At justice for all forum Grand Rapids residents reiterate lack of access to affordable legal service

Feb 17, 2020

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After being in a serious car accident, Rebecca Arredondo received a ticket. A ticket she says she tried to solve on her own by heading to the courts the day after her accident.  

“So the clerk came and said “I don’t think you need to go to court for this because it was an accident and you can just write an explanation and they probably just won’t give you a ticket”. I just took the clerk’s advice I ended up getting a ticket, and now I have medical bills, I have two-thousand bills to pay for the hospital, for the ambulance because my Medicaid doesn’t cover it, my car insurance didn’t cover it either.” 

Arredondo was one of the many residents who gave feedback at a Justice for All Taskforce organized by Michigan Supreme Chief Justice Bridget McCormack. According to data from the Taskforce, 75% of civil cases that represents themselves in court lose because they can’t afford to pay for an attorney. And Agnes Jury, an attorney from Traverse City, suggested that one way to decrease the gap in services is to allow lawyers and their clients to trade goods for services. 

“This would allow an attorney to still have value in the services that they provide but not in a cash currency rather in a barter currency.” 

The Justice for All Taskforce is a project from the Michigan Supreme Court  to ensure everyone has access to meaningful help navigating the court system to resolve issues. 

Michelle Jokisch Polo, WGVU News.