Friday, October 24, 2003

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Attorney General Abbott Works To Provide Legal Services To Low-Income Texans

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today announced a campaign to raise awareness about funding for legal aid to low-income Texans. The Attorney General's office partnered with the Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Equal Access to Justice Foundation to help all Texans with legal representation in civil court cases.

"From our first days in Texas elementary schools we are taught the Pledge of Allegiance and the ideal of justice for all." said Attorney General Abbott. "For many Texans, that concept sometimes seems unattainable. But legal aid is helping thousands of Texans realize that goal."

The Texas Equal Access to Justice Foundation is the largest Texas-based funding source for legal aid organizations in the state. In the last year, the Foundation helped fund 26 Legal Aid organizations that provided free civil legal services to abused children, battered women, the elderly and other victims of crime.

"Every Texan deserves fair, effective legal representation regardless of their financial limitations," Attorney General Abbott said. "In domestic violence cases, having a lawyer is the difference between staying in an abusive environment or getting a restraining order and getting out."

In 2001 the Texas Legislature appropriated $5 million to the Office of the Attorney General to create the Crime Victims Civil Legal Services Program for victims of crime and their immediate family members. Through the Texas Supreme Court, the Texas Equal Access to Justice Foundation handles the administrative responsibilities of these funds on behalf of the Court. Attorney General Abbott and Texas Supreme Court Justice Harriet O'Neill today appeared with members of the Texas Equal Access to Justice Foundation to announce the awareness campaign for civil legal aid services.

"Having equal access to proper legal representation is making a real impact throughout our state. Legal Aid is helping real people with real problems," Abbott said. "Instead of legal issues leaving crime victims overburdened and under served, we are able to help them on their road to recovery."

The Crime Victims Civil Legal Services program has benefitted more than 17,000 Texans since its inception in March 2002.

For more information on legal aid, go to the Texas Equal Access to Justice Foundation Web site at www.teajf.org.