Meeting to address legal services for poor

Filed under: Daily News |

The Colorado Access to Justice Commission is holding a series of hearings across the state to identify gaps in legal services for the poor.

The El Paso County hearing is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25 at the district court on the first floor main jury assembly room.

“Colorado is substantially below the national average in funding for legal services for poor people,” said committee chairman Fred Baumann. “We would need another $2.5 million just to bring our state up to average. That’s a serious problem.”

There are 6,861 eligible low-income people for every legal-aid lawyer in the nation. In the general population, there is one attorney for every 525 people – more than 10 times the ratio of legal aid attorneys to the population they serve.

The poor in Colorado face legal issues such as shelter, sustenance, safety, health care and child custody. Their cases deal with protection orders, domestic violence, medical benefits, social security or food stamps.

Nationally, less than 20 percent of the poor’s legal needs are addressed with a private attorney or a legal-aid lawyer, according to a Legal Services Corporation report.