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lawlibrary Pro Bono Self Represented

Maryland Access to Justice Commission COVID-19 RESOURCE PAGE

The Maryland Access to Justice Commission is coordinating information among Maryland Legal Service providers and the courts. Their resource page states:

As a Marylander who may be facing a civil legal issue during this unprecedented time, you may have many questions about the status of your case because the courts have closed to the public or you may be confused about your rights.  The Maryland Access to Justice Commission, in partnership with the Maryland State Bar Association, has put together this COVID-19 Resource Page, pulling resources from a multitude of sources to make it easier for you to navigate the civil justice system during this time of emergency.  On this A2JC Resource Page, you will not only find links to different orders, but an explanation of what that could mean to you in non-legal language that you can understand. As the federal and state governments continue to take action on the behalf of U.S. and Maryland residents, we will continue to add helpful resources that will help you understand your rights under new COVID-related laws and post timely updates on court procedures impacted by COVID. 

The Maryland Bar Association has posted the answers to questions asked of the Judiciary here.

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lawlibrary Legal Technology

Blockchain and Pamela Ortiz–The New Trends in State Courts 2018 is Out!

Have you ever experienced a sinking feeling when the word Blockchain  comes up in a news report or a conversation–unsure exactly what it is, let alone what implications it might have for you? There’s an refreshingly clear analogy for Blockchain in an article by Di Graski and Paul Embley titled “When Might Blockchain Appear in Your Court?” featured in the new issue of Trends in State Courts 2018.

“Before paper ledgers, medieval Europeans used tally sticks to record transactions by notching a piece of wood with marks to signify the amount of a transaction, and then splitting the wood lengthwise, with each party taking half. Neither party could change the value by adding more notches because corresponding notches would be missing from the other party’s stick. No central authority was required to validate the transaction because the uniqueness of the stick’s natural wood grain ensured that only the two original pieces would align perfectly when reunited,” say Graski and Embrey.

Key here is the idea that the tally sticks require no central authority. The same goes for Blockchain which uses cryptography to achieve similar autonomy with no central data bank and no ledger-keeper. From this set-up emerge applications such as “smart contracts”, i.e. contracts which activate a remedy, such as a transfer of funds to the violated party, automatically in response to an embedded “If/Then” facility.

Hmn . . . On second thought, this explanation may not be as clear as I hoped. If that’s the case, please check out the Trends in State Courts 2018 in the periodicals section at the law library. Smart contracts are already on their way to a court near you.

Also . . .

Maryland’s own Pamela Cardullo Ortiz is the author of “Developing a Research Agenda for Access to Justice” also in the current issue of Trends. “What factors affect the quality of judicial decisions?” she asks, then proposes a response based on research from Harvard and Stanford, and design thinking techniques borrowed from technology industry start-ups. Broad-based teams, strategic data collection, and decisions grounded in social context are key to her recommendations.

Pamela is Director, Access to Justice Department, Maryland Administrative Office of the Courts. She is the recipient of the 2015 Benjamin L Cardin Distinguished Service Award. Yes, she’s that Pamela Ortiz who fronts the Pamela Ortiz Band that rocks Chestertown!

Trends in State Courts is a peer-reviewed journal, published once a year. You can access its monthly online edition here: http://www.ncsc.org/trends.

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lawlibrary Maryland Law Self Represented

Legal Self Help Videos for Maryland

movie cameraRepresenting yourself in a civil case or just interested in learning about the law and Maryland courts?

The Access to Justice Department of the Maryland Judiciary has created a library of videos for the self-represented: My Laws, My Courts, My Maryland: A video series for the self-represented.

Family Law videos include three videos on guardianship. The Getting Started videos cover topics such as how to find legal help, legal research, deciding to represent yourself and how to work with a lawyer.  A number of topics are covered under Law Topics including expungement, rent court, foreclosure and small claims. In Court Basics learn about filing fees, getting ready for court and interpreter services.

 

For every video there are:

  • Transcripts in English and Spanish
  • A printable tip sheet summarizing the video
  • Links to resources, fors, and court services

To see all the topics covered see the full listing of videos.

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lawlibrary Pro Bono Self Represented

Pro Bono Celebration: Lawyer in the Library

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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lawlibrary Pro Bono Self Represented

Celebrate Pro Bono: Free Legal Fair and Expungement Clinic

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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lawlibrary Pro Bono

National Pro Bono Celebration has begun

pro bono banner

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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lawlibrary

Worth a read: The Education Gap In The Law

The Education Gap In The Law We need to elevate the average person’s knowledge for preventative legal checkups, but how? (By MARY E. JUETTEN Sep 26, 2017 in the Above the Law Blog)

This post mentioned how small businesses most often start out without any kind of legal advice and how 86% of low income people in need of legal assistance go without. Another issue discussed is that “people need to know that they have a problem that requires legal expertise to research or consult appropriate resources.”  Solutions suggested included  be public service announcements or even referrals by banks or insurance agents.

I have another idea: LIBRARIES!  Libraries are considered as reliable and trusted sources of information. Both public law libraries and public libraries are sources of the basic legal information and referrals needed for access to justice. The Maryland People’s Law Library and the AACPLL’s FAQs are perfect examples of online information. Both the Maryland State Law Library and the AACPLL are open to the public.

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lawlibrary Pro Bono Self Represented

Ask a Lawyer In the Library – Wednesday (and Tuesday) Wrap-Up

On Tuesday evening, September 26, three attorneys were available in the Eastport Annapolis-Neck Community Library for the Lawyer in the Library Program to provide free Legal Advice. Carole Brown, John Lynch of McNamee Hosea, and Jerry Williams of Patel and Williams were the Lawyers in the Library. And on Wednesday Paul Farmer of Gormley Jarashow Bowman was the Lawyer in the Law Library.

 

Six people people took part in the program and were able to speak with the attorneys to request assistance with issues such as foreclosure, buying a house, understanding a settlement agreement, and appeal of an arbitration.

Do you know that legal help is available from the Maryland Courts Self Help Center from 8:30 am until 8:00 pm during the week, Monday through Friday? This is a virtual service via phone (410-260-1392) or online chat.

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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lawlibrary Pro Bono Self Represented

Ask a Lawyer In the Library – Wednesday Wrap-Up

On Wednesday, September 19, 2017, the law library offered three different brief legal advice programs.

crighton_chase_2017_02
Crighton Chase

Crighton Chase of Hillman, Brown and Darrow was the “lawyer in the law library” in the morning at the courthouse.  He was able to help three people with issues such as debt collection, custody (referred by the FLSHC), and discrimination.  One of  the clients was a Japanese speaker and we were able to use the Language Line as mentioned in a  previous post on language services. At the same time, we had the MVLS Foreclosure Brief Advice Clinic via videoconferencing via Google Hangouts.  A client facing a tax sale foreclosure was assisted by Ellyn Riedl, an MVLS staff attorney, who was in her office in Baltimore.

mvls-logoWhile the two programs were going on we got a request from the FLSHC for the ASL laptop so they could better assist a client who was hard of hearing.  I was able to use the service, too, when the client was referred to the library for help in locating examples of separation agreements.

In the evening the program traveled to the Glen Burnie Regional Library. Josh Tabor of the Law Office of Marla Zide with Cliff O’Connor and Katelyn Maloney of Holmes and O’Connor were the volunteer attorneys.  Issues for which help was provided included real estate, estate administration, power of attorney, and guardianship. Towards the end of the program a young woman stuck her head in the door.  She just wanted to say “thank you” for the help she had received before.  A nice way to end a long day of self-help services.

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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lawlibrary Self Represented

Webinars offered by the Maryland Courts Self-Help Center

As part of the Judiciary’s effort to provide more complete public access to justice, the Maryland Courts Self-Help Center is offering instructional Online Classes (Webinars) on the following topics:

  • Filing a Failure to Pay Rent Case?  (Next class will be on September 27, 2017 from 10 a.m.-10:30 a.m.)
  • Facing Eviction for Failure to Pay Rent? (Next class will be on September 27, 2017 from 10:45 a.m.-11:15 a.m.)
  • Filing for Absolute Divorce in Maryland (Next class will be on October 25, 2017 from 10 a.m.-11 a.m.)
  • Filing Your Case in the District Court of Maryland (One hour class is on demand.)

Register for classes here.