Pro Bono News
Access to Justice: Why Focus On This Issue In an Era With So Many Existential Crises (BLOG)
Friday, May 12, 2017
- Richard Zorza's Access to Justice Blog
Access to Justice: Why Focus On This Issue In an Era With So Many Existential Crises
"Sometimes we advocates for access to justice quietly admit to each other that with so many other issues threatening our planet, the poor, and our democracy, that it is hard to argue for access to justice a a funding priority.
Without in any way undercutting the importance of all those issues, I think I may have figured out why access to justice remains such an overwhelming issue. Interestingly, my take may suggest a way of talking about the issue that will appeal to the right as much as, or perhaps even more than, to the left. It is simply this:
Access to justice is about ensuring that when the coercive power of the state intervenes or is called upon in relationships between individuals and, organizations, and indeed the state, that the outcome is determined on the merits, not on other factors.
As very gross generalization, to which we can all find counter examples, criminal access issues arise when the state tries to use its coercive power to discipline an individual. Civil access is about everything else, but really when one party or anther, or both, call on the threat of the coercive power of the state to reorder their relationship. As part of that process, the legal system has to decide, before deploying that coercive power, what happened in the case, and what the law permits and requires. It is that decision-making process that then provides legitimacy to the specific use of the coercive power of the state..."