State Supreme Court Justices and legal aid leaders attend LSC Access to Justice Forum
November 17, 2016 - Tamara Williams
Distinguished jurists and leaders of the legal aid community gathered in Albuquerque on October 17 for panel discussions on how to expand access to justice.
The Legal Services Corporation (LSC), the largest funder of civil legal aid for low income people in the U.S., hosted the event in conjunction with its Board of Directors’ quarterly meeting.
LSC Board Member UNM Law School Professor Gloria Valencia-Weber facilitated the event. “It has been over 15 years since the LSC Board came to New Mexico,” says Valencia-Weber. “On this visit the Board was impressed by the innovative work done in New Mexico by the Law School, New Mexico Legal Aid, and the private attorneys who voluntarily provide civil legal representation to low income New Mexicans.”
The event began with a luncheon that included remarks from Chief Judge Nan Nash of the Second Judicial District Court of New Mexico, Co-Chair of the New Mexico Commission on Access to Justice. Roberta Ramo, President of the American Law Institute, former President of the American Bar Association, and a shareholder at Modrall Sperling also spoke.
Panels comprised of judges and legal aid leaders
The Forum comprised two panels of leading jurists and lawyers from the Southwest. New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas made opening remarks before the panel discussions. He was joined by UNM Law School Dean Sergio Pareja and LSC Chair John Levi.
The first panel, “The Importance of Access to Justice to the Judiciary,” discussed the access to justice programs and assistance developed when persons who cannot afford attorneys have civil cases involving home foreclosures or evictions; family law, including domestic violence, child custody; credit and employment and other issues.
The panel featured Chief Judge M. Christina Armijo, U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico; Justice Eva Guzman, Supreme Court of Texas; Justice William W. Hood, III, Colorado Supreme Court; Judge William Johnson, Acoma Pueblo Tribal Court; and Justice Petra Jimenez Maes, New Mexico Supreme Court. Harvard Law School Dean and LSC Board Vice Chair Martha Minow moderated the discussion.
The second panel, “Legal Services and Law School Collaborations to Expand Access to Justice,” focused on the civil representation needs of children living in poverty at this time in the southwest.
Panelists included Jennifer Barnes, Director of the Externship Program, Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law; Pamela Bridge, Director of Litigation and Advocacy, Community Legal Services in Arizona; Beth Gillia, Director, Corinne Wolfe Center for Child and Family Justice at the UNM Law School; and Ed Marks, Executive Director, New Mexico Legal Aid. LSC President Jim Sandman moderated the panel.
Reception for Pro Bono Service Awardees
Following the panels, the LSC Pro Bono Service Award Reception honored New Mexico attorneys, law firms, and the New Mexico 9th Judicial District Court Pro Bono Committee.
Speakers included New Mexico Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles W. Daniels and UNM Law School Dean Alfred D. Mathewson. They were joined by J. Brent Moore, President of the State Bar of New Mexico and a shareholder with Montgomery & Andrews Law Firm. The speakers praised the pro bono work of the award recipients and the efforts of New Mexico Legal Aid.
Visit to Acoma Pueblo
Prior to the start of the forum, LSC Board Members traveled to the Acoma Pueblo to meet with members of the tribal government. Acoma Pueblo Governor Kurt Riley and Lieutenant Governor Raymond J. Concho, Jr. made opening remarks at the event. The Acoma Pueblo Tribal Court Judges also met with the LSC Board.
All photos courtesy of Marcos Navarro, LSC Communications