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Low-income Texans who can't afford a lawyer for civil court matters are getting some help

With a growing poverty rate due to the coronavirus pandemic, more low-income Texans in need of legal help have found some assistance.

AUSTIN, Texas — When a person faces a trial because of a criminal charge and can’t afford a lawyer, the court appoints one who serves without charging the client a fee. But when it’s a civil court matter, a lawyer who charges for legal services is usually required.

But what about those Texans who can’t afford to pay the legal fees involved?

That’s where the Texas Access to Justice Foundation (TEAJF) steps in. It’s the source for funding civil legal aid in Texas. According to its website, "[it is] committed to the vision that all Texans, regardless of income, will have equal access to the civil justice system."

TEAJF provides assistance in civil matters to more than 150,000 low-income Texas families each year.

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With more Texans falling deeper into poverty because of the coronavirus pandemic, Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman said the need to support those types of legal services has never been greater. She cited the types of cases that require help from legal aid.

"We have victims who are living with their domestic abusers who can’t access a protective order or the elderly who need legal protection or a mother who’s facing a critical illness and needs a will," Guzman said.

Guzman said she knows firsthand the importance of having access to justice.

"I grew up in very humble beginnings in East Houston understanding what it’s like not to be able to access a lawyer or not being able to get just basic information on issues that impact everyday life," she said.

Guzman said the Texas Supreme Court strongly supports access to justice for all Texans regardless of income. To find a legal aid provider and to learn more about the kind of services offered, go to TexasLawHelp.org.

WATCH: COVID-19's impact on poverty

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