Archives

Blog

Nov 23

2021

Remembering Legal Services and Pro Bono Leader Mark Herzog

Legal Aid was saddened to learn of the passing of Mark Herzog, who died on November 13, 2021, after a year-long illness. Mark was a highly respected legal services and pro bono leader in our community, known for his steadfast commitment to furthering access to justice and providing counsel to individuals, families, and communities who cannot afford to pay for legal representation.

Mark spent his entire career working in the legal services and pro bono communities in D.C. and New York City. He joined the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center in 1994 where he worked for nearly two decades, primarily in the role of associate director. Mark was a visionary leader who effectively balanced strategic, big picture thinking with pragmatism and tenacity. He was a driving force behind numerous D.C. Bar task forces and committees that led to improvements, great and small, in access to justice and the administration of justice for people experiencing poverty. Read more →

Nov 10

2021

Beware of Fraudulent Medicare Calls

Each year, Legal Aid and its volunteers help more than one hundred people select a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan that will cover all of their prescriptions at an affordable cost, without restrictions. The open enrollment period takes place each year from October 15 through December 7. The value Legal Aid and its volunteer network contribute can make a critical difference in the lives of the clients we serve. In some cases, clients have saved thousands of dollars by switching plans when their current plan may not have continued to cover their medications in the following year. Having guidance while navigating this complex prescription drug program is important. Read more →

Oct 28

2021

Child Removal as an Abusive Mechanism

Threats such as “I’m going to get custody” or “I’ll get the children taken away from you” are a form of emotional abuse that our clients hear from abusive partners all too often. There are many reasons why a survivor may not report domestic violence or be able to leave an abusive relationship, and threats involving child removal make taking action even harder.

The child welfare system has a significant impact on children in the US. A 2017 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found “that, before their 18th birthday, more than one third of all US children (37.4%) are the subjects of investigated child maltreatment reports, and more than half of Black children (53.0%) are the subject of such investigations.” Read more →

Oct 26

2021

Spotlight–Survivor Anna Jones

This Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we honor our clients like Anna Jones, who has bravely shared her own story and given us a somber reminder about the many parents and children who have yet to reach safety. Hear more from Anna here:

Oct 25

2021

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status—An Option for Some Immigrant Child Survivors

When I met Dalia, she was as quiet as the grave. She had good reason to be withdrawn and mistrustful, hiding even her eyes behind her hair. When Dalia was a few months old, her mother fled from domestic violence in El Salvador to the United States, leaving her daughter behind with a substance-abusing father. After years of being passed around to distracted relatives, Dalia’s father was shot and killed by the police when a drug deal went awry.

Dalia became a street child, sleeping in a shed and gathering scrap metal. One day her mother finally managed to gather together the money to have Dalia transported by smugglers on the dangerous journey through Mexico to the Texas border. Like most children arriving in the US without a parent, Dalia was placed in a detention center (or “foster”) facility funded by the Department of Health and Human Services for about a month before being released to live with her mom here in DC. And like every other immigrant and refugee, Dalia has no right to a public defender for her pending deportation case. Kids like Dalia, no matter how young, must navigate a hostile and complex immigration system, in English, with whatever resources their guardians can spare. Organizations like Legal Aid can only meet a fraction of the need for free and affordable services to fill the gap. Read more →

Oct 21

2021

Reminder Not to Miss DC Pro Bono Week Events

Ready to learn more about local pro bono opportunities and kick off DC Pro Bono Week? Then you won’t want to miss this year’s Pro Bono Goes Local, a launch celebration on Friday, October 22, from 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m.

This launch event will begin with opening remarks from Chief Judge Blackburne-Rigsby from the D.C. Court of Appeals, and Chief Judge Josey-Herring from the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. We’ll share the many ways DC law firms are giving back through a pro bono initiative called DC Represents and conclude with a series of updates and recent developments in six different practice areas. You’ll get an inside view from local experts on current developments in civil justice and updates on the most urgent pro bono needs we are facing during this critical time in our community. Read more →

Oct 20

2021

Recent Law Changes Expand Protections for Survivors

On December 15, 2020, the D.C. Council passed the Intrafamily Offenses and Anti-Stalking Orders Amendment Act of 2020. The new law, which took effect on April 27 of this year, significantly expands protections for domestic violence survivors. Legal Aid is proud to be part of the group of advocates that drafted and supported these reforms.

A few of the many reforms in this bill are:

Read more →

Oct 19

2021

5 Common Signs of Financial Abuse

Many people who have never experienced domestic violence ask, “If someone’s being abused, why don’t they just leave?” The answer is abusers use very effective tactics to gain control and trap victims in a relationship. Survivors know “just leaving” usually takes both careful preparation and a support network, and the days right before and after leaving are the most physically dangerous. One common control tactic is financial abuse, which occurs in up to 99% of abusive relationships.

Although financial abuse is very common, it’s not as well-recognized as other forms of abuse like hitting, shoving, or verbal threats of harm. Financial abuse means controlling access to resources to make a victim isolated and dependent on their abuser for survival needs. Read more →

Oct 18

2021

Good Cause Waivers Can Help Protect DV Survivors with Child Support Cases

Many domestic violence survivors are forced to leave their homes with just a few belongings in order to escape an abuser and find safety for themselves and their children. This often results in a survivor being financially vulnerable and having to rely on public benefits to regain stability.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is cash assistance often used by survivors with children. If a domestic violence survivor has custody of their children–formally or informally, they may apply for TANF. If qualified, they receive monthly assistance. However, receipt of this money requires the survivor to give up their own right to request child support. Instead, the District has the power to pursue a child support case against the non-custodial parent to recoup TANF money provided for the care of children.

Read more →

Oct 15

2021

Legal Aid Supports Immigrants in filing for Civil Protection Orders

Immigrants filing for civil protective orders have a valid fear of exposing themselves and their families when seeking protection from abuse.

As we mentioned in a previous blog, domestic violence survivors who are undocumented immigrants experience additional fears when seeking help or when filing for a Civil Protection Order against their abusers. Immigrant survivors fear that seeking protection from abuse could lead to dire immigration consequences not only for themselves, but also for their abusers.
Read more →