Last week I wrote to you about a bill in Harrisburg to defund Jenkins Law Library, and a resolution by the Philadelphia Bar Association to support the bill.
Nine Past Chancellors and numerous prominent members of the legal community, including hundreds of your friends and colleagues, have joined me in signing a letter urging the Bar Association not to support the bill.
The letter explains the issues. Among other things, the proposed Bar Association resolution and legislation is about whether the City can shirk and avoid its governmental responsibility and obligation to fund indigent defense by requiring private citizens to pay the City’s bills. The resolution tries to force the Bar to make an unfair and unnecessary choice to fund indigent defense - a governmental constitutional obligation - at the expense of Jenkins Law Library. Jenkins, as you know, is an important and historic institution providing the very tools necessary for the practice of law for all practitioners (and self-represented litigants and the public), encompassing hundreds of legal practice areas and sub-specialty areas.
It’s about whether the City should be allowed to raid a local nonprofit - a nonprofit that takes no tax money from the City - but rather provides enormous economic savings and legal benefits to the City and its agencies. This bureaucratic raid is beneath our City and our Bar.
It is ironic that Philadelphia, the birthplace of our Democracy, cannot find the funds to pay for Sixth Amendment protections without making a secret pledge to defund an institution that supports all attorneys, self- represented litigants and the public.
If you believe this is wrong then stand with us and add your name.
Theodore “Ted” Simon
President, Jenkins Law Library