State Supreme Court needs to resume legal aid program

The constant denial of the pandemic’s seriousness, combined with four years of the Trump administration dismantling social safety-net protections on every level leaves Americans facing a multitude of issues that they will need to confront solely and inadequately on their own. Consider the frightening situations of eviction, bankruptcy, destitution, foreclosures, domestic violence, divorce, child custody/support cases, a host of civil legal issues, without access to civil legal representation. Seventy-one percent of low-income Americans experience at least one civil legal problem per year, yet 86 percent of them receive either minimal or no legal help to deal with it. Seniors and veterans often end up homeless because they can’t afford a lawyer to help them with disability or Social Security disputes. The Obama administration established the Office for Access to Justice, a successful program set up to prioritize poor persons’ legal rights but the Trump administration quickly abandoned the program.

We are all vulnerable to the spiraling misfortune that accompanies the no money, no lawyer, no justice predicament so it makes no sense for the Washington State Supreme Court to end the Limited License Legal Technician (LLL-T) program. It’s a travesty when so many people are already suffering due to the dismantling of social and environmental protections.

The LLL-T’s provide professional, affordable legal support to those most in need. Lawyers and the Board of Governors campaigned to restrict the legal market to only those who can afford their high fees, and the court made the decision without consulting the LLL-T’s or the public they serve. This decision can be overturned but enough people have to voice their concerns. You can help by e-mailing the Washington State Supreme Court Justices at, Supreme@courts.wa.gov. Tell them the professional support of LLL-T’s is desperately needed and to maintain the LLL-T program.

Teresa Dix

Mount Vernon

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