Access to Justice Update, July 12, 2017

MA ATJ Commission Seeking Part-Time Consultant

Following the departure of valued consultant Gerry Singsen, the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission is seeking a new part-time consultant to oversee the activities of the Commission. Working closely with the Commission’s Co-Chairs, the consultant will ensure that the Commission will continue to have a meaningful impact on the administration of justice in the state, and beyond. Specifically, the consultant will provide strategic guidance on access to justice issues, manage the Commission’s day-to-day activities, and provide insights into the civil legal aid aspect of the Commission’s work. A detailed position description and application instructions are available here.

Housing Court Expansion Included in State FY18 Budget  

On Friday, July 7th, the Massachusetts state legislature’s conference committee released its compromise budget for Fiscal Year 2018, which included the Housing Court expansion – a huge step towards improving housing court access in the state. The Conference Committee provided both the legislative authorization for the expansion, effective as of July 1, 2017, and $1 million to start the expansion. Senator Spilka and many others offered valuable leadership in this effort. The state legislature supported this allocation in the vote last Friday, approving the budget proposed by the Committee. The budget has now gone to Governor Baker for his review.

Update on MLAC Funding for FY18

On Friday, July 7th, the State’s FY18 Budget Conference Committee also decided to level fund for civil legal aid through the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC), at $18 million. This amount falls short of the increase requested by MLAC and eliminates the increases in funding approved in the House and Senate budgets, which both included a $2 million funding increase for civil legal aid. The state legislature approved the conference committee’s recommended allocation last Friday, and the budget has been sent for review by Governor Baker. A full press release discussing the budget can be found here.