Making Justice Real

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

Mar 17

2017

Why I — and Legal Aid — stand in solidarity with LSC

Before I joined Legal Aid, I was an AmeriCorps attorney with a Legal Services Corporation-funded organization in Ohio that provides legal services to low income Ohioans in 32 counties, including mid-sized cities, small towns and rural areas.

One of the first cases I handled there involved a young mother who had purchased a manufactured home and was renting the lot beneath it from the seller of her home. When I met my client, she was current in payments on her home, but at risk of eviction from her rental lot because part of her rent payment had been allocated to fees. As a practical matter, this meant that she would also lose her home – and all of the equity she had built – because she (like many manufactured home owners) could not afford the expense of moving it if her family was evicted from the lot. Read more →

Feb 28

2017

Legal Aid Announces 2017 Servant of Justice Honorees

The Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia is proud to announce that we will be honoring Vanita Gupta, formerly the Head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, and Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, at this year’s Servant of Justice Awards Dinner taking place on April 25th. Read more →

Feb 27

2017

Legal Aid Mourns the Passing of 2016 Servant of Justice Honoree Thomas S. Williamson, Jr.

Late last weWilliamson_Thomas_300 greyscaleek, Thomas S. Williamson, Jr., Senior Counsel at Covington & Burling LLP and 2016 Servant of Justice Honoree, passed away.

Tom had a truly extraordinary public interest and private law firm career. From 2012 to 2013, Tom held the office of President of the D.C. Bar. Tom also served on the board of the D.C. Bar Foundation, the D.C. Judicial Nominations Commission, and the D.C. Access to Justice Commission. Read more →

Feb 18

2017

Survivors of Domestic Violence Affected by Immigration Enforcement

March 1, 2017 update: Recently, the Washington Post published another article further illustrating the anxiety and uncertainty we are witnessing in our immigrant client population. The article describes the many ways that daily life for immigrants in the D.C. metropolitan area has been negatively impacted by the administration’s plans for more aggressive immigration enforcement. Immigrant parents fearing deportation and separation from their children, the Post reported, are seeking help with contingency planning “in numbers organizers haven’t seen before.”


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

2017

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 →