From Texas Standard:

We often hear about achievement gaps and income gaps, but a new commission in Texas is tasked to address a “justice gap.” They warn that a growing number of people make too much money to qualify for legal aid but aren’t wealthy enough to afford legal services on their own.

In Texas, many go without legal representation despite the dramatic need for it. Civil cases dealing with divorce, custody battles, small business owners, and many others are complex animals that the average citizen can't sort through on their own.

The cost of hiring an attorney, however, is prohibitive. 

"It's a huge problem when you think about our basic civil legal needs, shelter, housing, family law issues, most people in America cannot afford a lawyer to represent them. This is a huge crisis," says former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson. 

Courtesy: SalFalko / Flickr (Creative Commons)

AUSTIN — Texas is on the verge of scrapping its controversial “pick-a-pal” grand jury system, after the House gave final approval to a sweeping overhaul.

The state is currently the only one in America where judge-appointed commissioners nominate prospective jurors, rather than picking randomly selected residents.

The U.S. Supreme Court has criticized the system. But some small-county Texas judges oppose changing it, worried that jury pools may shrink too much.

Without debate Sunday, the House voted 79-59 to approve a bill changing the system, sponsored by Houston Democratic Rep. Harold Dutton.

Ryan Loyd / TPR News

After years of criticism over its Byzantine structure and the fact that funds collected are often diverted to other state needs, the Texas Drivers' Responsibility Surcharge Program may be ready for either a refurbish or the discard bin.

First passed 12 years ago, the program was intended to net drunk drivers, those without insurance or valid licenses. It would keep them on the hook for years, paying fees that would be channeled to Texas trauma centers.