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Majority in US can’t afford to hire lawyers
PRINCIPAL CORRESPONDENT
Monday, November 28, 2011 AT 02:56 PM (IST)
Tags: Lawyer,   CUNY,   CLRN,   SLS,   law,   education,   Pune

PUNE: The legal justice system in United States (USA) is in dire straits as majority of the people living in world’s oldest democracy are struggling to hire a lawyer due to the high costs.

 

Not only that, according to a survey undertaken by the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index, the United States is ranked the lowest among 11 developed nations when it comes to providing justice to its citizens and is ranked lower than some third-world nations.

 

This was revealed by two New York-based legal experts, Deputy Administrative Judge, City Court, New York Justice Fern Fisher and director City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law’s Community Legal Resource Network (CLRN) Fred Rooney.

 

They are currently visiting the Symbiosis Law School (SLS) in the city to speak about the current state of access to justice in US and India.

 

“The situation is very serious. We can call it a crisis. The justice system has to be accountable to people for democracy to work. It is being challenged to do better. US is struggling to ensure justice,” Justice Fisher said.

 

To make matters worse, the budgets meant for courts have been cut drastically due to recession. In New York state alone, the budget has been slashed by USD 170 million.

 

“Ability to get justice and economic conditions are very closely linked. But justice has to be delivered nevertheless. So we are trying various methods like roping in NGOs and advocacy groups to help the litigants get legal representation,” Rooney said.

 

According to SLS director Shashikala Gurpur, the difference between US and India is that in most cases like domestic violence, victims don’t come to the courts.

 

“We want to share the best practices followed by Justice Fisher and try to implement them here, like the help centres started in New York for helping litigants cope with the court atmosphere,” Gurpur said.

 

JUSTICE SYSTEM

- 99% tenants unrepresented in eviction cases

- 99% homeowners unrepresented in credit cases

- 97% parents unrepresented in child support

- 44% unrepresented in foreclosure cases

- 98% domestic violence victims unrepresented

 

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