The Supreme Court of South Carolina
RE: Access to Justice Commission
(a) Purpose. The South Carolina Access to Justice Commission is hereby created in recognition of the need to expand access to civil legal representation for people of low income and modest means in South Carolina.
(b) Membership. The Access to Justice Commission shall consist of twenty-six appointed members. The Chief Justice or his or her designee shall serve as Chair of the Commission. Members shall serve three-year terms at the discretion of the Chief Justice. Each member will first serve an initial term, which shall be from one to three years. The initial term for each member shall be designated at the time of appointment. Members will be appointed as follows:
(a) The Chief Justice shall appoint four representatives of the Judiciary (state or federal);
(b) The Chief Justice shall appoint a representative from South Carolina Court Administration.
(2) Practicing Lawyers:
(a) The South Carolina Bar president will appoint two members;
(b) The South Carolina Bar Foundation president will appoint two members;
(c) The Chief Justice will appoint two members from the South Carolina Bar.
(3) Civil Legal Services:
The Chief Justice will appoint five members to represent the interests of legal aid programs as follows:
(a) One board member and one staff member from South Carolina Legal Services;
(b) One representative from Appleseed Legal Justice Center;
(c) One representative from the South Carolina Bar Pro Bono Program; and
(d) One representative from any other IOLTA-funded civil legal services program.
(4) Law Schools:
The Chief Justice will appoint one representative from each of the accredited law schools in South Carolina.
(5) Public Members:
(a) Governmental Representatives: The Chief Justice will invite the Governor and two representatives from the South Carolina General Assembly to serve on the Commission or to recommend someone to serve in his or her stead.
(b) Philanthropic Organization Representatives: The Chief Justice will appoint three members from any recognized philanthropic organization to the Commission.
(c) Congressional Delegation: The Chief Justice will appoint one representative from the State’s congressional delegation.
(d) South Carolina Business Community Representatives: The Chief Justice will appoint one member to the Commission from the business community in South Carolina.
(c) Responsibilities. The Commission is charged with the following goals, purposes, and responsibilities:
(1) Identify and assess current and future needs of low-income South Carolinians for access to justice in civil matters by examining the full range and volume of such unmet legal needs. This evaluation should: (a) determine and document how unrepresented people with legal disputes are attempting to meet these needs without attorneys, the extent to which these efforts are successful, and the consequences of the lack of attorney representation; (b) recognize the enormous efforts currently being made by attorneys to serve low-income South Carolinians; (c) analyze the need for funding and other resources to close the gap; and (d) address any other matters related to the delivery of equal access to justice in civil matters to all South Carolinians.
(2) Develop a strategic plan for delivery of civil legal services to low income South Carolinians throughout the state that will assist with the education of the public about the large gap between the ideal of equal access to the legal system and the reality of lack of representation.
(3) Foster coordination within the civil legal services delivery system and between legal aid organizations and other legal and non-legal organizations.
(4) Support increase of resources and funding for access to justice in civil matters. Analyze feasible options and strategies for pursuing such funding. Examine additional state, local, and other non-IOLTA funding.
(5) Encourage wise and efficient use of available resources through collaboration among legal aid and other organizations including other legal advocacy groups, non-legal advocacy groups, providers of social services, law schools, the court system, corporate and government law departments, and other state and local agencies.
(6) Develop and implement other initiatives designed to expand civil access to justice, such as increasing community education, enhancing technology, developing assisted pro se programs, and encouraging greater voluntary participation of the private bar in pro bono legal assistance to low-income people in South Carolina.
(7) Consider the legal needs and access to the civil justice system of persons whose income and means are such that they do not qualify under existing assistance programs, and propose initiatives designed to meet these needs.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
s/Jean H. Toal C.J.
s/E.C. Burnett, III J.
s/Costa M. Pleicones J.
January 31, 2007
Columbia, South Carolina