At some point, almost everyone has heard something like this on TV: "You have a right to a lawyer. If you cannot afford one, one will be provided to you." In 1963, in the celebrated case of Gideon v. Wainwright, the Supreme Court said that individuals charged with serious crimes have a right to counsel. The Court later expanded the right to juveniles charged with delinquency offenses and people charged with misdemeanors. Yet, many people do not realize that this broad right only applies to criminal cases, not civil cases. As a result, the right to counsel in civil cases depends on what state you're in and what type of civil cases it is. In 2018 San Francisco voters passed the No Eviction Without Representation Act (“Prop F”), which established a policy that all residential tenants facing eviction have the right to full-scope legal defense. This ordinance went into effect on July 11, 2019. Fast forward to 2022, our local leaders are again recognizing the imperative to provide a right to counsel (RTC) for certain civil legal issues.
Presented May 19,2022 by the Legal Services Funders Network via Zoom
Presentations: John Pollock, National Coalition of Civil Right to Counsel
Presenters include: John Pollock: John Pollock has been the Coordinator of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel since 2009. He was the recipient of NLADA's 2018 Innovations in Civil Justice Award. He is the author of a number of law review articles, including Appointment of Counsel for Civil Litigants: A Judicial Path to Ensuring the Fair and Ethical Administration of Justice, Court Review, Vol. 56 Issue 1 (2020), The Case Against Case-By-Case: Courts Identifying Categorical Rights to Counsel in Basic Human Needs Civil Cases, 61 Drake L.J. 763 (Spring 2013), and It’s Not Triage if the Patient Bleeds Out, 161 U. Penn. L.R. 40 (2012). Previously, he was the Enforcement Director at the Central Alabama Fair Housing Center, and before that was a fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center. He graduated from Northeastern University School of Law and from Wesleyan University. In his spare time, he is the founder and coordinator of the Heirs' Property Retention Coalition, which is devoted to protecting the ancestral property of low-income landowners. City Attorney David Chiu: David Chiu was sworn in on November 1, 2021 as the City Attorney of San Francisco. The son of immigrant parents, David grew up in Boston, Massachusetts and received his undergraduate, master’s in public policy, and law degrees from Harvard University. David served as a law clerk to Judge James R. Browning of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Democratic Counsel to the U.S. Senate Constitution Subcommittee, a criminal prosecutor with the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, and a civil rights attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. Before becoming City Attorney, David represented the 17th Assembly District, encompassing eastern San Francisco, in the California State Legislature.
Hugo Ramirez: Hugo is with the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development where he manages the City’s eviction prevention and housing stabilization programs, including the Tenant Right to Counsel. He is also a member of LSFN’s Executive Committee.
Supervisor Catherine Stefani: Supervisor Stefani is a fierce defender of the people and a passionate public interest law advocate. She recently authored Prop D, a June 2022 ballot measure which will establish a city office tasked with helping crime victims and witnesses, and to create a legally enshrined right to civil counsel for domestic violence survivors. Prior to becoming D2 Supervisor, she served as San Francisco’s County Clerk since 2016. From 2007-2016 she worked as a Legislative Aide for Supervisors Michela Alioto-Pier and Mark Farrell. Previously she worked for San Jose Vice Mayor Cindy Chavez, the California Department of Justice, and Speaker Herb Wesson of the California State Assembly. She was also a deputy district attorney in Contra Costa County, where she argued 25 jury trials. Adrian Tirtanadi: Adrian is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Open Door Legal. A social entrepreneur, a systems-thinker, and a lover of learning, while in law school at USF Ardian and his Co-Founder envisioned creating universal access to civil representation for everyone in San Francisco. With $8,000 raised, they opened their LSO’s doors on January 7th, 2013 in the BayView District, a legal services desert. Since that time ODL has grown dramatically, with an almost $5M annual budget, a staff of 50 and three sites (they are planning to open their fourth site this year). Ardian and his team at ODL have partnered with the City to draft and design Right to Counsel legislation and plans for implementation.
Claire M. Solot - Co-Founder, LSFN and Founder & Managing Director, Bigglesworth Family Foundation