Indiana Supreme Court establishes new committee for civil legal aid

In an amendment to the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct, the Indiana Supreme Court is revamping its response to civil legal aid.

An order signed by Chief Justice Loretta Rush takes effect today, May 17. It consolidates the three existing legal aid committees – the Indiana Pro Bono Commission, the Indiana Commission to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services and the Indiana Supreme Court Committee on Unrepresented Litigants – into the new Coalition for Court Access.

The 17-member coalition will manage all Supreme Court-related programs designed to provide civil legal aid to low-income individuals. Goals for the group include increasing the number of attorneys who participate in pro bono; coordination of services offered by pro bono and legal aid organizations; and improving delivery of civil legal services.

“Courts nationwide recognize the need to improve access to civil legal services,” Chief Justice Loretta Rush said in a statement. “The Coalition will help Indiana lead the way by implementing a coordinated plan to deliver quality legal help to more Hoosiers in need.”

Members of the coalition will be appointed by the Supreme Court and the Indiana Bar Foundation. They will include judges and law school representatives as well as members of the Indiana State Bar and Bar Foundation.

“The Foundation welcomes the opportunity to work with the Court, legal aid providers, attorneys, and Indiana citizens to develop comprehensive solutions to serve the civil legal aid needs of low-income Hoosiers,” Indiana Bar Foundation executive director Charles Dunlap in a statement.

Initial appointees to the Coalition for Court Access are: Justice Steven David, chair; Judge Patricia Riley, Indiana Court of Appeals; Judge Kimberly Dowling, Delaware Circuit Court 2; attorney Jon Laramore, executive director of Indiana Legal Services; attorney Carlton Martin; attorney Scott Wylie; attorney, John Floreancig, general counsel for Indianapolis Legal Aid Society; attorney Roxana Bell; attorney Carl Pebworth; Notre Dame School of Law Professor Judith Fox; Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law Professor LaWanda Ward; attorney Donald Lundberg; Judge Martha Blood Wentworth, Indiana Tax Court; attorney Mary Fondrisi; Andy Fraizer, executive director of the Indiana Association for Community Economic Development; attorney Jane Henegar; and attorney J. Mark Robinson.

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