Summary: H.R.2644 — 103rd Congress (1993-1994)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for H.R.2644. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in House (07/15/1993)

Legal Services Reauthorization Act of 1993 - Amends the Legal Services Corporation Act to authorize appropriations for the Legal Services Corporation.

Amends the Federal criminal code to: (1) apply Federal criminal laws against theft, fraud, and embezzlement to Corporation funds; and (2) make the Federal criminal statute against obstructing a Federal audit applicable with regard to auditors employed or retained by the Corporation. Makes certain provisions of the False Claims Act applicable to the Corporation.

Revises prohibitions on the use of Corporation funds for lobbying purposes to prohibit use of Corporation funds by any awardee to pay for any personal service, advertisement, telegram, telephone communication, letter, printed or written matter, or other device, or for publicity or propaganda intended or designed to influence any: (1) decision by a Federal, State, or local agency, except when legal assistance is provided by an employee of an awardee of the Corporation to an eligible client on a particular matter which directly involves the client's legal rights or responsibilities; or (2) Member of Congress or other Federal, State, or local elected official to favor or oppose any legislation, referendum, initiative, constitutional amendment, or similar procedure of the Congress, State legislature, local council, or similar governing body.

Requires the Corporation to: (1) arrange for evaluations to determine whether awardees are providing comprehensive, economical, and effective legal assistance to eligible clients; and (2) conduct monitoring and investigations into allegations that an awardee has violated applicable requirements. Sets forth provisions concerning investigation procedures. Directs the Board of Directors of the Corporation to provide for the enforcement of requirements with respect to such awardees.

Revises provisions concerning notice to awardees prior to the suspension or termination of assistance or the denial of a refunding application. Prohibits the annual level of assistance from being reduced by more than five percent or $20,000, whichever is less, unless the awardee has been afforded notice and, at the awardee's request, a timely and fair hearing.

Sets forth Corporation monitoring requirements. Requires the Corporation to develop criteria for evaluating the capability and performance of awardees.

Places restrictions on: (1) the bringing of a class action suit by an awardee against the Federal Government or any State or local government (and requires awardees to adopt policies to attempt to negotiate settlements and to use alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, where appropriate, before filing suit); and (2) the use of Corporation funds for legal assistance for aliens.

Prohibits the use of Corporation funds to alter, revise, or reapportion a legislative, judicial, or elective district at any level of government, including influencing the timing or manner of the taking of a census.

Specifies that neither the Corporation nor the Comptroller General shall have access to any reports or records protected from disclosure by the laws or rules of ethics or professional responsibility that apply in the jurisdiction where such reports or records are maintained.

Prohibits: (1) awardees (and employees of such awardees) who have given in-person unsolicited advice to a nonattorney to obtain counsel or take legal action from accepting employment or making referrals to other awardees (or employees) as a result of that advice, with exceptions; (2) the use of Corporation funds for initiating the defense of a person in a proceeding to evict such person from a public housing project if the person has been convicted of the illegal sale or distribution of a controlled substance and the proceeding has been brought by a public housing project agency because such person threatens the health or safety of other tenants or employees of such agency; and (3) awardees (or employees) from engaging in precomplaint settlement negotiations, filing a complaint, or pursuing litigation against a defendant unless a written retainer agreement which enumerates the facts on which the claim is based has been signed by the plaintiffs.

Requires the Corporation to study the feasibility of a system of competition in the awarding of grants or contracts for legal assistance.

Prohibits: (1) the use of public funds received by an awardee, including funds from Interest on Lawyer Trust Account programs, to engage in publicity or propaganda; and (2) the use of an "alternative corporation" (a group which has a single identity of interest with an awardee) to evade the provisions of this Act.

Revises provisions concerning harassment and abuse of the legal process to authorize (currently, require) any court to award reasonable costs and attorney's fees to a defendant if the Corporation commenced an action for purposes of harassment or retaliation or maliciously abused the legal process, or if its actions were frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation. Authorizes the Corporation to recover such costs from the awardee against whom the award was made by offsetting the amount against future grant awards.

Sets forth provisions with respect to the establishment of local priorities and periodic analysis of the legal needs of clients in the area served by each such awardee.

Directs the Corporation to conduct a study on legal assistance to older Americans.