"Civil Gideon" Resolution,
American Bar Association House of Delegates
On Monday, August 7, 2006, at approximately
4:00 p.m. local time (Hawaii), the
American Bar Association's House
of Delegates unanimously passed
Resolution 112A, proposed by the Presidential
Task Force on Access to Civil Justice, with one friendly amendment. The final version of the resolution is as follows (the last five words
of which constitute the amendment):
|"RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges federal, state, and
territorial governments to provide legal counsel as a matter of right
at public expense to low-income persons in those categories of adversarial
proceedings where basic human needs are at stake, such as those involving
shelter, sustenance, safety, health or child custody, as determined
by each jurisdiction."
Article from NLADA's Legal Aid News
"ABA House of Delegates Pass Three Resolutions Supporting Civil Legal
"Yesterday, August 7, 2006, was an extraordinary day for civil legal
aid at the American Bar Association’s (ABA) 2006 Annual Meeting in Hawaii.
The ABA House of Delegates unanimously passed three resolutions of great
significance to civil legal aid.
William Whitehurst, chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid
and Indigent Defendants, offered the first resolution. This resolution
revised ABA’s standards for the delivery of civil legal aid.
Justice Howard Dana of the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine and chair
of the Task Force on Access to Civil Justice introduced the next resolution.
This resolution states "that the American Bar Association urges federal,
state, and territorial governments to provide legal counsel as a matter
of right at public expense to low income persons in those categories
of adversarial proceedings where basic human needs are at stake, such
as those involving shelter, sustenance, safety, health or child custody."
This resolution had strong support from ABA President Michael Greco,
who called upon the delegates to unanimously endorse it.
The final resolution states ten characteristics or principles critical
to the development of effective state-based civil legal assistance delivery
systems. Justice Dana had been active in the development of these principles,
along with the Subcommittee on Access to Justice.
Don Saunders, NLADA’s director of Civil Legal Services, praised the
passing of the resolutions. "Yesterday’s action serves as a landmark
day in the history of the ABA regarding access to equal justice," he
Comments from Debra Gardner - August 7, 2006
National Coalition for a Civil Right to
Counsel; and Legal Director,
Public Justice Center, 500 E Lexington St, Baltimore
410 625 9409 x228; E-mail:
"The amendment was the result of a compromise that prevented opposition,
which might otherwise have succeeded in moving for an indefinite postponement
of a vote on the resolution, effectively killing it. All of us working
for the resolution today believed that the amendment reflected nothing
more than the intent of the report and was therefore acceptable.
"This is only the beginning of much exciting work ahead, but it is an
extremely important step. Many heartfelt mahalos are due; I've no doubt
I'll forget someone, but here goes anyway. Thanks to...
Michael Greco, for his passion and leadership as ABA President.
Justice Howard Dana, for his excellent steering of the task
force to a
Bill Whitehurst, outgoing chair of SCLAID, for his wise counsel,
resolve, and also for his negotiation skills today.
Terry Brooks, ABA/SCLAID staff, for figuring out how to get
point A to point B in one year, and making it happen.
All of the members of the Presidential Task Force, whose names
unfortunately don't have with me.
Jonathan Ross, especially for helping to devise a winning compromise
Justice Earl Johnson, especially for his intellect and inspiration.
Mary Schneider and Jayne Tyrrell, especially for bringing us
knowledge of getting things done in the ABA.
All of the several hundred ABA delegates who voted today.
Mary Ryan and Bruce Iwasaki, original members of the SCLAID
committee that met a year ago to try to hammer out a proposed
and accomplished it in one day.
NCCRC members who also participated in that Chicago meeting
Alan Houseman and Andy Scherer, among them.
Don Saunders, NLADA, especially for all the visibility he helped
Debi Perluss, for working tirelessly at every stage of this
including serving as consultant (workhorse) to the Presidential
Paul Marvy, also for working tirelessly at every single step.
"Frankly, it's impossible to convey the importance to the passage
of this resolution of the innumerable contributions of intellect,
strategy, passion and just plain hard work made by Terry Brooks,
Debi Perluss, and Paul Marvy in particular. Without them, it simply
wouldn't have happened."
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Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that
provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in
order to ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers
to economic opportunity.