News Release

Texas Access to Justice Commission
Texas Access to Justice Foundation
 
October 10, 201
2

Sen. Hinojosa and Rep. Hunter Honored for Access to Justice Efforts

AUSTIN, Texas The Texas Access to Justice Commission and Texas Access to Justice Foundation honored Texas Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa and Texas Rep. Todd Hunter with Texas Access to Justice Legislative Hero Awards for their contributions to improving access to justice in Texas during a special presentation on Wednesday, Oct. 10, in Corpus Christi, Texas. Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan L. Hecht, the Court’s liaison for access to justice issues, presented the awards to Sen. Hinojosa and Rep. Hunter during the Corpus Christi Bar Association monthly meeting.

“We faced many obstacles for funding in the last session, but thanks to the bipartisan support we received in the Legislature, many struggling Texans have received assistance with basic civil legal services; help that is essential to the integrity of the rule of law,” Justice Hecht said. “Hard economic times increase the need for legal services and decrease financial support, and we are grateful for the tremendous work and support of Sen. Hinojosa and Rep. Hunter 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 believe in the fundamental right to legal representation. This right is the basis of our justice system—everyone should have access to the judicial system for protection and relief,” Sen. Hinojosa said. “A person’s economic status should never interfere with their ability to seek justice and participate in the court system. I’ve seen what civil legal aid can do for low-income Texans when I first started as a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Nueces. I am honored to receive this award and remain an advocate for legal aid services.”

“I am honored to receive this award that reflects the importance of ensuring that our court system is available to all,” Rep. Hunter said.

Sen. Hinojosa was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1981 and later was elected as senator for District 20 in 2002. Sen. Hinojosa successfully secured more than $84 million in construction funds for the University of Texas-Pan American and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. He has secured millions in funding to support the growth of Brooks, Hidalgo, Jim Wells and Nueces counties.

Sen. Hinojosa was born and raised in Mission, TX. He was a member of the Marine Corps and served in Vietnam. He worked as a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Nueces County and later as an assistant attorney general for the Texas Attorney General’s office. Hinojosa opened his private legal practice in McAllen where he continues to represent clients in both civil and criminal cases.

Rep. Hunter is currently serving his sixth term in the Texas House of Representatives. Hunter is known as a key player in the successful effort to pass tort reform. He was also instrumental in passing legislation that made Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi a four-year university and fought for funding to build the university.

Rep. Hunter has received numerous accolades for his legislative work, including: “Newsmaker of the Year,” by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, James Madison Award presented by the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas for his work on the “Free Flow of Information Act,” Texas Civil Justice League’s Jobs for Texas Award, Texans for Lawsuit Reform’s Civil Justice Leadership Award, Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas’ “Best of the House” Legislative honors, and the Central Texas Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse Champion award. He was named by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and the Dallas Morning News as a rising star in the Texas Legislature.

Rep. Hunter has been a resident of Corpus Christi for more than 30 years. He is the senior partner of Hunter and Handel, P.C. in Corpus Christi.

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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The Texas Access to Justice Commission was created in 2001 by the Supreme Court of Texas to develop and implement policy initiatives designed to expand access to and enhance the quality of justice in civil legal matters for low-income Texans. The Commission has created several initiatives to increase resources and awareness of legal aid. For more information, please visit www.TexasATJ.org.

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.

Contact: Kimberly Schmitt
512-320-0099, ext. 104 or 512-944-4021
kschmitt@teajf.org

 

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