Access to Justice Update – February 24, 2017

Next Commission Meeting March 23, 2017

The next meeting of the Access to Justice Commission will take place in the Social Law Library at the Adams Courthouse, One Pemberton Plaza, Boston. The meeting begins at 3:00 and is open to the public.


Civil Appeals Pro Bono Clinic: Training and Reception March 2:

The Civil Appeals Pro Bono Clinic, a state-wide pro bono program located at the Massachusetts Appeals Court that provides legal assistance to low income self-represented litigants with appeals, is holding a training and reception on Thursday, March 2nd at the Supreme Judicial Court Second Floor Conference Suite.  The Clinic is operated by the Volunteer Lawyer’s Project, Mintz Levin, and Foley Hoag in collaboration with several other firms.  The training will run from 4-5:30 p.m., with the reception following at 5:30-7 p.m., and is sponsored by both the MBA and the BBA.  The training will feature a number of experts and experienced clinic volunteers, and will help prepare prospective volunteers for meeting with and advising litigants in subject areas ranging from housing disputes to family law issues.  The reception will celebrate the clinic’s previous successes, and will feature remarks from Chief Justice Gants and Chief Justice Kafker, as well as hors d’oeuvres and beer/wine/soft drinks.  Even if you have already attended a previous training, we’d love to see you at the reception (RSVP for training and/or reception here).



LSC Developments

It’s becoming more official: the Trump administration has LSC’s $385 million appropriation in its sights. A lengthy NY Times article reports that the Heritage Foundation has had a central role in the Executive Office transition planning. The new OMB Director, John “Mick” Mulvaney, has a history of opposing LSC funding. Now he’s in charge of developing the President’s budget proposals to Congress. As part of the process, federal agencies are required to submit their FY 2018 budget requests to OMB by February 23 and the official OMB position is due March 13. Technically, LSC is not a federal agency and submits its budget requests directly to the Congress, independent of OMB (or Presidential) control.  In practice, OMB reviews the LSC proposal and includes LSC in the President’s overall federal budget.  Frequently LSC modifies its request to comport with the President’s proposal, but that is unlikely this year.


Meanwhile, the budget for the current fiscal year (FY 2017, ending September 30, 2017) is only half completed. Operating on the basis of a “continuing resolution” covering much of the government through April 28, LSC may learn the President’s plan for the balance of the fiscal year by next Tuesday when the President delivers his State of the Union address. Among possible scenarios is a cut in the level of funding for many federal agencies, including LSC, for the remainder of  the current fiscal year. Such a cut would have to be carried out in grant reductions during the remaining seven or eight months of the grant year.


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