Access to Justice Index

The National Center for Access to Justice has released the "Access to Justice Index," an online resource presenting data on the "performance of state-based justice systems in assuring access to justice." Going state by state, the index looks at four elements of state-based justice systems:

• the number of civil legal aid attorneys serving the poor;

• systems available to assist self represented litigants;

• systems available to assist people with limited English proficiency; and,

• systems available to assist people with disabilities.

 The Index shows Oklahoma.Louisiana, and Illinois at the bottom end, and Minnesota, Washington, DC, Washington (state), and Colorado, at the top.

The authors explain: “The Justice Index is a snapshot of the degree to which best practices for ensuring access to the civil and criminal justice systems have been adopted across the country.” And they offer this caveat: “While informal practices may be in place and effective on a regional basis, or may be developed across the state through local rules, the Justice Index focuses on statewide rules because they apply to everyone. It is also more difficult to collect data on a local level, although NCAJ is developing strategies for doing so. Because the Justice Index is selective, rather than comprehensive, it should always be thought of as the beginning, not the end, of an ongoing conversation about best practices and about which states are providing access to justice.”