Community Justice Project Underway

July 1, 2002

The Access to Justice Institute in the School of Law at Seattle University recently launched their latest initiative, the Community Justice Project.

The project, co-chaired by Judge Judith Hightower of the City of Seattle Municipal Court, Judge Richard Jones of King County Superior Court, Val Carlson of the King County Bar Association and Sudha Shetty, the Director of the Access to Justice Institute (ATJI), was designed to create five community justice centers in communities of color in King and Pierce County.

The selected locations are: the Central District, the International District, Crossroads (Bellevue), White Center (Burien) and the Hilltop area of Tacoma.

Over 50 representatives from private law firms, legal services agencies, local bars and community groups including, Karen Murray, Hector Rojas, Vanessa Lee and John Miller, presidents of the Loren Miller, Hispanic, Asian and Pierce County Bars, respectively, came together with judges and law school faculty to support the project.

The centers will use Seattle University law students and volunteer attorneys to provide topic-based legal advice in the communities according to a master calendar of topics. In some cases, pro bono representation may also be provided. Because most of the targeted communities have large non-English speaking populations, the ATJI Language Bank will work in conjunction with the centers, providing trained student interpreters in over 18 languages.

"This project is further evidence of the sincere interest of the School of Law to be connected to communities in our geographic area that have identified a particular need requiring legal assistance," said Rudy Hasl, dean of the School of Law. "The project is unique because it combines the resources, experience and talents of so many community partners dedicated to justice. The project exemplifies the ATJI Mission of 'Justice For All,' and puts into action a core value of the greater university itself."

The Access to Justice Institute grew out of the School of Law's core mission to prepare its students for a lifetime of service to justice, seeking to fulfill this mission by nurturing a commitment on the part of all members of the law school community to the service of justice for all.

In the 2000-2001 school year, more than 175 students volunteered with 39 programs, all of which serve unmet legal needs. The goal of the Institute is to increase that number each year until all our students have the opportunity to serve.

More information on the institute or contact Sudha Shetty at (206) 398.4168 or shettys@seattleu.edu.

For more information on Seattle University and its Jesuit tradition, see www.seattleu.edu to connect with Seattle University faculty members who can address issues related to the story you're working on, or to arrange interviews, contact Eric Walter at (206) 296.6114.

Seattle University, founded in 1891, is one of the nation's 28 Jesuit colleges and universities. It is the largest, most diverse and most comprehensive independent university in the Northwest. Approximately 6,000 students are enrolled in 44 undergraduate and 23 graduate programs, including doctoral programs in law and education. U.S. News and World Report ranks Seattle University among the top 10 universities in the West that offer a wide array of undergraduate and master's degree programs.

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