Friday, August 1, 2014
The National Coalition for the Civil Right to Counsel has launched a website. The site includes news about the right to counsel in immigration removal proceedings.
Having a lawyer can make the difference between keeping a home or losing it, obtaining protection from domestic violence or risking injury, having sufficient food or going hungry, or even keeping a family together versus having it split apart. But the ultimate consequences of losing these types of civil cases extend beyond these immediate effects. When people lose their homes or children, or experience domestic violence that they cannot stop, they often have problems with school and employment, experience psychological problems, and are forced to use publicly-financed medical care, shelter and benefits systems. Thus, not only does losing the case affect them in multiple ways, but all of society bears the cost in a way that is significantly more expensive than paying for counsel in the first place. Moreover, families of color, families headed by women, children and the elderly suffer these consequences disproportionately.
Most low-income people facing serious civil legal problems in America cannot afford legal representation. And the legal aid programs are chronically understaffed and can meet only a small percentage of the need; about 80% of the legal needs go unmet. And while pro bono services from the private bar have grown in recent decades, they cannot begin to fill the void. Additionally, there is growing evidence that providing counsel not only makes outcomes more accurate, but may actually help the states save money. The right to counsel can also be an excellent tool for fighting poverty. Judges have also written about why there should be a right to counsel. The NCCRC Enters the breach This lack of representation furthers inequality and injustice. But now a movement to attain a right to counsel in civil cases has begun in the form of the NCCRC, a growing organization dedicated to securing the right.