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Chief Justice Castille, Other Members of Civil Legal Justice Coalition to Speak on Plight of Low-Income Pennsylvanians Without Legal Representation at Public Hearing of Pa Senate Judiciary Committee May 23
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille will offer remarks along with other judges, low-income Pennsylvanians and the lawyers who help them, and community and business leaders at a Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee Public Hearing,"Civil Legal Representation of the Indigent: Have We Achieved Equal Access to Justice?" on Thursday, May 23 at 9:30 a.m. at the Philadelphia Bar Association, 1101 Market Street, in the 11th floor Conference Center. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Stewart J. Greenleaf (R-Montgomery, Bucks) will chair the hearing.
Public interest agency clients with serious legal problems impacting their basic human needs and those of their families - individuals without access to an attorney or who otherwise could not have been helped without access to an attorney - will share their personal stories of struggle at the hearing.
Additionally, key stakeholders will testify regarding the legal community's ethical obligations to the civil side of justice and discuss the adverse impact of the growing civil justice gap, including the economic and social harm (direct and/or indirect) when critical legal needs are unmet as well as the economic and social benefits to the community when such needs are met.
Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Awards Recognize Pro Bono Achievements
Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and Yvette R. Long, a disability and welfare rights advocate with the Pennsylvania Welfare Rights organization were also honored with the Outstanding Leadership in Support of Legal Services Awards at the event.
The list of recipients included individuals being recognized for pro bono achievements as well as a variety of civil legal aid professionals and other friends of civil legal aid across Pennsylvania.
Those recognized for pro bono efforts include:
- Cary L. Flitter, Esq.
Founding partner of the Montgomery County law firm Flitter Lorenz, P.C. and a leading consumer protection lawyer.
- Kathryn M. Kenyon, Esq.
Attorney and partner with the law firm of Pietragallo, Gordon, Alfano, Bosick and Raspanti, LLP in Pittsburgh.
- The Lycoming Law Association and the Lycoming Law Foundation
The Lycoming Law Association is the professional organization composed of attorneys in Lycoming County. The Lycoming Law Association Foundation is the charitable arm of the Association.
- David Keller Trevaskis, Esq.
Pro Bono Coordinator at the Pennsylvania Bar Association.
Other selected to receive Excellence Awards include:
- Judy Berkman, Esq., Managing Attorney for Regional Housing Legal Services in Glenside, PA
- Elizabeth C. Goodell, Esq. and Kerry Smith, Esq. of the Homeownership and Consumer Unit at Community Legal Services in Philadelphia
- Sol María Rivera, a paralegal with Friends of Farmworkers, Inc.
- Debra Wiley, Legal Secretary in the Bedford office of MidPenn Legal Services.
Video tributes were presented for each of the award recipients during the awards ceremony in Harrisburg. Those video tributes may be viewed at the link below.
The ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service chose to launch the National Celebrate Pro Bono initiative several years ago because of the increasing need for pro bono services during these harsh economic times and the unprecedented response of attorneys to meet this demand. The annual Celebration is a coordinated national effort to meet the ever-growing needs of this country's most vulnerable citizens by encouraging and supporting local efforts to expand the delivery of pro bono legal services, and by showcasing the great difference that pro bono lawyers make to the nation, its system of justice, its communities and, most of all, to the clients they serve.
Although national in breadth, the Celebration provides an opportunity for local legal associations across the country to take the next step in their efforts to provide high quality legal services to those living on the social margins.
The website also features JUST Stories, a video quilt of stories that significantly impacted the lives of public interest and pro bono advocates and their clients. One such story is offered by Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court:
Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network
Pennsylvania Bar Association
Legal Services to the Public Committee of the Pennsylvania Bar Association
Pro Bono Center of the Allegheny County Bar Foundation
Philadelphia VIP Pro Bono Legal Services
Philadelphia Bar Association
Dauphin County Bar Association Pro Bono Program
Erie County Bar Association Legal Aid Volunteer Attorneys (LAVA) Program
Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc. (Video Profile)
Pennsylvania IOLTA Board
Chief Justice Castille Reminds Lawyers of Need to Provide Public Service
During this 50th anniversary year of the landmark Gideon v. Wainwright decision establishing the right to counsel for the indigent in criminal trial matters, Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Ronald D. Castille is calling on lawyers to support the Commonwealth's civil legal aid programs by providing pro bono service through direct representation and financial contributions.
The chief justice noted this anniversary year is the perfect time for lawyers to contemplate the legal community's ethical obligations to the civil side of justice, where few Gideon-type rights have been recognized.
In a letter to Pennsylvania's 70,000 registered lawyers, the chief justice joined with Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) President Tom Wilkinson to call on attorneys to make a personal commitment to provide pro bono service through direct representation of the poor and financial support of legal aid programs. The reminder of their ethical duty to provide public service is being widely distributed to the legal community by the courts and the PBA.
"Pro bono volunteers provide meaningful time and financial contributions by representing clients who have critical needs, but cannot afford private counsel," Chief Justice Castille said. "Despite the support of the court and licensing fees, it is the volunteer efforts that still matter. In these times of such great need, pro bono service is more important than ever."
Chief Justice Castille noted that in each of the last two years every lawyer in Pennsylvania has contributed $35 to civil legal aid through the Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) portion of annual licensing fees. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court also has supported civil legal aid by providing new avenues for funding legal services and setting up a loan-forgiveness program of legal services attorneys funded by pro hac vice filing fees.
The Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network (PLAN) is the state's coordinated system of organizations providing civil legal aid for those with nowhere else to turn. PLAN, whose programs provide legal assistance and access to the courts for Pennsylvanians whose family income is less than 125 percent of the poverty level, is facing a crisis due to a substantial decrease in funds available for civil legal aid.
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- Chief Justice Castille, Other Members of Civil Legal Justice Coalition to Speak on Plight of Low-Income Pennsylvanians without Legal Representation at Public Hearing of Pa Senate Judiciary Committee May 23 , May 21
- Volunteers Needed for Drop In Legal Clinic at Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference , May 15
- Pro Bono Isn’t Just For Litigators! - The PBEye , May 10
- Mary R. Bates Honored with Louis J. Goffman Award for Outstanding Pro Bono Support and Service. , May 6
- Chief Justice Castille to Participate in 'Spring into Pro Bono Action' CLE Program , May 6
- “Civil Justice Gap” Stories From Low-Income Pennsylvanians Without Legal Representation to Highlight Public Hearing of PA Senate Judiciary Committee May 7 , May 3
- View more
Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network News
- Ron Flagg Appointed LSC Vice President for Legal Affairs
- Chief Justice Castille, Other Members of Civil Legal Justice Coalition to Speak on Plight of Low-Income Pennsylvanians without Legal Representation at Public Hearing of Pa Senate Judiciary Committee May 23
- LSC Sends Request for $486 million to Capitol Hill
- State of the Commonwealth's Courts 2013
- Senior Health News - April 2013
- PA Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Public Hearing on Civil Legal Representation of the Indigent