California Lawyers Association

Civil Gideon

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CLA successfully advocated in support of the enactment of legislation that increased funding for programs established under California‚Äôs Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act.  The Shriver Act established funding for pilot programs, providing representation of counsel for low-income persons who require legal services in specified civil matters, including tenants facing eviction, parents involved in child custody disputes, and families in urgent need of guardianships or conservatorships. The increase in funding was vital in order to continue offering legal representation to litigants who are most vulnerable.

AB 330 (Gabriel) ‚Äď Support

June 5, 2019

Hon. Jesse Gabriel
Member of the Assembly
State Capitol, Room 4139
Sacramento, CA 94249

Dear Assembly Member Gabriel:

The California Lawyers Association (CLA) is pleased to support Assembly Bill 330, which would increase funding for programs established under the Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act (Shriver Act).

Established in 2018, CLA is a nonprofit, voluntary organization. Our extensive membership represents the vast diversity of California’s legal community and the various areas of law practiced throughout the state. CLA’s mission is promoting excellence, diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and fairness in the administration of justice and the rule of law.

Under Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) 372 U.S. 335, defendants in criminal proceedings have a right to counsel. The Shriver Act was one of the first efforts in the United States to implement the right to counsel in civil cases‚ÄĒsometimes referred to as ‚ÄúCivil Gideon‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒfor parties who cannot afford counsel in civil matters involving critical issues affecting basic human needs.

The Shriver Act established funding for pilot programs, providing representation of counsel for low-income persons who require legal services in specified civil matters, including tenants facing eviction, parents involved in child custody disputes, and families in urgent need of guardianships or conservatorships. In 2017, the Judicial Council submitted an evaluation of the Shriver Act to the Legislature detailing the efficacy of the pilot programs and how they have helped to increase settlements, improve outcomes for litigants, and reduce court costs.

The pilot programs are currently funded by a $10 set-aside from the fees paid for certain court services. AB 330 would build on the success of the pilot programs by increasing Shriver funding, to be paid for with a $15 increase in the fees paid for those court services. This increase in funding is vital in order to continue offering legal representation to litigants and increase the availability of Civil Gideon in California for those who are most vulnerable.

For these reasons, CLA supports AB 330.

We appreciate your consideration of our comments. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at (619) 239-8131 or HRosing@Klinedinstlaw.com.

Sincerely,

Heather Linn Rosing, President
California Lawyers Association


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