CLS October 2020 Newsletter

COMMUNITY LEGAL SERVICES OF PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, INC.

By Nora C. Eidelman, Deputy Director

Meeting Our Clients Where They Are Now

We have continued adjusting our delivery of services to meet our clients’ needs with housing, domestic violence, family law and other civil legal matters. In the past month, we partnered with CASA in Action and held a series of zoom legal webinars via Facebook Live focusing on domestic violence abuse, foreclosure & bankruptcy, landlord tenant, wills, power of attorney, advanced medical directives and guardianship presentations. The presentations were made in Spanish and hundreds of viewers tuned-in to the training and had an opportunity to ask questions.

Additionally, CLS made two presentations on Dealing with the Threats of Eviction During the Pandemic in partnership with Catholic Charities, Housing Initiative Partnership and Latino Economic Development Center. CLS presented on landlord tenant issues and tenant defenses due to the expected tsunami of evictions caused by the pandemic. Our Executive Director Jessica A. Quincosa, Esq., presented in Spanish on August 4, 2020, and Staff Attorney Kayla Williams, Esq., presented in English on August 11, 2020.

Our Executive Director Jessica A. Quincosa, Esq. and Supervising Attorney Catrina Aquilino, Esq. presented on the Maryland Attorney General’s COVID-19 Access to Justice Task Force virtual Town Hall meeting on August 31, 2020. They presented in Spanish on Landlord Tenant issues facing tenants and how the pandemic has changed some of the tenant’s defenses. The Task Force was created to support Marylanders facing extraordinary health and financial challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The video is available at https://youtu.be/_x3DLo0jzxo.

Our Tenant Representation Program was featured in a Maryland Matters article where Council Member Deni Taveras (District II) brings attention to housing issues in the immigrant community as Maryland courts have reopened, dockets are filled with failure-to-pay-rent cases, and the expected spike in evictions. Taveras feared not only the failure-to-pay-rent cases would overwhelm the court system, but also the effect of unscrupulous landlords in the community. In the article, Taveras directs her constituents to CLS for legal assistance. The article further added that Prince George’s County typically schedules 150,000 landlord-tenant cases a year, and quoted our Executive Director Jessica A. Quincosa, Esq.: “This year we know the need is going to outweigh our capabilities…We are trying to plan for this pandemic eviction to help as many clients as we can and collaborate among our partners.” The article As Eviction Hearings Resume, Undocumented Immigrants at Highest Risk of Losing Homes is available at https://www.marylandmatters.org/2020/09/08/as-eviction-hearings-resume-undocumented-immigrants-at-highest-risk-of-losing-homes/.

CLS continues to host our weekly Facebook Live presentations: Tenant Tuesdays, a staff attorney shares updates on Prince George’s County District Court re-opening phases and tenant rights at 1:00 PM, and Table Talk Thursdays, a staff attorney shares information on family law matters at 12:00 PM.

CLS is still providing virtual appointments for clients by video or telephone-based on the client’s preference – in-person appointments are available based on the client’s needs. We are operating under our temporary expanded-intake hours Monday-Friday, 8:00 am-6:00 pm, to accommodate more clients seeking our services. Clients may apply for free legal representation by visiting our website at www.clspgc.org, by email at info@clspgc.org or by telephone at 240-391-6370.

Calling for Volunteers Interested in Virtual Clinics

Please save the dates for October 31 and November 14, 2020! CLS is planning virtual clinics on expungement, rent and other civil legal matters. For more information on how to volunteer, please contact Supervising Attorney Catrina Aquilino, Esq., at aquilino@clspgc.org.

Sign up to help in our Failure to Pay Rent Tenant Representation Program & help families avoid wrongful evictions during Covid-19. Training & Stipend is Available.

As Maryland courts have transitioned into some in-person hearings, CLS is seeking attorneys to provide same day representation to tenants in Rent Court at the District Court in Hyattsville. CLS provides training, malpractice insurance coverage, mentoring, and support to our volunteers. Out-of-state attorneys are welcomed. CLS and Pro Bono Resource of Maryland have put together a training on Tenants in Prince George’s County Rent Court. The training includes Landlord/Tenant rules and perspectives, issue spotting in Failure to Pay Rent complaints, and practical advice for handling cases. If you wish to take this training or have questions about the program, please contact Kayla Williams, Esq. at williams@clspgc.org. Participating attorneys must commit to volunteer to staff two clinics or take two landlord/tenant cases within one year of completing the training.

Beyond this volunteer commitment, a stipend of $100* will be provided to attorneys in exchange for their representation. *per docket Funding for this program is provided by Maryland Legal Services Corporation (MLSC).

Interpreters Needed

CLS is in need of interpreters to assist attorneys representing Limited English proficient clients. Training is available and no prior experience is required. This is a paid or volunteer opportunity. For more information, please contact Nora Eidelman at eidelman@clspgc.org

Civil Cases Available for Attorneys and Other Volunteer Opportunities

Through our Lawyer Referral Program, we refer income-eligible clients to attorneys for representation in their domestic cases. Judicare funding pays the attorneys’ fees. Attorneys receive $100.00 per hour with a cap of $3,000 per case. CLS allows you to bill twice during the case. CLS invoices Maryland Legal Services Corporation for your billed time. As a result, Judicare payments are usually paid a month after an invoice is submitted. This funding program is administered by MLSC with funds from the Administrative Office of the Courts.

CLS has funding for attorneys representing clients in Prince George’s County through our Foreclosure Prevention Program. In foreclosure prevention cases, the funding provides attorneys $80.00 an hour and up to thirty (30) hours of representation. Funds include representation at judicial proceedings, mediation preparation, representation at mediation, and negotiations. Additionally, funding is available for bankruptcy chapter 7, and other legal actions

that may help the client save his home. If you are interested in being added to our foreclosure volunteer attorney pool, or require additional information, please email us at info@clspgc.org. Training, mentoring and malpractice insurance is provided. Funding is available from a generous grant provided by MLSC.

Our Monthly Foreclosure Prevention Trainings will be held via ZOOM on Monday, October 26, 2020 at 2:00 PM. Our staff attorney John Gabel, Esq. will be presenting on “The Changing Post-Covid Foreclosure Landscape”. Information will be posted on our website.

Are you interested in building your practice by adding Protective and Peace Orders?

Training is available. CLS’s domestic violence program places protective order and peace order petitioners and respondents with attorneys. CLS will provide mentoring to help you prepare your case. You will also be able to shadow one of the staff attorneys during Protective and Peace Order hearings. CLS’s Domestic Violence Legal Wellness Program places protective order and peace order petitioners and respondents with attorneys. Attorneys receive $80 per hour with a cap of $500 per case.

A Success Story from a Client Represented by our Staff Attorney

Client was referred by a housing counselor regarding domestic violence incidents between client, her children and her husband. The client herself had already obtained a Final Protective Order against her husband in July 2019. She had sought our assistance as she wanted to modify her Protective Order against her husband. During the process of assisting the client with the modification of her order, she contacted us to assist her in a protective order on behalf of her two minor children against their father/step-father. Client was petrified of her husband and moved herself and her children into a safe-house. Our staff attorney was able to obtain a protective order for the children, providing client with custody, use and possession of the home (thus allowing her and the children to leave the safe-house and return to their home), and emergency family maintenance in the amount of $400 a month. Our staff attorney further obtained an order for client’s husband to obtain drug/alcohol and domestic violence counseling. The staff attorney was scheduled to assist later with obtaining a two-year extension of her prior order given the subsequent acts of abuse committed by her husband.

CLS clients have limited means but have real legal issues that require representation. Help CLS bridge the Access to Justice Gap by taking Judicare or Pro bono cases. CLS provides our volunteer attorneys training, mentoring, access to a litigation fund, and malpractice insurance. To join our volunteer pool, please apply on our website at www.clspgc.org or contact info@clspgc.org.

Community Legal Services of Prince George’s County, Inc. (CLS) is a non-profit organization established to provide quality civil legal services to low-income residents of Prince George’s County, MD. CLS provides direct legal services through the generous contributions by members of the private bar. For more information about MSLC and the Judicare program, please visit https://www.mlsc.org

Please Note: During Covid-19, all our services are remote including our clinics. CLS operates free Legal Advice Clinics throughout the County, including in the Prince George’s

County Circuit Court, Room M2435, the Prince George’s County Multi-Services Center in Langley Park, and in Suitland’s Windsor Crossings Apartments. For referrals of low-income residents of Prince George’s County to CLS programs, our hotline is 240-391-6370. Our temporary intake-hours are Monday-Friday, 8:00 am-6:00pm; online applications are available at www.clspgc.org.

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