Principal Court Management Consultant
National Center for State Courts
Additional states awarded Justice for All grants
Williamsburg, Va., October 10, 2019 – The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) is pleased to announce that three additional states have been awarded grants under the Justice for All (JFA) project, which currently is funded by The JPB Foundation, the Public Welfare Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and the Open Society Foundations, and is housed at NCSC. Illinois, Louisiana, and Michigan, the most recent recipients of these innovative grants, will receive key funding to help the states assess their current resources and develop state-wide strategic action plans that will provide a continuum of meaningful and appropriate civil legal services.
The JFA grants were created in an effort to implement two advanced resolutions promulgated by the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators. Recognizing that the ever-increasing gap in meaningful access to the justice system coupled with severe funding deficiencies is thwarting our civil justice system’s promise of equal access, the resolutions aim to right the ship. One resolution sets the aspirational goal of 100% meaningful access to effective assistance for essential civil legal needs, while the second calls on courts, civil legal aid organizations, Access to Justice commissions, and various other traditional and non-traditional stakeholders to collaborate to develop a comprehensive and layered approach to achieve meaningful access to justice.
Illinois, Louisiana, and Michigan each will receive an initial strategic action planning grant of up to $100,000 and will be eligible to apply for funding in the following year to begin implementation of their plans. “The Justice for All Advisory Committee was impressed by how these states are reimagining their access to justice efforts and networks,” noted Hon. Laurie Zelon, associate justice of the California Court of Appeal and co-chair of the JFA Advisory Committee. “We applaud their staunch commitment to developing a comprehensive solution to the crisis facing our civil justice system and look forward to seeing their proposed plans and collaborations come to life.”
Fifteen states applied for planning grants this round, and the Advisory Committee hopes that even those that did not receive funding will benefit from the resources the JFA project is creating. Thanks to continued Public Welfare Foundation support, the project offers help with strategic planning to any interested state that submitted a grant application. This includes guidance materials that describe key components of a fully integrated system, targeted technical assistance with national consultants, instructional webinars, and other shared learning opportunities. These tools and resources will be accessible through the JFA website.
Chief Justice Ralph Gants of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, who co-chairs the Advisory Committee, stressed the importance of “sharing and learning from the successes and obstacles encountered by states that are further along in the strategic planning process or have begun implementation.” Pointing out that the appropriate strategic plan will vary greatly from state to state, he added, “Part of the goal of this project is to enable all states to draw on lessons learned by JFA grantee states, and we are working on ways to extrapolate this data and develop relevant and useful best practices models to help all states work toward 100 percent access to effective assistance for civil legal needs.”
Illinois, Louisiana, and Michigan join 11 other states that previously received JFA grants, including Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Hawai’i, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Kentucky, New Mexico, Montana, and Florida. “To date, we have awarded JFA grants to 14 states,” said Mary McQueen, President of the National Center for State Courts. “We are grateful to the JFA project’s long-time funders for having had the vision to help us get this project off the ground, as well as to our newer partners who have enabled us to expand the reach of these grants to additional states.”
The National Center for State Courts, headquartered in Williamsburg, Va., is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the administration of justice by providing leadership and service to the state courts and courts around the world. Founded in 1971 by the Conference of Chief Justices and Chief Justice of the United States Warren E. Burger, NCSC provides education, training, technology, management, and research services to the nation’s state courts.