New Wyoming Justice Commission established
To provide financial help for access to legal services for Wyoming residents
by Wyoming State Bar
December 17, 2008
(Cheyenne) - The Wyoming State Bar is pleased to announce that the Wyoming Supreme Court has signed an order to establish an Access to Justice Commission in Wyoming.
The purpose of the Commission is to assure access to the civil justice system in Wyoming through the provision of high quality legal services for low and moderate income people in Wyoming.
Initially, the Commission will concentrate on the specific legal needs of low and moderate income residents in Wyoming. The Commission will then provide a long-range, integrated plan that will involve the numerous legal assistance providers in Wyoming. The Commission will also work toward securing adequate funding for civil access to justice.
"This is an exciting and challenging project that touches the soul of our profession—helping people," said E. James Burke, Justice of the Wyoming Supreme Court. "There is no doubt that a coordinated effort, local and statewide, is necessary if we are to create an environment where legal services of high quality are available to the low income and vulnerable citizens of our state. It is important that those services be provided in a cost-effective and efficient manner and that they are available throughout the state."
The Commission will be made up of 14 members: Chief Justice of the Wyoming Supreme Court or his designee; District Court judge; Circuit Court judge; Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming or his designee; President of the Wyoming State Bar or his designee; three members of the Wyoming State Bar; a representative from the University of Wyoming College of Law; a representative of the Wyoming State Bar Foundation; President of the County Commissioners Association or his/her designee; President of the Clerk of District Court’s Association or her designee; a representative of the Executive Branch of Wyoming Government; an appointee of the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee. The order further authorizes ex-officio members to aid in carrying out the goals of the Commission.
"This Commission will bring increased attention to this important issue and, ultimately, will help provide real and enduring solutions to this problem. We have a lot of work to do, but we also have wonderful support from the judiciary, the bar, and numerous stakeholders in this endeavor," said Burke.
Longtime legal aid provider, Wyoming Legal Services, recently relinquished its grant from the Legal Services Corporation to provide civil legal assistance to low-income individual and families in Wyoming. The formation of the Access to Justice Commission is a collaborative effort to ensure a long-term plan to provide legal services in the state.