MASSACHUSETTS ACCESS TO JUSTICE COMMISSION UPDATE – DECEMBER 1, 2020

Despite these challenging times, we hope you had the opportunity to relax and connect with family and friends over the Thanksgiving holiday. 

Please see below for announcements and upcoming events.

Announcements:

Announcing the Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants Access to Justice Fund

As we continue to mourn the loss of our Co-Chair and friend, Chief Justice Ralph Gants, we know that his legacy will continue.  We are pleased to share the news of the Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants Access to Justice Fund.  This Fund will support initiatives to advance access to justice, racial equity and criminal justice reform in the legal system. During his tenure on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Chief Justice Gants was intent on making progress in each of these critical areas of focus. This fund is a collaboration between the Ralph D. Gants Access to Justice Fund Advisory Committee, Massachusetts Bar Association and the Massachusetts Bar Foundation.  This fund will seek to carry on his legacy on the issues he cared about most.

Civil Justice for All: Report from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Civil Justice for All, a report of the American Academy’s Making Justice Accessible project focuses on the civil justice gap, “the great difference between the number of Americans who need civil legal assistance and the very few who receive help of any kind,” and calls for coordination among the legal profession, the courts, law schools, tech professionals, and partners from other fields and disciplines to close this gap.  The Report explains why a major initiative for access to civil justice is needed, sets forth seven recommendations for closing the civil justice gap and specifically highlights the areas of family, health, housing and veterans.  You can read the Report here.

New Self-Paced Course Helps Libraries Improve Access to Civil Legal Justice

Creating Pathways to Civil Legal Justice is an online series of free, self-paced courses that augment the ability of public library staff to meet the civil legal needs of patrons and create more access points to civil legal justice in communities. Created in partnership with Legal Services Corporation (LSC), this online continuing education opportunity aims to empower all library staff to feel more confident about conducting civil legal reference interviews and connecting patrons to important resources and information that can help improve the lives of your community members. Register here. For more on WebJunction and Legal Services Corporation’s training initiative Improving Access to Civil Legal through Public Libraries see https://oc.lc/legal-justice.

Events:

Amplifying Unheard Voices Series: Perspectives of Black and Latinx Court Users

Thursday, December 3, 2020 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM

The Commission is pleased to be one of several co-sponsors of the Boston Bar Association’s Amplifying Unheard Voices series. This series seeks to highlight and amplify underrepresented perspectives of attorneys, clients and communities that engage with the legal system regularly, and to move towards more equitable representation of and opportunities for these communities.

This third discussion in the series will focus on amplifying the perspectives of court users from underrepresented and historically excluded populations through the Black and Latinx experience. The discussion will be moderated by Sheriece Perry, Co-Director of Support Services for the Massachusetts Trial Court Office of Court Management.  This panel is dedicated to the memory of Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.  You can register here.

The first two programs, which focused on Black male and female perspectives in the Massachusetts legal profession, can be viewed respectively, here and here.  Future panels in this series are presently expected to highlight additional perspectives such as:

Voices from Behind the Wall: Presently & Previously Incarcerated Individuals

Black and Brown Law Students

Black and Brown Trans Attorneys, Organizers & Clients

Join us for the December 17, 2020 MA ATJ Commission Meeting

The next Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission meeting is scheduled for December 17th from 3-5 pm.  RSVP here.  We will forward a zoom link in advance of the meeting.

We hope you are all staying safe and well and we look forward to seeing you on December 17th at the MA ATJ Commission meeting.