Letters

By , Don L. Griffith and Joyce Haws

Pro bono legal work - what's fair? Regarding "Should lawyers be required to work for free?" (Jan. 13): What an interesting about-face is being executed by the general public, as reflected in the issue of mandated pro bono (free) legal services being considered by the Colorado Supreme Court.

For years the public has vilified attorneys. Now the public cries out for enforced labor by the legal profession, and the courts follow the mob by bowing to social popularity more often than exercising independent judgment.

Enforced pro bono work deprives an attorney of the traditional right to refuse a case in which he does not believe.

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From my experience in a private law practice for more than 30 years, I have observed that pro bono work is performed by the vast majority of attorneys in private practices. Often this is at the request of a community leader, such as a local minister. Or it comes about by serving on a charitable board or acting as counsel, without pay, for a community endeavor.

Why shift the burden which society has created (of offering pro bono legal services) from society to the attorneys? Let society pay for its principles by diverting a small portion of its tax dollars to fund the various Legal Aid Societies and then place the burden on the Legal Aid Societies to use their finite resources to identify and serve those that are truly in need of free services.

Another idea would be to offer attorneys tax credits for volunteering time for free legal services.

Richard Corash Staten Island, N.Y.

After reading the entire article, I do understand the position of those promoting the concept for mandated pro bono work.

However, it should go far beyond lawyers. It isn't fair to require a particular group of people to contribute because of their expertise - one that they have earned through their own sweat and resources.

Instead of limiting such a requirement to any group of people, I suggest that such an expectation be placed on all Americans.

I would like to see each state's legislative body enact a law that would require all of its adult citizens to contribute a certain number of hours each year to the welfare of our own nation.

Don L. Griffith Decatur, Ga.

Restoring neighborhood schools

"Lessons from walking to school" (Jan. 20) by Homefront columnist Marilyn Gardner was excellent. Restoration of the neighborhood school concept is vital to our nation's future, and it is encouraging that so many reporters, school boards, and mayors have finally recognized the urgency.

We are encouraged by recent Supreme Court rulings and by the recent appeals court ruling in the Boston Latin School suit. We believe it is now time for state legislatures to lock the language of the 1964 Civil Rights Act into state law, or to amend state constitutions as Colorado did, making racial assignment illegal under the state constitution. Such action would put the state on record and send a clear message to Congress to pass court-limiting legislation as Congress is authorized to do under Article III, Section 2 of the US Constitution.

The 1964 Civil Rights Act defines "desegregation" as the assignment to schools and within such schools without regard to race. Under guise of "desegregation," federal courts have ordered racial assignment. This failed social experiment has devastated hundreds of America's school districts and denied students the freedom to attend their neighborhood (walk-to) schools and denied parental and community involvement and support, vital ingredients to education and discipline.

Joyce Haws Cleveland Communications Office The National Association for Neighborhood Schools Inc.

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