Two Rulings Promote Access To Justice In Texas

Monday, January 1, 2007 - 01:00

A pair of rulings that are expected to increase funds available to promote access to justice have been handed down in Texas.

At a luncheon held last month with representatives of the Texas Equal Access to Justice Foundation, Commission and State Bar of Texas, the Supreme Court of Texas announced that it has signed an order amending the IOLTA rules to require attorneys to place their IOLTA accounts at banks that are paying rates comparable to other similarly situated accounts.

'The Foundation is grateful to the Supreme Court of Texas for its wholehearted support of the access to justice community,' said Betty Balli Torres, executive director,

Texas Equal Access to Justice Foundation (TEAJF). 'In particular, we are especially appreciative of the tremendous efforts of Justice Harriet O'Neill, who helped shepherd the process. As I heard someone say today, 'We are lucky to have her on our team.''

Ms. Torres cited the efforts of the team presenting the rule, including Jim Sales, Charles Matthews, Gib Walton, Martha Dickie, Karen Neeley, Bill Jones and Harry Reasoner. 'These are key players who helped ensure that the Court understood the need for this rule,' Ms. Torres said.

'There are key people, Linda Rexer (Michigan) and Jane Curran (Florida) who helped in the drafting (and drafting and drafting) of the language,' Ms. Torres said. 'We are grateful to them and others in the national IOLTA community.'

Ms. Torres also credited the efforts of the TEAJF Board and its chairman, Richard L. Tate, in helping to achieve the Texas Supreme Court ruling.

Also last month, Texas State Attorney General Greg Abbott ruled that district clerks in Texas must collect filing fees under both section 133.151 and 133.152 of the Texas Local Government Code. The ruling, which had been requested by Carl Reynolds, administrative director of the Texas Office of Court Administration, is expected to provide between $4 and $5 million a year for civil legal services in Texas.