Summary: H.R.4508 — 103rd Congress (1993-1994)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for H.R.4508. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Introduced in House (05/26/1994)

Legal Services Reauthorization Act of 1994 - Amends the Legal Services Corporation Act to authorize appropriations for the Legal Services Corporation.

(Sec. 4) Applies to the Corporation: (1) Federal criminal laws against theft, fraud, and embezzlement to Corporation funds; (2) the Federal criminal statute against obstructing a Federal audit; and (3) certain provisions of the False Claims Act. Requires the Corporation to make available to the appropriate legal authority any evidence of criminal conduct by an awardee or an employee of an awardee.

(Sec. 5) Prohibits 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; 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.

(Sec. 6) Grants the Corporation the authority to ensure the compliance of awardees and their employees with the Act. Requires the Corporation to conduct monitoring and investigations into allegations of violations. 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, an adequate opportunity to respond to the allegations concerning failures, and, at the awardee's request, a timely and fair hearing.

(Sec. 7) Sets forth Corporation monitoring requirements. Requires the Corporation to: (1) provide for independent evaluations to determine whether such awardees are providing economical and effective, high quality legal assistance to eligible clients and to assist them in providing such assistance; and (2) develop comprehensive criteria for use evaluating the capability and performance of awardees.

(Sec. 8.) 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); (2) the use of Corporation funds for legal assistance for aliens; and (3) the activities of governing bodies of awardees.

(Sec. 12) Specifies that neither the Corporation nor the Comptroller General shall have access to any reports or records protected from disclosure by the applicable laws or rules of ethics or professional responsibility.

(Sec. 13) Prohibits: (1) awardees from soliciting professional employment from a prospective client if the client has made known a desire not to be solicited, the solicitation involves coercion, duress, or harassment, or the solicitation is made to urge the client to initiate litigation without a proper factual basis for the complaint; (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) with respect to a claim or controversy 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, except when necessary to respond to an emergency situation.

(Sec. 16) Requires the Corporation to study the feasibility of a system of competition in the delivery legal assistance.

(Sec. 17) Revises provisions of the Act regarding: (1) attorney's and other fees; (2) restricted activities, staff attorney hiring, and labor law violations; and (3) recordkeeping, audits, and non-corporation funds.

(Sec. 20) Prohibits 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.

(Sec. 21) 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 and not warranted by existing law or non-frivolous argument for the extension, modification or reversal of existing law or the establishment of new law. Authorizes the Corporation to recover such costs from the awardee against whom the award was made by offsetting the amount against future grant awards.

(Sec. 22) Revises provisions of the Act regarding: (1) Corporation Board composition and control over policy; (2) reprogramming of funds; (3) grant authority; and (4) the establishment of local priorities and periodic analysis of the legal needs of clients in the area served by each such awardee.

(Sec. 27) Directs the Corporation to conduct studies on: (1) legal assistance to older Americans; and (2) recruitment and retention by awardees of legal services attorneys and other personnel.