Archive for February, 2011

Public Interest Law News Bulletin – February 4, 2011

In summary…there’s a lot of public interest news this week.  Unfortunately, a lot of it’s not good.  Funding shortages are affecting public interest programs literally from the Mexican to the Canadian borders.  Featured: the “Last Resort Exoneration Project” is released at Seton Hall Law; a young lawyer weighs the virtues of Model Rule 6.1; apparent financial trouble at AppalReD leads to the ED’s firing; farewell to a titan among federal defenders; the North Carolina State Bar is trying to ramp up pro bono efforts; cuts in local funding for a Louisiana legal services provider; unbundling legal services to serve more low-income Mississippians; fighting against food stamp terminations in Washington State; potential staff layoffs at Rhode Island Legal Services ruffle union feathers; the Colorado criminal defense bar is fighting for easier access to public defenders; loan repayment for Illinois prosecutors and public defenders; an office closure by New Mexico Legal Aid; discontinuing the Homeless Rights Project in San Francisco; arguments for permitting easier public access to juvenile court records and proceedings; the fight continues over an indigent defense attorney assignment overhaul in the Big Apple (or in French: le Big Apple); will the planned closure of a Southern Arizona Legal Aid office be avoided?; the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services is running out of funds; financial support for legal services for artists; New York’s top jurist calls upon the bar to support pro bono and legal services funding; legal services funding woes in Texas; Washington State high court arguments about a foster child’s right to counsel.   

  • 2.3.11 – a New Jersey Star-Ledger blog highlights the launch of the “Last Resort Exoneration Project” at Seton Hall Law School.  The project will work to free innocent convicts, but unlike the high-profile Innocence Project, the Exoneration Project will focus on cases where DNA evidence is not in play – no meager feat.  The new initiative is something of a family affair.  Exoneration Project director Lesley Risinger first worked to free an innocent convict before attending law school; she enlisted the help of her mother, an attorney.  Now a lawyer herself, Risinger will co-direct the project with her husband, a Seton Hall Law professor.
  • 2.2.11 – the New York Times has a nice write-up on the retirement of New York City’s chief federal defender, who has earned the respect of judges and legal adversaries and whose office has handled myriad high- and low-profile matters in Manhattan and Brooklyn.  “Leonard F. Joy, the lawyer who has led New York’s influential federal public defender’s office for the last two decades, is retiring this month, ending a tenure during which his office represented some of the most infamous defendants being prosecuted by the United States attorney’s offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn.”
  • 2.2.11 – the Louisiana-based Tri-Parish Times reports on local funding cuts to legal services: “Low-income individuals and families that have depended upon or might need legal assistance when dealing with civil matters in Louisiana could be left without representation as parishes cut back on their budgets in 2011.  Capital Area Legal Services Corp., which has been funded by contributions from 12 parishes…is faced with a loss of financial support that could range from $24,530 to $47,330 this year. In turn, the legal aid agency could soon be faced with cutting some of its services.”   

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Nominations Sought for ABA Legal Aid Awards

Know a worthwhile attorney or organization?  Nominate them!  Here’s an email we got from our friends at the ABA Center for Pro Bono:

Each year the Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service presents five awards to individual lawyers and institutions in the legal profession that have demonstrated outstanding commitment to volunteer legal services for the poor and disadvantaged. The awards will next be presented at the Pro Bono Publico Awards Luncheon on Monday, August 8, 2011 at the ABA Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada. 

To nominate an individual lawyer, small or large law firm, government attorney office, corporate law department or other institutions in the legal profession you will need to fill out our online nomination form.

Click here to submit your nomination of an individual.

Click here to submit your nomination of an institution.

We are actively seeking nominations of lawyers of color and institutions which are serving diverse communities.

*** Important Note:  The ABA website will be undergoing maintenance the first week of February and you will not be able to access the Awards criteria nomination guidelines and a list of past Award Winners.  The documents are attached to this email for your reference.

In addition to the on-line nomination form, which is submitted when you complete the form, the required nomination narrative and all supporting materials must be submitted via e-mail  to by 5:00 pm CST on Monday, March 14, 2011. No extensions will be granted.

Here are the nomination criteria and application requirements.

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