LSC Updates - May 23, 2007
The U.S. Congress has yet to act on the bill that will contain LSC's FY 2008 appropriation.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies is expected to mark up the bill sometime after June 4, when the House reconvenes after the Memorial Day recess. The bill will then move to the full Appropriations Committee for approval and then to the full House, which will send its version of the bill to the Senate.
LSC has requested $430.7 million dollars for FY 2008, an $82.1 million increase over LSC's FY 2007 appropriation.
To download LSC's FY 2008 budget request, click here.
On May 16, LSC hosted its 11th annual Applicant Information Session--held via conference call--to provide instructions and guidance to parties interested in applying for LSC grants.
Approximately 70 participants joined the session, making it the most well-attended ever. They called in from almost every state and U.S. territory that will have a competitive service area in 2008, including 27 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Participants were representatives from LSC-funded and non-LSC-funded legal services programs, bar associations, and other organizations.
The annual Applicant Information Session is just one of the ways LSC promotes the availability of its grants for the provision of civil legal services to low-income people. LSC also maintains a service desk to respond to inquiries regarding its competitive grants process, publishes notices in newspapers and bar journals around the country, and maintains a website dedicated solely to providing information about its grant process--the Applicant Information Network, available at www.ain.lsc.gov.
LSC has created a series of one-page fact sheets to highlight important initiatives and topics of interest to the national civil legal services community, including LSC's Technology Initiative Grant program, Loan Repayment Assistance Program, and a summary of congressional restrictions on LSC-funded programs. Additional fact sheets will be available in the future.
To view the fact sheets, click here.
Diana White has been selected as the new Executive Director of the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago (LAF). Ms. White is replacing Sheldon Roodman, who has led the organization for 30 years.
"I am overjoyed and am totally confident that LAF is in excellent hands with Diana as the new Executive Director," said Roodman in a press release issued by the Foundation.
As LAF's Deputy Director of Special Projects since 1997, Ms. White has supervised the work of more than a dozen specialized units at LAF, including children's rights, employment, family law and domestic violence prevention, health, HIV/AIDS, immigration, migrant public benefits, seniors, and adult social security income.
The Foundation is currently searching for a new Deputy Director of Special Projects to replace Ms. White.
For more information, contact Stephanie Caskey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daniel Somerfleck has announced his resignation as Executive Director of Guam Legal Services Corporation (GLSC), effective May 31. Somerfleck has been with GLSC for 13 of its 25 years of existence, 11 as its Executive Director. According to a May 11 article from the Pacific Daily News, Somerfleck is resigning for personal reasons and to spend more time with his family.
Somerfleck's years of dedication have helped to expand the mission and reach of Guam Legal Services, which began with a focus on domestic violence and has since expanded to address legal issues of low-income people involving mental and physical disability, divorce, and guardianship.
"I can't say I am not proud and honored to have this job. I have worked with a number of excellent people. But I think it's time for someone else to take up the mantle, to move the program forward even farther," Somerfleck said.
To read the Pacific Daily News article in its entirety, click here. PURCHASE REQUIRED
Legal Aid of Nebraska's Native American Program won a significant victory for a client who had lost her home after unsuccessfully representing herself in an eviction proceeding before a tribal court.
Legal Aid staff attorneys Sherri Eveleth and Kathy Busch appealed the woman's case to the Winnebago Supreme Court, which hears appeals from lower courts of Nebraska's Winnebago tribe. The high court found that the case against Legal Aid's client was based on a forensic audit "occasioned after faulty record keeping and embezzlement."
The court ruled that the client could return to her home--without paying the more than $5,000 in past-due rent demanded of her--and that she should be repaid bond funds which she had posted. In its ruling, the court also noted that the client "was quite ably represented" by her attorneys in this appeal.
Legal Aid staff expect the ruling in this case to have far-reaching implications on the collection practices of the Winnebago Housing Authority, which provides homes to numerous residents of the Winnebago reservation, many of whom cannot afford an alternative.
In the future, "Simple matters of business housekeeping will not be neglected by the Housing Authority, or the Housing Authority is aware that it should not expect to collect," said Kathy Busch.
For the Winnebago Supreme Court's full decision in the case, click here.
Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas (LANWT) and the Texas Legal Services Center have formed a partnership to coordinate the delivery of legal services to elderly or disabled victims of abuse, neglect, or exploitation residing in Texas facilities. Under Texas law, a "facility" is a nursing home, adult daycare center, intermediate care facility for mental retardation, or other similar places. People transitioning in or out of these facilities would also qualify for services.
The partnership would utilize private volunteer attorneys to provide the services, and the two organizations would provide a variety of support services including initial review of potential cases, training, evidence gathering, and legal analysis.
Jessie L. Gaines, LANWT's Chief Executive Officer said, "Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas is committed to working with other providers in our community to enhance the availability of legal services for our client community. We believe this cooperative partnership with Texas Legal Services Center will expand the number of people served in our community. We look forward to working with other providers in this unique manner."
To learn more about Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, click here.
Legal Aid Of Western Missouri Welcomes Historic Civil Rights Activists To 9th Annual Justice For All Luncheon
Press Release, Legal Aid of Western Missouri - May 18, 2007
Elizabeth Eckford, who made history fifty years ago as a member of the Little Rock Nine, the nine African-American students who desegregated Little Rock, AR Central High School in 1957, will speak at Legal Aid of Western Missouri's (LAWMO) Ninth Annual Justice for All Luncheon on Thursday, June 21, 2007. Ms. Eckford will be joined by fellow classmate, Ken Reinhardt, one of the few white students to treat the black students with grace and respect following the integration.
Fifty years ago, on the morning of September 23, 1957, Little Rock, AR became a battleground in the struggle for civil rights and photographer Will Counts' image (shown) of 15-year-old Eckford, walking alone through a screaming mob in front of Central High School, propelled the crisis into the nation's living rooms and brought international attention to Little Rock.
The event will be held at the Muehlebach Tower at the Kansas City Marriott Downtown. The luncheon begins at 12:00 PM following a private reception at 11:00 AM.
For more information, click here.
On May 8, the State Bar of Wisconsin's Board of Governors approved all 12 recommendations from the recently-released report of the state bar's Access to Justice Study Committee, "Bridging the Justice Gap: Wisconsin's Unmet Legal Needs."
The report found that 80 percent of poor households--more than 500,000 Wisconsinites--are forced to confront legal problems without the help of a lawyer. The report contained 12 recommendations for how various state actors can begin addressing the problem, including:
- The state supreme court, in cooperation with the governor, legislature, and state bar, should establish a permanent access to justice commission to supervise the long-term effort to increase funding;
- The state legislature should provide enough state funding to ensure that legal services are provided to clients being turned away simply due to lack of resources;
- The state legislature should fund self-help centers connected to every courthouse in the state.
Various committees of the state bar will now meet to begin discussing how to properly implement these recommendations.
Wisconsin's legal needs study was released on March 9, 2007. See the LSC Updates article "Wisconsin's Justice Gap" from March 29.
For more information, click here.
Legal aid is about helping ordinary people with real-life problems. Client stories from the field illustrate the day-to-day struggles--and victories--of poor Americans seeking justice under law.
LARC Reverses Eviction for Woman Threatened by Property Manager
Her property manager threatened to kill her. She notified the landlord. And for this, "Jamie" faced eviction.
One afternoon this past December, Jamie answered a pounding at her apartment door to find her property manager in a fit of rage. "If you and your husband don't stop running up and down the stairs, I swear I'll kill you!" he screamed.
Jamie was shocked and confused. Her husband was away at work. She was alone in her apartment, reading her newspaper, when the property manager delivered his threat. She notified her landlord immediately, who dismissed her concerns. Jamie then notified the police, who informed her that a threat from this individual was not to be taken lightly. They promised to discuss it with her landlord and property manager.
While this was happening, Jamie fell a few days behind on the rent, which she had done before with no repercussions. On this occasion, after being visited by the police, Jamie's landlord threatened to evict her if he did not receive the full rent in a few days. Jamie paid the rent in the time allotted, but was evicted anyway.
It was then that Jamie decided she needed legal help, and went to New Hampshire's Legal Advice and Referral Center (LARC). LARC collected all of Jamie's documents, prepared a synopsis of her issues and possible defenses, and referred her case to the Pro Bono Referral Program for direct representation. Fortunately, Jamie was assigned a pro bono attorney just two hours before her eviction hearing.
At the hearing, Jamie's attorney explained that the eviction was unwarranted, as the rent had been paid within the specified time-period. The judge agreed, the case was dismissed, and Jamie was able to return home.
After the hearing, Jamie expressed her gratitude to everyone that had helped her, saying, "The job you do is so important to so many people. I really hope you and your family are proud of how well you do it."
For more information about the Legal Advice and Referral Center, click here.