PSJD Public Interest News Digest – June 16, 2017

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

Happy Friday! This week has been a tough one. Thank you to all of those who have rendered aid and worked to bring people together.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Boston Bar Foundation awards grants;
  • Report says Tennessee’s public defender system needs more money;
  • Legal Services Corporation presents new justice gap report to Congress;
  • Endowment fund for veterans honors memory of Texas lawyer;
  • Over $900,000 awarded to prevent foreclosures and redevelop DC communities;
  • Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants; and
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

June 11, 2017 – “Nearly $1 million in grants will be given to 20 community organizations that provide legal services to domestic violence survivors, veterans, at-risk children and others. Last year, groups that received the grants helped more than 38,000 people who needed legal assistance. The grant recipients this year include Casa Myrna Vasquez, Boston’s largest provider of shelter to domestic violence victims. Other groups to receive the grants include the Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts, the Irish International Immigration Center, Prisoners’ Legal Services and Veterans Legal Services. The Boston Bar Foundation and the Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts will provide the grants.” (Lowell Sun)

June 12, 2017 – “A new report says Tennessee is not meeting its constitutional obligation to provide an adequate legal defense to residents who can’t afford an attorney. The report was compiled over an 18 month period at the request of the Tennessee Supreme Court. The task force report concludes that Tennessee is failing to provide the state’s system of public defenders with adequate resources to represent indigent residents in court. The final report makes seven recommendations. Among them: Increase the pay private attorneys receive from the state when they are asked by the courts to defend a poor client.” (WMOT)

June 14, 2017 – “Today Legal Services Corporation (LSC) will issue a new report, The Justice Gap: Measuring the Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-Income Americans. The report is a study of the ‘justice gap’ in the U.S.—the difference between the civil legal needs of low-income Americans and the resources available to meet them. Last year, 86% of the civil legal problems reported by low-income Americans received inadequate or no legal help at all.” The full report is available here. (Legal Services Corporation)(ABA Journal)

June 14, 2017 – “A legal aid endowment fund for Texas veterans has been established to honor the legacy of Texas trial lawyer Joe Jamail. The Joe Jamail Endowment for Veteran Legal Services was established by Jamail’s longtime friend and one-time employee Richard Mithoff. Mithoff contributed $100,000 to launch the fund which has grown to $400,000. The money will be used to help veterans avoid homelessness, promote stability in their family relationships and help them with employment problems. Jamail, who died in 2015, was a Marine before he was a lawyer. The endowment is managed by the Texas Access to Justice Foundation which was created in 1984 to provide funding for civil legal aid in Texas.” (Houston Chronicle)

June 15, 2017 – “The DC Bar Foundation announced the recipients of the third distribution of the Foreclosure Prevention and Community Redevelopment Legal Assistance Grants Program. A total of $939,000 was awarded to projects that will increase access to justice by:

  • Representing low-income and elderly residents in foreclosure cases at DC Superior Court;
  • Ensuring that affordable housing properties in DC transition to market rate in a way that avoids displacement of low-income DC tenants;
  • Combatting the causes of affordable housing loss due to significant rent increases, sale of properties, termination of government subsidies, and unsafe conditions; and,
  • Assisting tenant groups with the establishment and maintenance of their affordable housing limited equity cooperatives to prevent them from converting to market rate housing.”

Click on the link for a full list of grantees and projects. (DC Bar Foundation)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:

Law students in action: Duke University School of Law students Eleni Bakst ’17, Suzie Jing ’18, and Blair Mason ’18 share their experiences working with families detained while seeking asylum at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. Their project was one of many organized by the Duke Law Office of Public Interest and Pro Bono as part of its annual Southern Justice Spring Break Trip. (YouTube)

Music Bonus! Music pick from the PSJD Fellow Delisa Morris.

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