Makes recommendations on which pilot projects will be selected and provides input into the design of the pilot projects evaluations, which are required by the authorizing legislation.
Date Established: September 1, 2010
Key projects of this advisory body are outlined in the annual agenda.
Download the Committee Roster
The Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act (Assem. Bill 590 [Feuer]; Stats. 2009 ch. 457) provides that commencing in fiscal year 2011–2012, one or more pilot projects selected by the Judicial Council will be funded to provide legal representation to low-income parties on critical legal issues affecting basic human needs. The pilot projects will be operated by legal services nonprofit corporations working in collaboration with their local superior courts.
The purpose of the pilot projects is to improve timely and effective access to justice in civil cases and thereby avoid undue risk of erroneous court decisions resulting from the nature and complexity of the law in the specific proceeding or the disparities between parties in legal representation, education, sophistication, language proficiency, and access to self-help or alternative dispute resolution services.
Selected legal services agencies will provide representation to low-income Californians who are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level and need representation in one or more of the following areas:
To the extent practical, legal services agencies must make use of pro bono services from attorneys.
Selected court partners will implement improved court procedures, training, case management and administration methods, and best practices to ensure that unrepresented parties in the proposed case types have meaningful access to court, to guard against the involuntary waiver of rights or the disposition of cases by default, and to encourage fair and expeditious voluntary dispute resolution consistent with principles of judicial neutrality.
The statute provides that “the participating projects shall be selected by a committee appointed by the Judicial Council with representation from key stakeholder groups including judicial officers, legal services providers, and others, as appropriate. The committee shall assess the applicants’ capacity for success, innovation and efficiency, including, but not limited to, the likelihood that the project would deliver quality representation in an effective manner that would meet critical needs in the community and address the needs of the court with regard to access to justice and calendar management, and the unique local unmet needs for representation in the community.”
The Shriver Civil Counsel Act Implementation Committee was appointed by the Judicial Council to review applications and make recommendations about funding.
The Judicial Council is conducting a study to demonstrate the effectiveness and continued need for the pilot program and will report its findings and recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature on or before January 31, 2016. The study will report on the percentage of funding utilized by case type and will include data on the impact of counsel on equal access to justice, the effect on court administration and efficiency, and the level of enhanced coordination between courts and other government service providers and community resources. The report will describe the benefits of providing representation to those who were previously not represented, both for the clients and the courts, as well as strategies and recommendations for maximizing the benefit of that representation in the future. The report will describe and include data, if available, on the impact of the pilot program on families and children and will also include an assessment of the continuing unmet needs and, if available, data on those unmet needs.
Center for Families, Children & the Courts
Operations & Programs