- Click here for it.
Former Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson thinks we don;t spend enough on the justice system.
- Click here for his 2013 State of the Judiciary Address.
For those who can afford legal services, we have a top-notch judicial system. Highly qualified lawyers help courts dispense justice fairly and efficiently. 2 But that kind of representation is expensive. A larger swath of litigation exists in which the contestants lack wealth, insurance is absent, and public funding is not available. Some of our most essential rights – those involving families, homes, and livelihoods – are the least protected. Veterans languish for months before their disability, pension, and educational benefits arrive. As a result of the recent financial crisis, lower- and middle-income homeowners and tenants face foreclosure and eviction. Ever-increasing numbers of consumers and small businesses have filed for bankruptcy. And few can afford a lawyer to guide them through these crises.
Nearly six million Texans qualify for legal aid. Yet our state’s legal aid programs meet but 20% of the needs of indigent Texans, forcing many to go it alone in our courts. In South Texas, 2.6 million people qualify for legal aid. That means that there are 21,000 potential clients for each lawyer employed by the region’s main legal aid office.
It is clear to me, then, that we must fund our state’s legal aid programs.