SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ committee has endorsed legislation to give free legal representation to poor people in civil cases.

People already have a right to counsel if charged with a crime, but that same is not true for people embroiled in civil cases. The initial goal of the measure is to help low-income residents with housing and family issues.

Legislation drafted by Supervisor David Chiu would launch a one-year pilot program to provide attorneys – free of charge – to residents involved in certain types of civil disputes. The city would administer the program using private attorneys who volunteer their time.

“If you are a parent who is at risk of losing your child in a custody case, if you are a tenant in the process of being evicted, you do not have a right to civil counsel,” Chiu pointed out.

KCBS’ Barbara Taylor Reports:

After hearing public comment Thursday, the measure was unanimously approved by the Rules Committee and sent to the full board for a vote.

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