Rich vs. Poor Increasingly The Focus of Court Debate

Street protests in Los Angeles last week against court reorganizations included speakers who stressed that California is creating a two-tiered justice system. One will be for the relatively wealthy who can hire lawyers, they argue, and the other will be for the poor who face longer waits, long travel times and increasingly difficult access to their courts. A new lawsuit even claims the changes are illegal (see previous posts and links).
Now the Tribune newspaper in San Luis Obispo has added its voice to that argument. In an editorial, the paper says that “… help that used to be available to assist those [lower income] litigants, 70 percent of whom come without lawyers, has been slashed to the bone. Help with forms, telephone responses and via email is nearly gone. Twenty-five counter service windows have been closed and the hours reduced for those that are left. Even janitorial services have been cut to the most basic level… if civil litigants are wealthy, they can pay for private mediation. But for the indigent, stuck in overwhelmed and understaffed public courts, it can take as long as five years to schedule a trial. For injured plaintiffs waiting for relief, justice delayed that long is a gross injustice.”

Five years? Read the entire opinion here.