Senate and Assembly Standing Committees on Judiciary
Senate Standing Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction
Senate Standing Committee on Codes
Senate Standing Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING
ORAL TESTIMONY WILL BE BY INVITATION ONLY
Civil legal service providers form a vital part of the web of programs that help protect at-risk New Yorkers and their families. Federal and state funds support the provision of legal services to indigent persons affected by foreclosure, eviction, domestic violence, unemployment, disability and other matters that directly impact family stability and quality of life.
Severe economic conditions swell demand for these critical services while reducing funds available to support them. The New York Interest on Lawyer Account ("IOLA") Fund created in 1983 to expand funding for these vital programs, dramatically lost revenue in 2009 due to economic contraction and historically low interest rates. With only $6.5 million to distribute in 2010, compared to $31 million in 2009, IOLA cannot meet soaring demand for civil legal services at the very time that at-risk New Yorkers most need them. In addition to IOLA, the Legislature has long appropriated monies to support civil legal services. Absent additional funding from the Legislature and from IOLA, the storm of foreclosures, evictions, unemployment and other challenges affecting families statewide will have even more severe impacts.
This hearing will provide the Legislature with information to help its efforts to address the funding crisis for New York's civil legal services programs, so that it may better meet its responsibilities to at-risk New Yorkers and the cause of equal justice under law.
How are present economic conditions affecting demand for civil legal services and the IOLA Fund?
What is the best way to objectively measure and predict demand for these services?
What is the most efficient and effective structure in which to distribute and administer civil legal service funding?
What is the best way to fund civil legal services in New York? What can be done to stabilize funding, whether through IOLA or another system?
Should an individual's right to counsel in civil matters under existing New York law be expanded to include other civil legal matters where basic human needs are at issue?
Senate Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction
Legislative Office Building - Room 612
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2061
Fax: (518) 426-6998
Assembly Committee on Judiciary
Alfred E. Smith Building - Suite 1147
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-4313
Fax: (518) 455-3669