A state lawmaker wrote back to a friend of mine that he thought lawyers were sopplied in both criminal and civil court cases. I polished what I write him.
Here is what I wrote, it could stand yet another coat of polish.
I am a bit surprised, and worried that lawmakers, who knows not the difference of criminal and civil matters of the courts. The Court appointed lawyer's, are ONLY for criminal matters. Even through Civil matter can take away money, and enjoyment of life.
CIVIL Matters as, foreclosures, driving licenses, evictions, Accident, insurance, big corporations over charging, etc. are often handled without Lawyers. In 2010 there are about 7 Pine tree lawyers for all of Maine, for the 225,000+ people who qualify.
In 1997 Maine's blue ribbon commission found about 83 % of Civil matters went unaddressed. What happen was in Maine, the number of Pine Tree Legal Association, Lawyers gets cut back?. Injustice Grows like a weed.
There was movement in 07' to get a Gideon law for Civil matters, lawyers for people who qualify for aid with civil matters as evictions. It failed. It was named after the guy who proved he should have a lawyer for criminal stuff.
In the 1960's Courts actually Heard facts of cases, in 2010 they do not. The courts get by on pretense of laws, Summary judgement- means before hearing the facts, or without a trial.
So that leaves Everyone who makes under $50,303 a year median income is usually un- or under -represented. As $10.00 an hour is considered good wages in Maine. Civil Law can cost tens of thousands of dollars. If can affect the quality of living. Loss of license, puts the poor in a virtual jail sentence.
It is also for the sake of justice that this case law which saves time for the Court, at the cost of justice, must be ruled unconstitutional. The Courts musst streamline, but not at the cost of justice for the poor.
When the poor are held to as high or in a few cases higher standards then a 15 year seasoned lawyer in procedural Rules of Courts matters as crossing T's and dotting I's justice is denied to both the poor, or those exercising their constitutional rights.
This phrase in case law ,"So the un-represented party will not benefit from their lack of lawyer" On its face it seems innocuous. But used on procedures of the courts it hold the pro-se or non lawyer party to standard they Can have no awareness of in their daily eking out a living. It is damning.
Even someone who has read the rules of Maine's courts has less of an understanding then a graduating student of law.
It has been a long time resolved, going back thousands of years that black smiths, farmers factory workers and store clerks, should not be hindered by technicalities of law. Yet, this pretense of law has been with us since 1977.
In practice lawyers who failed to appear has their cases automatically re-docketed. Or placed back on the schedule. Cases from attorneys who missed a court date even due to a vacation, are placed back on the court schedule. So the people who pays the attorneys fees, are not harmed by their lawyers actions. If the lawyer went out and got drunk, he might not be able to act as their lawyer but upon finding another lawyer the case will be re-instated.This reinstating occurs so the lawyer can make a living, from law.
Basically I saw things like Denying the Indigent, the right to file in formus paupiers or with out filing fee is outrageous. Dismissing a case because a written answer or affirmative defense was not filed in 20 days, in the accepted format, is to deny a day in Court yet this happens through out or supposed "Land of Laws."
Fathers are told they must include a citation of case law in their argument. Mothers are told they must retrieve a fee of about $49,000 called a bond to bring the matter to appeal. Parties who represent themselves are denied re-installment of case due to sickness. It it wrong to hold the defendant to a higher standard of competency then a 15 year in practice lawyer.
It is wrong to deny use of an impartial court, to those who make under the median income. AFDC Mothers in Maine make $5,000 a year or under. SSI disabled average under 7,500. Those at minimum wage about $12,000 depending upon hours. How is one suppose to afford a lawyer to fight car accidents, and big corporations charging on an identity fraud, when it cost more than 1/10 of yearly income for any of these people? Paying a $1,500 retainer for a civil matter from these meager incomes, often, can not happen. This inhumane case law needs to be exposed and corrected.
Even for criminal cases, the appointed lawyer who gets $60 an hour is Not going to work as hard as they work for someone who can pay $200 an hour. This denies justice to the poor.
Civil cases can effect nearly as bad as can Criminal cases, as in removal of driving license turning one in a prisoner in their home. That is if they obey the illegal and unconstitutional court order.
I will ask you the same as I asked Maine Supreme Court, Would you want your loved ones to have a bar upon their use of the courts bases on technicalities? It does not make sense to hold Non-Lawyers, working hard in areas, other than law, to the proficiency as School Taught Lawyers.
In reality many cases concerning the poor do not get the facts of the cases heard. This is NOT a "Land of Laws". Its a "Land of Barriers for the poor". The 30% who can afford lawyers are treated differently than the 70% who can not. This is WRONG!! It is Unconstitutional.
I took time to write this so you, a lawmaker knows, the difference between Criminal action and civil. This injustice can no longer be allowed to prevail. I guess in order to do so we have to educate lawmakers that civil matters, can impact the quality or amount of food we the poor eat. The life we live, if we are paying for someone Else's caused accident. And this injustice would be due to the case was decided on technicalities rather then the facts of the case. We are No Longer a Land of Liberty. In fact America is THE LAND OF HIDDEN TECHNICALITIES.