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NY comptroller: Legal services for poor essential

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says providing civil legal services for low-income New Yorkers boosts the economy by speeding court dockets, keeping people in their homes and ensuring the get their federal benefits.

At a hearing Tuesday called by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, DiNapoli cites “plentiful” evidence of the monetary return that includes Social Security, Medicaid, unemployment and disability payments, tax credits and veterans’ benefits.

The comptroller says “a vast number” of low-income residents can’t afford a lawyer, though Lippman put $55 million in this year’s judiciary budget to help support them and judicial officials have taken steps to increase pro bono work by lawyers.

Lippman plans to hold a series of hearings and report to the Legislature about funding that’s available and what’s needed.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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