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Archive for the ‘Pro Bono’ Category

Ask a Lawyer in the Library: Wrap-up for April

Posted by Joan Bellistri on April 25, 2018

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Susan Mays, Dana Paul, Katelyn Maloney, Carole Brown, Brian Lyman, Cliff O’Connor, Frank Lozupone, Mike Ragland, and Jack Paltell were the Lawyers in the Library for April. The program was held each Wednesday in the Anne Arundel County Public Law Library and at the Glen Burnie Regional Library on the third Wednesday and at the Eastport Annapolis Neck Community Library on the last Tuesday.

These volunteer attorneys provided 14 hours of free legal advice to 25 people on issues such as wills, contracts, landlord/tenant, foreclosure and employment.

The Ask a Lawyer In the Library program is a civil, non-family law, self-help program sponsored by The Anne Arundel Bar Association and the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service. Every Wednesday, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., you can talk with a volunteer attorney for at least 20 minutes. No appointment is necessary, but sign-up is required in the library. Sign-up begins 15 minutes before the program start time. Time slots are determined by a lottery. In addition to the weekly program, the Ask A Lawyer In The Library program is held monthly at two Anne Arundel County Public Library branches: Glen Burnie Regional Library on the 3rd Wednesday and Eastport-Annapolis Neck Community Library on the last Tuesday. For more information, please see http://circuitcourt.org/legal-help/lawyer-in-the-library.

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Thanks and Farewell to Lawyer in the Library: Mike Valadez

Posted by Joan Bellistri on April 24, 2018

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Mike Valadez

Mike Valadez has been with the Lawyer in the Library program since the beginning.  Mike has been the Lawyer in the Library on the second Wednesday of the odd months since 2010.  He has consistently been in the running for the lawyer with the most hours each year.  His easygoing personality was much appreciated by those he helped.  So we are really sorry that he is “retiring” from the program but understand. He will be missed. When Mike broke the news to me the other day and I mentioned all he had helped, he added that he learned so much about people talking to those who needed his legal advice. We wish Mike the best and look forward to seeing him in the law library.

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Celebrating National Library Week: The 21st Century Library

Posted by Joan Bellistri on April 10, 2018

Why libraries? Why law libraries?

The age of Google and smartphones may seem to put all the world’s knowledge at our fingertips, but the reality is that we still need trained professionals to curate all that information, contextualize it and point us toward new sources an algorithm might miss. There is a serendipity in browsing the stacks of a library that the Internet has yet to replicate.

This from a Baltimore Sun editorial published last October that I clipped and saved : The 21st-century library .  It included a description of how libraries “are an indispensable font of information and support that enables them to meet life’s everyday challenges” and that “it’s not a stretch for them to see their mandates broadly and to seek to help those who come through their doors however they can.

This editorial was in reference to how the Pratt Library in Baltimore City would be making social workers available at neighborhood libraries.  I couldn’t help but compare the program to our Ask a Lawyer in the Library program offered in the courthouse and public library branches.

Law libraries long thought to be the province of lawyers and judges are now also the spot where anyone in need of legal information or referrals can find what they need to assist in solving legal issues.  As a result, public law libraries must find ways to meet the needs of these varied user groups. We are meeting those needs, through existing traditional resources still needed for lawyers and the court; and those resources created for the non-attorney.  We are lucky to have the Maryland People’s Law Library available.  We have also created FAQ pages available on the library’s Pro Bono and Self-Help Wiki. Librarians provide assistance to the non-attorney, too, by explaining legal research and the traditional sources of law. The law library has increased its digital resources and as a result, provides online assistance to attorneys and non-attorneys alike. The court law library is ever-changing as it adapts to changes in legal information and the users of that information, making it relevant as a 21st century library. The AACPLL is a 21st Century Library:

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Ask A Lawyer Wrap-Up 2018

Posted by Joan Bellistri on April 5, 2018

 

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Attorneys provided assistance with issues such as landlord/tenant, wills, power of attorney, judgments, reals estate and contracts.

The Ask a Lawyer In the Library program is a civil, non-family law, self-help program sponsored by The Anne Arundel Bar Association and the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service. Every Wednesday, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., you can talk with a volunteer attorney for up to 20 minutes. No appointment is necessary, but sign-up is required at the law library’s information desk. Sign-up begins at 10:45 a.m., and time slots are determined by a lottery. In addition to the weekly program, the Ask A Lawyer In The Library program is held monthly at two Anne Arundel County Public Library branches: Glen Burnie Regional Library on the 3rd Wednesday and Eastport-Annapolis Neck Community Library on the last Tuesday. For more information, please see http://circuitcourt.org/legal-help/lawyer-in-the-library.

 

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Recognizing Anne Arundel County Pro Bono Volunteers!

Posted by Joan Bellistri on March 20, 2018

The Law Library hosted the 7th Annual Pro Bono Recognition Lunch on Thursday, March 8, 2018. This event recognizes and celebrates the attorneys who provide pro bono legal service in Anne Arundel County. Joan Bellistri, Law Librarian and Liaison, Court of Appeals’ Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services, and the Hon. Ronald Silkworth, Circuit Court Judicial member of the Anne Arundel Local Pro Bono Committee, provided opening introductions. Judge Silkworth emphasized the importance of pro bono and or reporting the hours each year.  Joan Bellistri mentioned that the Local Pro Bono Committee has an “APP” or Pro Bono Hours Tracker to help attorneys keep track of their pro bono work.  Administrative Judge, Hon. Laura Kiessling, thanked the volunteers for their service and introduced special guest, Judge Clayton Greene, Jr. of the Maryland Court of Appeals. Judge Greene’s remarks were thought provoking as he addressed the need for legal representation for those who cannot afford it and  thanked those pro bono attorneys in attendance for their service.

Those being honored included Court Facilitators and attorney volunteers from the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service, the Law Library’s Ask a Lawyer in the Library program and Foreclosure Clinic and the annual Anne Arundel County Homeless Resource Day.

Check out our Program 2018  to see the full list of volunteer attorneys and facilitators.

We had a great turnout for the event, and we would like to thank the following judges and magistrates from the Court of Appeals, Court of Special Appeals and the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County for joining us.

J. Greene

  • Hon. Clayton Greene, Jr.                          
  • Hon. Timothy E. Meredith                           
  • Hon. Laura S. Kiessling
  • Hon. Alison L. Asti
  • Hon. Mark Crooks
  • Hon. Glenn L. Klavans
  • Hon. Stacy W. McCormack
  • Hon. William C Mulford, II
  • Hon. Ronald A. Silkworth
  • Hon. Michael Wachs
  • Hon. Cathleen M. Vitale
  • Hon. Sandra F. Howell
  • Hon. Charles J. Muskin
  • Hon. Timothy P. Thurtle

Attendees were honored, too,  having AABA President, Steve Wrobel and AABA Executive Director, Fran Czjaka representing the bar association. Also, we would like to thank Nancy Faulkner from Court Administration; and Kim Klein, Liz Stephens and Sarah Adams from Case Management for attending the Recognition Lunch. It was great to see Bonnie Sullivan, Susan Francis and Amy Hennen from Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service. MVLS’ support of Anne Arundel County programs is much appreciated as well as the great photos that Bonnie took of the event.. Special recognition and thanks must also be given to the Maryland Judiciary’s Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office, the Anne Arundel Bar Association and the James C. Cawood Inns of Court for funding the lunch provided by Main and Market.

Last, but not least, thank you to the Anne Arundel Local Pro Bono Committee for its leadership in providing pro bono service to Anne Arundel County!  Chair, Tasnima Apol, Joan Bellistri, Anita Bailey, Nancy Faulkner, Kim Klein, Lisa Sarro,and Hon. Ronald Silkworth, all members of the committee, were present at the event.

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Pro Bono Celebration: Lawyer in the Library

Posted by Joan Bellistri on November 13, 2017

Like every month, the Lawyer in the Library program was offered in the Anne Arundel County Public Library and in two branches of the Anne Arundel County Public Library. This month 10 attorneys provided almost 19 hours to help 31 clients with issues such as garnishment, foreclosure, contracts and real estate.

The Ask A Lawyer In The Library program is a civil, non-family law, self-help program sponsored by The Anne Arundel Bar Association and the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service. Every Wednesday, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., you can talk with a volunteer attorney for up to 20 minutes. No appointment is necessary, but sign-up is required at the law library’s information desk. Sign-up begins at 10:45 a.m., and time slots are determined by a lottery.  On the 3rd Wednesday of the month the MVLS Brief Limited Advice Foreclosure Clinic is hosted by the library.  Participants are encouraged to register for the clinic by calling 410-547-6537, but pre-registration is not required. The Ask a Lawyer program is also held monthly in the evening at two Anne Arundel County Public Library locations – at the Glen Burnie Regional Library on the 3rd Wednesday of the month and at the  Eastport-Annapolis Neck Community Library on the last Tuesday of the month. For more information, please see http://circuitcourt.org/legal-help/lawyer-in-the-library.

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Pro Bono Celebration: Homeless Resource Day

Posted by Joan Bellistri on November 10, 2017

CPB SmallerThe Anne Arundel County Pro Bono Celebration ended with the county’s Annual Homeless Resource Day on October 28, 2017 where those who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless can access benefits, medical care, substance use resources and mental health counseling as well as a variety of social services which can ultimately lead to housing and self-sufficiency.  This year 384 guests were served with an array of service provided by 61 different organizations

Legal services were provided volunteer attorneys, Legal Aid, Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS), and the Homeless Persons Representation Project (HPRP).

The pro bono attorneys were Ginina Stevenson, Myriem Seabron, Eric Crowder, Nickola Sybblis, and Patrice Clark of Iliff, Meredith, Wildberger & Brennan.  Jonathan Church of the Office the State’s Attorney was also on hand to help wherever needed.  And again this year, there was a large contingent of attorneys from the Annapolis Office of Legal Aid: Margaret Leonard, Amy Seigel, Kathleen Hughes, Anita Bailey and Lisa Sarro with Tammy Watts, paralegal.

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As always, the number one issue was expungement.  This year Amy Petkovsek and Bobbie Steyer brought Legal Aid’s portable expungement clinic.  Thirty six guests were assisted with expungement.

With the changes to the expungement law on October 1, we are especially grateful for access to the MVLS webinar on expungment presented by Matthew Stubenberg.

Laurie Culkin and Maxine Roberts at the MVLS table were able to provide guests with information about MVLS services and had 8 family law intakes for representation.

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Swapna Veluri of HPRP with volunteer attorneys Jeremy Anderson, Martha Voorhees and Kate Bunker were on hand to provide assistance to veterans.  This year there were only 17 guests who were veterans.

Legal services are coordinated by the Anne Arundel County Local Pro Bono Committee with member Joan Bellistri, Director of the Anne Arundel County Public Law Library.

To see the full legal statistics, check out the wiki page.

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Pro Bono Celebration: Free Legal Fair and Expungement Clinic

Posted by Joan Bellistri on November 9, 2017

CPB SmallerOn October 14, 2017 the Anne Arundel County Local Pro Bono Committee partnered with Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Rho Eta Zeta Chapter and the Anne Arundel County NAACP for a Free Legal Fair and Expungement Clinic at the Boys and Girls Club at Freetown Village.  Ginina Stevenson coordinated the event and also provided legal assistance.  Other pro bono attorneys included Margaret Leonard, Amber Perrelli, Anita Bailey and Lisa Sarro, all of Legal Aid; Nickola Sybblis; and Shawn Gaither of the Public Defender’s Office.

Thirteen people were helped with legal issues including expungement (the #1 question), family law, criminal and housing.  It was a bit challenging once it was discovered that the Maryland Judiciary’s Casesearch was out for the weekend making it so attorneys could not review criminal records online.  Legal Aid was able to provide intake so that the cases could be reviewed later in the office and the clients advised then.

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Celebrate Pro Bono: Free Legal Fair and Expungement Clinic

Posted by Joan Bellistri on October 13, 2017

CPB SmallerA Free Legal Fair and Expungement Clinic will be held Saturday, October 14, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Boys and Girls Club at Freetown Village. (7820 Darrell Henry, Pasadena, Maryland 21122) The Fair will be held in partnership with AACO NAACP and the AACO Local Pro Bono Committee. It is a Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. – Rho Eta Zeta Chapter Event.

More information on expungement can be found on the library’s expungment wiki page. Here you can find links to the law, information pages and even videos. There are listings of other expungement clinics held in the area as well.

 

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National Pro Bono Celebration has begun

Posted by Joan Bellistri on October 10, 2017

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Maryland and Anne Arundel County have expanded the week-long celebration to the whole month of October.  On Wednesday, October 4, 2017, the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service held its Annual Awards Ceremony.  So nice to be in the room with so many who donate their time to help those in need of legal assistance.  The words of Chief Judge Barbera were inspiring as she highlighted the good that pro bono work provides to those in danger of losing their home or seeing their children.  Tom Mulinazzi whose firm, the Mulinazzi Law Office, was awarded the Law Firm of the Year for pro bono, put it nicely by saying that pro bono work is “an opportunity to be a hero.”

The next night, Thursday, October 5, the Anne Arundel Bar Association President’s Pro Bono Award was presented at the joint dinner of the James C. Cawood, Jr. Inns of Court and the AABA.  Steve Wrobel, AABA President, presented the award with Tasnima Apol, Chair of the Anne Arundel County Pro Bono Committee to Carole Brown, an attorney in a solo practice.  Carole’s nomination read as follows.

Since 2014, Carole has generously donated her time to take pro bono cases to represent numerous victims of domestic violence for the YWCA of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. Carole greets every client with a smile and is kind, compassionate, and caring. Clients feel at ease and are comfortable with Carole’s easy manner. Whenever asked to help, Carole enthusiastically accepts difficult cases in which parties take extreme positions and emotions run high. Carole sets the example in Anne Arundel County of a zealous advocate who is committed to her clients’ best interests.

In addition, Carole has been a flexible volunteer for all of the Lawyer in the Library programs whether in the courthouse, Eastport or Glen Burnie.  Congratulations and thank you to Carole!

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