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Cases and Problems the Un-Equal Justice Legal Defense and Educational Fund Handles

Priorities, Cases, Services and Activities

The Un-Equal Justice Legal Defense and Educational Fund's priorities determine the case types that will be offered assistance in and what cases will be considered for acceptance for extended representation. Once priorities are set, services are delivered, in a manner consistent with the American Bar Association Standards for Providers of Civil Legal Services to the Poor. Based upon the responses from staff and management and the demographic data reviewed, the Board of Directors establishes the priorities for individual case acceptance by Un-Equal Justice Legal Defense and EducationalFund.

Those case and or matter priority areas for staff and or volunteer attorney programs are:

Individual Rights--Preserving and protecting the legal rights of Children/Youths and their access to our fundamental institutions at the federal, state, and local levels

  • Pauper’s access to court
  • Environmental justice
  • Alleged discrimination by government agency
  • Civil Rights violation
  • Wrongful Incarceration

Children/Youth Issues--Protecting, assisting, and supporting children and youths at risk and preserving and defending children’s rights

  • Termination and adoption where abuse alleged
  • Right to education and/or special education
  • Emancipation to obtain subsidized housing
  • Revocation of probation/parole for children deemed delinquent in supervision under the family code
  • Child abuse/neglect where CPS intervention inadequate or unavailable
  • Social Security/SSI benefits for child
  • Termination by consent and adoption for SS/SSI
  • Enforcement of access & visitation

Family--Preserving, protecting, supporting, and stabilizing the lives and rights of families, particularly what remains of families ripped apart by violence and tragedies

  • Protective orders where there has been physical abuse
  • Divorce involving imminent threat of family violence or family violence
  • Divorce involving collectible child support
  • Other Divorces appropriate for pro se assistance
  • Child custody where violence or abuse alleged and CPS is involved
  • Child support enforcement if applicant is homeless if collectible, or if medical support
  • Visitation enforcement in counties where funding and or resources are available
  • Respondent divorces with pre-litigation mediation potential
  • Paternity
  • Adoptions when necessary to qualify children for public benefits
  • Parental right termination where the State is the moving party

Housing--Preserving, protecting, developing, obtaining, and removing obstacles to affordable, safe housing

  • Evictions
  • Referral from City or County Housing Assistance Programs for title problems
  • Tenant group alleging unsafe or unhealthy housing
  • Preventing foreclosure on homestead
  • Property tax issues that may lead to loss of homestead
  • Code enforcement defense to save homestead
  • Preparation of real estate documents involving homestead
  • Clearing title of homestead to obtain home repairs
  • Security deposit disputes and other LL/T issues such as wrongful seizure of property by landlord
  • Housing discrimination

Health--Preserving and protecting access to health care and health care benefits programs for the elderly and low-income

  • Denial of indigent health care benefits by county agency or hospital district
  • Denial of Medicare or Medicaid eligibility or services
  • Preserving or obtaining home health care benefits
  • Nursing home evictions (See Elderly)
  • Medical insurance eligibility or claim denial

Education--Public School curriculum, suspension, truancy, teen pregnancy, disability issues, discrimination, and student loan problems- see also children and youth

Employment--Preserving and protecting employees rights in the workplace and access to benefit programs for the unskilled, unemployed, and underemployed.

  • Wage claims in TWC adjudication or judicial review
  • Agency or internal reviews of employee grievance or termination
  • Unlawful terminations
  • Employment discrimination
  • Employee benefits

Community and Economic Development--Promoting, protecting, preserving, and coordinating programs and efforts to improve the economic stability of the low-income members of the community through development, investment, and procurement of resources designed to aid economic growth in distressed areas including support and assistance to other non-profits serving the low-income community.

Consumer--Protecting the rights of low-income and elderly consumers and preventing their victimization by unscrupulous sales and debt collection practices

  • Wrongful repossession, conversion
  • Bankruptcy ( Ch. 13) to save homestead where debtor eligible and some Ch 7
  • Home improvement fraud
  • Small claims court when opposing party represented by attorney
  • Consumer fraud and deceptive trade practices involving businesses that targets low- income or elderly customers and where the amount of damages or likelihood of success will prevent a private attorney from accepting the case without a retainer. These include alleged violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, State or federal Debt Collection Practices Ace, and Home Solicitation Sales Act.

Many case types will be forwarded to participating volunteer private attorneys and many cases that fall within the above categories will be declined due to limited resources. Cases that are time intensive, complex or better suited for referring attorneys will be selected while case types that are more suitable for pro bono attorneys will be referred to the participating private attorneys. Funding and resource allocation will also be a factor as well.

While priority categories do not require that a certain number of cases be handled in each area, case statistics are reviewed quarterly to ensure that resources are targeted toward the most pressing unmet legal needs as identified by annual needs surveys as well as issues and problems that seriously impact the client community in between annual need surveys. Annually, The Un-Equal Justice Legal Defense and Educational Fund will design and offer legal workshops and seminars in targeted communities in areas that have been identified as a pressing legal need such as how the economy has impacted families causing additional unmet legal needs.

The Un-Equal Justice Legal Defense and Educational Fund has also adopted a policy on handling emergency applications for matters outside the above priorities. Since The Un-Equal Justice Legal Defense and Educational Fund is not funded to offer assistance to all who qualify due to lack of income, management will develop strategies, criteria, and guidelines for staff to follow to implement the above priorities, including specific facts outlines/scenarios, case types, and causes of action on which resources should be focused whether in prosecution or defense thereof. There may be special funding that emphasizes one type of case or service over others. The following general types of cases and matters are included under each priority:

Case (Services) Included: Full range of cases (representation in litigation, administrative proceedings, alternative dispute resolution, negotiations, and appeals; advice; brief assistance; information; and referrals)

Matters (Activities) Included: Full range of matters/ services including: developing and sponsorship of self-help programs; informational seminars; joint community education programs with other organizations; informational booths; continuing legal education programs; weekly radio talk show; informative videos; self-help packets; community improvement projects; education and training to other entities; alternative dispute resolution programs; educational materials and brochures; general advice and brief service sessions; information about the availability of legal assistance; collaborations with other organizations that effectively and efficiently address the priorities; reduced fee and sub-contract agreements with other non-profits and government entities; and information explaining legal rights, responsibilities, and remedies.

Case Selection Criteria

Since The Un-Equal Justice Legal Defense and Educational Fund does not have the resources to represent each eligible client, an effort is made to select those cases for representation which have circumstances that will negatively impact the applicant, that will impact other members of the client community, and that will likely result in obtaining the requested relief, (though this criteria should not be read to discourage taking difficult cases where the other criteria are present). Priority will be given to cases involving youths. Case acceptance decisions shall, where practical, be performed by the Board of Directors to ensure the highest possible level of consistency and fairness. The Un-Equal Justice Legal Defense and Educational Fund has adopted case selection criteria that shall be used and based upon the following criteria:

The eligibility of the client, including a review of the alien and asset tests and certification if appropriate, or the factors warranting extending eligibility to 150% of the standard guidelines, if required;

  • Conformance with case & matter priorities;
  • Emphasis is on offering access to our courts to the greatest number of client community members possible to redress their grievances.
  • The impact of accepting or rejecting the case on the applicant and on other members of the client community;
  • The likelihood of success; and
  • Available resources.
  • Advocacy Methods

The Un-Equal Justice Legal Defense and Educational Fund is committed to encouraging referring attorneys to use all appropriate legal means in the effective representation of clients, including individual representation, group representation, and other forms of advocacy, consistent with all funding resources, and governing statutes, regulations, and contract and grant conditions.

Emergency Situations For Undertaking Representation Outside Priorities

The above priorities shall serve as the established priorities for the allocation of resources by The Un-Equal Justice Legal Defense and Educational Fund until they have been reviewed and revised by the Board of Directors pursuant to a needs assessment. Occasionally, emergency situations will arise when it is in the best interest of the client to secure immediate representation on a matter not specifically within the priority areas. Thus, the Board of Directors has adopted a policy that sets out the conditions for consideration and factors required under these circumstances and requires prior written approval by the CEO or his/her designee before representation can be offered.

 
     

Un-Equal Justice Legal Defense & Educational Fund © 2008. All rights reserved.


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