INDIANAPOLIS | The Indiana Supreme Court established this week a statewide commission tasked with improving the availability of civil legal services for low-income Hoosiers.
The Indiana Commission to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services has 17 members who will be selected by the state's high court from the judiciary, law schools, practicing attorneys, providers of civil legal services, Indiana businesses and nonprofit organizations.
Expected to meet at least four times a year, they are charged with developing a five-year plan "to improve and enhance the availability and effective provision of civil legal services to low-income or otherwise disadvantaged Indiana residents."
Chief Justice Brent Dickson, a Hobart native, said the commission is not intended to displace groups or organizations already providing such services, but to study their methods and improve cooperation among them.
Similar commissions exist in more than half of the 50 states and are commonly known as "access to justice" commissions.
Dickson said an initial Supreme Court study that found a need to improve civil legal assistance for those unable to easily afford an attorney prompted creation of the new commission, along with recommendations from the Indiana bar.
The commission must provide the court a progress report by June 30.