As Eviction Cases Rise, Justices of the Peace Should Welcome Legal Assistance for Tenants
Over the next seven days, approximately 2,000 tenants and their families in Houston face eviction in court. The vast majority of these residents will not have a lawyer — or even a volunteer knowledgeable about tenants’ rights — by their side when the justice of the peace decides their case.
That should change, and it has started, thanks to a pandemic-era Texas Supreme Court order that has since September 2021 required justices of the peace to allow tenants to be accompanied by a lawyer or volunteers from legal aid groups during their eviction trials. Not all tenants have this help, mainly due to funding issues, but before the Supreme Court ruling, it was up to each justice of the peace whether or not to allow representation even when it was available.