This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), the nation's largest funder of civil legal aid, and the need for legal services has peaked, with more than 61 million low-income Americans eligible for such assistance when facing crises like foreclosure and domestic violence. In addition to calls for increased funding, LSC and courts are creating commissions and taskforces to identify innovative solutions to meet the ever increasing demand. Proposed reforms include creating online pro bono portals and incentivizing law students to respond to unmet legal needs through clinics and fellowships. What other strategic responses to the legal services crisis are being advanced? Can we point to successful civil right-to-counsel or "Civil Gideon" efforts?
Honorable Nathan L. Hecht, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Texas
Honorable Goodwin Liu, Associate Justice, California Supreme Court
Honorable Chase T. Rogers, Chief Justice, Connecticut Supreme Court
Honorable David S. Tatel, Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Honorable Eric T. Washington, Chief Judge, District of Columbia Court of Appeals
Moderated by ACS President Caroline Fredrickson
Rick A. Palmore receives the ACS Progressive Champion Award at the 2014 ACS National Convention. Palmore, General Mills’ executive vice president, general counsel, chief compliance and risk management officer, and secretary, is a celebrated attorney and corporate leader who has sparked industry-wide attention on the value and importance of a diverse workplace.
The American Constitution Society's David Carliner Public Interest Award was established in memory of one of the great public interest lawyers of the 20th Century, David Carliner (1918-2007), a champion of justice in his native Washington, D.C. and on the national stage. A tireless, innovative litigator, he also played a leading role in building institutions devoted to protecting civil and human rights and combating injustice on a systemic basis. A pioneering immigration lawyer, an ardent foe of Jim Crow, and a leading champion of full political rights for citizens of the District of Columbia, he also was the founding chair of the American Civil Liberties Union-National Capital Area and the International Human Rights Law Group (now GlobalRights). The Award recognizes outstanding public interest lawyers whose work best exemplifies its namesake’s legacy of fearless, uncompromising and creative advocacy on behalf of marginalized people.
The 2014 recipient was Peter J. Wagner, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Prison Policy Initiative.
Wagner co-founded Prison Policy Initiative in 2001 and has helped grow it to a nationally recognized think tank that highlights the pervasive impact that mass incarceration in the U.S. can have on the economy, the electoral process and even interpersonal relationships. Among its numerous achievements, Prison Policy Initiative has led the charge against prison gerrymandering, working with states such as Maryland to end the practice that gives outsized political clout to legislative districts that contain prisons. Wagner has also served as an Instructor at Smith College, teaching courses on constitutional law and the prison industrial complex. In 2013, he was given the Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Peter B. Edelman receives the ACS Progressive Champion Award at the 2014 ACS National Convention. Edelman is a distinguished law professor and director of the Center on Poverty, Inequality, and Public Policy at Georgetown University Law School and a nationally renowned advocate for the nation’s most vulnerable.