The consequences of eviction are many — and so are its burdens on the public purse … If America extended the right to counsel in housing court, it would be a major step on the path to a more fair and equitable society."


- Matthew Desmond, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City


"Every day, countless Americans are in court grappling with life-altering challenges like foreclosure, eviction, debt and family instability – far too often, doing so without counsel."


- US Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch 


"Most importantly, explains John Pollock, the coordinator of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel, indigent defendants have a right to counsel in criminal cases, but not in civil ones. Yet, as noted, they may be jailed for failing to show up at a civil hearing or for not resolving civil debt. In other words, poor people with debt face criminal consequences but without the Constitutional protections afforded to criminal defendants."


- Eli Hager, Debtors’ Prisons, Then and Now: FAQ, an article by The Marshall Project


"At the present time, there are no satisfactory means, through statute or otherwise, to provide this pro se plaintiff with counsel. The case, on its face, without substantial discovery, would not warrant the appearance of private counsel working for financial gain. Nor would the legal situation justify the court’s asking a member of the bar to volunteer; litigation obligations would probably require a costly outlay for discovery.  If the plaintiff were to continue pro se, the court would probably be forced to intervene and, in effect, advocate on his behalf, possibly prejudicing the defendant’s case.  In many cases, pro se justice is an oxymoron. Without representation by counsel, it is probable, to some degree, that adequate justice cannot be served in this case."


- Federal District Judge Jack Weinstein, in Floyd v. Cosi--- F.Supp.3d ----, 2015 WL 148458 (E.D.N.Y. 2015)


 "I think we've got to continue to change the dialogue ... to get people to understand, so that if they ask people on the street, "Gee, do you think someone with a roof over their head is going to be foreclosed, do they have the right to counsel?", that everyone, 100%, will say, "Yeah, that's right, they do have a right to counsel ...  Access to justice is not a luxury affordable only in good times. It cannot be allowed to fluctuate with the ups and downs of financial markets."


- NY Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman


"'I believe that the right to an attorney is the right that protects all other rights. Without Staten Island Legal Services, many Staten Islanders wouldn't have anyone to protect their rights,' Schneiderman said ... Schneiderman said whether it's helping storm victims get money from the government or insurance companies, helping domestic violence victims, or helping people achieve financial independence, lawyers like those at Staten Island Legal Services ensure 'equal justice under law."


- New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, from Staten Island Live


"During his testimony, Carter, who began his career in criminal practice, said that the right to representation in civil matters is just as integral as the right to counsel in criminal cases upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in Gideon v. Wainwright ..."


- NY City Corporation Counsel Zachary Carter, from the NY Law Journal's coverage of access to justice hearings held by NY Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman


"[W]e should be saying that when a person or a corporation or a business is able to use the power of the government to take the property or the liberty or to compromise the rights of another person, that the right to fair and equal access to the courts becomes a constitutional right."


- Mississippi Supreme Court Presiding Justice Jess Dickinson, from the LSC 40th anniversary event


"What does a six-year old who only speaks Spanish need with an attorney? I'm sure our court system will sort it all out."


- Jon Stewart of The Daily Show, in an interview with writer Sonia Nazario, quipping in response to Nazario describing the need for representation for children in immigration proceedings