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NYSBA, 18 law schools sponsor forum

The New York State Bar Association — and 18 law schools in three states — are hosting a forum today to explore the right to counsel in civil matters where basic human needs are at stake.

Judges, attorneys, professors and students at 15 law schools in New York and three in New Jersey and Connecticut will participate in the event featuring a webcast followed by campus programs.

The forum comes 50 years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Clarence Earl Gideon, who could not afford to hire an attorney to defend him in a criminal case, had a right to counsel at government expense. In Gideon v. Wainwright, the court found that it was an “obvious truth” that a criminal defendant cannot have a fair trial unless counsel is appointed.

The forum will begin at 5 p.m. with a webcast from the state bar center in Albany featuring remarks by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and NYSBA President David M. Schraver of Rochester (Nixon Peabody LLP).

They will be followed by a panel of experts, including: Martha Davis, professor at Northeastern University Law School; Hon. Fern Fisher, deputy chief administrative judge for the New York City Courts and director of the New York State Courts Access to Justice Program; Bryan Hetherington, general counsel of the Empire Justice Center; and John Pollock, coordinator of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel. Andrew Scherer, author of Residential Landlord-Tenant Law in New York, will moderate.

Following the webcast, individual law schools will host local, campus-based programs. For further information about those programs, contact the individual law schools.

Upstate schools participating in the “Civil Gideon” program include Cornell Law School, Syracuse University College of Law and SUNY Buffalo Law School.


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