A Universal Right to Civil Counsel • How to Begin?

A Universal Right to Civil Counsel • How to Begin?
Peter DuMont - Thu Mar 30, 2017 @ 05:27PM
Comments: 11

  • The following message about tackling "Economic Discrimination Before the Law" with a "Universal Right to Civil Counsel" (Please also see the coalition website supporting that ideal.) was first published as a comment at KQED.org's FORUM with Michael Krasny on 2017 March 29th.  The original show/page is entitled: "'The Meaning of Citizenship' with the ACLU's Abdi Soltani.

  • Listener comment by Peter B. DuMont:

  • 1PeterDuMont2STARALLIANCE8

    A Universal Right to Civil Counsel would address the endemic problem of Economic Discrimination Before the Law — which applies every bit or more so to civil cases as to criminal ones.

    One hopes the ACLU will devote a portion of its impressive new funds inflow to tackling these comprehensive problems. They are intimidating by their very nature and scale, but all the more important to address — whether through specific cases, legislation, raising public awareness; creative community-building solutions; or preferably all of the above.

    One idea for both impact and creative financial project-sustainability is this:

    1) Establish a proof-of-concept capital fund, sufficient for ongoing support to a small band of attorneys and support staff in a given community. 2) Advertise for civil plaintiffs who cannot afford paid legal representation, and whose cases do not qualify for contingency representation.* 3) Carefully select a (doable) caseload, and represent these cases toward quick settlements whenever possible. 4) With every successful case, use a portion of the winnings to increase the capital fund, gradually building a more powerful organization with greater reach and stamina.

    This process will benefit not only direct damage award recipients.  It will put the whole community on notice that routine systemic abuse of the poor will, increasingly, no longer be tolerated.

    * An educational note for the honorable naive:

    Legal marketplace contingency representation typically requires ALL FOUR of the following: 1) Actionable damages sufficient to attract the "strictly business" interests of lawyers regardless of noble intentions. 2) Deep pockets to sue against (and having won, actually to collect!) 3) A slam-dunk provable case to minimize risk. 4) An opposing force which is not too well-funded or otherwise intimidating.

    No wonder so few of poor people's civil cases — outside of personal injury — are represented under the contingency system. There is seldom enough money involved to trigger an attorney's business interests alone, much less to fulfill all the other conditions simultaneously.

Comments: 11

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