J.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles, California                                     December 26, 2005
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South Dakota State Bar Panics -
Finds It Necessary To Improve Lawyer Image
By Ron Branson, National J.A.I.L. CIC
 On Saturday evening, December 24, I published a JNJ titled "South Dakota Judges Referring Questions Re: J.A.I.L. To State Bar," based on the Rapid City Journal article identified immediately below: RapidCityJournal.com Saturday, December 24, 2005   Vote on judicial immunity weighed By Kevin Woster, Journal Staff Writer http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2005/12/24/news/top/news01.txt

A measure headed for the 2006 general-election ballot that would make judges vulnerable to lawsuits stemming from their court decisions is a threat to the foundation of the judicial process, critics said Friday. [snip]

In my introduction to this publication, I stated:
The very contemplation of the passage of this measure [the J.A.I.L. Amendment] has thrown fear into the establishment, and the judges of South Dakota are already referring questions about this measure to the State Bar for answers.
 Already we are informed of the results of that questioning by the latest Rapid City Journal article below, prepared the following day, December 25th (Christmas Day) and post-dated for Monday, December 26, titled "State Bar plan to help poor people."   In footnote 5 to Mr. Barnett in my comments on the 12/24 article, I stated: Gee, with the reputation you lawyers have, I am sure that most people, if not all, would be willing rather to hire a paralegal to give them assistance of counsel rather than one of you "lawyers" to "represent" them. The way I see it, it won't take long before the People of South Dakota will see a lot of you lawyers in the unemployment line. I concede that perhaps a number of you will drastically lower your legal fees so far down so as to keep up with the paralegals swiping all your legal business which would otherwise land you in the unemployment line. I am of the impression that the only reason people even hire you at all is because they have to according to your fellow comrades, to wit, judges.  We now see that "more than 250 South Dakota lawyers have already [as of yesterday, Dec. 25th] signed up to participate in a new State Bar program" that will not only lower their fees, but "will provide free legal services..." Apparently, members of the S.D. Bar Association understand the very real possibility of unemployment should they continue to comfortably ride the gravy train they've been on for years, which they now see threatened by the J.A.I.L. Amendment. Do the People of South Dakota actually believe these lawyers have decided to do this out of the kindness of their hearts? Have all these lawyers in South Dakota suddenly experienced a revelation and seen the light?  
 RapidCityJournal.com Monday, December 26, 2005   State Bar plan to help poor people By Chet Brokaw, Associated Press Writer http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2005/12/25/news/state/state02.txt

PIERRE - More than 250 South Dakota lawyers have already signed up to participate in a new State Bar program that will provide free legal services for poor people who are unable to get help elsewhere.

For decades, low-income people have been able to get free legal help with civil cases from legal services programs. But a decline in federal funding means that South Dakota's two legal services organizations cannot help everyone who is eligible, Tom Barnett, secretary-treasurer of the State Bar of South Dakota, said.

Those who meet income limits but are unable to get help from the two legal services organizations will be able to contact the new program, Access to Justice, which will seek to match them with lawyers who have agreed to volunteer, Barnett said.

The State Bar and its charitable arm, the South Dakota Bar Foundation, have hired Cheryl Hanna of Mission to be the program's coordinator. Hanna, who has worked with Dakota Plains Legal Services for the past 16 years, plans to have Access to Justice operating by Feb. 1.

State Bar president Bob Riter said Hanna will spread word about the project to lawyers and low-income people who need legal assistance.

"We're really excited about Cheryl joining us. We're even more excited about the opportunities we're going to have to serve people who need to be served," Riter said.

Dakota Plains Legal Services, based in Mission, and East River Legal Services, based in Sioux Falls, now provide free legal help to low-income people in cases that deal with a wide range of issues, such as adoption, child custody, domestic violence, health care and finances.

Low-income people who cannot be served by the two legal services organizations because of a lack of funding and staff will be able to apply for help from Access to Justice.

Although more than 250 attorneys have already agreed to take part, more lawyers are expected to join the program, Barnett said.

Access to Justice not only will coordinate legal representation for low-income people, but will also raise money to help Dakota Plains and East River legal services, Barnett said.

The new organization also will establish education and information programs for poor people and the elderly.

"The elderly have a much tougher problem in dealing with legal problems they can't afford than younger folks do," Barnett said.

Hanna said lawyers can also mentor younger lawyers, including those working at the two legal services organizations.

Students at the University of South Dakota School of Law will volunteer their time to help with legal research and other services, Hanna said.

Barnett said Access to Justice will have a budget of about $100,000 in its first year.

2005 Rapid City Journal

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