Attorneys from the Anne Arundel Bar Association and the Anne Arundel County Chapter of the Maryland Women’s Bar Association volunteered to provide free legal services to the county’s homeless (or those in danger of being homeless) on Saturday, March 27, 2010 at Glen Burnie High School for the 3rd Annual Anne Arundel County Homeless Resource Day. A variety of services ranging from doctor visits to hair cuts were offered. Clothing and food was distributed and lunch provided to all. This was the second year that legal services were offered thanks to the Anne Arundel County volunteer attorneys.
There were twelve attorneys representing a wide range of legal backgrounds. Bill Davis and Ginina Stevenson from the Public Defender’s Office with Anne Leitess of the Office of the State’s Attorney provided help with criminal issues. Anita Bailey director of the Anne Arundel County Legal Aid Office with Sarah Frush who heads Legal Aid’s new District Court Self Help Center and Lisa Sarro of Legal Aid’s Elder Law Program had the perfect background to deal with the variety of civil issues presented as they see clients with many of the same issues as those attending Homeless Day on a daily basis. Susan Wyckoff and Jessica Quincosa are family law attorneys. Jessica also has experience with immigration issues and speaks Spanish. Gloria Shelton, Kelly Kenney, and Jana Wiener of the WBA were able to cover a wide range of civil issues from consumer to employment. Dan Andrews, AABA Pro Bono Committee Co-Chair, was able to draw from his experience as an Anne Arundel County Prosecutor and with Maryland administrative law. I coordinated the event and provided back-up reference assistance to the attorneys.
Homeless Resource Day began at 8:30 a.m. and ended at 2:00 p.m. Participants were provided transportation from various points around the county. The morning proved to be the busiest with the number of visitors dropping after lunch. 30 of the 45 clients were seen before 12:15. We will be able to plan accordingly for next year so that we have more attorneys for the morning shift rather than the afternoon shift like we did this year.
Almost 1/3 of the questions concerned criminal matters and the bulk of those questions involved expungement of criminal records. The Maryland court form and brochure on expungement online were accessed and printed numerous times. Family issues of divorce, custody, and visitation comprised the second largest number of questions. Other issues for which assistance were sought included housing, motor vehicle insurance, employment, unemployment, estate taxes, disability, bankruptcy, debt relief, consumer, mortgages and veteran’s benefits.
All of the volunteer attorneys enjoyed the day and expressed a desire to participate next year. It was clear that those who took advantage of their services were truly appreciative.
More photos on Flickr