Access to legal services signed into law

8/20/2013, 11:34 p.m.

Legislation sponsored by state Rep. Emily McAsey to increase access to legal resources through Illinois’ court systems was signed into law earlier.

“These new initiatives will give people who cannot afford legal representation greater access to helpful resources,” McAsey said. “By establishing self-help centers in county law libraries and pilot programs to help veterans and disadvantaged citizens, more people will be able to use reliable legal resources as they prepare to enter the court room.”

House Bill 3111, an initiative of the Illinois Supreme Court and the Illinois Access to Justice Commission, creates the Access to Justice Act. It establishes two pilot programs to be administered through the Illinois Supreme Court and funded through provisions in the law. The first program will create a statewide hotline for military personnel and veterans to seek legal advice, ask questions about court and legal proceedings, and establish a coordinated network of legal resources. The second program establishes a court-sponsored pro-bono program, to provide an additional way for indigent people to receive free legal services in civil court.

The legislation also allows county law libraries to have self-help legal centers and other legal assistance programs that are available to the public. Counties would be able to make these resources available both at the library and through online services. Additionally, the proposal establishes a task force to examine the fees paid by criminal defendants and civil litigants and make recommendations about how the fee structure could be improved.

For more information about this legislation, please contact Rep. McAsey’s constituent service office at (815) 372-0085.