Today marks the 20-Year Anniversary of the Texas Acces to Justice Commission!
Please enjoy a wonderful tribute & overview of our history here:
"We stand in awe of those who got us here..." ~#SCOTX Chief Justice Nathan Hecht.
A summary of the remarks celebrating the Texas Access to Justice Commission 20th Anniversary delivered during the virtual 2021 Champions of Justice Gala Benefiting Veterans:
Supreme Court of Texas Chief Justice Nathan Hecht was joined by former Justice Deborah Hankinson and former Justice Harriet O’Neill to speak about the history of the Commission. Formed in April 2001, the Texas Access to Justice Commission was only the fifth commission in the nation at that time. Justice Hankinson recalled that “If we were going to succeed, we were going to do it together and collaboratively, and [engage] in some very significant problem solving.” Hankinson noted that Texas is a leader in demonstrating what Access to Justice efforts can accomplish.
Justice O’Neill talked about the development of the Commission under then Commission Chair, Jim Sales, including the relationship that evolved between Sales and the first Commission Executive Director Emily Jones. “Watching these two bond as they work together and develop a lifelong friendship was a beautiful thing to see,” O’Neill reflected, and stated that their work and relationship was a tribute to the spirit of those who join in the Commision’s vision and execution.
Chief Justice Hecht described the strength of the Commission embodied by current Chair, Harry Reasoner. Hecht shared that Reasoner, one of the best lawyers in the country, not only accepted the appointment but was personally passionate about the access to justice mission. Under his leadership, the Commission redouble its legislative and congressional efforts in pursuit of additional civil legal aid funding, which have been met with success. His remarkable commitment has also resulted in greater public awareness of and support for providing low-income Texans with civil legal services and making the justice system real to them.