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The South Asian Bar Association of Washington D.C.

Pro Bono & Legal Aid: Events and Resources

Resource: Legal Aid of the District of Columbia (7/29/2017)

The Legal Aid Society of DC has several pro bono cases in need of representation as of late July.  Please contact Jodi Feldman, Managing Attorney, at jfeldman@legalaiddc.org or 202-661-5965 for more info.  Cases include:

HOUSING (Landlord and Tenant) CASES:

SINGLE MOTHER OF SIX WITH MANY HOUSING CONDITIONS IN HER UNIT NEEDS HELP DEFENDING AGAINST EVICTION CASE.  FURTHER INITIAL HEARING SET FOR JULY 31, BUT LEGAL AID CAN COVER THAT COURT DATE.  The tenant has a site-based Section 8 housing subsidy and lives with her one adult child and five minor children.  She got behind on rent because she is very tight on money right now and needs to pay for food for her family.  In addition, her adult daughter recently stopped working.  The landlord filed an eviction case against the tenant on the basis of alleged nonpayment of rent for two months. 

The landlord has failed to make necessary repairs/remedy conditions in the apartment.  Current conditions include:  an air-conditioner that keeps breaking; bathroom ceiling that was previously leaking and looks like it may cave in; mice and roach infestation; and other issues. 

Upcoming Court Date:  At the initial hearing, Legal Aid helped the tenant obtain a continuance and file an application for in forma pauperis status.  There is a further initial hearing set for July 31, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.  Responsive pleadings need to be filed on that date.  Legal Aid can cover that court date if needed. (X-17-50318)

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MOTHER NEEDS HELP DEFENDING AGAINST EVICTION CASE BASED ON ALLEGED IMPROPER DISPOSAL OF TRASH AND OVERDUE WATER BILL.  FURTHER INITIAL HEARING SET FOR JULY 27, BUT LEGAL AID CAN COVER THAT COURT DATE.  The tenant has a housing subsidy through the Housing Choice Voucher Program.  She lives with her husband and seven children, and was expecting a new baby with a due date of July 17.  The landlord has sued the tenant and her husband for eviction on the basis of alleged lease violations, consisting of (1) improper disposal of trash and (2) failing to stay current on water bills.  

This past January, the city’s garbage collectors broke the lid on one of the tenant’s trash bins.  A few weeks later, her second garbage bin was stolen.  She called the District Department of Transportation to request new bins but was told that she would have to pay to have the first bin repaired and to replace the second bin.  She told the landlord, but the landlord did not pay to have the first bin repaired and did not provide her with a second bin until May 2017.  Prior to receiving the replacement bin, her family’s trash exceeded the capacity of the first bin, causing her yard to become a mess.  The city fined the landlord for the extra trash.  The tenant has maintained a clean yard ever since she received the replacement bin in May.  

With regard to the second alleged lease violation, the tenant acknowledges that she is behind on her water bills but that she was stuck with a prior tenant’s overdue water bill when she moved in.  In addition, she worked out a payment plan with the water company, where she agreed to pay $199 in addition to her regular water charge each month to get caught up.  The landlord ended up paying the entire overdue amount.

Upcoming Court Date:  Legal Aid helped the tenant obtain a continuance at her further initial hearing on July 6, 2017.  There is another further initial hearing scheduled for July 27, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.  Responsive pleadings will need to be filed on that date.  Legal Aid can cover that court date if needed. (X-17-50130) 

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MOTHER OF SEVEN NEEDS HELP DEFENDING AGAINST EVICTION CASE WITH UPCOMING BENCH TRIAL.  BENCH TRIAL SCHEDULED FOR SEPTEMBER 8, 2017 The tenant has a housing subsidy through the Housing Choice Voucher Program and lives in a unit with her seven children.  Her landlord has sued her for eviction on the basis of alleged lease violations consisting of an unauthorized occupant, failing to pay the $100 deductible on each repair needed, leaving personal belongings in the common areas, and causing a trash pile up.  

The unauthorized occupant is the tenant’s fiancĂ©, who assists her with her children.  He has his own residence and can provide proof of residency.  The tenant is planning to pay the deductible for repairs.  With regard to the allegation about leaving belongings in the common areas, they were belongings that she was in the process of moving into her home.  And with regard to the allegation about the trash pile up, the tenant explained that the landlord previously failed to provide appropriate trash cans.  The parties appear to have resolved this issue after the landlord provided appropriate trash cans.  

There are a number of housing conditions in the unit that the landlord has failed to address, including crooked windows, plumbing problems, mold and mildew, and pests (mice, termites, spiders, and lizards). 

Upcoming Trial Date:  At the initial hearing on June 22, 2017, the parties (both unrepresented) attended mediation but were unable to resolve the dispute.  There was a bench trial originally set for July 19, 2017, but Legal Aid helped the client continue the trial date to September 8, 2017 at 10:30 a.m.  (X-17-50347)

SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY BENEFITS (SSDI/SSI) CASES:

FORMER RETAIL/CONSTRUCTION WORKER WITH HISTORY OF HOMELESSNESS AND SERIOUS HEALTH CONDITIONS NEEDS HELP SECURING DISABILITY BENEFITS. ADMINISTRATIVE HEARING LIKELY WILL BE SCHEDULED POSSIBLY IN LATE 2017/EARLY 2018. The claimant is 34 years old and can no longer work due to physical and mental health conditions.  He previously was employed on and off as a janitor, cashier, construction worker, cook, and waiter, but he has been unable to work since 2011 because of severe physical and mental health impairments.  He has been homeless on and off for several years.

The claimant's physical health conditions include: strabismus (crossed eyes) from being attacked by a dog when he was young, peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage), degenerative disc disease, and celiac disease. Claimant's physical impairments cause back and neck pain, leg paralysis, leg swelling, tunnel vision, eyes shaking, and trouble hearing.

The claimant also has been diagnosed with mental health conditions including: depression, anxiety, ADHD, and learning disabilities.  He has been institutionalized in psychiatric facilities on approximately 4 separate occasions. Due to his mental impairments, he has attempted suicide in the past; he also regularly wakes up screaming from nightmares, he avoids crowds, and he has trouble concentrating and maintaining focus.  He previously suffered from alcohol addiction, but he has been sober for over one year.

The claimant receives regular medical care for both his physical and mental health conditions.  Legal Aid has procured records from 9 different providers for claimant, including records from a psychiatric hospital.

Procedural Status: The claimant has applied for Social Security Disability Insurance/Supplemental Security Income (SSDI/SSI) benefits and has been denied at the initial and Request for Reconsideration levels.  He filed a timely Request for a Hearing by an Administrative Law Judge in January 2016.  It currently takes about 18-24 months for a hearing to be scheduled, so his hearing will probably take place in late 2017 or early 2018. (X-16-43821)

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Resource: DC's Children's Law Center (6/14/2017)

DC's Children's Law Center is currently in need of pro bono assistance for the following cases.  If you are interested in handling one of the following cases, please contact Jen Masi, Pro Bono Director, at jmasi@childrenslawcenter.org or (202) 467-4900 ext. 541 or Mollie Jackson, Pro Bono and Intake Assistant, at mjackson@childrenslawcenter.org or (202) 467-4900 ext. 586

  • Spanish Speaking Attorney for Special Education Case: To represent the caregiver of a six-year-old boy with a developmental delay who is struggling in school and can only count to twelve
  • Attorney Who Can Travel to North Carolina in Guardian ad Litem Case: To represent a six-year-old boy whose parents live in different jurisdictions (DC, North Carolina) and disagree about where he should live

You can find additional details regarding these cases below as well as in our available case list document here

Finally, we invite you to join our upcoming Lunch and Learn Teleconference regarding special education experts on July 13 and our next Courthouse Tour to learn more about family law practice on July 20.

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Resource: DC Court of Appeals Appellate Mediation Program

Only counseled civil, family and probate cases on appeal from the Superior Court, the Office of Administrative Hearings and D.C. administrative agencies, boards and commissions will be eligible for mediation.  Civil cases that will be excluded from the program are cases involving attorney licensing and the unauthorized practice of law, juvenile offenses, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, termination of parental rights, adoption and the guardianship of minors.

In those cases that are eligible for mediation, the appellant’s duty to order the transcript within 10 days for filing the notice of appeal will be stayed until notified by the court that the stay is lifted because the case is not appropriate for mediation or the case did not settle in mediation. 

Cases will be selected for mediation by Mediation Program staff.  Staff will review the appellate court file and may consult with counsel before deciding to schedule a case for mediation.

Participation in mediation in selected cases will be mandatory for all parties and counsel.  Counsel will be responsible for securing the participation of non-parties with settlement authority.  In appropriate cases, the Mediation Program Coordinator may excuse a party from participating in the mediation sessions in person. 

If a case is selected for mediation, staff will identify a mediator based upon the mediator’s expertise and the circumstances of the individual case.   Once staff has confirmed the mediator’s availability and the absence of any conflicts of interest, staff will issue a mediation order and send an electronic copy of the case file to the mediator. 

Counsel will be required to provide a Confidential Mediation Statement to the mediator and Mediation Program Coordinator within 15 days of the date of the order for mediation. 

The mediator will expected to conduct a pre-mediation phone call with counsel, individually or as a conference call, to discuss scheduling matters and to learn more about the nature of the dispute.  The initial mediation session should be scheduled within 30 days of the submission of the Confidential Mediation Statement and will be held at the Mediation Program offices at 510 4thSt. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001.  The mediator will have the flexibility to schedule subsequent sessions at another location.  The length of each session will be determined by the mediator. 

Once the mediation process has concluded, the participants will be asked to complete a quality assurance survey to provide information to staff about their satisfaction with the process.  The mediator will be required to complete a Mediator Report that will describe the outcome of the mediation and alert staff to any issues that need to be followed up. 

For more information about the Mediation Program, please contact the Mediation Program Coordinator, Scottie Reid, at 202-879-9936 or areid@dcappeals.gov


Resource: Practising Law Institute Webinar

Challenging Immigration Detention with Habeas Petitions – A Basic Overview

http://www.pli.edu/Content/Seminar/Challenging_Immigration_Detention_with_Habeas/_/N-4kZ1z10c7n?fromsearch=false&ID=311402

Topics addressed include: 

  • Nuts and bolts of filing a motion for temporary restraining order
  • Legal standard for TROs
  • Nuts and bolts for filing a petition for writ of habeas corpus
  • Common legal claims for habeas petitions      

Resource: Dulles Justice Coalition

The Dulles Justice Coalition is a nonpartisan alliance of legal non-profits, law firms and private individuals, working to assist detainees at Dulles Airport as a result of the recent executive actions on immigration.

The Coalition has volunteer opportunities ranging from online to on the ground at Dulles, and tasks suitable for attorneys and non-attorneys ranging from greeting travelers, managing data entry, drafting talking points and press releases, to legal research. 

If you can help out, fill out the volunteer form and indicate your availability for morning, afternoon, evening, or night and preference for weekend or weekday(s) that work for you.  Please mention “SABA-DC” at the end of the form.  The Coalition will respond to you with an assignment and details.  https://www.dullesjustice.org/


SABA-DC 

Our goal is to address the needs and concerns of the South Asian American legal community in Washington, D.C., while providing our members with the knowledge and support necessary to reach their personal and professional goals.


You can find us here:

South Asian Bar Association of Washington, D.C.

P.O. Box 65349
Washington, D.C. 20035


Contact us:     

sabadccommunications@gmail.com

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