Florida Supreme Court chief justice to attend White House forum
Jorge Labarga, the chief justice of Florida's Supreme Court, is participating at an event at the White House on Tuesday to promote ways to help low-income Americans seek justice through the court system.
Labarga is one of six state chief justices invited, the Florida Supreme Court said in a news release this morning.
Speakers at the event include U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, White House Counsel Neil Eggleston and John Levi, the chairman of the Legal Services Corp., which is the single largest funder of civil legal aid for low-income Americans and a co-sponsor of the non-partisan forum. After the forum, a reception at the U.S. Supreme Court will include remarks by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
It's the second year that Labarga has participated.
“I am eager to once again bring Florida’s perspective to this critically important national conversation,” Labarga said in a statement. “And I look forward to hearing about initiatives and innovations elsewhere that we may very well want to explore here in Florida.”
Access to civil justice has been one of Labarga's top priorities as head of Florida's judicial branch. In 2014, he created the Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice -- which is researching ways to bring down barriers that keep poor people from seeking the help of the courts in matters such as child custody and landlord-tenant disputes.
“The lack of meaningful access to civil justice is so critically urgent that I believe it can be fairly described as a crisis," Labarga said.
He praised attorneys and legal groups that work to help people who can't afford a lawyer, but he said, "the simple truth is that the gaps in access to civil justice are bigger than the legal community. We are grappling with a societal problem. And it needs a societal answer.”
The forum will be live-streamed at https://www.whitehouse.gov/live.