Meeting legal needs of low income Mississippians - - Jackson, MS

Meeting legal needs of low income Mississippians

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By David Kenney - bio | email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - For the past few months, attorneys and judges from across the state have been looking at ways Mississippi's poor are fairing when it comes to the legal system.

It's called the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission.

Tuesday the Commission presented their findings to the Mississippi Supreme Court, which included recommendations on how to level the legal playing field for the poor.

The study shows the legal services programs around the state are spread thin.

Commission member and gulf coast attorney Joy Lambert Phillips said, "I think some people don't know the help is out there and I think because legal services is so under funded that even the people who know it often have to be turned away."

That has led some to take on civil cases themselves, but they lack the training or resources needed to make their case in court.

Leaders in the court system are now working to encourage more lawyers to offer their services free of charge.

"We realize in the court, the responsibility for every citizen in Mississippi to have equal access and fair access to the justice system and the courts, if they don't it's our fault, it's our responsibility, so the court wanted to get an idea of the magnitude of the problem," says Supreme Court Justice Jess Dickinson.

The Commission is recommending more work pro-bono from Mississippi lawyers, and for them to take on clients, without taking on all aspects of their cases which can be time consuming.

They also say more legal assistance should be provided to people who cant afford an attorney, but want to represent themselves in court.

In addition to that, the Commission says more street law clinics will be held around the state, educating people about the basics of how the legal system works.

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