Share this article

print logo

State’s top judge and others will discuss legal help for the poor

New York’s chief judge will preside at a public hearing next week at the University at Buffalo Law School about the need for government-provided legal counsel for the poor in civil cases.

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and a panel of legal experts will hold the hearing from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday in John Lord O’Brian Hall at the school’s North Campus.

The hearing, open to the public, will be followed by a program from 5 to 7 p.m.

The program, “Why We Need a Right to Counsel in Civil Matters Where Basic Human Needs are at Stake,” will deal with the need to provide counsel for low-income people facing evictions, denial of custody of children and other legal matters.

Lippman, who has spearheaded the initiative for legal council in civil cases for the poor, will give a pre-recorded greeting before the panel discussion that will include Fern Fisher, deputy chief administrative judge of the New York City Court and director of the State Courts Access to Justice Program; Bryan Hetherington, chief counsel for the Empire Justice Center; Martha David, a Northeastern University Law School professor; and John Pollock, coordinator of the National Coalition of a Civil Right to Counsel. The panel discussion will be moderated by Andrew Scherer, senior fellow at the Furman Center of New York University Law School.

Following the evening program, local experts will continue the discussion, with Keisha Williams of the Western New York Law Center serving as moderator.

Participating in the discussion will be Melinda Saran, the UB law school’s vice dean for student affairs; Lauren Breen, a UB law school associate clinical professor; Daniel Webster of Legal Services for the Elderly, Disabled or Disadvantaged of Western New York; David Schopp, chief executive officer of the Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo; and Joy McDuffie, a housing counselor at the Western New York Law Center.