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Sound Advice

Sunday, June 15, 2008  
Posted by: Shelley Broderick
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In Spring of 2008, Sound Advice continued to shine a light on outstanding legal services providers like Legal Counsel for the Elderly and the Neighborhood Legal Services Program.  The show also examined a host of new programs of the D.C. Superior Court and the Office of Administrative Hearings.  Three additional shows focused on new policies involving both legislation pending in the D.C. Council and plans in the works by the D.C. Police Department. Finally, Sound Advice celebrated the groundbreaking cases undertaken by the School of Law’s Community Development Law Clinic.  Sound Advice offers educational programming on social justice and law reform topics, D.C. Court operations and activities, and a nuts and bolts introduction to the legal services provider community.  Tune in on UDC Cable 19 and 98, Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:30 p.m. among many other air times.

More than 91,000 residents of the District of Columbia are age 60 or above and many live at or near the poverty line.  Seniors living with low and moderate incomes, many of whom rely on government payments, can benefit from the remarkable array of programs offered by the outstanding lawyers and lay people at Legal Counsel for the Elderly (LCE).  LCE’s Director, Jan May, ‘78, along with Shirley Williams, ‘82, and Rawle Andrews, kicked off the first of three editions of Sound Advice exploring the LCE’s thirty-two year history, its groundbreaking hotline services, in court representation and pro bono projects.  Two additional shows introduced LCE’s Long-term Care Ombudsman and Money Management Programs and the Senior Medicare Patrol Project, as well as the work of the Brief Services Unit, the Alternatives for Landlord Tenant Court Project and the Consumer Fraud and Financial Abuse Unit.  Information about the availability of LCE Services in four senior centers was also provided.

At left: Jan May, ‘77, Rawle Andrews and Shirley Williams, ‘82. At right: Lydia Williams, D.C. Long-term Care Ombudsman; Carol Matthews, Legal Counsel for the Elderly Hotline Attorney;  and Teresea Brownson, Director, D.C. Senior Medicare Patrol Project.

The Neighborhood Legal Services Program (NLSP) provides vigorous civil legal services in the areas of housing, family, probate, small claims, benefits and others to many of the thousands of D.C. residents living in poverty.  Legal Director Wyndell Banks and members of his staff and volunteers provided access and eligibility information and described NLSP’s special focus on ensuring that legal services are available throughout the District of Columbia.  Staffer Tarek Maassarani noted that NLSP was the brain child of the School of Law’s co-founders, Jean and Edgar Cahn, who wrote the seminal Yale Law Review article, "The War on Poverty, A Civilian Perspective,” calling for the establishment and funding of local legal services programs for the poor.

Two editions of Sound Advice highlighted the D.C. Superior Court’s new Fathering Court and its Program for Agreement and Cooperation in Contested Custody Cases (PAC).  Judge Anita Jose Herring was joined by UDC Law Professor and Magistrate Judge Tony Lee, and Will Parker, to talk about the early successes already experienced in the Fathering Court and the rationale for its creation.  Judge Odessa Vincent, together with Darrell Hale, Branch Chief of the Court’s Family and Community Programs in the Multi-Door Dispute Resolution Division, and Darryl Feldman, D.C. Bar Steering Committee member, described PAC’s parent education seminars, which are designed to help participants learn to communicate positively and respectfully to resolve differences and work together for the benefit of the children.

At left: Hon. Tony Lee, Hon. Anita Josey-Herring and Will Parker. At right: Darrell Hale, Hon. Odessa Vincent and Darryl Feldman.

A third edition of Sound Advice featured Chief Judge Tyrone Butler who, along with Deputy Chief Mark Poindexter and General Counsel Lisa Coleman, introduced the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), an independent agency funded in 2003 as a central panel to provide neutral and impartial adjudicative services for a huge range of agencies including the Departments of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Public Works, Health, Human Services, Employment Services, Tax and Revenue and many others.

Two pending bills in the D.C. Council were considered by Sound Advice guests.  Legislation to provide paid sick and safe days was discussed by D.C. Employment Justice Center’s Karen Minitelli along with Bernard Hackett, of the Service Employee International Union, and Ken Noyes, Executive Director of the D.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The law, since passed by the D.C. Council, requires large employers to provide employees with up to seven days and small businesses up to three days off per year to deal with family health and safety issues.

Former UDC President, Timothy Jenkins, and long-time D.C. vendor, Brenda Sayles, appeared on Sound Advice to talk about their opposition to proposed D.C. Council legislation which, in their views, would negatively impact "mom and pop” vendors by imposing new civil fines, expensive design standards for carts, exclusion from Ward 2, a lottery for allocating locations, and other regulations disfavoring the cadre of vendors who have served the D.C. Community well for generations.  Stay tuned as the legislation undergoes reconsideration next year.

The ACLU’s Executive Director, Johnny Barnes, and its Director of Public Education for the Technology and Liberty Program, Jay Stanley, spoke strongly against the proliferation of security cameras in the District of Columbia, and especially a plan proposed by the D.C. Police Department to begin actively monitoring the cameras.  The speakers talked about the failure of surveillance cameras to stop crime in other jurisdictions as well as the District. They also decried the plan to remove police from the community to monitor cameras in the face of evidence that shows that community policing is the most effective tool in fighting crime.

Finally, Sound Advice celebrated recent successes in the School of Law’s Community Development Law Clinic. UDC-DCSL Professor Louise Howells and 3L Veronica Morales told the story of "Las Marias,” a case involving the clinic’s seven year representation of a group of Latino/a clients in Columbia Heights who now own their own apartments in a beautifully renovated tenant owned and operated building.  The building is called "Las Marias," a case involving the clinic's seven year representation of a group of Latino/a clients in Columbia Heights who now own their own apartments in a beautifully renovated tenant owned and operated building. The building is called "Las Marias" in honor of several critical players in the tenant association who shared the name Maria.
At left: ACLU's Jay Stanley and Johnny Barnes. At right: Ken Noyes, Karen Minitelli, Bernard Hackett and Shelley Broderick.

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