Monthly Archives: February 2012

Legal Aid foreclosure expert in the Post

After Occupy D.C. protestors rallied in support of Bertina Jones, a grandmother who lost her Bowie home to foreclosure, the Washington Post spoke with the director of Maryland Legal Aid’s Foreclosure Legal Assistance Project.

“Occupiers chose Jones to rally behind after discussions with staffers at Maryland’s Legal Aid Bureau, where Vicki King Taitano, who directs the bureau’s foreclosure legal assistance project, has championed Jones’s case for months,” today’s article said. “’This is a perfect example of a woman who was making her payments, and they still foreclosed on her,’ Taitano said.”

To read the article, click here.

Legal Aid expert quoted in Sun article on foster care

An article in today’s Baltimore Sun about the state’s decision not to renew a foster care provider’s license to place foster care children–for allegedly  falsifying minutes of board meetings and failing to pay its foster parents and staff on time–quoted Maryland Legal Aid’s Joan Little, chief attorney of the Child Advocacy Unit in Baltimore.

Little said the state should move with “deliberate haste” to re-license the affected foster parents with new providers.

“She said the situation may create headaches for the parents, who may find that other providers have different requirements or pay different monthly stipend rates than Contemporary Family Services,” the article said.

“‘You might run the risk of someone being ruled out because maybe a background check gets done differently,’ Little said.

“Little said the situation is an opportunity for the state to evaluate the way it licenses foster care providers,” the article continued. “She would like to see the state devote more staff and resources to foster care so potential problems can be addressed quickly and seamlessly.”

To read the article, click here (behind a pay wall).

The mortgage settlement and Maryland

Last week, Midday with Dan Rodricks on WYPR-FM looked at the $25 billion mortgage settlement reached with major banks and 49 attorneys general. Panelist Vicki King Taitano, director of Maryland Legal Aid’s Foreclosure Legal Assistance Project, called the settlement “positive.”

“I think refusal [by banks] to do principal reduction has been a big problem,” Taitano said. “This is a lot of money. If loans can be reduced to fair-market price . . . I’m hopeful this will make a big difference for a lot of people.”

To hear the broadcast, click here.

Budget cut hits region’s legal aid groups

A 14-percent budget cut the federal Legal Services Corp. has D.C.-area legal aid programs scrambling, the Washington Post reported last week.

“Neighborhood Legal Services Program in the District, Legal Services of Northern Virginia and Maryland Legal Aid are consolidating offices and jobs, freezing salaries and more aggressively pursuing private funding and partnerships with law schools to share resources and manpower,” the article said.

“Maryland Legal Aid, the largest civil legal services provider in the region with about 300 employees in 12 offices throughout the state, has not laid off any staff and does not plan to dismiss any staff in 2012, said executive director Wilhelm Joseph, Jr.,” the article continued.

“To compensate for a 15 percent cut ($670,000 less) in LSC funding — paired with a 5 percent cut ($550,000 less) in funding from Maryland Legal Services Corp., the state counterpart to LSC — the nonprofit is looking to replace retiring staff with lower-paid new hires, tighten up travel and other expenses, and intensify fundraising campaigns aimed at law firms, foundations and individual donors.”

To read the article, click here.

Legal Aid tapped for Local Human Rights Lawyering Project

Maryland Legal Aid was selected by the Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at American University Washington College of Law as a Project Partner for the Local Human Rights Lawyering Project.

“After an extensive search for Project Partners and a very difficult selection process, we believe Maryland Legal Aid Bureau, Inc. is truly committed to this project and is a good match to work alongside Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc., our second Project Partner, to integrate human rights fully into your everyday work,” wrote Hadar Harris, executive director and Lauren E. Bartlett, project director. “We look forward to working closely with you over the next 18 months and beyond to help integrate human rights on the local level and to continue to secure basic human rights for the most vulnerable persons in the U.S.”

The center developed the Local Human Rights Lawyering Project to provide training, coaching and mentorship for legal aid attorneys to expand the promise of their mission by integrating a human rights framework into the daily work of legal services attorneys. This Ford Foundation-funded project expands on nearly ten years of work by the center, promoting human rights law in the U.S.

“Maryland Legal Aid is ecstatic to be chosen as one of the project partners for American Law School’s Local Human Rights Lawyering Project in what was a very selective application process,” said Legal Aid Chief Counsel Shawn Boehringer. “Staff will receive training and support on human rights from some of the brightest minds in the field, and our advocacy will be greatly enhanced because of it. Since the roll-out of our strategic plan in late 2009, we have made significant strides in educating our staff and others about human rights. When doing so adds value to the presentation of client cases to administrative agencies and courts, staff have begun to seize opportunities to use human rights arguments. We anticipate the partnership with American will take this effort to the next level and refine further how human rights jurisprudence can be used by advocates on the ground.”

To read American University’s press release, click here.

Celebrity artist (and Legal Aid contributor) Josee Nadeau featured at Sundance Festival

Artist Josee Nadeau

Examiner.com profiled celebrity artist Josée Nadeau, who painted  at last fall’s Maryland Legal Aid 100th anniversary gala in Baltimore.

“Best known as the protégée for the Curator of Claude Monet’s Garden in Giverny, France for 10 years, Josée Nadeau was the Celebrity Artist for the Stars at the LiveStyle Entertainment Film Lounge and Supper Club at Sundance 2012 where 27 events were held, including the HBO Networks Party, The Creative Coalition Spotlight Initiative Awards, Sundance Soirée, film premiere parties (Filly Brown, Wish You Were Here, etc) and too many others to list,” wrote columnist Liz Kelly.

During Harry Belafonte’s speech about human rights at this 100-year anniversary of Legal Aid in Maryland, Josée did a live painting of this Hollywood icon in 20 minutes. Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley, the First Lady Katie O’Malley, Chief Justice Robert Bell and Wilhelm Joseph, the head of Legal Aid, also did the unveiling of her commemorative piece ‘Dust of Diamonds.'”

To read the entire column, click here.

Maryland legal services programs brace for cuts

The Maryland Legal Services Corp. is digging into its reserves and must cut grants to its programs by five percent, the Daily Record reported today.

“Late last month, [MLSC executive director] Susan M. Erlichman told Maryland Legal Services’ existing grantees to submit requests for fiscal 2013 that reflect a 5 percent reduction from the current funding levels,” the article said. “The grantees were also warned the cuts might be deeper in fiscal 2014.”

“’We are hoping that we can keep the cuts between 5 and 10 percent,’ Erlichman said. ‘If we can keep it to five that would be our desire but that really depends on what happens the next six months as far as income.’

“Maryland Legal Services, hit with dwindling revenue sources, is spending $1.6 million of its reserves this year and next, Erlichman said. If the trend continues, it will run out of money in fiscal 2014, she said.

“’This is very, very frightening,’ she said last week.”

Maryland Legal Aid, MLSC’s largest grantee, will be cut more than $500,000.