The Annual Pro Bono Recognition lunch was held on Friday, January 17. It was the best turnout ever for the event with 45 attorneys, judges, and court staff filling the law library’s reading room. Attorneys who volunteer for the Lawyer in the Library programs and Homeless Resource Day as well as Court Facilitators and MVLS volunteers were honored for their pro bono service and provided lunch catered by the Main Ingredient.
All volunteers in attendance received a certificate thanking them for their service and the number of pro bono hours were also provided if an Ask a Lawyer volunteer.
The Local Pro Bono Committee was represented by Scott MacMullan, Michelle Moodispaw, Chris Poulsen, Anita Bailey, Lisa Sarro, Suzanne Vetter, Hon. Pamela North and Joanie Bellistri, Chair. New member, Lauren Wallace of the YWCA Domestic Violence Program made her first contact with the Committee at the lunch.
Hon. Ronald Silkworth, Hon. Paul Harris, Hon. Michael Wachs, Hon. William Mulford, Hon. Philip Caroom, Hon Pamela North, Hon. Paul Hackner were able to come to the lunch as well as masters Muskin, Thurtle and Gunning. In fact, all of the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court bench who were in court on Friday were there. It was especially nice that Anne Arundel County Appellate Court judges, Hon. Clayton Greene and Hon. Timothy Meredith, were able to come, too. Having a judicial presence and the words of appreciation by Judge Hackner, the new Administrative Judge; Judge Greene, the author of Clearing a Path to Justice, a report detailing the needs of self-represented litigants; and Judge North, the circuit court judicial committee member, will hopefully make a difference in encouraging the continued pro bono work by Anne Arundel attorneys. Judge Caroom announced a plan for solicitation of AABA member pro bono stories for publication in the Barrister.
It was great that Patty Stephenson, President of the Inns of Court, could attend. The Inns of Court through the coordination of Patty and Judge Silkworth has been helping to get the word on pro bono service out to their members through Chambers Chats and time from Inns of Court programs to mention pro bono.
Fran Czajka, Executive Director of the Anne Arundel Bar Association, represented the Bar Association. Doug Hofstedt and Nancy Faulkner of Court Administration and Kim Doan, Erin McCarthy, and Courtnee Hill-Jones of the Office Case Management and Julie Shenk of the law library provided a good court contingency.
It is an unfortunate fact that Anne Arundel County ranked last in the state for reporting 50 or more hours of pro bono service for the year reported in November of 2012. As of the November 2013 report Anne Arundel has moved back to fourth from the bottom. An improvement but not a great improvement. This fact brought about a number of conversations between the court and the bar at the lunch. It is hoped that those conversations will continue and that there will be success in changing the culture of the Anne Arundel Bar in regard to pro bono service.
The service of the following is appreciated by the court and especially by those who received legal assistance:
Ask A Lawyer and Homeless Resource Day
Allen J.Paltell Jr.
Michael J.Ragland Sr.
Court Facilitor and Foreclosure Programs
Allen J. Paltell Jr.
Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service
M. Clare Schuller
Allen J. Paltell Jr.