Join our efforts to Save Jenkins.
The Philadelphia Bar Association is considering a resolution to jeopardize the funding and future of the Jenkins Law Library. The resolution encourages the Legislature to enact House Bill 1937. This bill will cripple Jenkins Law Library by diverting two-thirds of its primary funding source, court filing fees, to the First Judicial District’s general fund.
You may be surprised to learn that court filing fees, not membership dues, comprise 70% of our revenue. Jenkins and our members have relied on court filing fees since 1860. Membership fees make up just 20% of our annual income. Should this legislation pass, Jenkins will be crippled.
Opponents to Jenkins believe this legislation will secure additional funding for the private bar that represent indigent criminal defendants. In fact, the legislation does not mention indigent defense, and only says that funding normally reserved for the Library should be redirected to the First Judicial District. The money is not dedicated to indigent defense. While funding indigent defense is an admirable goal, it is the City’s obligation to pay for indigent defense from part of its $4.3 billion budget. Self-represented litigants, the public and the Bar should not be denied critical services to pay for the City’s obligation.
The Philadelphia Bar Association is considering a resolution in support of this legislation. The resolution alludes to a “pledge” by the City, which claims that the City’s obligation to fund the FJD will be reduced and receive a credit by an equal amount lost by Jenkins, and the amount saved would then be available for the City to pay conflict counsel. This secret pledge – not revealed or made part of the resolution – is being kept from the Bar, the committees, and Jenkins. It has not been made public by the resolution’s proponents or by the City.
The resolution also suggests the library could survive on endowments and membership fees alone, however they are wholly inadequate to fund your Jenkins library.
If this bill is passed, critical services and resources will be denied to our members. We level the playing field for all, whether rich or poor, solo practitioners or large firms. We provide services to those in need and to many that could neither afford nor avail themselves of these necessary legal resources. The most vulnerable citizens and their families will be harmed, including self-represented litigants seeking help in their most emotionally charged legal problems. Hundreds of thousands will be impacted.
We are proud to serve our 6,500 members, and the citizens of Philadelphia, since 1802. With your help, we intend to do so for many years to come.
Numerous Bar Association Past Chancellors and other prominent members of the legal community have joined me in our letter calling on the Bar Association to reject the resolution and legislation for a variety of reasons. I hope you will do the same. Please use the link below to add your name and tell the Philadelphia Bar Association that you oppose this resolution and the legislation.
Theodore “Ted” Simon
President, Jenkins Law Library