MESSAGE FROM THE CHIEF JUSTICE

To the Citizens of New Hampshire:

     I invite you to visit the new Access to Justice Commission website at www.courts.state.nh.us/access/. The AJC site is part of a coordinated effort we are making in New Hampshire to provide all citizens with the legal services they need to resolve civil disputes. Because we are committed to "equal justice under law," we must do all that we can to provide those with modest or no resources meaningful access to justice. In reality, that means we need to provide our citizens with legal services, either at reduced fee or no cost, so they don't go it alone when matters of fundamental importance are at stake, such as housing, government benefits or custody of a child, to name a few. We are proud to join 26 other states in which access to justice commissions have been established to address this important responsibility to our fellow citizens.

     Stories highlighted on the AJC web pages describe the people that low-cost legal aid has served: an elderly woman who suffers from advanced dementia who was notified that her Social Security benefits would be withheld unless she returned $4,266 in overpayments paid to her a decade earlier; an unemployed single father threatened with eviction from his mobile home; a homeless veteran, suffering from severe diabetes and depression, who was denied disability benefits. Legal aid lawyers and paralegals helped these low- income clients get their lives back on track.

     The New Hampshire Access to Justice Commission is chaired by Associate Supreme Court Justice James E. Duggan and Chief Judge Steven McAuliffe of the U.S. District Court in Concord. The 42-member commission is comprised of a wide range of people who have worked for years to make justice more affordable and accessible for low-income citizens. Their work is to be commended, but we all know that we can and must do more. I urge you to visit the Commission's new website and read about the coordinated effort now under way to secure "justice for all."

                                                         John T. Broderick, Jr.
                                                         Chief Justice