By: Michael Pellicciotti, Equal Justice Coalition Chair (2012-2015)
Dear the Alliance for Equal Justice Community:
It has been an honor to serve as the Chair of the Equal Justice Coalition since December 2012, and I am proud of the work that we accomplished during this time to further access to justice in Washington.
Despite incredible challenges and attacks against public funding for civil legal aid, as a result of our talented staff and lobbyists, we were able to either maintain or increase funding each year at the local, state, and federal levels. Importantly, at all levels of government there is an increased respect by lawmakers for civil legal aid that will pay dividends in the coming years. For example, for the first time in recent years, no member of our U.S. House or Senate delegation to Congress has voted to eliminate public funding for civil legal aid, and the great majority of the congressional delegation supports increasing funding for civil legal aid. Indeed, the U.S. House of Representatives just a few weeks ago founded an Access to Justice Caucus within its membership to further this effort.
We have more work to do, and it is time for someone else to lead this charge. By December, I will have completed three one-year terms as EJC Chair. This is the right time, during an odd-year (before a short state legislative session), to have a new chair appointed.
I pleased to announce that with my nomination and the ATJ Board’s blessing, Salvador Mungia is the new Chair of the EJC for the next two years. Mr. Mungia has served as a past president of WSBA, a WSBA delegate to the ABA House of Delegates, and a multitude of other leadership roles. He has joined in our state and federal EJC efforts. He will hit the ground running. We will be lucky to have Mr. Mungia as EJC Chair.
I am also thrilled that past EJC Chair John McKay has agreed to serve as a special advisor for us next year, and that ATJ Board Member Andy Sachs has agreed to join our executive committee as the EJC goes into this next year presenting the civil legal needs study and importance for more public funding for civil legal aid. Through this growth and our strong EJC staff leadership, I am confident that the EJC is on the right track to further educate policymakers on the importance of civil legal aid funding for years to come.
Thank you again.