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Jenkins, the City and HB 1937

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Please continue to sign the letter in Support of Jenkins.

Below is the letter our Board President, Theodore "Ted" Simon wrote to Mayor Kenney.

Dear Mayor Kenney:

On behalf of the wide and diverse 6,500 members of Jenkins Law Library and 2000 self-represented litigants, I urge you to withdraw your support for House Bill 1937, as currently drafted. This legislation cuts 70% of Jenkins’ revenue and half of its budget. It does so immediately and will, if passed, cripple Jenkins and deny Philadelphians the critical legal services they need.

I know your Honor and I have enjoyed and felt the pride of your remarks, particularly in the last two South Street Easter Day Parades. You were clear that Philadelphia is the City of Brother Love and Sisterly Affection, but more so, that you believe in the fair and equal administration of justice regardless of age, race, gender, ethnicity, immigration status, or station in life. But to assure equal administration of justice, one must provide and assure equal access to justice and it is Jenkins Law Library that provides that fundamental service. Jenkins has provided equal access to justice for over 200 years.

House Bill 1937 will eliminate critical services. Resources will be denied to the most vulnerable citizens seeking assistance with Protection from Abuse, divorce, custody battles, child support, landlord-tenant issues, immigration questions, status and asylum, and many other legal matters. Tens of thousands of individuals, litigants, and their families will be negatively impacted.

Jenkins Law Library helps to level the playing field for all, whether rich or poor, self- represented litigants, solo practitioners or large firms. We provide services to those in need and many that could neither afford nor avail themselves of these necessary legal resources.

On our website, you can read over 65 pages of the most compelling testimonials from our members and the public. We are grateful for the outpouring of support from the community which is overwhelming and heartwarming.

Nine Past Chancellors of the Philadelphia Bar, numerous prominent lawyers from some of the most well-known law firms and nearly 600 members of the legal community, including many criminal defense lawyers, have joined our efforts to oppose this legislation.

The Philadelphia Bar Association considered a resolution to support HB 1937. Those Philadelphia Bar Association committees, who permitted us to appear, have overwhelmingly opposed HB 1937. For example, the Solo and Small Firm Management Committee voted 19-0 against the resolution/legislation and the Delivery of Legal Services Committee, composed of more than 30 non-profit agencies issued a strong statement against the resolution/legislation (attached). The proposed resolution has been withdrawn by the Criminal Justice Section of the Philadelphia Bar.

Additionally, as a practicing Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer for the past 43 years, and as a Past President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, I would point out that Pennsylvania is the only state in the union that does not provide for state based funding for indigent defense. At all times, Jenkins has been clear and unequivocal: Jenkins stands shoulder to shoulder for the proper and adequate constitutional and governmentally required funding of indigent defense.

Jenkins Law Library has served our community for more than 200 years. We are hopeful and optimistic that upon your further review with the benefit of the information contained here and provided to your administration, we together – Jenkins and Your Honor will continue to proudly serve all constituents and provide equal access to justice.

Yours in service,

Theodore Simon
President, Jenkins Law Library

More from the blog

The President of our Board, Theodore "Ted" Simon, has written a letter to Mayor Kenney. Mr. Simon thanks everyone who has signed our letter of support, those who have already contacted the Mayor, and those that are doing so. Please encourage everyone to reach out to friends and colleagues and ask them to email and call the Mayor at james.kenney@phila.gov or (215) 686-2181 to voice their concerns.
Please take a few moments to let him know how important it is for Jenkins to continue to level the playing field for those seeking justice in Philadelphia. Be sure to tell him that HB 1937 threatens Jenkins’ ability to make a difference in your practice and every day for ordinary Philadelphians who are facing legal challenges.
As of 7/18/18, 620 of your colleagues have signed our letter. 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...