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Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Christine Durham extended a noteworthy challenge during her annual State of the Judiciary address to the Utah Legislature. “Access to justice,” she said, “is a fundamental right in a just society.” “I believe the time has come for the creation of a broad-based community initiative to assess the need for civil legal services in Utah and to bring together the many strands of interest in this problem.”
The problem: far too many individuals, especially the poor, ethnic minorities, seniors and people with disabilities are intimidated by the complexities of the legal system, and often don’t know where to turn for help.
As Justice Durham said, “remarkable resources” and “admirable collaboration” for achieving the goal of equal access to justice are available in Utah. But, in her view, there is need “to take these efforts to the next level. “ That means a cooperative effort to “create a network of providers, stakeholders, lawmakers, community leaders, consumers, lawyers and court leaders who can address the issue of access to justice on a statewide level.”
KSL shares the Chief Justice’s concern and urges Utah’s leaders to accept her timely challenge of “putting this issue on our statewide public policy agenda.” All citizens deserve full access to the resources of the legal system.