Res Ipsa Loquitur
Thomas Jefferson wrote, "[t]he most sacred of the duties of a government [is] to do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens," and today equal access to the civil justice system remains one of the most pressing issues our country faces. The recent findings of Matthew Desmond's Eviction Lab regarding eviction rates in Hampton Roads, some of the highest in the nation, bring this issue into sharp focus for our community.
A study by our sister organization, Blue Ridge Legal Services, and the National Center for State Courts found that tenants with an attorney were significantly more successful in defending against wrongful evictions than tenants who were unrepresented. What does this mean? It means children getting to stay in their homes and in their schools without disruption. It means parents not having to miss work and potentially lose their jobs due to an unanticipated and disruptive forced move. It means stability - something the economically advantaged can take for granted, that low-income Virginians cannot.
At Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia we assisted over a thousand low-income renters in 2017. With more attorneys, we could help more low-income families avoid the trauma of wrongful eviction. Now more than ever it is important to support our work.