2022 Connecticut General Statutes
Title 46b - Family Law
Chapter 815a - Orders of Protection and Relief
Section 46b-15f. - Grant program to provide legal assistance to indigents applying for restraining orders.

Universal Citation: CT Gen Stat § 46b-15f. (2022)

(a) There is established a grant program to provide individuals who are indigent with access to legal assistance at no cost when making an application for a restraining order under section 46b-15. The grant program shall be administered by the organization that administers the program for the use of interest earned on lawyers' clients' funds accounts pursuant to section 51-81c. Funds appropriated to the Judicial Branch for the purpose of the grant program shall be transferred to the organization administering the program.

(b) Not later than three months after receiving funding in any year from the state, the organization administering the program shall issue a request for proposals from nonprofit entities whose principal purpose is providing legal services at no cost to individuals who are indigent, for the purpose of awarding grants to provide counsel to indigent individuals who express an interest in applying for a restraining order pursuant to section 46b-15, and, to the extent practicable within the funding awarded, representing such individuals throughout the process of applying for such restraining order, including at prehearing conferences and at the hearing on an application. A nonprofit entity responding to the request for proposals may partner with law schools or other non-profit entities or publicly funded organizations that are not governmental entities, for the provision of services pursuant to a grant. Each response to the request for proposals shall specify the judicial district courthouse, or courthouses, for which services will be provided.

(c) The organization administering the program may only award a grant (1) to provide services in the judicial districts of Fairfield, Hartford, New Haven, Stamford-Norwalk or Waterbury, and (2) in an amount not to exceed two hundred thousand dollars, except that a grant to provide services in the judicial district with the highest average number of applications for restraining orders under section 46b-15 over the previous three fiscal years may receive a grant of not more than four hundred thousand dollars. Grants may not be used to provide services to individuals who are not indigent.

(d) The organization administering the program may only award a grant to a nonprofit entity whose principal purpose is providing legal services to individuals who are indigent, if such nonprofit entity demonstrates the ability to:

(1) Verify at the time of meeting with an individual that such potential client is indigent and meets applicable household income eligibility requirements set by the entity;

(2) Arrange for at least one individual who has the relevant training or experience and is authorized to provide legal counsel to eligible indigent individuals who express an interest in applying for a restraining order, to be present in the courthouse or courthouses identified in response to the request for proposals or be available to meet remotely during all business hours;

(3) To the greatest extent practicable within the funding awarded, provide continued representation to eligible indigent individuals throughout the restraining order process, including in court for the hearing on the restraining order, when such individuals request such continued representation after receiving assistance with a restraining order application;

(4) Provide any individual in the courthouse who expresses an interest in applying for a restraining order with all applicable forms that may be necessary to apply for a restraining order; and

(5) Track and report to the organization administering the program on the services provided pursuant to the program, including (A) the procedural outcomes of restraining order applications filed, (B) the number of instances where legal counsel was provided prior to the filing of an application but not during the remainder of the restraining order process, and the reasons limiting the duration of such representation, and (C) information on any other legal representation provided to individuals pursuant to the program on matters that were ancillary to the circumstances that supported the application for a restraining order.

(e) In awarding grants, the organization administering the program shall give preference to nonprofit entities (1) that demonstrate the ability to provide legal representation to clients regarding matters ancillary to the circumstances that supported the application for a restraining order; (2) with experience offering legal representation to individuals during the restraining order process; or (3) that can provide quality remote services should courthouses be closed to the public.

(f) The Chief Court Administrator shall:

(1) Provide each grant recipient with office space, if available, in the judicial district courthouse or courthouses served by such recipient under the grant program to conduct intake interviews and assist clients with applications for restraining orders;

(2) Require court clerks at such courthouses, prior to accepting an application for a restraining order pursuant to section 46b-15 to (A) inform each individual filing such application, or inquiring about filing such an application, that pro bono legal services are available from the grant recipient for income-eligible individuals and, if office space has been provided to the grant recipient, where the grant recipient is located in the courthouse, and (B) if cards or pamphlets containing information about pro bono legal services have been provided to the courthouse by the grant recipient, provide such a card or pamphlet to the individual; and

(3) If a poster of reasonable size containing information about pro bono legal services has been provided to a courthouse served by a grant recipient, require the display of such poster in a manner that is visible to the public at or near the location where applications for a restraining order are filed in such courthouse.

(g) The Chief Court Administrator shall post on the Internet web site of the Judicial Branch where instructions for filing a restraining order pursuant to section 46b-15 are provided, information on the pro bono legal services available from grant recipients for income-eligible individuals at the applicable courthouses.

(h) For each year that funding is provided for the program under this section, the organization administering the program shall either conduct, or partner with an academic institution or other qualified entity for the purpose of conducting, an analysis of the impact of the program, including, but not limited to, (1) the procedural outcomes for applications filed in association with services provided by grant recipients under the program, (2) the types and extent of legal services provided to individuals served pursuant to the program, including on matters ancillary to the restraining order application, and (3) the number of cases where legal services were provided before an application was filed but legal representation did not continue during the restraining order process and the reasons for such limited representations. Not later than July first of the year following any year in which the program received funding, the organization administering the program shall submit a report on the results of such analysis in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a, to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to the judiciary.

(i) Up to five per cent of the total amount received by the organization administering the grant program may be used for the reasonable costs of administering the program, including the completion of the analysis and report required by subsection (h) of this section.

(P.A. 21-78, S. 15.)

History: P.A. 21-78 effective June 28, 2021.

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