MSBACivil Gideon Task Force
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5/21/09 | 3/19/09 | 1/15/09 | 11/13/08 | 09/11/08 | 04/29/08

Minnesota State Bar Association
Civil Gideon Task Force
May 21, 2009

Present: Mary Schneider, Jon Stafsholt, Gary Hird, Linda Foreman, Bricker Lavik, Kathleen Murphy, Cathy Haukedahl, Mike Ford, Bev Balos, Mary Jane Morrison, Caroline Palmer, Barb Ross, Perry Wilson, Bridget Gernander, John Stuart, Rana Fuller, Steve Hirsh (MSBA staff), Jen Eichten (MSBA staff)

By telephone:   Peter Knapp, Mary Ellen McGinnis, Jean Binkovitz

  • Introductions
  • Committee Reports
    • Academic Inquiry (Mary Jane Morrison)
      • No takers on Task Force research proposals
        • Mary Jane will forward topics to Peter Knapp and Perry Wilson for distribution
      • Research on existence of right under Magna Carta: some right by statute in place by time of American Revolution. Could be relevant to due process claims.
    • Unmet Needs
      • Assembling existing surveys to use for obtaining client input.
      • Focus groups: will seek input from other committees on questions that would be useful for their work.
        • Planning for 2 in the metro and 2 non-metro.
      • LSC survey on unmet  needs: data to be submitted to LSC by June 1. We will seek Minnesota data from survey.
    • Practical Issues (Cathy Haukedahl)
      • Outlines developed for further study
    • Judiciary
      • Seminar planned for October 30 at St Thomas, in the morning
        • Opening remarks from Walter Mondale
        • Request to Jim Ramstad for closing remarks
        • Several sessions, including panels of clients, judges, foreign judge
        • Need to evaluate possibility of collecting proceedings/papers from seminar.
      • Judges survey
        • Completed. Committee has not yet had an opportunity to review results.
        • Committee will summarize results and distribute to full Task Force.
  • Old business
    • Minutes for March meeting approved.
  • Issues and observations (Mike Ford)
    • Comments during legislative session concerning cutting legal aid funding because it is not constitutionally required.
    • Consider implementation issues while preparing report and look for new Task Force members who might be interested.
    • Identify and include stakeholders outside the “usual suspects”.
    • Reach out to lawyer-legislators for implementation.
    • MSBA lobbyist Lloyd Grooms is a resource, through MSBA leadership and legislative committee.
    • Important for MSBA to continue prioritizing adequate funding for the justice system.
    • Anecdotal client stories are very important for persuading  legislators.
    • Need to focus on constituents of legislators on key committees.
  • Other issues
    • Stakeholders to survey
      • Legal services staff
        • Look at Boston’s survey instruments
        • Mary Schneider
      • Private bar
        • Practical Issues committee to examine
      • Clients – through statewide self-help centers
        • Bridget will inquire about options
          • Web-based
          • paper-based surveys in each county
          • telephone survey by self-help center staff
        • Need to have survey in multiple languages
        • Involve local court staff, including judges’ clerks
        • Clients need to be surveyed at different points in the legal process (pre-hearing, post-hearing)
      • Self-help center staff
      • Social service agencies (domestic violence, sexual assault, institutionalized people)
        • Caroline Palmer and Rana Fuller will work on this.
      • Children
        • Linda Foreman and Cathy Haukedahl
      • Other possibilities
        • Churches
          • Joint religious/legislative task force
        • Landlords
        • Homeless
    • Identify a case study where lack of counsel had a serious impact.
      • Jon Stafsholt will inquire of district court judges
      • Follow-up with judges who responded to Justice Paul Anderson’s survey cover letter.
        • Bridget will follow-up


    • Next meeting: September 17
      • Update on efforts in other states


      Minnesota State Bar Association
      Civil Gideon Task Force
      April 29, 2008

      Mary Schneider (co-chair), Kent Harbison (co-chair), Brian Melendez, Mary Ellen McGinnis, Janine Laird, Conor Tobin, Max Heerman, Mary Jane Morrison, Llewellyn Linde, Michael Unger, Barbara Ross, Beverly Balos, Peter Knapp, Bridget Gernander, Perry Wilson, Amy Helsene, Diane Heins, Gary Hird, Karl Robinson, Nancy DiPasquale, Cathy Haukedahl, Michael McCarthy, Rana Fuller, Caroline Palmer, Kathleen Murphy, Emily Mattson, Mike Turpin, Peter Erlander, Sharon Horozaniecki, Steve Hirsh (MSBA staff)
      By telephone: Mike Ford, Jean Binkovitz, Kathleen Heaney, Jon Stafsholt

      • Introductions
      • Opening remarks from MSBA President Brian Melendez
      • Introduction to Civil Gideon – history and current status (Mary Schneider)
        • PowerPoint presentation sent to Task Force listserve
        • Comments
          • Civil Gideon a real possibility over the next five years
      • Review of the Task Force Creation and Mission (Cathy Haukedahl and Caroline Palmer)
        • MSBA activity prior to forming task force
          • participation in national CG task force
          • LAD endorsed ABA resolution
          • staff participation in national trainings
          • Civil Gideon presentation at MSBA Conference in 2005
          • LAD identified need for coordinated strategy, anticipation of possible unanticipated consequences
        • LAD very concerned about Civil Gideon – crucial question for access to justice in Minnesota
        • Need to examine practical implications if right were established
        • Other ideas for expanding resources for access to justice
      • Dorsey research project (Perry Wilson)
        • Started with analysis of Lassiter – only required counsel for possibility of incarceration
        • What are legal basis for right in Minnesota? Looking at a number of other states also. Questions considered:
          • State courts willing to interpret state constitution more broadly than federal Constitution? Yes in Minnesota
          • State statutes – in what areas did a right already exist? In Minnesota, there are a number of civil areas where counsel is required, e.g., civil commitment, termination of parental rights
          • Tradition of recognizing rights established in English common law? Not much in Minnesota.
          • Particular constitutional provisions
          • Court's use of its supervisory powers. In Minnesota
            • DWI statute
            • Indigent non-custodial parents in child support cases where custodial parent is represented
      • Task Force issues, questions, goals
        • Examine practical consequences of establishing a right, including funding issues
        • Examine cost of not implementing the right
        • Who would have access to right – beyond low income
        • Examine clients/kinds of cases in 20% of need that is met, 80% of unmet need
        • Coordinate with efforts of Legal Services Planning Committee, and legal services funding committees
        • Understand current delivery system
        • Do no harm
        • Incentives – impact of providing for free something that currently is not
        • How would it effect lawyer-client relationship, ability of lawyer to control relationship?
        • Legal needs – need specific data
        • Availability of lawyers – more lawyers retiring than entering profession over next 10 years
        • Need to develop practical solutions
        • Impediments to delivering services?
        • what types of cases?
        • what kind of clients – low income, moderate income?
        • how much resources currently spent on triage?
        • understand public defender system – history, outcomes
        • status in other states
        • identify experts to address the task force
        • identify materials written in opposition to a civil right to counsel
        • models that allow disputes to be resolved without lawyers, e.g., concilliation court
        • look at models of service delivery in other countries
        • how would services be delivered if the right were established?
        • Include information from court self-help centers
        • establish guiding principles
        • what is the responsibility of the legal profession?
        • Include input from law firm pro bono coordinators


      • Subcommittees – to be formed based on list of issues
        • Process for forming
          • identify categories of questions
          • circulate on listserve
          • members should identify subcommittees they are interested in
      • Next meeting – September
        • exchange information and ideas using listserve over the summer
        • consider conference, law review issues, symposium, etc



      Docs to circulate:

      • King decision
      • Dorsey memo
      • link to GIS maps
      • Statewide client access RFP