An article in today’s Dover Post revealed that more than $24,000 in civil penalties were levied against a Delaware farmer for migrant farmworker camp violations. The farm owner, quoted in the article, denied some of the charges, saying conditions were “fine,” and called other violations “nitpicking.” But one legal expert disagreed.
“The camps are quite old and have not been maintained,” said Maryland Legal Aid Farmworker Program supervising attorney Daniela Dwyer, quoted in the article. “They had far too many people in there than the space allowed.” Dwyer, who had visited the camps, also pointed out that the trailers and wooden clapboard houses had “holes in the wall, leaks in the ceilings and windows boarded up with thin pieces of pressed wood or cardboard.” She also noted that the common area “had three stoves and no main refrigerator; one family had to ask several times to be provided one. At least one of the stoves had a gas leak and the wiring in the kitchen didn’t seem to be professional.”
Legal Aid hosted an all-day training conference for lawyers on foreclosure Sept. 3 at the Charles Ecker Business Center in Columbia . The training presented an overview of basic foreclosure law and recent changes in foreclosure law, including a review of claims and defenses for effectively representing homeowners.
Presenters included Vicki Schultz, senior advisor for consumer protection at the Dept. of Labor, Licensing & Regulation; Peter Holland of the Holland Law Firm; Sally Scott, senior program officer at the Baltimore Neighborhood Collaborative; and Daniel Mosteller, litigation counsel at Center for Responsible Lending. Legal Aid presenters included staff attorney Kathleen Skullney of the Foreclosure Legal Assistance Project, senior attorneys Louise Carwell and Susan Tannenbaum, and staff attorney Jake Ouslander of the Southern Maryland office. There were 66 attendees representing almost every Legal Aid office and community partners, including other legal services organizations and volunteer attorneys.
Public Justice Center executive director John Nethercut said he appreciated that Legal Aid opened the conference to other legal services providers. “We learned a great deal about the nuts and bolts of foreclosure defense,” Nethercut said. “We also appreciated that Legal Aid placed the legal issues within the broader context of how the foreclosures crisis is affecting homeowners, tenants, and communities by bringing in presenters from the Baltimore nonprofit housing community, the DLLR, and the private bar. This training provides all of us valuable information as we consider a variety of strategies to address the foreclosure crisis.”
Foreclosure Legal Assistance Project attorney Kathleen Skullney was interviewed by WBAL- TV news anchor Kate Amara about the importance of legal help for homeowners in default or foreclosure. Skullney talked about the changes in Maryland foreclosure laws that give homeowners more time, notice and information to deal with foreclosure and more ways a lawyer can help. She told viewers that is why they should not delay in seeking help. “Open every letter you receive right away, no matter how painful,” Skullney said.
Foreclosure Legal Assistance Project staff attorney Kathleen Skullney