Legal Aid NC

The NC GOP's war on the poor continues with more cuts to legal aid

And the yoyo (you're on your own) keeps spinning:

For years, the three leading legal aid groups have received state funds to represent people in civil matters in part through budget earmarks and a small portion of the fees from court filings and criminal cases. Legal aid funds already had been cut by more than half since 2008 to $2.7 million during the last fiscal year. This year the reduction looks deeper and permanent, and the reasons for the cuts remain unclear.

Although the legal aid groups also get funds from other sources, their leaders said in interviews the new state cuts could mean nearly 35 attorneys and staff ultimately will be laid off, resulting in several thousand potential clients unable to get help each year.

Beginning to see a trend here, which may go a long way in answering that "reasons for the cuts" question. With a backdrop of Republican court losses over the last few years, we suddenly see Josh Stein losing dozens of lawyers, the UNC Center for Civil Rights being hamstrung with "no litigation" rules, and now three dozen legal aid lawyers losing their jobs. Not a coincidence, and not just an effort to clear the way for the GOP's business pals. This is pure spite, plain and simple, directed at the legal profession in general. I shouldn't have to do this, but here are some excerpts from the Preamble to the NC Bar's Rules of Professional Conduct:

NC GOP stifling the legal rights of farmworkers

Once again, Gene Nichol goes to bat for the least among us:

The chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee who introduced both the cuts and the creative reporting requirement is Brent Jackson of Autryville. He’s the Senate’s only farmer. The News & Observer reports: “Jackson Farming grows, packs, ships and brokers fruit and vegetables grown in this and several other states.” The Republican senator has “benefitted heavily from agribusiness financial contributions and has become their flag-bearer.”

And what, you might ask, does that have to do with Legal Aid of North Carolina? LANC runs a federally funded program called the “Farmworker Unit” – a statewide project committed to providing high quality civil legal services to migrant and seasonal farmworkers in North Carolina. The Farmworker Unit, according to its website, represents individual farmworkers, advising them of their rights and helping them get what the law requires. Shades of Cesar Chavez. Mystery solved.

North Carolina is becoming notorious for the mistreatment of farmworkers; from the all-too-common practice of using child labor, to the often brutal treatment of those workers who dare to even speak with labor organizers. But when you use the power of the government to forcibly obtain information to help wealthy private sector donors in their legal battles against those mistreated workers, you've really crossed the line:

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