by Christina Jackson, NALP Director of Public Service Initiatives & Fellowships
Happy Halloween everyone! What great week we had celebrating National Pro Bono Week! Thank you to all those who worked so hard to make it happen. It is a great reminder of what we can do when we come together as a community.
Here are the week’s headlines:
- 6 NY Counties take part in study of state funding;
- South Carolina Legal Services receives its first EJW AmeriCorps Fellow;
- DOJ names new head of Access to Justice Initiative;
- No deal on legal aid funding at justice ministers’ meeting;
- Panel finds MD poor deserve free counsel for family law cases;
- LSC awards nearly $3.5 Mil in technology grants;
- Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Services received HUD grant;
- Legal Aid of East TN gets DOJ grant;
- NYCLU reaches public defender agreement;
- 13 MD organizations receive funds to combat violence against women;
- Ontario raises eligibility threshold for legal aid;
- Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Quakers, Abigail Adams, Sarah Grimke, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Sojourner Truth;
- Super Music Bonus!
October 17, 2014 – Six counties have been chosen to be part of a two-year study to determine whether state funding is solving the problem of underrepresentation of the poor and underserved in court. “The University at Albany announced Oct. 2 that it will continue its partnership with the state Office of Indigent Legal Services to research the state of legal counsel for the underserved upstate, evaluating the impact of $12 million in state funding spent on tackling the issue. The study is fueled by a $381,402 grant from the National Institute of Justice. The study is based on ‘counsel at first appearance,’ a concept that guarantees a person can speak with an attorney after being arrested, and before appearing in court. ILS Director of Research Andrew Davies, a co-investigator on the study, said having no access to an attorney before court can mean jail time without discussion of bail.” (Watertown Daily Times)
October 17, 2014 – “South Carolina Legal Services (SCLS) is excited to announce that it has been selected by Equal Justice Works to host its first-ever AmeriCorps Equal Justice Works Fellow. Lonnie R. Doles, a 2014 graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law, will be serving as an Employment Opportunity Fellow to provide legal assistance to remove barriers to employment for unemployed or underemployed people who are actively seeking to join the labor market. This assistance will include expungement of minor criminal records, correcting errors in criminal records, restoring driver’s licenses and occupational licenses, and providing other legal assistance aimed at helping individuals get to work. The fellowship will last for one year with the possibility of renewal for second year.” (SCLS)
October 17, 2014 – “A former California judge who had been the head of California Common Cause, Lisa Foster, has been named the director of the Justice Department’s ‘Access to Justice”’Initiative, officials familiar with the appointment told BuzzFeed News. The initiative, started by Attorney General Eric Holder in March 2010, aims ‘to address the access-to-justice crisis in the criminal and civil justice system’ by helping to ensure that the justice system is accessible to all people, regardless of income.” (BuzzFeed News)
October 17, 2014 – “Federal, provincial and territorial justice ministers were unable to reach a deal in meetings this week on increased funding from Ottawa for legal aid. The issue was at the top of the agenda at a two-day meeting in Banff, Alta., that wrapped up Friday. Ottawa used to split the cost of the program 50-50, but now only chips in about 16 per cent. Since 2003, there has been no new federal funding to the program, leaving it to provinces to make up the difference.” “This is an ongoing issue and discussion with respect to the amount and the support and the distribution of federal funding for legal aid,” said Justice Minister Peter MacKay, who called the discussions constructive and “very frank.” “I can assure you there have been no doors closed but we’re very encouraged by innovations, by efficiencies that have been identified, these are discussions that are very important and will continue.” (CP24 News)
October 17, 2014 – “[A] state task force this month recommended assigning free lawyers in certain family-law cases, and spending nearly $8 million over four years to help the poorest Marylanders work through the complex court system.” “The Task Force to Study Implementing a Civil Right to Counsel in Maryland is a group of judges, attorneys, delegates and state senators that has been meeting since December to discuss the benefits of providing legal representation to low-income people involved in civil disputes.” “A bill, sponsored by Del. Sandy Rosenberg, D-Baltimore, outlining the task force’s recommendations, will be introduced to the legislature at the start of the next session, which begins on Jan. 14, said Dumais, who plans to co-sponsor the bill.” (Southern Maryland Online)
October 17, 2014 – “The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) today released a list of 38 projects nationwide that will receive Technology Initiative Grant (TIG) funding in 2014. The grants will support a variety of initiatives, including user-friendly online tools for women veterans, mobile delivery of legal services for clients using text messaging, and video-conferencing technology that reaches low-income clients in rural areas. Since its start in 2000, LSC’s TIG program has funded 570 technology projects totaling more than $46 million. With this funding, legal aid organizations have built a network of websites serving both attorneys and clients nationwide, developed easy-to-use online forms, incorporated video technology into service delivery, and enhanced support for pro bono lawyers.” Click on the article to see which organizations received grants. (LSC)
Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: Society of Friends (the Quakers), Abigail Adams, Sarah Grimke, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Sojourner Truth. What do these and many more individuals have in common? They worked tirelessly to ensure that all men and women were free and had the right to vote. A mid-term election is coming up next week, which generally means lower voter turnout. Keep in mind the struggles of others to ensure our right to vote, and exercise your rights come Tuesday.
Super Music Bonus!