Civil Gideon

Philadelphia Bar Association Educational Programs

  • New Development: Philadelphia City Council Eviction Crisis Hearing

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    On Monday, March 20, 2017, Philadelphia City Council held a public hearing on the city's eviction crisis and how creating a civil right to counsel for low-income tenants would help resolve this crisis. Compelling testimony was presented at the hearing about the scope and impact of eviction crisis on low-income families and children and the community and included the following points:

    • Philadelphia's eviction rate is four times higher than the foreclosure rate, impacting nearly 1 in 14 Philly renters;
    • More than 24,000 landlord-tenant cases were filed in Municipal Court during 2016, but only the equivalent of six and a half full time legal aid attorneys were available to provide court representation to low-income renters in these cases. It is estimated that only 8.2 % of all tenants involved in eviction cases filed in the Municipal Court last year were represented by counsel, and only 1.45 % of those tenants were represented by a Philadelphia legal aid provider. In stark contrast, 81% of landlords were represented by counsel in 81% of these cases, creating a systemic power imbalance that often results in tenants being evicted.
    • Eviction is a leading cause of homelessness and housing instability in Philadelphia; it destabilizes neighborhoods and increases transience in struggling neighborhoods, leaving them vulnerable to violence and crime;
    • Evictions hurt children's academic achievement and school attendance; they also negatively impact physical and mental health by fracturing continuity of care and management of chronic health issues;
    • Evictions propel families into a downward spiral of poverty; often tenants with eviction histories are denied future housing and heads of households often lose their jobs when evicted;
    • Evictions cost the City over $40,000 to shelter a single family and they burden our shelter system, which is already at capacity and forced to turn away residents; and
    • Legal aid is an effective solution to prevent evictions and homelessness and it is cost effective: for every $1 spent on legal aid in Pennsylvania there is an $11 return.

    Testimony was presented by the Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor, Deborah Gross; Catherine Carr, Co-Chair of the Civil Gideon and Access to Justice Task Force and Representative of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel; Rasheedah Phillips, Managing Attorney at Community Legal Services and Co-Chair of the Task Force's Housing Work group; and other legal aid advocates and clients. Click here to review a video of the hearing. Click here to read a summary of the scope of the eviction crisis and unmet need.

    Testimony:

    Chancellor Deborah Gross, Philadelphia Bar Association

    Catherine Carr, Co-Chair of the Civil Gideon and Access to Justice Task Force; Representative of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel; and Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

    Rasheedah Phillps, Managing Attorney at Community Legal Services and Co-Chair of the Task Force's Housing Work group

    Testimony of Linda Peyton, Legal Clinic for the Disabled

    Publicity:

    Pre-Hearing Publicity:

    Inquirer: In Philly's housing court, the deck is stacked - but this woman won anyway

    Inquirer: Commentary: Philly tenants should have access to legal aid 

    NBC 10: Philadelphia City Council to Address City's 'Eviction Crisis' for Low-Income Renters 

    PlanPhilly/WHYY: To reduce unfair evictions tenants need lawyersNorth Philly couple suing landlord's lawyer over right to evict

    Slate: Fair Housing Still Has a Chance Under Trump

    Post-Hearing Publicity:

    Al Dia: PECO and PGW underfire amidst Philadelphia Eviction Crisis

    KYW/CBS 3: Lawyers Could Ease Philadelphia ‘Eviction Crisis,' Council Members Hear

    Newsworks: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/item/102451-op-ed-philly-should-relieve-eviction-crisis-by-funding-legal-representation-for-low-income-tenants

    PlanPhilly/WHYY: Council hearing examines evictions, substandard housing, and possible solutions

    Philadelphia Tribune: Eviction, tenants' right to counsel highlight at council hearing

    Telemundo: Discuten desalojo de inquilinos en Filadelfia ("Tenant Evictions in Philadelphia Discussed")

    The Huffington Post: Hearing Health and Eviction in Philadelphia

    The Legal Intelligencer: The Eviction Crisis in Phila. Demands Lawyers

    University City Review: OpEd: Philadelphia must protect Tenants' Rights

  • The 2016 Bench Bar & Annual Conference Featured A Conversation on Access to Justice in the Civil Courts

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    On September 23, 2016, the Civil Gideon and Access to Justice Task Force presented a session at the Bench Bar & Annual Conference entitled, "A Conversation on Access to Justice in the Civil Courts." Participants included (from left) the Honorable Debra Todd, Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court; the Honorable Sheila A. Woods-Skipper, President Judge, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas; the Honorable Jonathan Lippman, Former Chief Judge, New York Court of Appeals; and Chancellor-Elect Deborah R. Gross, Esq.

    Click here to review the course materials for this session.

  • October 16, 2015 Bench-Bar & Annual Conference on: Panel Presentation on Developments in the Civil Right to Counsel and Access to Justice Movement in Philadelphia

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    The 2015 Bench Bar & Annual Conference featured a Civil Gideon and Access to Justice panel where the above participants discussed efforts in Philadelphia to improve access to justice for unrepresented litigants in important civil matters involving basic human needs. Participants included (from left) Catherine Carr, Hon. Margaret Murphy, Hon. Charles Hayden, Hon. Sheila Woods-Skipper, and Albert Dandridge III.

    Listen to the Podcast

  • October 17, 2014 Bench-Bar & Annual Conference : Panel Presentation on Developments in the Civil Right to Counsel and Access to Justice Movement in Pennsylvania.

    Listen to the Podcast

  • November 13, 2013, Chancellor's Forum on the Civil Justice Gap

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    On November 13, 2012, a Chancellor's Forum on the Civil Justice Gap was held at the Association's headquarters. Panelists included Judge Anne E. Lazarus (seated from left), Judge Fern A. Fisher, Karen C. Buck, Louis S. Rulli, Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf, Chancellor John E. Savoth and Joseph A. Sullivan. 

    Listen to the Podcast

  • Civil Justice Gap Highlighted at 2011 Quarterly Meeting

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    June, 2011, the Honorable Jonathan Lippman, former Chief Judge of the State of New York, was the featured keynote speaker at the June 27 Quarterly Meeting & Luncheon. Pictured above the Honorable Jonathan Lippman meets with members of the Civil Gideon and Access to Justice Task Force. Click here to listen to a podcast of the program and here to read Chancellor Rudolph Garcia's column in the May 2011 edition of the Bar Reporter, entitled "Equal Justice for All is Goal with Bar's Support of Civil Gideon." Click here to read an article about the program published by the Legal Intelligencer. Click here to read Chief Judge Lippman's remarks.

  • CMSResources/civil_gideon_chancellors_forum.jpg
    On July 7, 2010, a "standing room only" crowd gathered at the Philadelphia Bar Association headquarters to participate in a Chancellor's Forum entitled, Civil Gideon: Establishing a Right to Counsel for Low Income Persons in Civil Cases Where Basic Human Needs are at Stake, which featuring a keynote presentation by Russell Engler, Professor of Law and Director of Clinical Programs at New England Law/Boston and national expert on civil Gideon. Professor Engler discussed strategies to expand the civil right to counsel and access to justice in a time of economic crisis. Pictured above are (front row from left) Professor Russell Engler, Professor of Law and Director of Clinical Programs at New England Law/Boston, Catherine C. Carr, co-chair of the Civil Gideon Task Force, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille; and (back row from left) Joseph A. Sullivan, co-chair of the Civil Gideon Task Force, Albert S. Dandridge, III, co-chair of the Civil Gideon Task Force Education and Communications Working Group, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas President Judge Pamela Pryor Dembe, Chancellor Scott F. Cooper, and Louis Rulli, co-chair of the Civil Gideon Task Force Education and Communications Working Group. Click here for photo gallery.

  • To listen to a podcast of the July 7, 2010, Philadelphia Bar Association Civil Gideon Chancellor's Forum, click here. An article entitled, "Chancellor's Forum on Civil Gideon," written by Albert S. Dandridge, III, co-chair of the Philadelphia Bar Association's Civil Gideon Education and Communications Working Group, published in the August 2010 edition of the Philadelphia Bar Reporter, is available here. Several other articles about the program are available here and a selected bibliography prepared by Professor Engler for this program is available here.


Chancellor's Forum on Civil Gideon - July 7, 2010

On July 7, 2010, the Philadelphia Bar Association presented a Chancellor's Forum on Civil Gideon, hosted by Chancellor Scott F. Cooper, featuring a keynote address by Professor Russell Engler, a national expert on the subject and the Director of Clinical Programs at New England Law | Boston. The program, titled "Civil Gideon: Establishing a Right to Counsel for Low Income Persons in Civil Cases Where Basic Human Needs Are at Stake," also featured a panel discussion including Catherine C. Carr, Executive Director of Community Legal Services, and Joseph A. Sullivan, Special Counsel and Director of Pro Bono Programs at Pepper Hamilton LLP, who are Co-Chairs of the Bar Association's Civil Gideon Task Force, formed in early 2009 by Immediate Past-Chancellor Sayde Ladov.


  • On April 10, 2008, the Philadelphia Bar Association partnered with the Pennsylvania Bar Association to co-sponsor the presentation of an educational symposium on civil Gideon to educate the legal community about the strategies being pursued nationwide to obtain and implement a right to counsel in civil matters and to begin a discussion about strategies to implement a right on the local level. Panelists included Pennsylvania State Representative Kathy Manderino; Debra Gardner, Legal Director of the Public Justice Center and Coordinator of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel; and Laura K. Abel, Deputy Director of the Justice Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. Click Here to listen to a podcast of this program.