The Arizona Commission on Access to Justice: A Progress Report

Hon. Lawrence F. Winthrop

“Equal justice under law is not merely a caption on the fa ade of the Supreme Court building. It is perhaps the most inspiring ideal of our society. It is one of the ends for which our entire legal system exists.”

–Justice Lewis Powell

“Can there be justice if it is not equal? Can there be a just society when some do not have justice? Equality, equal treatment is perhaps the most fundamental element of justice.”

–Justice Antonin Scalia

“Trust in the rule of law—the foundation of American democracy—depends upon the public’s faith that government seeks equal justice for all. . . . But without equal access to justice, the promise of equal justice under law rings hollow.”

–Merrick Garland, U.S. Attorney General

Noting the increasing poverty population, updated legal needs studies, the rising cost of civil legal services, static federal and state funding for civil legal aid, and the rising trend of self-represented litigants (SRLs) in state courts, the Joint Conference of Chief Justices and State Court Administrators encouraged the creation of access to justice commissions or equivalent entities in each state and U.S. territory. In Arizona, following completion of an updated legal needs study and various regional community forums throughout the state, Chief Justice Scott Bales in 2014 created the Arizona Commission on Access to Justice (ACAJ).

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