Texas Supreme Court advisory

Contact: Osler McCarthy, staff attorney for public information
512.463.1441 or click for email

Friday, March 12, 2010

Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson has announced Justice Nathan L. Hecht's assignment as the Court's liaison to the Court's Access to Justice Commission and Access to Justice Foundation.  Justice Hecht will replace Justice Harriet O'Neill, who was a founding member of the Access to Justice Commission and has served as liaison to both the commission and the foundation since 2003.

Justice O'Neill announced in August that she would not seek another term on the Court.

“Justice O'Neill has brought the commission and foundation into national prominence, increasing the funding for programs designed to help indigent Texans find legal representation,” Chief Justice Jefferson said. “We are fortunate that Justice O'Neill has promised to stay engaged in the work of both the commission and the foundation.”

Jefferson assigns justices as liaisons to Court boards and commissions. “All Justices on our Court agree that access to justice must remain a priority,” he said. “That is why I am appointing Justice Hecht, the state's most senior appellate justice, to oversee the good work of these important organizations.” 

“Assuring access to the civil justice system for those who cannot afford legal representation is a high calling,” Justice Hecht said. “I welcome the opportunity to work with the many people committed to this calling and to assist the Supreme Court of Texas in achieving its goal of full access.”

“I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked as the Court's representative to ensure that our justice system is open to all, regardless of income, for basic civil legal needs,” Justice O'Neill said. “Needs like protection from domestic violence, or a veteran's access to earned medical benefits, or a roof over the head of hurricane victims.  I am confident that Chief Justice Jefferson, Justice Hecht and the entire Court will continue their unwavering commitment to these worthy organizations, as will I.”

The Supreme Court created the Texas Access to Justice Commission in 2001. It is charged with expanding access to and enhancing the quality of justice in civil legal matters for low-income Texans.

The Court created the Texas Access to Justice Foundation in 1984 to be the major funding source for legal services to the poor in Texas. The foundation annually helps finance more than 40 nonprofit organizations, including legal aid and pro bono programs, shelters, domestic violence projects, bar associations, law schools and immigration programs throughout the state.