November Newsletter

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

By Nora C. Eidelman, Deputy Director

We hope you and your loved ones remain healthy and safe. As we approach the holiday season, we are mindful of the challenging times our county residents continue to face, particularly in the areas of housing and employment caused by the pandemic. We are addressing these legal needs through our Foreclosure Prevention and Rent Court Tenant Representation programs, our virtual clinics, legal training presentations, and expungement clinics to eliminate additional potential barriers to employment and housing. We could not do this work without your support. In this month of thanksgiving, we explicitly want to express our sincere gratitude to our volunteers and hope for your continued support for our clients during this challenging time.

We are also pleased to congratulate one of our own, Executive Director, Jessica A. Quincosa, Esq., on receiving the Prince George’s County Bar Association’s President Award in recognition of her dedicated support to the community by providing pro-bono legal services. Please join us in congratulating her!

During the Fall, we have continued to provide virtual legal trainings. CLS made two presentations on Evictions During Covide-19 in partnership with Prince George’s County Councilwoman Anderson-Walker, District 8. The sessions were interactive and provided critical information on the steps residents must take when facing eviction, and addressed questions and concerns from the audience. Our Staff Attorney, Kayla Williams, Esq. presented in English on September 30, 2020, and Executive Director, Jessica A. Quincosa, Esq., and Supervising Attorney, Catrina C. Aquilino, Esq., presented in Spanish on October 5, 2020. The presentation is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDbRJV9yJc4&feature=youtu.be

Our Executive Director Jessica A. Quincosa, Esq. and Supervising Attorney Catrina Aquilino, Esq. presented for the second time on the Maryland Attorney General’s COVID-19 Access to Justice Task Force virtual Town Hall meeting on September 30, 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://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZx_BR9NkQc&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR0Nro5xMGcmtL2JOndIgNdPJfb-M-aZu0R233C_WPgzzZOQjj1r61OurV4

In conjunction with the Prince George’s County Local Pro Bono Committee, CLS held Virtual Presentations & Legal Clinic, a three-part legal information series culminating in a free clinic with attorneys available to provide advice for rent, child support, and expungement matters. The child support presentation was held on October 26, the rent presentation on October 27, and expungement presentation on 28, 2020. The virtual clinic was on Saturday, October 31, 2020.

3rd Annual Free Expungement Clinic (Virtual)

We are calling for volunteers interested in participating in this virtual clinic. CLS and Shiloh Baptist Church of Landover will hold our 3rd annual expungement clinic on Saturday, November 14, 2020, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The clinic will address criminal records that may keep residents from obtaining work and housing. Attorneys will be available to provide advice on

expungement and other civil legal matters. Potential participants seeking advice need to register at BIT.LY/CLSXSHILOH1. For more information or to register to volunteer, please contact Supervising Attorney Catrina Aquilino, Esq., at aquilino@clspgc.org.

Project Bounce Back

CLS and the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) are partnering on Project Bounce Back. Project Bounce Back, which focuses on Prince George’s County residents who are facing or have recently filed a Chapter seven or thirteen bankruptcy for financial relief. This is a six-month financial and legal education course, where participants receive practical tips and advice on understanding their finances. Program benefits include: One-on-one credit counseling

Free legal advice & referrals, Budgeting tips & tools. The program is offered virtually, free of charge, on the third Thursday evening of each month from September 17, 2020, to February 18, 2021. The class is now closed but we intend on offering another session to begin in or around March 2021. We may be able to provide assistance with equipment to access the course.

CLS continues to host our weekly Table Talk Thursdays via Facebook Live where a staff attorney shares information on family law matters at 12:00 PM. Our last presentation focused on the October 1, 2020 Changes to the Maryland Child Support Guidelines. You can find this presentation at https://www.facebook.com/clspgc/videos/328949875054830 Previous presentations can be found in our Facebook page as well.

Sign up to help in our Prince George’s County or Anne Arundel County’s Failure to Pay Rent Tenant Representation Program and 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. 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, have questions about the program, or want to sign up to help in either county, 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 half day in court (AM or PM sessions) in Prince George’s County, and $100 per case in Anne Arundel County.

A Success Story from our Rent Court Program

This past September our office was contacted by a client who was facing an eviction for an amount of rent that he had already paid. Although a Judgment for Possession had previously been granted in favor of the landlord, the tenant had satisfied the judgment through multiple payments, but he still owed a balance and his landlord was threatening him with eviction if the balance wasn’t paid in full. His landlord also refused to accept partial payments. Our office filed a motion on the tenant’s behalf and requested that the writ of restitution be quashed and marked as paid and satisfied. The court granted the motion and the writ was quashed, giving the tenant

peace of mind and preventing any eviction on that judgment from occurring. The tenant was also able to raise additional funds through the community to pay his remaining balance.

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. We paid $30 per hour up to 30 hours per case. 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 for volunteer attorneys will be held via ZOOM on Monday, November 30, 2020 at 2:00 PM. Additional 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.

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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