State Funding for Legal Aid July 1, 2002 Regular News State Funding for Legal Aid GOV. JEB BUSH has signed the Civil Legal Justice Act and the appropriations bill to make state funding for legal aid programs a reality. Now $2 million is available for a pilot program to provide civil legal assistance in the First, Fourth, Ninth, 12th, 13th, 17th, and 20th judicial circuits. It marks the success of outgoing President Terry Russell’s top legislative priority this year: getting the state to help fund unmet legal needs of poor residents. And perhaps more significantly, it’s the first time Florida has provided money for civil legal aid programs. Until now Florida was one of only 11 states that did not provide state monies for legal aid. The money was appropriated to the Department of Community Affairs, which is mandated to come up with a contract, most likely with The Florida Bar Foundation, to oversee the seven pilot programs, which will help with a variety of family law related problems, including domestic violence, juvenile and elderly abuse, getting benefits from the federal government, and immigration matters. Pictured from the left are Kent Spuhler of Florida Legal Services, Russell, Gov. Bush, Foundation President Darryl Bloodworth, and John F. Harkness, Jr., the Bar’s executive director. Also instrumental in the Act’s passage were Sen. Dudley Goodlette, R-Naples; Rep. Burt Saunders, R-Naples; Sen. Charlie Clary, R-Destin; and Rep. Carlos LaCasa, R-Miami.