AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas Access to Justice Commission and Texas Access to Justice Foundation honored Representative Elliott Naishtat with the Texas Access to Justice Legislative Hero Award for his contributions to improving access to justice in Texas during a special presentation on Friday, Dec. 14, in Austin. Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan L. Hecht, the Court’s liaison for access to justice issues, presented the award to Rep. Naishtat.
Rep. Naishtat has made significant efforts that have helped the Texas Legislature fund basic civil legal services. His awareness of the valuable role legal aid plays in providing access to our courts has enhanced that access for vulnerable Texans unable to pay for legal assistance from private attorneys.
“The funding obstacles we faced in the last session were overcome by the bipartisan support we received in the Legislature. This support has helped many struggling Texans receive assistance with basic civil legal services,” Justice Hecht said. “Rep. Naishtat has a proven record of helping vulnerable Texans, including passing a bill that expands protective services for elderly and disabled people. We are grateful for his efforts to help provide access to the courts for low-income Texans.”
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.
“Access to justice is a very important issue for me personally, and I’m pleased to have played a role in securing funding in the Legislature,” Rep. Naishtat said. “I am honored to receive this award that reflects the importance of ensuring that our court system is available to all.”
Rep. Naishtat is serving his eleventh term in the Texas House of Representatives, representing House District 49 in Travis County. He serves as a member of the Human Services Committee and is vice chair of the Public Health Committee. Rep. Naishtat has passed more than 200 bills in the last 22 years, including the Braille Literacy Act of 1991, the Landlord-Tenant Security Devices Act of 1993, the Child Protective Services Act of 2005, the Seniors' Property Tax Relief Act of 2007, and the Fire Safety Inspectors Act of 2009.
During his legislative career, Rep. Naishtat has received numerous awards, including the “National Consumer Health Advocate Award,” from Families USA and “Legislator of the Year,” by the Texas Apartment Association. He has also been included on the “Ten Best Legislators” list by the State Bar Family Law Section.
Rep. Naishtat is a native of Queens, New York. He is an attorney and adjunct assistant professor of social work at St. Edward’s University. Rep. Naishtat earned a Bachelor of Arts from Queens College, a Master of Science in Social Work from The University of Texas at Austin and a Juris Doctor degree from The University of Texas at Austin. Prior to obtaining his master’s and law degree he served as a VISTA volunteer in Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.
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.
(The Texas Access to Justice Commission and Foundation presented Rep. Naishtat with the Legislative Hero Award. Pictured above are Randy Chapman, Executive Director of the Texas Legal Services Center; Betty Balli Torres, Executive Director of the Texas Access to Justice Foundation; Rep. Elliott Naishtat; Justice Nathan Hecht; and Xavier Medina, Chair of the Texas Legal Services Center.)
The 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 approximately 100,000
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