Legal Services Cuts Could Deny Justice To NJ’s Poor

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TRENTON – Two out of three clients who go to New Jersey’s Legal Services agency for help are turned away because of inadequate funding from the state, according to testimony today by agency President and General Counsel Melville Miller Jr.

Legal Services helps New Jersey residents who can’t afford a lawyer with foreclosures and tenant housing disputes, domestic violence cases, consumer fraud and Social Security disability cases.

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Gov. Chris Christie cut $10 million from Legal Services and eliminated funding for clinical legal programs for the poor at Rutgers School of Law in Camden and in Newark, according to Assembly Judiciary Chairman Peter J. Barnes III (D-Middlesex)

“Our justice system rests upon the belief that each citizen deserves adequate representation in the courts, but the testimony we heard today shows many of our poorest residents won’t have access to such representation as they fight concerns like foreclosure and domestic violence. That’s not right,” Barnes said.

“This is a matter of fairness. Cutting costs in these difficult economic times is a must, but we do so in a way that ensures all New Jerseyans receive justice. Everyone – not just New Jersey’s wealthiest residents – should have access to proper legal representation.”

Barnes said that Christie needs to reconsider the cuts.


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