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Pro Bono Programs, Spurred by Posner, Should Grow

Monday, October 09, 2017

Pro Bono Programs, Spurred by Posner, Should Grow


"Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit abruptly announced his retirement on Sept. 4, 2017. In a New York Times interview, he said that he “awoke from a slumber of 35 years” to realize “that people without lawyers are mistreated by the legal system” and wanted to do something about it. An appellate judge for 35 years, he says that he changed his priorities as a judge from being a conservative who advanced the use of economics in decision-making to one also concerned about pressing social issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, voting rights, and discrimination in the workplace. He also now admits that he has begun to pay “very little attention to legal rules, statutes [and] constitutional provisions” in deciding “a sensible resolution” of a dispute to the extent not precluded by the U.S. Supreme Court, but that almost any Supreme Court precedent can be distinguished.

Posner says pro se parties in civil cases have “real” grievances, but the “system was treating them impatiently, dismissing their cases over technical matters.” The final straw came when the judges of the court rejected Posner’s desire to review all staff memos with recommendations for the disposition of pro se cases..."


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