Access to Justice Program
Mission and Goals
The mission of the New Mexico Access to Justice Commission is to provide every New Mexican, regardless of income level, with Access to Justice under our system of civil law.
Commission goals include expanding resources for civil legal assistance to New Mexicans living in poverty, increasing public awareness of the need for civil legal assistance, and encouraging more pro bono work by attorneys.
Why Was the Commission Created?
The New Mexico Judiciary is committed to the ideals expressed by Justice Lewis Powell, Jr., that equal justice under the law are not merely words on the face of the United States Supreme Court Building and justice should be available without regard to economic status.
When the Supreme Court established the Commission in 2004, the Supreme Court recognized that:
- approximately one quarter of this state’s population lives at or below the federal poverty standard (this unfortunate statistic still stands)
- these people have a variety of legal needs in areas such as family law, housing, consumer affairs, employment, health, community issues, wills, and public benefits; 60 percent of these needs in 2004 were unmet
- NM ranked among the bottom twenty states in spending on legal services per poor person
- the resulting inability of people experiencing poverty to meaningfully access to the civil justice system is of concern to the Court, the judiciary, the legal profession, and the citizenry of the State.
The Court ordered that the NM Commission on Access to Justice (ATJ) be established as an independent, statewide body dedicated to expanding and improving civil legal assistance in the state through pursuing the goals set forth above.