PSJD Public Interest News Digest – January 23, 2015

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

Happy Friday everyone!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • TX panel recommends case limits for indigent defense;
  • Montgomery County, AL Public Defenders Office takes first cases;
  • NY State Bar seeks budget surplus funding of new legal aid center;
  • Goodwin Proctor opens applications for Public Interest Fellowship;
  • Dayton, OH grants $25,000 for immigrant legal services;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

January 15, 2015 – “Criminal defense attorneys across Texas should have specific limits for caseloads, according to a state commission study released Thursday.  Based on information collected from defense lawyers statewide, the Texas Indigent Defense Commission recommended guidelines on the number of cases attorneys can handle, saying it would help ensure that court appointed lawyers have enough time to devote to each client.  According to the study’s findings, a Texas attorney should handle an annual full-time equivalent of no more than 236 Class B misdemeanors, 216 class A misdemeanors, 175 state jail felonies, 144 third-degree felonies, 105 second-degree felonies or 77 first-degree felonies.  The report was applauded by legislators who have long sounded the call for lower caseloads and more resources.”  (Chron)

January 19, 2015 – “Starting Tuesday, Montgomery County defendants who are unable to pay for attorneys for court cases will have an option.  The Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office will begin representing indigent clients Tuesday. The office is headed by Aylia McKee, formerly of the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office and the Public Defenders Office for the Middle District of Alabama.”  (Montgomery Advertiser)

January 19, 2015 – “The New York State Bar Association is seeking $5 million in state funding for the creation of a legal services center in Albany to enhance the availability of legal services to low income individuals.  ‘With the state’s surplus, there is now an opportunity to make a one-time investment that could be very meaningful in terms of improving the access of people needing legal assistance to available services and enhancing the ability of lawyers to provide these services,’ State Bar President Glenn Lau-Kee of New York City (Kee & Lau-Kee) wrote in a letter to Governor Cuomo.”  “The Association’s proposal is supported by the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, Empire Justice Center and the Legal Project, all of which are providers in the Capital District.”  (Read Media)

January 21, 2015 – For the 10th consecutive year, Goodwin Proctor LLP is offering “its 2015 Public Interest Fellowships for Law Students of Color program, which provides awards of $7,500 to law students of color who demonstrate outstanding academic performance, leadership skills and a commitment to community service. The fellowships are designed to help support students who plan to work in public interest law positions in the summer following their first year of law school. This year, four fellowships will be awarded. Application guidelines and forms are available online; the application deadline is March 13, 2015.  (Business Wire)

January 21, 2015 – “Dayton City Commissioners approved a grant that may have a major impact on immigrants.  The grant for $25,000 is all part of an initiative to make Dayton a friendlier, more welcoming community.  It was awarded to Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE), a non-profit firm that provides legal services for immigrants.  The non-profit estimates that through this grant, and more in the future, it will have the funds to aid nearly 5,000 people who are eligible for temporary stays through President Obama’s executive action in November.”  (

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: Chatham County Assistant Public Defender Christopher Middleton has been named winner of the State Bar of Georgia’s 16th annual Justice Robert Benham Award for Community Service for the state’s District 1.  The award, to be presented Feb. 17 at the Georgia Bar Center in Atlanta, was created in 1996 by then-Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Benham and others amid concerns that a decreasing number of the state’s lawyers were active in leadership positions in public and community services.  The award, which is administered by the state bar and the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism, recognizes lawyers who continue to value the tradition of community service and who measure their success in ways other than financial gain.  Congratulations to Mr. Middleton, who has impacted his community in numerous positive ways!  (Savannah Morning News)

Super Music Bonus!

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