Monthly Archives: December 2011

Bankruptcy: What You Need to Know in Maryland

Legal Aid has released a new brochure, “Bankruptcy: What You Need to Know in Maryland.” The brochure answers questions such as “What can bankruptcy do for me?” “Will bankruptcy wipe out all of my debts?” “How does bankruptcy affect co-signers?” “Are there any reasons I should not file bankruptcy?” and “Are there different types of bankruptcy cases?”

To download the brochure, click here: Bankruptcybrochure1211.

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More seek Legal Aid in hard times

From yesterday’s Washington Post: As Maryland Legal Aid celebrates its centennial this year, the national housing crisis, which has hit suburban Washington hard, is making the work it does even more vital.

At the same time, the agency, like similar organizations across the country, is grappling with funding cuts that make it harder to help the increasing number of people in need of assistance in civil cases.

For example, Prince George’s, the second-most-populous jurisdiction in the state, has endured more foreclosures than any other in Maryland. And the economic downturn has brought Legal Aid prospective clients that the organization would not have seen 10 years ago.

“I review a lot of the intakes, and we’re getting people from Potomac calling us,” [said Legal Aid supervising attorney Teresa Cooke]. “But these individuals are now actually financially eligible for our services.”

To read the article, click here.

Voice of America looks at right to counsel in civil legal cases

A Voice of America story about the right to counsel in civil legal cases–and the lack of that right in the U.S.–focused on Maryland Legal Aid clients.

From the article:

Each year, millions of non-criminal cases in the United States are heard in civil court – cases involving child custody battles, housing evictions and other issues, including the case of Juliana Holmes in Baltimore, Maryland. Holmes’ estranged husband took away their three children when she was living in another state – and she could not afford a lawyer to get them back.

“He just took them out of the state of North Carolina so I moved here to follow my kids,” said Holmes.

Holmes eventually got joint custody of her children with the help of a private organization called Maryland Legal Aid, which provided her with a lawyer at no cost.

Trish Cochran was her attorney. She’s among a growing number of lawyers and judges who think the right to an attorney, for critical civil cases such as these, should be a basic legal right in the United States. Right now, it is not.

“People have a constitutional right to their children; a right to have just some place to live; to have access to the resources that are available. It’s just that people don’t always have the savvy [knowledge] to get the resources that are there for them,” said Cochran.

To read the entire article and watch the video, click here.

Legal Aid adjusts to funding cuts

Maryland Legal Aid, the state’s primary provider of civil legal help to the poor, will try to avoid reducing its services in the wake of cuts to federal funding, the Montgomery Gazette reported.

Legal Aid will look at “any cost-saving measure short of affecting our capacity to serve clients,” said Shawn Boehringer, the nonprofit’s chief counsel. Last month, Congress cut funding to the Legal Services Corp., a major Legal Aid funder, by $56 million, which will translate into a reduction of more than $650,000 to the Maryland program.

To read the article, click here.