The 7th Annual Anne Arundel County Homeless Resource Day was held on March 29 at Annapolis High School.
There were 19 attorneys who provided legal advice to 88 participants who had questions about 95 legal issues. (For more detail see the Statistics page.) As expected the number one issue was how to expunge a criminal record. Three of the 35 who asked fit the criteria for filing and were able to complete expungement petitions that were mailed or filed with the courts on Monday. HPRP (Homeless Persons Representation Project) completed an expungement intake to follow-up on a more complicated case. Having Antonia Fasanelli, Executive Director of HPRP, and HPRP volunteer Mike Stone on hand for the day is really helpful to the volunteer attorneys assisting those with questions about their criminal records. This year HPRP was also able to provide intakes for two who had benefits questions.
The Maryland Lawyers Volunteer Service (MVLS) not only sponsored the Anne Arundel pro bono participation in the event but was also there in person to screen for those eligible for MVLS services. It was a great help to have Jessica Rich, Intake Paralegal, come with attorneys Joseph Franco, William Cooke and Cheri Wendt-Taczak.
Having attorneys from the Office of the Public Defender, William Cooke and Denis O’Connell, is helpful to those that need representation for current criminal cases. This year they performed 4 OPD intakes.
Every year there is a large contingent from the Anne Arundel County office of Maryland Legal Aid. This year Anita Bailey, Margaret Leonard, Lisa Sarro, Jessica Quincosa, Amy Siegel, and Kathy Hughes were able to assist with many of the issues faced by the homeless.
Of course, legal services could not be provided without the the pro bono attorneys who practice solo or in small firms: Tasnima Apol, Kari Fawcett, Kurt Roper, Andrew DiBlasio, Scott MacMullan, Gene Brennan, Ginina Stevenson, and Angela Tonello.
Legal services are coordinated by me, Joan Bellistri, Director of the Anne Arundel County Public Law Library and Chair of the Local Pro Bono Committee. As a law librarian I can provide backup reference and research services. Bringing a printer is also helpful when working with criminal record research for the expungement cases.
We can only hope that someday the need for this program will be eliminated. Until then the dedication of these volunteers is truly appreciated.