No money for low income legal help in New Jersey

    The group of lawyers that handles the poorest people in New Jersey are facing severe cutbacks. They came “hat in hand” to a state Assembly budget meeting Thursday.

    The group of lawyers that handles the poorest people in New Jersey are facing severe cutbacks. They came “hat in hand” to a state Assembly budget meeting Thursday.

    Listen:
    [audio: reports20090402budget.mp3]

    The group handling civil cases for those who cannot afford an attorney say they have basically run out of money. Melville D. Miller is president of Legal Services of New Jersey. He says the money they receive from taking a small portion of interest on attorney trust accounts has virtually dried up and they are forced to make what he calls absurd  choices.

    Miller: For every foreclosure defense we do we could probably do between 50 and 100 evictions. Just because evictions are shorter period of time, how do you value that? Programs agonize over that every day, but ultimately there is not a rational answer.

    The group is hoping the state will find some extra budget money to help keep them afloat, especially at a time when they are working hard to stop mortgage foreclosures and evictions of tenants hit by the economic downturn.

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