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Coalition Seeks Funding For Legal Services In Vermont Civil Courts

The brick exterior of the Caledonia County Courthouse in St. Johnsbury.
Elodie Reed
/
VPR
As the next legislative session nears, the Vermont Access To Justice Coalition plans to ask lawmakers to help Vermonters who can't afford a lawyer in civil proceedings.

The Vermont Access To Justice Coalition plans to ask lawmakers for over $1 million to assist Vermonters who can't afford a lawyer in civil proceedings.

The request follows a 10 year decline in funding for legal services statewide according to coalition member and former Vermont Bar Foundation president Daniel Richardson.

Most of the funding, Richardson said, “is really to meet unmet needs that exist, but there’s no real program to cover them.”

More from VPR: Report: Helping Low-Income Vermonters Access Legal Services Benefits State Economy [Nov. 5]

The requested funding would provide legal assistance for low-income Vermonters navigating family court or immigration court, for tenants facing evictions and for low-income adoptive parents, according to a draft of the request.

Roughly a quarter of the funding would go toward general operations at Vermont Legal Aid, and another $48,000 would pay for legal services guaranteed by state law but otherwise unfunded.

Presently, Richardson said, the state guarantees legal services to adults facing an involuntary guardianship appointments, and parents found in contempt for failing to pay child support, but it provides no funding for those services.

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