Montana Panel Finds Residents Expect Lawyers In Civil Actions, But Don’t Get One



After months of community meetings, a Montana panel has found (among other things) “… that low- to moderate-income Montanans most often face legal crises stemming from housing problems, custody disputes, domestic violence, and debt collection. These issues are often compounded with other complicating factors, the report said, such as mental illness or diminished capacity, substance abuse, physical disabilities, threats to safety, and child care. Many of these issues are intersectional, meaning they affect and intensify the other.”

The Flathead Beacon reported on the panel’s findings, noting that “… many Montanans don’t realize, for instance, that they don’t have the right to an appointed attorney while facing civil issues. They can be evicted, lose custody of their children, or lose their home without ever having the right to an attorney.”

The Beacon also reported that the Access to Justice Commission “… concluded that there needs to be a statewide inventory of services and programs available in each region, and a means for making this inventory known in those regions. Along with the inventory, the commission said there should be a means for linking Montanans with legal problems to the programs and service providers.”

Read the report, and find a link to the Commission’s complete findings, here:
Report Details Need for Education, Increased Access to Civil Legal Resources – Flathead

Florida Bar President Says Legal Representation Is A ‘Crisis’

The recent economic downturn and increased housing evictions are a couple of the reasons that Florida Bar President Ray Abadin says the inability of the majority of Floridians to afford legal representation is at “crisis proportions.” In a Tampa Tribune story, she says that “… not having professional legal representation can have dramatic adverse consequences in any situation. It can be devastating to one person; it can have life implications for families. Not having a lawyer can be a very serious thing.”
The Tribune notes that Abadin sits on the Florida Commission for Access to Civil Justice, “… which recently submitted its first report to the state Supreme Court offering suggestions for addressing the need, including a possible way to fund legal services.” Senior Judge Emerson R. Thompson Jr., the immediate past president of the state Bar Foundation, explains in the Trib’s report that “… the foundation’s main source of funds to pay for legal aid, interest on attorney trust accounts, sank from $22 million to $5 million. At the same time, thousands of Floridians faced foreclosure proceedings, threatened with losing their houses and needing legal representation.