Wisconsin High Court Asks For Study On ‘Civil Gideon’ Options

Saying it recognizes that thousands of its citizens are unable to afford legal services in civil cases, the Wisconsin Supreme Court is asking the state Joint Legislative Council to study how to improve legal access for those who cannot afford a lawyers. The Council’s role is to establish special committees to study major issues and recommend legislation every two years.
The Wisconsin Bar Association website reports that “… the court notes it has considered several other rule changes over the years to increase access to civil legal services, including a so-called Civil Gideon petition, which would require courts to appoint counsel in certain civil cases. The court acknowledged the need for increased legal services but did not approve the Civil Gideon petition for lack of funding. Funding remains an issue for the court system.” The “Civil Gideon” movement, led by programs in San Francisco and New York, is the idea that certain civil cases should include a right to an attorney similar to that provided criminal defendants. It is named after a landmark case that made criminal representation the law of the land.
In its  press release last week. the court noted that one objective of a proposed Wisconsin Joint Legislative Council study committee would be to “brainstorm other possible sources of assistance and help to plan the most effective means of delivering services.” Read more at the WisBar website: State Supreme Court Seeks Legislative Study on Access to Civil Legal Services.