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Study Shows Large Justice Gap in Virginia Civil Cases

Friday, May 04, 2018

Study Shows Large Justice Gap in Virginia Civil Cases

"RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A new study shows that just 1 percent of more than 500,000 civil cases handled in Virginia's general district courts each year have lawyers representing people on both sides.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports the study found that plaintiffs are represented by lawyers in more than half the cases, while defendants are represented in very few. Plaintiffs with lawyers won 60 percent of the cases when the defendant did not have a lawyer. Plaintiffs won just 20 percent of the cases when both parties had lawyers.

The study also showed that where poverty rates are high, so is the rate of litigants who don't have lawyers.

The study was conducted by The National Center for State Courts. It reviewed Virginia court data from April 2015 through March 2016.

"When only one side has an attorney and the other side doesn't, then the system becomes dysfunctional, it's a stilted playing field," said John Whitfield, executive director of Blue Ridge Legal Services, which provides civil legal help to low-income residents..."

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