PSJD Public Interest News Digest – January 17, 2014

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

Happy Friday everyone!  And welcome back to all the law students.

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • TX counties receive overdue indigent defense grants;
  • Study examines connection between legal services and health for vets;
  • Latest budget bill would help legal service providers;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: US Olympic athletes;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

January 14, 2014 – “Gregg County commissioners learned the meaning of deferred payment Monday in accepting an $81,800 state grant for indigent defense that lawmakers withheld in 2011 to balance their budget.  Similar one-time payments are being sent to counties statewide, a letter from Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller said. (news-journal)

January 14, 2014 – “The connection between legal help and medical and quality of life outcomes for veterans has been observed anecdotally in recent years. Now, for the first time, a study will be undertaken to quantify those results with the hope of embedding more free legal services in veterans’ facilities across the country, and giving veterans with mental health and housing needs more opportunities to live productive lives.   The Connecticut Veterans Legal Center, the first legal organization in the U.S. to set-up shop in a VA setting, and the New York Legal Assistance Group will embark on a two-year study financed by nearly $700,000 from the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation. Partnering with VA researchers in West Haven, they will follow the legal experiences and outcomes of 400 veterans with mental health and/or housing problems who are being served in West Haven, Newington and two New York City sites.”  (The Register Citizen News)

January 15, 2014 – “The nation’s legal aid providers stand to get back funding this year under Congress’ latest budget plan.  A bipartisan appropriations bill moving through Congress this week would undo last year’s $25 million budget cuts to Legal Services Corp, a spokesman said today. Those cuts, which came as a part of sequestration, brought a 7 percent reduction in grants for the 134 legal aid agencies that rely on LSC funding. Lawmakers also included $2.5 million in the bill for LSC to start a new grant program—the Innovation Fund—to promote creativity in the expansion of legal assistance. The $2.5 million came at the request of the staff of Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), who heads the House appropriations subcommittee that controls LSC funding.  Overall, LSC would receive $365 million for the 2014 fiscal year under the new appropriations bill. That is the same level as the previous fiscal year, but without the budget cuts from sequestration in March.”  The bill should go before Congress soon.  (The Blog of LegalTimes)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  I love the Olympics.  I love sports and competitions in general, but the Olympics provide a sense of the country coming together that we rarely feel these days.  On January 25, 1924, the first Winter Olympics take off in style at Chamonix in the French Alps. Spectators were thrilled by the ski jump and bobsled as well as 12 other events involving a total of six sports. The “International Winter Sports Week,” as it was known, was a great success, and in 1928 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) officially designated the Winter Games, staged in St. Moritz, Switzerland, as the second Winter Olympics.  (  You can follow and support this year’s athletes in Sochi Russia starting on February 6th.  USA!!
Super Music Bonus!  A little homeage to the 90’s.

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