Making Justice Real

The Official Blog of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

Feb 18


Survivors of Domestic Violence Affected by Immigration Enforcement

Seeking help to escape domestic violence can be frightening.  For immigrant survivors trying also to navigate these uncertain times, the stakes are even higher.

Just this week U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in El Paso, Texas used one of the most vulnerable moments for a survivor—the act of seeking a court protection order—as an opportunity to arrest an undocumented immigrant at her abuser’s behest.  The survivor is a Mexican citizen who suffered significant abuse at the hands of her abuser.  Over the past few months, she had made several police reports, detailing incidents in which her abuser punched, choked and attempted to stab her.  She managed to find refuge in a domestic violence shelter and made her way to court with the help of a victim advocate.  Yet when she finally built up enough courage to seek legal protection, she was met by ICE agents waiting to escort her out of the courthouse.
Read more →

Feb 10


New DC Appellate Decision Clarifies Tenants’ Legal Rights

On January 20, the D.C. Court of Appeals issued its mandate in Smith v. Greenway Apartments, No. 15-CV-954, an important case Legal Aid had handled at the trial and appellate stages that clarifies when a tenant can make a claim against a landlord alleging housing code violations.

This appeal involved an eviction action alleging nonpayment of rent in January 2015.  The landlord’s latest complaint was just one in a series of eviction actions it had filed against Ms. Smith, without success.  One of those earlier actions alleged nonpayment of rent during two months in 2012 and was resolved through a consent judgment.  Another such action alleged nonpayment of rent during two months in 2013 and was resolved through a judgment by confession.  Ms. Smith, like the vast majority of tenants in D.C., did not have counsel in these earlier cases. Read more →

Feb 06


Article Highlights Exploitation of Tenants with Housing Vouchers

A recent article in the Washington City Paper highlights a growing problem in the District: landlords are exploiting city funds by renting apartments with unlawful housing conditions to low income individuals with government subsidized housing vouchers. In a city where the supply of decent, safe, and affordable housing is steadily disappearing, residents with housing vouchers are left with few choices. Landlords know this. They also know that if they rent to these often desperate individuals, they can get a steady stream of income each month from the government, without having to ensure that their apartments comply with the housing code. Read more →

Jan 26


Registration Open For 2016 Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll

Did you provide 50 hours or more of pro bono service in 2016?  If so, the District of Columbia Courts want to honor you for your contribution!

The Chief Judges of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, have announced that attorneys can now submit applications to be included on the 2016 Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll All lawyers who are authorized to perform pro bono work in the District and who completed at least 50 hours of pro bono service in 2016 are eligible for the Honor Roll.  Lawyers who completed 100 hours or more of pro bono work qualify for the High Honor Roll.  Participating attorneys are recognized on the D.C. Courts’ website and elsewhere. Read more →

Jan 25


Legal Aid Mourns the Loss of Long-Time Volunteer Attorney
Roger Langsdorf

RogerEver since its founding in 1932, Legal Aid has relied on volunteer attorneys to expand its reach.  Some take pro bono cases or help out on intake. A rare few come into our offices to work side by side with our paid staff to help make justice real for our clients. Read more →