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 →
Late last week, 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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
Ever 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 →
Whatever else you want to say about it, 2016 has undoubtedly been an interesting year. For our client community, there have been some good developments, but also many developments that present new and even more daunting challenges. For our take on the election, please click here. You can also read more about our work over the past year in our 2016 Annual Report.
But, for purposes of this blog, I thought we would focus closer to home. As the year ends, please take a few moments to read about some of the things that happened at Legal Aid in 2016, highlighting some milestones, records, and accomplishments as individuals and as an organization. Read more →
Earlier this month, the D.C. Court of Appeals issued an opinion reaffirming the “touchstone standard” by which nearly all family law disputes – including naming disputes – involving children in the District of Columbia shall be governed: a gender neutral, best-interests-of-the child standard. The case, Melbourne v. Taylor, No. 14 FM 1324, involved the request of a biological mother to have her child’s last name changed to hers. The trial court denied the mother’s request. Relying on reasoning derived from a more than half-century-old case in another jurisdiction, it concluded, among other things, that changing the child’s last name from the father’s to the mother’s would likely further weaken the bond between child and father, which can be “tenuous at best.” Read more →
A week ago today, Americans learned the outcome of an historic election that will undoubtedly have enormous reverberations across the nation and the world. At Legal Aid, we understand that our supporters may hold a wide range of political views. But we also believe that all of us can agree on one thing: as a country and as a people, we are better than the divisive, uncivil, and sometimes intolerant rhetoric that has defined this election. Read more →