Why? What else can we do to ensure access to justice for all? Justice for All: A Report of the Justice Action Group Statewide Access to Justice Planning Initiative attempts to provide answers to these questions by offering an array of concrete strategies – some new and innovative, others excellent old ideas – which the planning group believes can make a measurable difference, over the next decade, in making equal access to justice a reality for all Mainers. Some of the recommended strategies will not require significant additional resources and can be implemented relatively quickly. Others are longer-term in nature and will require years of sustained focus and persistent effort to be brought to fruition. Many of these strategies will require new resources, and the Report contains new approaches to expanding resources from both public and private sources.
The Report also underscores the critical need to create a broader and more diverse coalition of Mainers who understand and are willing to become advocates for justice in our State. Failure to provide equal access to justice has significant implications for Maine that extend far beyond the reach of the bench and bar. The problem is just too big for the legal community to solve alone. Ultimately, as Senator Muskie pointed out in the 1990 Report of the Maine Commission on Legal Needs, providing equal access to justice is a public responsibility and requires a substantial commitment of public dollars, especially in cases where basic human needs are at stake and the individual cannot afford a lawyer. We are all concerned about the cost, of course, but it is important to remember that the costs to society of not making this investment are also substantial, in both economic and human terms.