PSJD Public Interest News Digest – August 1, 2014

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

Happy Friday everyone!  Can you believe it’s August already?  Soon it will be time to return to school.  Check out PSJD for all your back-to-school job search needs.

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Legal Services Corp. celebrates 40  years;
  • MD cut back on spending for criminal defense for poor;
  • Naiyareh Karimimanesh Bahá’í Service Fellowship established at Tahirih Justice Center;
  • Texas Civil Rights Project returns to Austin offices;
  • Denver City Council approves municipal defender office;
  • Travis Co. (TX) accepts state funding to create private defender’s office;
  • USPTO adds more schools to Clinic Certification Pilot Program
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: U.S. Servicemembers;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

July 24, 2014 – “The Legal Services Corporation (LSC), the single largest funder of civil legal aid in the country, marks its 40th anniversary on July 25.  LSC will commemorate this milestone beginning with a three-day event bringing together a wide range of legal, government, corporate, and philanthropic leaders to shine a light on the challenges and opportunities facing civil legal aid in America. The 40th Anniversary Kick-Off will be held Sept. 14-16 at the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington, DC.”  Congratulations on 40 years very well done and to many, many more.  (LSC)

July 24, 2014 – “Spending on criminal defense for the poor fell 7.9 percent in Maryland from fiscal 2008 to fiscal 2012, compared to a national decrease of 4.3 percent, according to a recent Justice Department study.  The Maryland Office of the Public Defender has felt the impact of budget cuts, as the size of the support staff shrank and attorneys dealt with heavy caseloads in recent years, said Maryland Public Defender Paul DeWolfe.”  Spending may increase in future years after the Maryland Court of Appeals found a constitutional right to representation in the early stages of a criminal case, but how much remains to be seen. (LegalTimes)

July 28, 2014 – “Tahirih has received significant support of its Bahá’í Service Fellowship Program to honor the memory of a young lawyer who was passionate about the legal profession and the Bahá’í Faith.  The Naiyareh Karimimanesh Bahá’í Service Fellowship honors the memory of Naiyareh Karimimanesh, a 27-year-old lawyer who passed away in 2007 after a car accident. Naiyareh had a profound impact on those she left behind.”  “The Naiyareh Karimimanesh Bahá’í Service Fellowship will fund three fellowships in 2014 and provide overall support to the program. The Fellowship is designed to engage fellows in service to humanity, promote the equality of women and men, and provide an opportunity for fellows to learn from the work of a well-established, Bahá’í-inspired, nonprofit organization. Fellows are Bahá’ís, and work in a variety of staff roles assisting Tahirih’s clients to achieve justice while also being of service in the local Bahá’í community. They commit to serving Tahirih for a one-year period, and receive a stipend and health insurance for their service.”  (Tahirih Justice Center)

July 28, 2014 – The Texas Civil Rights Project “celebrated the grand reopening of its Austin location Friday night. Last October, an electrical fire destroyed one office in the building and caused heavy smoke damage.  Another legal aid organization let the Texas Civil Rights Project work out of its offices. Now nine months later, the group is glad to have their own space back.”  (Austin News)

June 28, 2014 – “The Denver City Council Monday night approved the creation of a new public defender’s office for municipal offenses.  The new Municipal Public Defender’s Office will open Jan. 1 and will be overseen by a new commission.” (Denver Post)

July 29, 2014 – “Travis County commissioners have unanimously voted to accept more than $717,500 in state money for the creation of a private defender’s office.  Judges, court officials and defense lawyers must now work on an official contract for approval next month. But the decision Tuesday signals the county’s commitment to fund the initiative, which proponents aim to fully implement by January.”  “Defense lawyers say they have started the process to establish the new nonprofit that will oversee the appointment of attorneys to cases in the $8.5 million indigent defense system.”  (

July 30, 2014 – “The U.S. Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced the selection of 19 law schools that will join the USPTO’s Law School Clinic Certification Pilot Program this fall. Five law schools will join both the Patent and Trademark portions of the Program, four law schools will join the Patent portion of the Program, and ten law schools will join the Trademark portion of the Program.  These law schools join the 28 law schools currently participating in the Program.  The selection committees chose these schools based on their solid IP curricula, pro bono services to the public, and community networking and outreach.  The Program enables law students to practice patent and/or trademark law before the USPTO under the guidance of an approved faculty clinic supervisor. ”  (

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  I had the honor this week of attending a friend’s promotion ceremony.  It reminded me once again of the commitment service requires of both the military person and their family.  There are absolutely days you are saying goodbye to your family before going to work where you may never return.  On this day in history, World War I was erupting, Hilter becomes fuhrer in 1934, and many events since have contrived to send nations to war.  Regardless of how you feel about those events, it is universally true that men and women every day willingly put themselves in harms way.  Please join me in saying thank you and working towards making their return easier.

Super Music Bonus!


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