Public Justice Center Program Launches Unprecedented Website

September 15, 2014

Repository Contains All Data on Civil Right to Counsel Nationally

Guest Blog by Jennifer Pelton, Director of Development, and John Nethercut, Executive Director, Public Justice Center, Member of Maryland Nonprofits 

The National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel, a program co-founded and staffed by Maryland’s Public Justice Center, has just launched the most comprehensive resource in the civil right to counsel movement ever attempted. Appearing at, the site’s principal feature is an interactive map that tracks the status of the right to counsel in civil cases in every

and allows users to filter information by issue, jurisdiction, and activity. “It gives you not just the status, but the source material as well,” said
John Pollock, who leads the effort on behalf of PJC. “The map also shows users where the most recent civil right to counsel activities have occurred across the country, and where the NCCRC has been involved. It’s an invaluable resource for counsel, advocates, and anyone tracking the right to civil counsel movement.”


The site also gathers data from every law review article, study, report, paper, news story, social media piece, and key case brief written about the civil right to counsel in the last five years. The result is a highly searchable bibliography that includes thousands of resources. The site also features a large library of audio and video related to

to counsel, such as case oral arguments, speeches, public hearings, debates, panels, and videos.


“Nothing of this scale has ever been built,” commented John Nethercut, Executive Director of the Public Justice Center. “It’s the only central repository in the country focused on information and data about the national civil right to counsel effort. There is no comparable resource.”


NCCRC focuses its efforts entirely on working to establish the right to counsel for low-income individuals in civil cases involving fundamental rights and basic human needs. Approximately 15 percent (46.5 million people) of the U.S. population lives in poverty. Few people

low income can afford legal representation. Legal aid programs are chronically understaffed and meet only about 20% of the need. And while lawyers’ pro bono services have increased in recent decades, they cannot begin to fill the void.


Having a lawyer can make the difference between keeping a home or losing it, obtaining protection from domestic violence or risking injury, having sufficient food or going hungry, even keeping a family together versus having it split apart.


The consequences of losing basic-need civil cases extend far beyond the immediate effects. When people lose their homes or

or experience domestic violence, they often have problems with school and employment, experience psychological problems, and are forced to use publicly financed medical care, shelter

benefits systems. The legal system’s inefficiency does not just harm those who become embroiled in it. Society as a whole bears the cost, which can quickly become significantly higher than paying for counsel in the first place.


Visit for more information. And be sure to follow NCCRC on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

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