Monthly Archives: November 2008

Migrant camp owner fined $24,000 over violations

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.”

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Wilhelm Joseph awarded 2008 “Denny” award

On Friday, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association awarded Legal Aid Executive Director Wilhelm Joseph (center) the 2008 Dennison Ray Award at this year’s annual conference in Washington. The award, given biennially, was presented by Legal Aid board president Warren Oliveri (right), who gave a brief recap of Legal Aid’s history since Joseph took over from the late Charles Dorsey in 1997. NLADA board president Jose Padilla is on the left.

Wilhelm Joseph, center "Denny" award

Wilhelm Joseph, center, is the recipient of this year

The “Denny” award honors persons who have provided at least five years of service to the legal services community in staff, client or volunteer capacities. Dennison Ray, who dedicated his professional life to equal justice for the poor, is the former director of the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, Legal Services of North Carolina, and other programs. Photo by Jane Ribadeneyra/NLADA.

Getting to school in Baltimore: A big hassle

WEAA-FM interviewed assistant director of advocacy Jessica Rae for a news feature about the difficulties Baltimore City students face getting to school. Not Present or Accounted For: The Attendance Crisis in Baltimore Schools also included interviews with several children in the Youth Achieving Potential program directed by Rae.

“What we find when we speak to the young people we work with, one of the biggest issues they’re worried about is education and access to school,” Jessica said in her interview. “When we talk about why they can’t get to school, they talk about buses driving past them, or not picking them up. They talk about what a hassle it is to get to school. They talk about being tired in school and unsuccessful, and obviously that’s a barrier that we would like to remove.”

Legal Aid hosts employment law training

The Employment Law 2008 training sponsored by Maryland Legal Aid was held earlier this week in Columbia, MD at the Eckert Center. More than 40 lawyers from across Maryland attended the all-day training focused on providing an overview of employment law for legal services advocates. Topics included employment discrimination law, wage and hour law, and the Family and Medical Leave Act. “The training also highlighted best practices from other legal services organizations on how to enhance service delivery and set up an employment-law friendly legal services office,” said Legal Aid training coordinator Yoanna Moisides.

Presenters who shared their expertise and time: Deborah T. Eisenberg (UM Law visiting professor); Daniel A. Katz, (Andalman & Flynn); Douglas W. Desmarais (Smith & Downey); Sharon Dietrich (Community Legal Services of Philadelphia); Kerry O’Brien (CASA de Maryland), and Legal Aid Interim Chief Counsel Peter Sabonis.

Legal Aid consumer law expert debuts Q&A column

Legal Aid Housing/Consumer Law Unit senior attorney Louise Carwell

Legal Aid Housing/Consumer Law Unit senior attorney Louise Carwell

Exhibit A, a new online newspaper produced by The Daily Record, is debuting a consumer Q&A column, Advice for the Credit-Wise Consumer, written by Legal Aid senior attorney Louise Carwell. In this month’s column, Carwell tackles credit cards.

This month’s Exhibit A also features an interview with Legal Aid Executive Director Wilhelm Joseph. Asked what problems Legal Aid faces, Joseph says, “Too many clients, not enough resources.”

Top court rejects Medicaid eligibility standard

Maryland’s highest court ruled today that Maryland’s health department used a too-strict standard in determining Medicaid eligibility for at-home health services—a victory for Legal Aid and AARP, which argued the case at the Court of Appeals.

“This is great news and  a victory for elderly and disabled people throughout the state of Maryland,” said Legal Aid senior attorney Mary Aquino, one of the attorneys who argued the case.

The decision vindicates the rights of people with dementia, who are low-income eligible and get health related services at home or in assisted living facilities, said Aquino, who represented 86-year-old Ida Brown, whose application was rejected from the Older Adults Waiver Program in 2005.

The decision could affect as many as 13,000 Marylanders who are either in the program or waiting for approval to apply.

“The court’s ruling is good for people like Mrs. Brown and her daughter, who was her caretaker for years,” said Bruce Vignery, a lawyer at the AARP Foundation Litigation, who also argued the case. “It’s great news for family members of people suffering from Alzheimer’s and older people in general.”

Brown suffers from Alzheimer’s, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, elevated cholesterol levels, hypertension, bilateral cataracts and a benign brain tumor. The state argued Brown did not require constant care from a licensed healthcare professional, its standard for admission to the program.

The Court of Appeals affirmed a decision last November by the Court of Special Appeals, which held that the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s standard was stricter than federal eligibility requirements for the program, which allows people 50 and over to get Medicaid coverage at home or in assisted-living facilities for long-term services that are normally only covered in nursing homes.

“Maryland cannot set a higher bar for eligibility under the Older Adults Waiver Program than is prescribed by the federal government,” Judge Mary Ellen Barbera wrote in the intermediate appeals court’s reported opinion last year.

Joseph DeMattos, director of AARP’s Maryland office, called the decision “a very encouraging sign. A lot of Marylanders have been suffering under these unfair standards.”

Wilhelm Joseph tapped for Denny award

Maryland Legal Aid executive director Wilhelm H. Joseph Jr. was interviewed by the National Legal Aid & Defender Assoc.

Maryland Legal Aid executive director Wilhelm H. Joseph Jr. was interviewed by the National Legal Aid & Defender Assoc.

Legal Aid Executive Director Wilhelm Joseph will receive this year’s Denison Ray Award at the National Legal Aid & Defender Association’s annual conference later this month in Washington. “You were nominated by the staff of the Legal Aid Bureau, which wrote eloquently of your work on behalf of equal justice,” wrote NLADA President Jo-Ann Wallace in a letter to Joseph. He will be honored November 21 at a special awards luncheon at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, the site of this year’s conference.

The “Denny” award honors persons who have provided at least five years of service to the legal services community in staff, client or volunteer capacities. Dennison Ray, who dedicated his professional life to equal justice for the poor, is the former director of the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, Legal Services of North Carolina, and other programs.