Middle Class Getting Squeezed Out of Courts. So What is Being Done About it?

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Middle Class Getting Squeezed Out of Courts. So What is Being Done About it?

Middle Class Getting Squeezed Out of Courts. So What is Being Done About it?

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LawReader-

Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and Judge Marcia CookeAM Holt

Poor and middle-class litigants in Florida are increasingly showing up to court without lawyers, resulting in a significant access-to-justice problem throughout the state.

That was the consensus of a panel on “The Importance of Access to Justice to the Judiciary” held Friday at the University of Miami School of Law. The panel was part of a Legal Services Corp. half-day seminar.

Panelists included Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga; U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke in Miami; Richard Leefe of Leefe, Gibbs, Sullivan & Dupre in Louisiana; Puerto Rico Supreme Court Chief Justice Liana Fiol Matta; and William Van Norwick Jr., a retired judge from Florida’s First District Court of Appeal. The panel was moderated by Harvard law dean Martha Minow.

Cooke and other panelists said they are more concerned about the “working middle class” who are not eligible for legal aid programs like the poor.

“I have seen a lot of working middle class litigants in court without attorneys,” she said. “Where they might have had a neighborhood attorney representing them before, now they are in court alone. Somewhere the wheels have fallen off the bus for the working middle class.”

[LAWREADER]

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