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Champions for Justice

October 13, 2011

Attorney General Holder hosts a panel with a selection of the honorees to discuss how to increase access to justice.

Attorney General Holder hosts a panel with a selection of the honorees to discuss how to increase access to justice.

   “Equal justice under the law” is more than just a phrase. It is an American ideal, at the core of our belief system.   And yet, for too many Americans, sound legal advice and assistance has been out of reach.  That is why last year the President and the Attorney General launched the Access to Justice Initiative. It was formed to address this crisis – to ensure that basic legal services are available, affordable and accessible to everyone in this country – regardless of status, income, or wealth.  Across the country, the department has been diligently working with federal, state, local and private partners towards enhancing the availability, and quality of legal representation available to all. Most defendants are dependent on the service of public lawyers, and in some cases, public defender caseloads are so excessive that they struggle to fulfill their basic obligations to their clients. Many times, these circumstances leave our criminal justice system falling short. Those who suffer most from these shortcomings are often the most vulnerable among us - immigrants, juveniles, the homeless, disabled veterans, or victims of domestic and sexual violence. However, the innovation and perseverance of dedicated legal professionals across the nation is making a difference.   Today the Department of Justice and the White House, came together to celebrate and honor some of these “Champions of Change” who promote access to justice in their communities.  As Attorney General Eric Holder said:

All across the country, each one of them is making a difference – by helping people in dire need access legal services; by securing much-needed benefits for disabled children, military families, and veterans; by paving the way for individuals transitioning out of our prisons and jails to become productive members of their communities; and by helping to safeguard – and to empower – the most vulnerable among us.
Leading advocates from the private and public sector, including defense lawyers, prosecutors, law professors and law students attended the event.  There are 118 law schools watching the event via a live-feed, thousands more students got to witness as the Champions shared their successes and had an open discussion about the work that still remains to be done.  Beginning on Oct. 17, 2011, a video of the event and Champions’ individual stories will be highlighted at www.whitehouse.gov/champions.  In addition, the Champions’ blogs, as well as entries from each of the 118 participating law schools describing their commitment to public service, will be featured.  Since its launch, Access to Justice has made an impact in beginning to improve the legal system for all Americans, regardless of status. If you would like to learn more about the Access to Justice Initiative and how you can help in your own community, visit justice.gov/atj  

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Updated April 7, 2017