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Newsroom Type: Statements and Press Releases

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Health Care Coverage For Hundreds Of Thousands of Seniors, Low-income Families And Immigrants Protected

Western Center and co-counsel sued the State in Korean Community Center of the East Bay v. Douglas on behalf of vulnerable immigrants, seniors and low-income families seeking to navigate the complicated annual Medi-Cal determination process and two community organizations serving them.  The suit alleges that hundreds of thousands of people will lose health coverage because the State only sent out English language notices, failed to notify clients of their right to “cure” or have their Medi-Cal reinstated if they provide missing eligibility information in time, and failed to implement a the legally required eligibility review process. Co-counsel are Neighborhood Legal Services, Legal Aid Foundation of LA; Bay Area Legal Aid; Asian American Advancing Justice; and Kirkland and Ellis.

In denying defendant’s Motion for Reconsideration, the Court kept in place the preliminary injunction, mandating that no county can send a Notice of Action (NOA), terminating Medi-Cal coverage due to missing eligibility information without explicitly describing the 90-day cure right and without explaining what information is missing from the application.  The preliminary injunction says that Medi-Cal benefits “may continue and will not be interrupted” if the beneficiary turns in the information within 90 days of the termination date.


Not Just a Ferguson Problem- How Traffic Courts Drive Inequality in California

Low-income Californians are being disproportionately impacted by state laws and procedures related to driver’s license suspensions. Due to increased fines and fees and reduced access to courts, more than four million Californians have suspended drivers licenses. These suspensions make it harder for people to get and keep jobs, harm credit ratings and raise public safety concerns. Ultimately they keep people in long cycles of poverty that are difficult if not impossible for many to overcome. This report highlights the impacts on families, how the problem happens and what can and should be done to rectify it.

Read the full report here

CA Agency Restricts Access to Critical Aid for Domestic Violence Survivors and Their Children

Velma M. was pregnant, homeless, and on the run with her four children. It had taken all the courage she had to end the nightmare of abuse she had ensured at the hand of her former partner. But now Velma was experiencing another kind of nightmare- living in a car with her children and staying up all night to protect them. She had escaped the violence, but her family was more vulnerable than ever.

Read more here

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013–2014 Term: Both Divided and Unanimous, by Mona Towatao

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013–2014 Term demonstrated an ideological divide in a slew of 5-to-4 decisions, notably Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, impeding access to health care. Sixty-five percent of the decisions this Term were unanimous, some decided on narrow grounds, many implicating access to federal courts. These decisions included rulings on class actions, standard of review, contractual statutes of limitation, preemption, finality of judgments, and timeliness of appeal.

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Three Phases of Justice for the Poor: from Charity to Discretion to Right, by Justice Earl Johnson Jr. (Ret.)

[Editor’s Note: Earl Johnson Jr., retired associate justice of the California Court of Appeal, presented the closing keynote speech at the Pathways to Justice Conference in Los Angeles, California, on June 7, 2008; the speech has been adapted slightly for publication here. Justice Johnson is scholar in residence at the Western Center on Law and Poverty and chairman of the Right to Legal Services Subcommittee of the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily of the aforementioned organizations  with which he is affiliated.]

As I began work on my new book, a history of legal aid from the beginning to the current day, I made a couple of surprising discoveries. First, that 44 years have passed since I first became a legal services lawyer and thus found the cause that was my vocation for several years and my avocation ever since. But then I did another calculation and realized that 44 years before my entry into the field was when the national legal aid movement first started—in 1920. So in one way or another I’ve been involved for half the time the legal aid movement has existed. I had always thought of the start of that movement as being back, way back, in the mists of time. Especially for the younger readers of this article, 1964 must also appear to be way back in the mists of time.

Reflecting back, I was struck with the symmetry—44 years of justice for the poor being a matter of private charity followed by another 44 years of justice for the poor being a matter largely of discretionary government funding. And now, on the horizon at least, is perhaps a third phase—justice for the poor as a matter of right.

And so I thought I would speak to you today about how each of the first two phases got started and then explore the prospects for that third phase coming into existence. Although the first and second phases may seem obvious and inevitable developments in retrospect, both were born despite serious controversy over whether they should happen.

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