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Access to Justice: Opening the Courthouse Door

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Publication Date: January 2007

Publisher(s): Brennan Center for Justice

Author(s): David Udell; Rebekah Diller

Topic: Justice (Legal procedure)

Keywords: Civil Justice; Attorneys' Fee Awards; Civil Legal Aid

Type: Report


In this white paper, we argue that the gap between America’s promise of equal justice and the reality of justice on the ground is substantial, and growing. Meaningful access to the courts—consisting of representation by counsel, the ability to physically enter court and understand and participate in the proceedings, and the opportunity to have claims heard—is increasingly out of reach for many Americans. Inadequate access to the courts harms the court system itself and the citizenry’s respect for the rule of law. The following specific reform initiatives aim to address and correct this fundamental problem.