Access To Justice Update: April 13, 2017 — Special Survey Edition

This Update seeks your ideas and participation in the Access to Justice Commission's Justice for All Project. The Project is funded by a special grant which seeks nothing less than to develop a plan that ultimately provides 100 percent access to effective assistance for essential civil legal needs. The survey is found at https://goo.gl/forms/NSTnFdULFQSCAf3P2  You can go there right now and offer your thoughts.
Or you can read more about the Project here, including opportunities to join in meetings to discuss housing law and family law in Springfield on April 28, ...
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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 ...
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Access to Justice Update – January 20, 2017

Hon. Dina Fein, long the Special Advisor to the Trial Court on Access to Justice initiatives, announced at yesterday's meeting of the Access to Justice Commission that The Trial Court has hired Maura Kelly for the position of Senior Manager for Access to Justice. Kelly comes to the Court from a position as Assistant Dean for Northeastern's Co-op Program. She will start in February. I

   If the projects discussed at the Commission meeting all come to fruition, Maura will be extremely busy.
    Judge Fein described to ...
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Late Breaking Access to Justice News – January 18, 2017

Nearly a decade after a task force produced "Gideon's New Trumpet" calling for a right to counsel in eviction cases, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has taken the idea to heart and proposed a right to counsel as part of a package of legislation he will submit to the legislature  next week.  The Mayor announced on Friday that he was proposing a package of measures to improve tenants' ability to retain possession of affordable housing units. The details of the bills are yet to be made available, but the Committee for Public Counsel Services ...
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Access to Justice Update – January 9, 2017

The next meeting of the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission will convene at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, January19, 2017, in the Social Law Library on the fourth floor of the John Adams Courthouse, One Pemberton Plaza, Boston.  Other meetings are scheduled for March 23, May 23 and June 13. All meetings are open to the public.
The agenda for the meeting is still being prepared. Among the topics likely to be considered are the first steps that have been taken under the $l00,000 Justice for All planning grant, continuation of the legislative campaign to extend housing ...
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Access to Justice Update November 21, 2016

1. THE NEXT ACCESS TO JUSTICE COMMISSION MEETING WILL CONVENE ON THURSDAY, DECEMBER 1, AT 3:00, in the Social Law Library on the fourth floor of the Adams courthouse located at One Pemberton Plaza, Boston MA. The meeting is open to the public.
The major item on the agenda is an exploration of cases involving criminal    offenses that contain civil law "crossover" issues. Around the country, access to justice commissions have been primarily concerned with purely civil justice questions. An example of such a crossover issue is whether the Commission should advocate for a right to counsel in a proceeding for ...
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Massachusetts awarded one of seven Justice For All grants

Massachusetts was awarded one of seven Justice For All grants (also known to some of us as the 100% access initiative grants) from the Public Welfare Foundation.  It was a competitive process, with twenty-five states applying for such funding.  The grant proposal contemplated the development of a strategic action plan for improving access to justice in Massachusetts, done in a collaborative manner involving all stakeholders. 
Read all the details here

Special thanks to those commissioners and staff who worked on the 100% committee with us over the summer so that we could be in the position of submitting a ...
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Boston Bar Association Article about the Commission

On September 29, 2016 the Boston Bar Association published a lengthy article about the goals of new Commission and the accomplishments of previous iterations of the Commission. The article begins:
The start of the BBA’s program year and the new SJC session also coincide with the new seating of the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission.  Now in its third iteration, the Commission is looking to build on its substantial work.  Last year alone, the Commission accomplished the following (and more!):
Legal Services Funding: Supported an increase in ...
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Access To Justice Update June 30, 2016

MLAC Appropriation:  Up By $1.0 Million
Today's news from the legislature's budget conference committee held a better outcome for MLAC than some had predicted. The FY 2017 appropriation is $18 million, up $1.0 million from FY 2016. The increase was won despite many cuts affecting other state budgets. The work of MLAC supporters is not quite finished, however; the Governor still has to review and sign off on the budget. 
Housing Court Expansion Not So Fortunate
The proposal to expand Housing Court jurisdiction to cover the whole state did not fare so well. Despite an effort that saw many municipalities formally petition for ...
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A2J Update June 6, 2016


The Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission has filed its Annual Report on Activities in 2015 with the Supreme Judicial Court. A copy is attached, and the Report, together with reports from the prior decade, can be found at www.massA2J.org.

The Report has five sections, corresponding with the Commission's five core strategies :

1)    increasing justice by improving the effectiveness of, and the funding for, civil legal services organizations;

2)    increasing services provided by private attorneys;

3)    improving assistance to unrepresented litigants;

4)    improving access to justice beyond the courts, such as in administrative agencies; ...
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