WHY WE DO IT
"Equal Justice Under Law" is a promise in our Consititution that must be kept in our courts.
Women need refuge from domestic violence.
Children need protection from abuse, exploitation and neglect.
Parents need to contend with the pain and problems of divorce.
Families need to fight unfair evictions and foreclosures.
People need a place to demand fair treatment from powerful institutions.
Our courts work hard to meet that need, but for millions of people, the cost and complexity of the courts put the help of the law out of reach...
Justice depends on having a fair chance to be heard, regardless of who you are, where you live, or how much money you have. At minimum, a person should be able to learn about their rights and give effective voice to them in a neutral and nondiscriminatory, formal or informal, process. That process should determine the facts, apply the rule of law, and enforce the result.
That is Access to Justice.
To learn more about the Justice Gap in America, click here...
To learn more about the Justice Index 2016, excerpted above, click here...
WHY IT MATTERS
Working poor - 73% of families served by Legal Aid in 2015 include at least one adult who is employed or worked prior to suffering a disability. Some have more than one source of income yet still remain eligible.
Children - 54% of all cases closed in 2015 served households with children in the home. 757 of these children live in homes where domestic abuse was or is present.
Women - 78% of clients served last year were women, many of them heads of household with children in the home.
Seniors - 24% of clients served last year were ages 50 and above - 2% above the CY2014 numbers - reflecting the region's changing demographics.
Families - Family law remains the largest practice area by far, with family law cases consituting 61% of the toal caseload for 2015. These cases reflect the basic needs for safety, security, and stability in the home.
Unmet Needs - Beyond the individual situations faced by our families - and each and every case is unique - there is also a flip side, sometimes many. Consider:
The costly challenges faced by the employer for missed work from violence-related injuries.
The escalating costs of healthcare as aging seniors move to care facilities because they can't access the services they need to live more cheaply at home.
The loss to businesses and localities alike from the spiraling debt faced by many of our families.
By no means least, the classrooms disrupted by children too emotionally scarred to learn.
All of society suffers when basic legal needs are
not met. Can we really afford NOT to do this
To help save people's homes...
Lisa had fallen behind on her mortgage payment due to a disability. She and her husband qualified for a HAMP modification and had sent in their application to the mortgage servicer several times, only to be told each time that it was missing documents that had already been submitted. Meanwhile struggling to make their mortgage payments to avoid a foreclosure...
Legal Aid assisted Lisa in completing and submitting the HAMP modification application, attaching a letter stating her history of attempting to get the application processed and requesting that the servicer do so this time. The application was processed and approved in less than a month, lowering her mortgage payment by $282.75 per month.
To support domestic violence victims and their children, and to stop the cycle of violence...
Maria was referred to Legal Aid by a local advocacy agency for assistance with a protective order and custody matters. There was an extensive history of domestic violence by her partner and the father of her child, who was age 6 when the case began. The father was a heavy drinker and extremely controlling. He would threaten her with knives and assault her. The child displayed a great deal of aggression towards his mother but also was horrified of his father.
Throughout this case, Legal Aid worked side-by-side with the court advocate, shelter workers and the client to ensure all needs were met. … Maria and her son (who lived in the domestic violence shelter for multiple months) now live a peaceful life in their own apartment. Just recently, the child was awarded for being his classes’ top reader and for good citizenship; the school has also commended him for being one of the best students in his grade. Maria is a true survivor.
To safeguard employment law protections for workers...
Bob contacted Legal Aid after he was terminated from his job as a retail store manager. He was denied unemployment benefits due to his former employer’s statements that he was discharged for violations of company rules.
Legal Aid appealed that decision, presenting evidence at the hearing that on the day he was terminated, Bob left work early because his severely special needs daughter required a trip to the emergency room and his wife could not load her into the van on her own. He tried calling his boss to advise him that he was leaving work early after receiving the call from his wife, but he repeatedly got a busy signal. He then left a message with a co-worker that he was leaving early due to a family emergency.
At the hearing, we were able to successfully argue that Bob was entitled to unemployment insurance benefits and that he did not engage in work-related misconduct.
To help tenants know their rights...