Archive for October, 2013

PSJD Public Interest News Digest – October 25, 2013

by Christina Jackson, NALP Director of Public Service Initiatives & Fellowships

Happy Friday everyone!  Hopefully all of you enjoyed the NALP/PSJD Mini-Conference and are currently enjoying the EJW Conference & Career Fair.  I hope to see you there today.  And send me your Pro Bono Week stories.  I’d love to feature good people helping their communities.

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: If you know someone we should honor, drop me a line.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  •  Southern University Law Center students find new way to help community;
  • Legal Aid Ontario lawyers stage rally as requests are ignored;
  • Students, lawyers protest proposed private law school in Canada;
  • Legal Services of Eastern Missouri receives HHS grant;
  • Volunteer public defender program under fire in San Francisco;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Anthony Graves and Nicole Casarez;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

October 18, 2013– Southern University Law Center “has worked out an agreement with the Lafayette City-Parish Consolidated Government to help with the city’s blight problem.  Under the agreement, Southern law students, working with faculty, track down property records, find out who owns a particular piece of property, discern whether any taxes are owed and determine whether the property has been condemned.  Once they’ve collected the information, they write what’s called a ‘title letter’ explaining the property’s legal status before taking it to a licensed attorney.”  “Southern law students have also been a part of similar projects in south Baton Rouge and in the Brookstown neighborhood.”  (The Advocate)

October 18, 2013Ontario’s Legal Aid lawyers are staging a rally at Legal Aid Ontario’s Head Office on the day of their board meeting to express their frustration at their repeated requests for collective bargaining go ignored.  “We believe [Legal Aid Ontario CEO Bob] Ward’s inaction is discriminatory,” said Jillian Rogin, a Legal Aid Lawyer. “More than two-thirds of Legal Aid lawyers are women, and we are the most racially diverse group of public sector lawyers in the province. All other provincial government lawyers, such as those working for the Ministry of the Attorney General and those employed as crown attorneys, enjoy the right to collective bargaining. They are primarily male.”  The lawyers will be joined by several other labor organizations in support of their cause.  (Digital Journal)

October 18, 2013 – “A group of lawyers and law students gathered outside Osgoode Hall today to protest Trinity Western University’s proposal for a law school, arguing the school discriminates against queer students.  The Federation of Law Societies of Canada is reviewing the private Christian university’s application for a three-year JD program, which it hopes to offer to students starting September 2015.”  (Legal Feeds)

October 18, 2013 – “Legal Services of Eastern Missouri (LSEM) has received a two-year, $379,589 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for a new Connecting Kids to Coverage program.  LSEM is the only individual Legal services organization nationwide to receive this grant funding.   Under the grant, LSEM attorneys and staff will provide outreach and enrollment assistance for children eligible for free or low-cost health insurance from Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).”  (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

October 20, 2013 – A volunteer public defender program that has been in place for 30 years has recently come under fire for bringing too many cases to trial.  The superior court is proposing a higher level of supervision for these volunteer, licensed attorneys.  The proposed rule would require a PD staff member to be right there with the volunteer at every stage of every single criminal proceeding.  If the rule were to be enacted, it might dismantle the volunteer program.  Public Defender Jeff Adachi sums up the situation, “The thing that is most troubling is the court is proposing this rule not because there is any problem with these lawyers but because they are unhappy that these lawyers are trying cases.”  (KTUV.com)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  Former death row inmate Anthony Graves has honored the lawyer who believed in his innocence and fought to save his life by creating a scholarship in her name. According to Texas Monthly, Graves surprised Houston attorney Nicole Casarez  by endowing a scholarship at the University of Texas Law School Foundation in her name.  Mr. Graves used the money he received from the state in his wrongful conviction suite to honor the attorney and journalism professor who, along with her journalism students, fought for eight years to save his life.  (Dallas Morning News) (AnthonyBelieves.com)

Super Music Bonus! Thank you all for a great Mini-Conference.  Now I’m going to. . . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mzpuUzLKx4&list=TLZhstbUJcwJVkJsl0qC-cmjfRTmNg1w9q

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Special Edition #PSJDChat: Equal Justice Works Conference & Career Fair Q&A Panel, Happening Tomorrow at 5pm!

by Ashley Matthews, PSJD Fellow

If you’re going to the Equal Justice Works Conference this weekend, this is one conversation you don’t want to miss!

Tomorrow, meet me at @PSJDTweets on Twitter as I chat with reps from Equal Justice Works (@EJW_org in Twitter speak). We’ll be talking about everything a law student or recent law grad needs to know to be prepared for the networking, interviewing and workshop events happening on Friday, 10/15 and Saturday, 10/26.

Are you wondering just what is a “Table Talk”? Still trying to figure out what clothes to pack? Interested in learning about the workshops on pursuing a public interest career? We’ll be answering all these questions and more tomorrow – just follow us @PSJDTweets, or search for the hashtags #PSJDChat and #EJWCCF to send questions to our panelists.

Here are the deets:

Who: PSJD and Equal Justice Works

What: #PSJDChat with reps from EJW, answering all your questions about the 2013 Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair (#EJWCCF)

When:Tuesday, 10/22/2013, 5pm

Where:Twitter.com, of course!

If you can’t make it, no worries – we’ll save the tweets and sum everything up for you on our Storify page. Hope to see you all at the EJW Conference this weekend!

 

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – October 18, 2013

by Christina Jackson, NALP Director of Public Service Initiatives & Fellowships

Happy Friday everyone!  Celebrate Pro Bono Week starting Saturday.  Get out there and get involved!  Below you’ll find some ways to do so.  And don’t forget to check out PSJD for pro bono resources for next week and throughout the year.

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: If you know someone we should honor, drop me a line.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • PSJD announces the Pro Bono Publico Award Winner;
  • Don’t forget to register for the NALP/PSJD Mini-Conference;
  • The Indiana Supreme Court looks to boost pro bono service;
  • Association of endorses Action Committee Report on Access to Justice;
  • MT Justice Court rejects request by public defender to be taken off new cases;
  • Federal judiciary gets extra money in last-minute budget deal;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Celebrate the outstanding public service servant in you during Pro Bono Week;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

October 14, 2013 –  WINNER – J. Martin Bunt, Emory University School of Law – Martin faced considerable challenges when starting the Volunteer Clinic for Veterans (VCV), but his passion for service and his perseverance in the face of many obstacles has created a lasting impact on his community.  As a 2L, Martin started the clinic from scratch, pulling together the Department of Veterans Affairs, the State Bar of Georgia, a number of Atlanta attorneys, and the dedicated students at Emory.  Through Martin’s leadership, in less than a year, a new clinic, complete with a retired law firm partner and decorated veteran as the hands-on supervisor of the cases, and a professor as a co-director is up and running.  Martin is not only the “face” of the clinic, recruiting pro bono attorneys and working to get case referrals, but he is also devoted to handling cases himself.  As his nominator so eloquently said, “His passion, ability to recruit others to fill the needs of the VCV, and his professional skills have created a service organization to fulfill a great need where before there was nothing.”  Today, there are nearly 50 lawyers who have agreed to take veterans’ benefits cases and there are over 40 student volunteers, 26 of whom are working on 20 cases and a legislative initiative to create special courts in Georgia to help veterans with traumatic conditions to obtain treatment and release as an alternative to incarceration.

Martin is dedicated to making the lives of men and women who serve better.  He said it best, “When they come home, I believe it is our turn to serve them.  I will continue to dedicate my life to the VCV, knowing that I am serving those who have sacrificed so much to serve me.”

MERIT DISTINCTIONIoana E. Tchoukleva, University of California, Berkeley School of Law; Karol Ruiz, Seton Hall University School of Law

October 14, 2013 – NALP and PSJD invite you to the 2013 Public Service Mini-Conference on Thursday, October 24 in Washington, DC. If you are a public interest career counselor, pro bono program manager, or work in any public-service career role at a law school or legal employer then this mini-conference is for you. The 2013 Public Service Mini-Conference is the perfect opportunity for you to meet and network with colleagues from across the country and attend substantive and skill-based programs. Following the Mini-Conference, we will host a law school/employer reception including representatives from eight agencies and nine national non-profits registered so far.  If you are a newcomer to the public interest arena, join us for the Public Interest Advising 101 program on Wednesday, October 23.

October 15, 2013 – “The Indiana Supreme Court, along with judges and lawyers around the state, are exploring ways to provide more free and low-cost legal services to a growing number of Hoosiers that need them.”  One idea is to provide CLE credits for pro bono work.  “If a lawyer is representing a poor person in a case, they’re really getting educated themselves in the process. Why not let them get CLE hours for that and help that go toward their annual minimum?” Chief Justice Brent Dickson says.  Intriguing idea.  (Indiana Public Media)

October 15, 2013 – “The Association of Legal Aid Plans of Canada applauds a new report by the Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters.”  “The report provides a multi-sector national approach that promotes concrete goals in the areas of innovation, institutions and structures, and research and funding. Goals include a justice system focused on the everyday legal problems Canadians face and making essential legal services available to everyone. The report also calls for user-friendly court processes, a ‘front-end’ early resolution services sector, and appropriate services for self-represented litigants.” “The Action Committee is composed of leaders in the civil and family justice community, and a public representative for each of the different parts of the justice system.  The Association of Legal Aid Plans is a voice for Canada’s Legal Aid Plans and its members provide expertise on legal aid and access to justice issues.”  (Digital Journal)

October 15, 2013 – “The Helena justice court on Friday rejected a request by the overloaded state public defender’s office to be taken off new cases.  The Office of the Public Defender told the court in September that staff attorneys have too many cases and are in danger of failing to meet their ethical obligation to properly represent clients. It said that more than 3,000 cases were assigned in 2012 to its 10 attorneys in a region that covers Lewis and Clark, Jefferson and Broadwater counties.  Justice of the Peace Michael Swingley rejected the request Friday.  Swingley said the office is required to represent indigent defenders and must contract private attorneys if staff attorneys are overloaded. But the public defender’s office has said its budget is already strained.”  (Independent Record)

October 16, 2013 – “The budget deal Congress approved late Wednesday to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling provides $51 million in additional funding to the judiciary and to federal defenders.”  “The extra funding would primarily go to pay the backlog of attorney fees under the Criminal Justice Act, which funds court-appointed private counsel. Payments were suspended in mid-September, when funding ran out two weeks before the end of the fiscal year.”  The extra money doesn’t provide all the money needed, but is seen as a lifeline to at least continue working.  (The Blog of LegalTimes)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  Starting on Sunday, we will celebrate Pro Bono Week.  I  hope all of you are able to contribute in any way that you can.  BUT, it’s important to keep in mind that the need is out there 24/7 all year round.  Here are some resources to help you get started or to steer you in a different direction so that you to can become an Outstanding Public Servant.

Find out why we celebrate!

Search 2013 Pro Bono Celebration Events on Probono.net.

Connect with friends to celebrate together.

Super Music Bonus! In honor of Pro Bono Week – Let’s all reach out and give someone a helping hand.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqbooR9o0LY

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2013 Pro Bono Publico Award Winner announced!

We are very pleased to announce the 2013 Pro Bono Publico Award Winner Martin Bunt from Emory University School of Law.  This year we selected 10 finalists and then had to choose a winner from a VERY competitive pool.  It was so tough, we’ve also selected two Merit Distinction recipients as well.  All three will be guest bloggers for the PSJD Blog.

In addition, we will be presenting Martin with his award (and his $1,000) at Emory.  I look forward to meeting him, his family, and all those who helped him create the Volunteer Clinic for Veterans.

Here is the full announcement, with all the great finalists.  We are so grateful to them for their incredible work!!!

19th Annual PSJD Pro Bono Publico Award

This prestigious award honors one law student nationwide for their pro bono contributions to society, and recognizes the significant contributions that law students make to underserved populations, the public interest community, and legal education through public service work.

WINNER

J. Martin Bunt

Emory University School of Law

 

Martin faced considerable challenges when starting the Volunteer Clinic for Veterans (VCV), but his passion for service and his perseverance in the face of many obstacles has created a lasting impact on his community.  As a 2L, Martin started the clinic from scratch, pulling together the Department of Veterans Affairs, the State Bar of Georgia, a number of Atlanta attorneys, and the dedicated students at Emory.  Through Martin’s leadership, in less than a year, a new clinic, complete with a retired law firm partner and decorated veteran as the hands-on supervisor of the cases, and a professor as a co-director is up and running.  Martin is not only the “face” of the clinic, recruiting pro bono attorneys and working to get case referrals, but he is also devoted to handling cases himself.  As his nominator so eloquently said, “His passion, ability to recruit others to fill the needs of the VCV, and his professional skills have created a service organization to fulfill a great need where before there was nothing.”  Today, there are nearly 50 lawyers who have agreed to take veterans’ benefits cases and there are over 40 student volunteers, 26 of whom are working on 20 cases and a legislative initiative to create special courts in Georgia to help veterans with traumatic conditions to obtain treatment and release as an alternative to incarceration.

 

Martin is dedicated to making the lives of men and women who serve better.  He said it best, “When they come home, I believe it is our turn to serve them.  I will continue to dedicate my life to the VCV, knowing that I am serving those who have sacrificed so much to serve me.”

MERIT DISTINCTION

Ioana E. Tchoukleva

University of California, Berkeley School of Law

Ioana is a tireless advocate for prison inmates navigating the parole process.  Through volunteer work with the Restorative Justice Roundtable, Ioana met some really amazing people.  One stood out to her as a symbol of the dysfunction and inherent unfairness of the California Parole System.  So, she decided to do something to help.  She took the lead on creating the Post-Conviction Advocacy Project (PCAP), a student led project.  Seeing that indigent prisoners frequently receive inadequate assistance in preparing for parole board hearings, Ioana recruited Berkeley Law students, faculty and staff to build the project, and then secured a commitment from UnCommon Law to provide attorney supervision.  The Project currently has 27 student volunteers (1L – 3L) who represent clients in three area prisons.  The Project also has an education mission to teach students about the many issues California “lifers” face and to teach the skills that will make students powerful and effective advocates.

Karol Ruiz

Seton Hall University School of Law

As Karol said, “I was that kid.”  And now she is a steadfast voice for undocumented immigrant children.  She works in many ways to pay it forward.  In addition to the countless hours she’s spent educating her community and bringing together partners to work toward making the immigration system better, she has hosted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) clinics.  In one day at just one clinic, 169 applicants received legal information, 40 of whom completed their DACA applications.  Her efforts are reflected in the gratitude her clients feel.  Not only has Karol’s work benefited them in a legal sense, but her complete dedication to each individual means their lives are better as well.

OTHER FINALISTS

Elizabeth Gavin, Fordham Law School

Founder of a newly created student organization, Advocates for Sexual Health and Rights (ASHL), which aims to advocate for the human rights of marginalized populations.

Sam Keen, DePaul University College of Law

Dedicated volunteer with the College of Law’s Neighborhood Legal Assistance Project (NLAP).  NLAP is a law student pro bono help desk for the homeless.

Remy Krumpak, Southwestern Law School

President of the Law School’s Homelessness Prevention Law Project (HPLP), through which he has dedicated over 400 hours on Skid Row providing legal assistance and social service referrals to homeless families.

Talia Lewis, American University Washington College of Law

Founder of Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf (HEARD), through which she fights for the proper treatment for deaf and hard of hearing individuals who are incarcerated.

Teresita Ramos, Boston College Law School

Co-creator of a partnership between the Law School and the Federation for Children with Special Needs.  Through this and other efforts, she tirelessly advocates for furthering special education access for Hispanic families.

Luce Pierre-Russon, St. John’s Law School

Dedicated volunteer with the Consumer Debt-Volunteer Lawyer for the Day (VLDF) Program, through which she advocates for and educates her community about consumer debt and consumer protection.

Vanessa Stine, Villanova University School of Law

Founder of the Notario Fraud Project, through which she educates and represents victims of notario fraud and predatory legal representation.

 

 

 

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – October 11, 2013

by Christina Jackson, NALP Director of Public Service Initiatives & Fellowships

Happy Friday everyone!  As the government shutdown progresses, more and more programs are affected.  Now is a good time to think about what the needs are in your community and see how you can help.

And if you’re using PSJD as a resource – we’ve now added a downloadable Job Seekers User Guide, complete with step-by-step instructions.

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: If you know someone we should honor, drop me a line.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Don’t forget to register for the NALP/PSJD Mini-Conference;
  • Office of the State Public Defender (of MT) asks court not to assign any more cases;
  • BC Law now offering a new program in public interest;
  • Legal Aid lawyers & BC province reach agreement;
  • Philadelphia, PA might hire private law firm for court-appointed cases;
  • ABA releases white paper on NY pro bono requirements;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Former President Jimmy Carter;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

October 4, 2013 – NALP and PSJD invite you to the 2013 Public Service Mini-Conference on Thursday, October 24 in Washington, DC. If you are a public interest career counselor, pro bono program manager, or work in any public-service career role at a law school or legal employer then this mini-conference is for you. The 2013 Public Service Mini-Conference is the perfect opportunity for you to meet and network with colleagues from across the country and attend substantive and skill-based programs. Following the Mini-Conference, we will host a law school/employer reception including representatives from eight agencies and nine national non-profits registered so far.  If you are a newcomer to the public interest arena, join us for the Public Interest Advising 101 program on Wednesday, October 23.

October 4, 2013– “The Office of the State Public Defender says it is overloaded with cases in the Helena area, and asking a judge to not assign them any more cases.”  “The request asks the Helena justice court to assign a private attorney to one ongoing case, and asks the court to assign private attorneys to new cases with indigent clients. It also asks the court to order the state to pay for the costs of the private attorneys because OPD argues it doesn’t have enough in its budget to do so. The filing also says the court could alternatively dismiss cases against some poor defendants.”  “The Lewis and Clark County attorney’s office argued in Tuesday’s brief that the Helena justice court does not have the jurisdiction to meet the OPD request. It said OPD is required by state law to provide indigent defense.  The brief argues that the public defender’s office needs to pursue other options of reducing its workload.”  (The Republic)

October 4, 2013 – “[Boston College] Law School has launched the Public Interest Designation Program (PIDP) to encourage, guide and recognize students who are committed to a legal career dedicated to public service.  Law School administrators say PIDP — the only program of its kind in Massachusetts — will provide a comprehensive academic and experiential curriculum that will prepare students for a career in public service immediately upon graduation.”  “The program reflects the efforts of 25 BC Law students from the Class of 2013 who had worked with Associate Director of Public Interest Programs Kate Devlin Joyce to create special recognition for students demonstrating commitment to a public service curriculum. The 25 were honored by BC Law Dean Vincent Rougeau at this year’s graduation as the inaugural PIDP class and given the title of Public Service Fellows.” (The Boston College Chronicle)

October 5, 2013– “The threatened adjournment of hundreds of criminal trials by [British Columbia’s] legal aid lawyers has been averted.  The Legal Services Society of B.C. reached an agreement with Attorney General Suzanne Anton on Friday and is no longer recommending that lawyers avoid booking hearings for the six weeks between Feb. 17 and March 31, 2014.  ‘I can provide assurance that LSS will be able to pay accounts for all existing referrals to the end of the fiscal year,’ chief executive officer Mark Benton said Saturday in a special message to the bar.”  This agreement doesn’t mean there might not still have to be cuts, but for now services will continue.  (Times Colonist)

October 8, 2013 – In the “here’s one way to handle this” category comes the City of Philadelphia’s plan to contract with a private law firm to handle conflict criminal defense and other court-appointed cases.  “[t]he city of Philadelphia is planning to retain a private law firm to handle all court-appointed defense work for indigent individuals at an expected savings of $1 million annually.”  Currently, there are 300-350 lawyers that accept court-appointment cases.  The plan is to create a 75-lawyer private firm to handle all the court-appointed cases for a set fee of $9.5 million a year.  Not sure how the numbers are going to work out, but we’ll keep you posted.  (ABA Journal)

October 8, 2013 – The ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service has released white paper concerning New York’s 50-hour mandatory pro bono admission requirement and its potential application in other states. It’s available here: http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/probono_public_service/ls_pb_preadmission_pro_bono_requirement_white_paper.pdf.

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  On October 11 2002, former President Jimmy Carter wins the Nobel Peace Prize “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.”  One of his key achievements as president was mediating the peace talks between Israel and Egypt in 1978.  But, it is always striking to me the great works one can do once given an opportunity.  Mr. Carter is a fantastic example in that he has done (in my opinion) his greatest works after leaving office.  “After he left office, Carter and his wife Rosalynn created the Atlanta-based Carter Center in 1982 to advance human rights and alleviate human suffering. Since 1984, they have worked with Habitat for Humanity to build homes and raise awareness of homelessness. Among his many accomplishments, Carter has helped to fight disease and improve economic growth in developing nations and has served as an observer at numerous political elections around the world.”  Thank you to an outstanding public servant who continues to use his knowledge and skill to promote and protect human rights around the world.  (History.com) (Carter Center)

Super Music Bonus! Something our community knows a lot about – Come on – let’s work together!

http://youtu.be/MOLCSCArDRE

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New Resource Added: PSJD Job-Seeker User Guide

by Ashley Matthews, PSJD Fellow

Do you feel lost while searching for jobs on PSJD? Are you a career counselor struggling to inform law students about using PSJD to find public interest jobs, internships and fellowships?

If so, listen up: we just added the perfect resource for you!

Our new Job Seeker User Guide has step-by-step directions that will walk you through registration, finding resources, running simple and advanced job searches, setting up Email Alerts and Favorites, and more.

The guide is housed under the “About PSJD” section. Click the “How To Use PSJD” option and select “Job Seekers”. A link to the User Guide will be at the very top of the page. (Click the image below for a larger screenshot.)

We hope this makes it easier to navigate PSJD.org. If you have more specific technical questions on using the site to find public interest law opportunities, or just want to share a suggestion, give me a call at (202) 296-0076 or email me at AMatthews@nalp.org.

Thanks for using PSJD!

 

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – October 4, 2013

by Christina Jackson, NALP Director of Public Service Initiatives & Fellowships

Happy Friday everyone!  Can you believe it’s October already?  Two big events happen this month:  the PSJD/NALP Public Interest Mini-Conference and the Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair.  Both are a great opportunity to learn and network for legal career professionals and the EJW CCF is a great opportunity for students to connect with employers.

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: If you know someone we should honor, drop me a line.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Court-appointed panel aims to improve civil legal services to low-income individuals in Indiana;
  • Gideon’s Promise creates new Law School Partnership Project;
  • ABA creates task force to connect unemployed young lawyers with unmet legal needs;
  • University of Missouri School of Law opens new clinic to help vets;
  • Seattle University Law School gets grant to improve public defender system;
  • The recipients of this year’s Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (Sammies) are announced;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Today in history work on Mt. Rushmore begins;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

September 26, 2013– “The Indiana Supreme Court has created a statewide commission aimed at improving the availability of civil legal services for low-income residents.  The 17 members of the Indiana Commission to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services will include judges, law professors, practicing attorneys, existing civil legal services providers, nonprofit groups and representatives from business, finance and labor, Chief Justice Brent Dickson wrote in an order dated Monday.  The court has given the panel a year to develop a five-year plan to improve civil legal services to low-income “or otherwise disadvantaged Indiana residents.”  The commission’s first report is due June 30.  (The Republic)

October 1, 2013 – Gideon’s Promise (formerly the Southern Public Defender Training Center) has developed an exciting new Project in which it seeks to partner with law schools to ensure adequate defender representation in the neediest of southern offices.  “We are building partnerships between Gideon’s Promise, public defender offices across the South, and law schools committed to justice. We are asking law schools to contribute to the training and support of their graduates for up to one year, or to help us identify sponsors for their graduates. In return, Gideon’s Promise will place the graduate in a southern public defender office and provide three-years of training and mentorship. The office will guarantee that within the first year, the graduate will be moved into a full-time position. Therefore, by providing support up front, law schools can help their graduates secure permanent employment, acquire the training and support they need, and join a transformative movement as important as any in the legal profession.  Set your law school apart, by sponsoring a committed law graduate who wants to be a part of the change we are building, but who otherwise would not be able to join this movement.  Click here to learn how your institution can help fulfill Gideon’s Promise.”  (Gideon’s Promise)

October 1, 2013 – The ABA has created a task force to connect the unmet legal needs of our society and the unmet employment needs of young lawyers.  “The ABA Legal Access Job Corps Task Force is co-chaired by Chief Judge Eric Washington of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, dean Patricia White of the University of Miami School of Law, and Atlanta lawyer Allan Tanenbaum, a longtime bar leader. The task force will propose possibilities for providing legal services to underserved populations while offering work and experience to lawyers who are now entering legal practice. As part of its work, the task force will review existing initiatives that may be adopted as national models.”  It appears the ultimate goal is to great a national Legal Access Job Corps.  (ABA Journal)

October 2, 2013 – MU School of Law is set to open a new clinic in January that will help veterans trying to get disability benefits.  “Six students supervised by an attorney from the Law School will provide legal counsel for veterans appealing decisions made on their original disability benefits claims. Their work will be a part of a new three-credit class offered in spring 2014.  The clinic is not focused on helping veterans apply for disability benefits for the first time, but instead will help those whose claims were denied or were not as much as they expected. The students will help veterans appeal their cases to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims.”  (Missourian)

October 2, 1013 – “An indigent-defense project at Seattle University School of Law and the Sixth Amendment Center in Boston will share a $450,000 grant from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to work on solutions to failings in the public-defense system nationwide.  The two-year grant is part of Attorney General Eric Holder’s focus on addressing systemic problems in local and state-run public-defense systems.”  “The grant was awarded by the DOJ’s program called ‘Answering Gideon’s Call,’ overseen by its Civil Rights Division, and is aimed at improving state-level public-defense to a minimum suggested by the American Bar Association.”  (Seattle Times)

October 3, 2013– As well all know, the government shutdown has already created bleak intended and unintended consequences.  In the midst of all the frustration and anger over the shutdown, here is one thing to celebrate – the recipients of this year’s Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (Sammies).  The awardees have contributed in a wide array of areas, but all with excellence and dedication to service.   “The winners were chosen from among 31 finalists. An honorary citation is going to Antonio Mendez, a retired CIA operative whose work in spiriting a half-dozen American diplomats out of Iran in 1980 inspired the Oscar-winning film, ‘Argo.’  All will be formally recognized at a black-tie banquet Oct. 3 in downtown Washington, despite the partial government shutdown that began Oct. 1. Four of the winners are on furlough without pay.”  Check out all the winners and be prepared to be inspired.  (Federal Times)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  Today I might have to get a little political.  Today in history work on Mt. Rushmore began in the Black Hills National Forest of South Dakota. It would take another 12 years for the impressive granite images of four of America’s most revered and beloved presidents—George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt–to be completed.  (History.com)  Here’s where it gets political – the national parks are only one of many, many facilities and programs that are shuttered due to the government shutdown.  So, if we could all be sending good (or bad) thoughts to Congress (whichever you think will work) to get us back on track, DC and the 800,000 federal workers around the country who are furloughed would greatly appreciate it!

Super Music Bonus!  I had to do this one.  Empowerment is always a timely message.

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New Indigent Defense Fellowship Partners with Law Schools to Train Entry-Level Southern Public Defenders

by Ashley Matthews, PSJD Fellow

Gideon’s Promise, an innovative program that supports and trains public defenders across the South, has partnered with the Department of Justice to initiate the Law School Partnership Project.

This new program will give law schools an opportunity to join Gideon’s Promise and southern public defender offices by contributing to the training and support of their graduates for up to one year, or help Gideon’s Promise identify sponsors for their graduates. Gideon’s Promise places the law graduate in a southern public defender office and provides three years of invaluable training and mentorship.

The public defender office will guarantee permanent, full-time employment within the graduate’s first year of the program. (I put that in bold because it is AWESOME, especially in today’s shaky legal job market.)

The right to counsel is a basic human and civil right, but it continues to have difficulties being implemented within the American criminal justice system. As public defenders continue to face crushing caseloads and funding crises, programs like this are greatly needed to ensure the enforcement of our constitutional rights and fulfill the promise of equal justice.

Check out this Information Packet from Gideon’s Promise for more information. If you have questions, contact Jonathan Rapping at jon@gideonspromise.org or Ilham Askia at ilham@gideonspromise.org.

 

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