Archives

Written by Adam Jacobs

May 12

2020

Looking Beyond Outcomes: The Benefits of Enhancing Procedural Fairness Through Legal Representation

During this COVID-19 social isolation period, a vague routine at home has slowly emerged. I wake up before the rest of my family, make breakfast, and get the coffee started. Then I take a few moments to stare at what would normally be a bustling street full of morning commuters. The quiet emptiness of the sidewalks is startling and haunting. It is a daily visual reminder of the new world we suddenly find ourselves in. Inevitably, my mind shifts to the latest alarm bells in the news – the increasingly scary statistics, the waves of tragic stories, the frustration, the anger, the fear.

But finally (perhaps after the coffee has kicked in), I feel overwhelmed by gratitude, and a renewed appreciation that anything and everything could change in the blink of an eye. And in those moments, I find myself feeling thankful for my career – that I have spent most of it representing low-income folks who could otherwise not afford a lawyer. Read more →

May 08

2020

Potential Pool of Qualified Candidates for D.C. Judgeships Grows

On the very last day before Legal Aid switched to teleworking due to the COVID-19 crisis, we learned that the D.C. Judicial Nomination Commission amended its proposed rules to enlarge the pool of qualified candidates for D.C. judgeships in response to Legal Aid’s comments.

D.C. judges are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. By statute, an applicant must have been a D.C. resident for the 90 days preceding the nomination. It makes sense that D.C. judges should be D.C. residents: judges should be subject to the same laws that they interpret and apply to others. Yet requiring applicants to reside in D.C. before the President nominates them is not necessarily good policy. Many Maryland and Virginia residents have devoted their careers to practicing law in D.C. and would be among the best-qualified candidates to become D.C. judges. Read more →

May 08

2020

Recipes from a Socially-Distanced Kitchen

In this time of uncertainty, we have found ourselves living a “new normal”. However, in the midst of everyday challenges and changes, one thing is certain to remain the same: we have to eat!

For over 20 years, Legal Aid has had a strong social connection with food—specifically, a highly anticipated weekly tradition: Friday Treats. Every Friday morning, staff members gather together in the break room to enjoy delicious sweet and savory breakfast items brought in our coworkers. Friday Treats offers the opportunity for staff to mingle across units and learn more about one another on a personal level.

Read more →

May 07

2020

May Day Gains New Meaning in the Time of Coronavirus

Last Friday, we observed what has come to be known as “May Day.” On May 1, 1886, workers and labor activists in Chicago convened for a general strike in favor of the 8-hour work day. What began as a peaceful rally turned explosive when police shot into the crowd killing four people. This event, later dubbed the Haymarket Affair, paved the way for decades of labor action, leading to the 8-hour work day and other employee protections worldwide. To commemorate this struggle, many countries have instituted International Workers Day (also known as May Day) as a holiday. Read more →

May 01

2020

Recipes from a Socially-Distanced Kitchen

In this time of uncertainty, we have found ourselves living a “new normal”. However, in the midst of everyday challenges and changes, one thing is certain to remain the same: we have to eat!

For over 20 years, Legal Aid has had a strong social connection with food—specifically, a highly anticipated weekly tradition: Friday Treats. Every Friday morning, staff members gather together in the break room to enjoy delicious sweet and savory breakfast items brought in our coworkers. Friday Treats offers the opportunity for staff to mingle across units and learn more about one another on a personal level.

Read more →

Apr 29

2020

Obtaining Emergency Custody Relief in a Post-COVID-19 World

With schools closed and substantial changes to daily life ensuing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals navigating custody and visitation disputes have found themselves in uncharted territory. These changes, combined with D.C. Superior Court’s suspension of many of its Family Court operations as a result of the pandemic, have led to uncertainty about the legal options available for those involved in family law matters.

Recently, Legal Aid intervened in one such situation. Francesca Martin,* a D.C. resident and mother of two, called Legal Aid for help when the father of her children, Lyle Patterson,* refused to return the kids to her after they visited him at his home outside of the District of Columbia. Read more →

Apr 27

2020

Securing Emergency Housing Repairs During COVID-19 Crisis

COVID-19 has brought many unexpected changes to everyone’s life. For those of us lucky enough to work from home, we have found ourselves without commutes, adhering to a very relaxed dress code, and suddenly figuring out printer issues all on our own. For those of us with young kids, we have also found a new appreciation for daycare.

For some, though, COVID-19 has brought more daunting changes. Our client, Ms. Jefferson (name changed to protect her identity), found herself without access to a bathtub or shower, a toilet, a stove, an oven, a refrigerator, or a kitchen sink. For months, Ms. Jefferson had been bathing, using the bathroom, and cooking at the senior living facility where her grandmother lives. Essential aspects of her apartment have been non-operable since last summer. After Ms. Jefferson’s landlord ignored her many requests to make essential repairs, she resigned herself to the new status quo. That is, until COVID-19 prevented her from entering her grandmother’s senior living facility. Read more →

Apr 24

2020

Recipes from a Socially-Distanced Kitchen

In this time of uncertainty, we have found ourselves living a “new normal”. However, in the midst of everyday challenges and changes, one thing is certain to remain the same: we have to eat!

For over 20 years, Legal Aid has had a strong social connection with food—specifically, a highly anticipated weekly tradition: Friday Treats. Every Friday morning, staff members gather together in the break room to enjoy delicious sweet and savory breakfast items brought in our coworkers. Friday Treats offers the opportunity for staff to mingle across units and learn more about one another on a personal level.

Read more →

Apr 23

2020

Legal Aid Observes Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) is an annual movement aimed at raising awareness of and ending sexual assault. It is also a time to reflect on the people who experience sexual assault and harassment each day. Legal Aid stands with sexual assault survivors in our D.C. community, and everywhere. Read more →

Apr 21

2020

Book review of Race and Housing Policy: The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein

A few weeks before I joined Legal Aid, I received a copy of The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein. This thought-provoking book tells the story of how housing policy has entrenched racial segregation. I received it as a gift from the Washington Council of Lawyers as part of a training program on eviction defense.

Now, as the federal and District government face a wave of unemployment, and the surge in housing instability that will result without purposeful government action, The Color of Law takes on renewed importance. This book explains how government action weaponized the law to maintain racially segregated neighborhoods and led to generations of housing instability for many families of color. Read more →