The Role of the Judiciary in a Democracy – Justice Jenny Rivera


I would say there’s really three ways
that we’ve tried to deal with what is a real problem of
access to justice: Inequality and certainly the marginalization of various
communities. So one is getting more money to institutional providers who can bring
their resources, their training, and lawyers to bear to to assist people who
can’t afford a lawyer. It’s providing information to people who come into the
court, whether that’s by just having a information area where they can ask
people some questions or whether we have it up on a computer that they can access
themselves, whatever point of entry we can create for them, or helping to train
navigators or non-lawyers there to assist someone who come in pro se. And
then the last one is to try and bring more lawyers. I mean, it’s tied to the
first two things but try to really bring more lawyers into the fold to really
appreciate how important it is to do pro bono work, to put in a lot of hours, to
support the organizations, whether it’s through money or your volunteerism that
are providing these services to low-income communities and marginalized
communities and some of that we’ve done through the 50 hour pro bono rule that
requires everyone who’s admitted into New York to have given at least 50 hours of
pro bono services and that, you know, the prior Chief Judge always felt that this
was a helping profession, it’s in our DNA, these are his words, it’s in our DNA. And
when people go to law school they have to understand this is part of their
obligation to be licensed in the State of New York, to not only give these 50
hours, but to have a different kind of mindset that what we do is give and we
assist…

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