GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Two members of the Michigan Supreme Court will be in Grand Rapids Friday to address the a civil justice gaps in regards to the right to a lawyer in a civil case. 

Chief Justice Bridget M. McCormack and Justice Brian Zahra, along with Justice for All Task Force members, will be at the Grand Rapids Center for Community Transformation, located at 1530 Madison Ave. SE at 10 a.m. 

The town hall meetings will give community members and local stakeholders the opportunity to provide input on the civil justice gap. 

The Michigan Supreme Court created the Justice for All Task Force to work toward achieving 100% access to the civil justice system. The right to a lawyer in the U.S. applies only to criminal cases, not civil cases, and the Supreme Court says that causes a massive civil justice gap. 

In three of four civil cases, at least one side represents themselves in court because they can't afford to pay an attorney, a press release from the Supreme Court explains. And seven out of 10 low-income households had at least one civil legal program in the last year, data from the Supreme Court reveals. Due to funding limitations or lack of funding completely, many legal aid agencies in Michigan turn away over half of those who seek help.

As a result, people who have done nothing wrong often lose their cases in court because they don't have enough legal information or help necessary. 

"Our courthouse doors must be open wide to help all residents get the information and assistance they need when they need it," Chief Justice McCormack said in the task force's February 2020 newsletter.

The Michigan Supreme Court says that with pertinent input from the community, the task force will be to take inventory of currently available resources, identify gaps, then develop and implement a plan to fill the gaps. 

For more information about the Supreme's Court's Justice for All Task Force and the town hall meeting in Grand Rapids, visit www.courts.mi.gov/justiceforall.

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