AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas Access to Justice Commission and Texas Access to Justice Foundation honored Representative John Otto with the Texas Access to Justice Legislative Hero Award for his contributions to improving access to justice in Texas during a special presentation on Thursday, Oct. 4, in Cleveland, Texas. Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan L. Hecht, the Court’s liaison for access to justice issues, presented the award to Rep. Otto during the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
Through the exceptional leadership and diligence of Rep. Otto, the Texas Legislature helped fund basic civil legal services for the past two years. Rep. Otto realized the valuable role legal aid plays in providing access to our courts and helped enhance that access for vulnerable Texans unable to pay for legal assistance from private attorneys.
“Hard economic times both increase the need for legal services and decrease financial support,” Justice Hecht said. “The bipartisan reinforcement we received in the Legislature helps many struggling Texans receive assistance with basic civil legal services. We are grateful for the tremendous work and support of Representative Otto as we continue to provide access to justice to Texans in need.”
The Texas Access to Justice Commission and Foundation launched the Legislative Hero Award program in 2010 to recognize legislators who, through their efforts, have significantly advanced access to justice in Texas by assisting with the appropriation of funds and/or other substantive activities related to the provision of legal aid in the state.
“I’m honored to receive this award that reflects the significance of ensuring our court system is available to all,” Rep. Otto said. “All citizens should have access to our justice system when they are in need.”
Rep. Otto was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2004. He serves as chair of the General Government and Criminal Justice Subcommittees, Conference Committee for the state budget and as vice-chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means.
During his legislative career, Rep. Otto has received numerous awards, including being named “Republican Freshman of the Year” by the Texas House of Representatives in 2005 and “Rookie of the Year” by Texas Monthly.
Rep. Otto is a native of Dayton, Texas and has been involved in numerous community organizations. He has served on the Dayton City Council and as a board member with the Dayton ISD Board of Trustees.
Legal aid organizations funded by the Texas Access to Justice Foundation help more than 100,000 low-income Texas families each year with their civil legal needs. However, due to a lack of resources, only about 20 to 25 percent of the civil legal needs of low-income and poor Texans are being met. Currently, only one legal aid lawyer is available to provide assistance for every 11,152 Texans who qualify.
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Texas Access to Justice Commission
was created in 2001 by the Supreme Court of
The Texas Access to Justice Foundation (www.teajf.org), created by the Supreme Court of Texas in 1984, is the primary state-based funding source for the provision of civil legal aid in Texas. The organization is committed to the vision that all Texans will have equal access to justice, regardless of their income. The Foundation administers a variety of funding sources, which are earmarked to assist nonprofit organizations in providing legal aid to more than 100,000 Texans each year.
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