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Assemblywoman Stresses Importance of Restoring Funding for Legal Services

Assemblywoman Joan Quigley (D-Bergen/Hudson) on Wednesday stressed the importance of restoring funding for legal services to aid the poor after listening to testimony during the Assembly Judiciary Committee on how the Governor’s cuts, in particular, will harm victims of domestic violence.

“In what appears to be a sad trend, the Governor’s budget cuts fall disproportionately on the backs of women, particularly poorer women in this state,” said Quigley. “When representatives from Legal Services of New Jersey say they may have to turn away 9 out of 10 domestic violence cases because of these cuts, it raises a serious red flag. Jeopardizing public safety to balance the budget, while allowing the state’s wealthiest to scapegoat any sacrifice, is a sad commentary on the Governor’s priorities.”

Christie cut $10 million from Legal Services of New Jersey, which provides legal assistance to low-income New Jerseyans for their civil legal problems. This cut comes after the governor cut $9.7 million from the program in 2010, creating staff cutbacks and other concerns amid rising demand for legal services and increased poverty.

The governor also this year eliminated funding for clinical legal programs for the poor at Rutgers School of Law in Camden and in Newark. Both programs lost $200,000 under the cut.

“Legal Services of New Jersey provides immeasurable assistance to those who can’t afford the means to protect themselves or combat legal injustices,” added Quigley. “The Governor’s cut to this program will make it extremely difficult for victims of domestic violence to get assistance in obtaining restraining orders and other vital services. As we’ve seen already, when the Governor is so inclined, he finds a way to restore funding to some of his more egregious cuts. This is one of those areas that should be given the same attention.”