Archive for September, 2011

Colorado State Lobbyist Convicted of Second Degree Burglary & Criminal Mischief

by Kristen Pavón

Ahh, it’s Friday, Friday and I have another gem for you courtesy of FindLaw’s Legally Weird blog.

Ronald Smith, a Colorado state lobbyist, faces 18 years in jail for burglarizing his ex-wife’s house. [Some background here: they were in the thick of a divorce and a custody battle.]

Here’s where it gets weird —

The jury found him responsible for placing raw chicken into the home’s vents, pouring bleach on her grand piano, and scratching the floors with metal cleats.

He put raw chicken in her vents?! Ew. Ew. Ew. Who does that?! Read more here.

Thankfully, he didn’t physically harm her. As a related FYI — October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Have a great and safe weekend, readers!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Leave a Comment

Access to Justice Issues Coming to a Head & a Broader Perspective

by Kristen Pavón

As if we needed more confirmation that there is an access to justice crisis in our nation, there seems to be more press coverage about the subject than ever.

I wonder if because the journalists are taking up the issue so vehemently (presumably because the public cares about the issue, or at least should care), will the lawmakers follow suit — will they hear us?

Today, this story ran in New York — For More and More Low-Income New Yorkers, Civil Legal Services Are Just Out of Reach.

Last week, out of Baltimore– At 100th anniversary, Md. Legal Aid seeing record caseload.

In Nebraska — More Nebraskans need legal aid services

In Phoenix — Lawyers say increased use of do-it-yourself legal services risky

From the New York Times– Legal Assistance in Civil Cases Under Growing Threat

From Center of Public Integrity — HUD cuts to devastate mortgage counseling agencies across nation

From HuffPost — Could More Public-Interest Lawyers in D.C. Help Prevent Domestic Tragedies?

You get my point. I only hope that some viable solutions are found created.

Looking more broadly, a similar public debate about the desperate need for legal aid funding and access-to-justice solutions is stirring in the U.K., Ireland, Lebanon, Laos and other countries.

Here are few of the recent headlines from around the world:

U.K. — Will legal aid changes limit access to justice?Legal aid threatened by coalition plans

Lebanon — Lack of state-funded legal aid hampers justice

Laos — Laos needs help developing legal aid

Ghana — Legal Aid Scheme urged to seek for further support

Tanzania — CJ identifies flaws in Constitution

Interesting.

So, here are a couple of questions I have… Can we look abroad for solutions to our access to justice crisis? How, if at all, does our access to justice crisis affect other countries’ justice issues?

Thoughts?

Comments (2)

Job o’ the Day: Serve the Underserved in Atlanta with The Georgia Law Center for the Homeless

The Georgia Law Center for the Homeless is looking for a staff attorney to join in providing legal services to Atlanta’s most vulnerable populations. GLC serves its clients in a holistic manner, helping them move toward self-sufficiency.

The staff attorney will represent clients in civil legal proceedings, primarily in family law, housing law and public benefits. Also, the attorney will conduct outreach to area shelters and homeless service providers.

If you’re a member of the Georgia bar, check out the complete listing at PSLawNet!

Leave a Comment

Public Interest News Bulletin – September 30, 2011

By: Steve Grumm

Happy Friday, dear readers, and greetings from the nation’s capital, where the First Lady is out and about with the regular people and those wiseacre rascals at the Onion have drawn the attention of Johnny Law.

This week in the public interest world: a Rainbow State legal services program merges with Appleseed; Cleveland Legal Aid Society gets a $ boost to help with an office move; the importance of maintaining government legal services funding here in DC; MLAB hits the century mark, and there’s no shortage of work; news about the new USAJobs site; training bilingual law students in proper legal translating/interpretation (great idea!); checking in with the Legal Services Corp.’s prez; AtJ in the Cornhusker State; a long-cherished UAW legal services programs is going the way of many other union benefits. 

  • 9.27.11 – right here in the District, UDC Law Professor Matthew Fraidin makes the case for local government funding of legal services.  Writing in the Huffington Post, Fraidin highlights a recent death of a woman who had sought, pro se, a protection order against the alleged killer.  Fraidin uses this tragedy to illustrate the invaluable role that public interest lawyers play in guiding DV victims through a highly complex legal system.  (He notes the benefits of representation for alleged DV perpetrators, as well.)  As DC’s local elected officials are forming the budget, Fraidin argues, they must appreciate the value and importance of funding legal services.”
  • 9.26.11 – the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau turns 100. Birthday present: tons and tons of clients. A Baltimore Sun article highlights the uptick in cases: Legal Aid, which employs about 150 lawyers around the state, has seen its annual caseload grow from less than 42,000 five years ago to nearly 70,000 in the fiscal year that ended in June.  The challenges faced by clients reflect the times. Unemployment insurance cases are up 150 percent in the last four years. Consumer collection cases — default on debt, Social Security attachments and the like — are up 30 percent.”
  • 9.26.11 – the new (and promised-to-be-improved) USAJobs website is set to launch officially on 10/13.  From the Government Executive website, some important details about the transition: “Agencies will have to close all open job announcements before Oct. 6, when the system will be made unavailable to all applicants. The downtime will allow agencies to move data to the new platform built by OPM and create a level playing field for job seekers and human resources staff. According to agency officials, the system could be back up and running as early as Oct. 11.”
    • “Create an independent body to make fiscal operations more efficient;
    • Focus on getting services to hard-to-reach communities;
    • Prove legal aid is different [than other federally funded programs that are threatened with funding cuts.  In particular: providing citizens with equal access to justice is in keeping with our Constitution’s fundamental tenets.]
    • Seek alternative revenue sources.”
  • 9.25.11 – AtJ news from the Cornhusker State.  The Grand Island Independent – hey, I spent a night there in a roadside motel while driving cross-country in my beloved 1991 Honda Civic – reports on a widening justice gap.  “More Nebraskans than ever have the need for free legal aid, but the available funds and number of attorneys willing to take on a pro-bono case are limited, said a group of Nebraska Bar Association executive committee members who were traveling the state last week talking about the cause…. State bar president-elect Warren Whitted noted that “of 25,000 qualifying applications [for legal services], about 10,000 were able to be served [because of resource shortages]. Most of those cases involved domestic matters, landlord/ tenant disputes, and social security questions.”
  • 9.24.11 – did you know that, for decades, free legal services were available to some GM autoworkers via their union contract?  Neither did I.  Does it surprise you that this benefit is going away as the UAW continues a fundamental restructuring of its relationship with American automakers?  Me neither.  The Detroit Free-Press reports that via a tentative labor deal, in 2014 a UAW-created legal aid program will come to an end: “The program, which operates separately from the UAW, employs about 200 attorneys and covers legal services, such as adopting a child, probate proceedings and real estate disputes.”  Similar programs for Ford and Chrysler workers could suffer the same fate.  

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Leave a Comment

Job o’ the Day: Work in Sunny Florida at the Middle District

The Middle District of Florida (located in Jacksonville, Florida) is looking for a judicial law clerk to research issues of law, draft briefs and opinions, attends trials and other court proceedings, and act as an law advisor to the Honorable Timothy J. Corrigan, United States District Judge.

Judge Corrigan hears all kinds of cases, civil and criminal, often involving novel issues of law.

If you’re looking for warm winters and are interested in a legal career in the government, check out the listing at PSLawNet!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Leave a Comment

Civil Rights Complaints at Record High at U.S. Department of Education

by Kristen Pavón

BET reports that civil rights complaints have reached an all-time high and the U.S. Department of Education is busy with investigations across the nation. Just last year, 7,000 complaints were filed with the DOE.

The types of complaints vary, including “failing to provide minority students with access to college- and career-track courses, not assigning ‘highly qualified teachers’ to minority districts, and disproportionately suspending minority students and placing them in special education courses.”

“America has been battling inequity in education for decades but these data show that we cannot let up,” said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “Children who need the most too often get the least. It’s a civil rights issue, an economic security issue and a moral issue.”

Last year the Office for Civil Rights was criticized by Education Secretary Arnie Duncan that they had not aggressively pursued Title 6 investigations to improve the quality of education for minority and poor students over the last ten years, and this year, the department is seeking to make up for their mistakes.

The DOE has also found that teachers in schools with higher minority enrollment get paid $2,500 less on average than their counterparts within their school districts.

This information came from the Civil Rights Data Collection research. Part I, released in June, focused on enrollment data. Part II, which will be released by the end of this year, will offer a closer look into district demographics and end-of-year data.

Part II will also gives us great insight into where we should be focusing our efforts to improve our schools, on a civil rights front. Data will include the number of students passing Algebra I, in-school suspensions, zero-tolerance expulsion, school-related arrests, harassment and bullying, data on school financing and expenditures, among other categories.

Read BET’s story here and the DOE’s press release on the Civil Rights Data Collection here.

Thoughts?

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Leave a Comment

New Wage Theft Law is a Huge Victory for San Francisco Workers

by Kristen Pavón

Earlier this month, San Francisco enacted stricter penalties for employers who violate minimum wage and overtime laws and illegally deny workers their due wages.

The unanimously approved wage theft law strengthens the city’s ability to investigate violations and increases wage protections. Investigators will be able to access payroll records, interview workers and inspect labor sites at any time during business hours. The ordinance also requires employers to inform workers of pending investigations, and increases penalties against employers who retaliate against workers who complain.

“This ordinance represents a huge victory for San Francisco workers in these hard economic times. Given current political divisions, it is remarkable to see such broad consensus and overwhelming support for low-wage workers . . .” said Shaw San Liu, lead organizer of the Chinese Progressive Association (CPA).

The San Francisco ordinance is one of many anti–wage theft measures recently passed throughout the nation. In the past two years, Texas, Washington, New York, Illinois, and Maryland have all passed legislation to crack down on wage theft. Localities ranging from Seattle, Washington, to Fayetteville, Arkansas, have also recently passed anti–wage theft measures.

The new law goes into effect in a couple of weeks. Read more here.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Leave a Comment

Older Posts »