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TLPJ Launches Nationwide Access to Justice Campaign

Mission: Keeping Courthouse Doors Open for All

TLPJ's Access to Justice Campaign aims to keep courthouse doors open for all.
TLPJ's Access to Justice Campaign aims to keep courthouse doors open for all.

Trial Lawyers for Public Justice and The TLPJ Foundation are launching a major new initiative – the Access to Justice Campaign – to expose, fight, and defeat the frontal assault now taking place on the right to a day in court. The attacks are taking place in numerous fronts in numerous fashions, but they all serve a common goal: closing the courthouse doors so victims can’t hold the powerful accountable.

"Americans have separation of powers, the Bill of Rights, and the right to a day in court because our nation’s Founders valued freedom and liberty – and knew that power unchecked was power abused," said TLPJ Foundation President Jeffrey M. Goldberg of the Jeffrey M. Goldberg Law Offices in Chicago. "In America, the courts are the one place where the poorest, most powerless person can hold the richest, most powerful people and corporations accountable. That’s why corporate wrongdoers and those in power are trying to eliminate the right to a day in court in so many ways and areas – and why we must keep the courthouse doors open for all."

The Access to Justice Campaign will battle the wide-ranging efforts to bar people from using the courts – including the Bush Administration’s attempts to use the war on terror to preclude court access and review; unconstitutional legislation eliminating victims’ rights; denials of the right to counsel and jury trial; excessive secrecy designed to prevent individuals from enforcing their rights and others from learning their rights were violated; federal preemption improperly eliminating victims’ rights: corporate attempts to use form contracts to require consumers, employees, and investors to waive their rights, bar them from suing, and force them into mandatory arbitration; and class action bans and abuses that would preclude victims from using the courts to prevent or remedy wrongdoing. It will include extensive litigation, networking, and legal and public education.

"In America, the courts are the one place where the poorest, most powerless person can hold the richest, most powerful people and corporations accountable. That’s why corporate wrongdoers and those in power are trying to eliminate the right to a day in court in so many ways and areas – and why we must keep the courthouse doors open for all."

"The Access to Justice Campaign broadens, deepens, and doubles our mission," said TLPJ Executive Director Arthur H. Bryant. "TLPJ was created so trial lawyers could advance justice and the public interest by fighting where lawyers know how to fight best – in the courts – for consumers’ rights, workers’ rights, civil rights, civil liberties, the environment, the poor, the powerless, and corporate and government accountability. Now, in part because of our and others’ success, both the government and corporate defendants are increasingly trying to eliminate Americans’ right to their day in court. We must fight back. Justice can’t be obtained if access to the courts – and a chance to win justice – isn’t allowed."

If you have or know of a potential case or appeal that could be assisted by the Access to Justice Campaign, please contact TLPJ. If you know of a potential speaking or publishing opportunity that could be used to educate the public, the legal community, or others, please let us know right away.

The Access to Justice Campaign will begin with a concentrated two-year effort and require extensive initial funding. Our goal is to raise at least $2 million in special gifts over the next two years (above and beyond annual membership dues) to help fund this critically-important work. 

Several of TLPJ’s most dedicated supporters have already made generous two-year lead commitments getting us almost halfway to our goal. We hope every member will join them. The Access to Justice Campaign will build on TLPJ’s extraordinary success protecting court access and victims’ rights throughout the years. Since its inception, TLPJ has consistently identified – and created special projects to challenge – specific threats to Americans’ rights. 

In 1984, we filed our first amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court, helping win the landmark decision rejecting federal preemption in Silkwood v. Kerr-McGee Corporation. Since that time, TLPJ’s Federal Preemption Project has grown and successfully fought this huge danger to victims’ right nationwide. In 1989, we launched Project ACCESS to fight unnecessary court secrecy throughout the nation – and preserve both the public’s and litigants’ access to and ability to share information. In 1996, we launched the Class Action Abuse Prevention Project to protect class members’ rights (and class actions) from elimination. In 1999, we launched the Mandatory Arbitration Abuse Prevention Project to fight efforts to use mandatory arbitration to eliminate consumers’ and employees’ rights.

Each of these projects has made a huge difference. Each will be continued, encompassed, and furthered by the Access to Justice Campaign. Each, however, focuses on one part of a large and increasing danger: the attack on access to justice itself. A piece-by-piece approach allows everyone to overlook – and fail to overcome – the unconscionable and unconstitutional sum of the parts. This danger needs to be perceived, portrayed, and defeated as a whole.

"The attack on access to justice endangers something fundamental to our nation – the right to a day in court," said TLPJ Foundation President Jeff Goldberg. "It shouldn’t be a surprise. Wrongdoers don’t like being accountable, so they’re trying to eliminate their victims’ access to the courts. But it is a surprise, because it’s so contrary to the principles on which America’s based. We pledge allegiance – and must preserve access – to 'liberty and justice for all.'"

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