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By Andrea F. Siegel, The Baltimore Sun | February 6, 2012
A major funder of legal services for the poor will shave its grants by at least 5 percent across Maryland — even after dipping into its reserves. The 34 agencies that receive money from the Maryland Legal Services Corp. have been told to submit requests for grants next month that are 5 percent below current amounts because it is facing a "significant" funding shortfall, said executive director Susan M. Ehrlichman. And the cuts may be deeper the following year. The nonprofit organization's two main funding sources — the surcharge on court filing fees for civil cases and the interest paid on short-term bank accounts for lawyers' clients — have been hit by the economy.
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By Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun | August 21, 2014
Free State Legal, which provides legal services to low-income lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents in the Baltimore area, is seeking a "passionate and visionary" new leader following the announced departure of its executive director. Aaron Merki, who helped co-found the nonprofit organization in 2007, has been in the role for the last two years, overseeing several victories. Last month, the group announced it had helped win coverage of transition-related care for transgender state employees under their state health plans.
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NEWS
March 21, 1991
The constitutional truth that all citizens have the same rights before the law is often obscured by the economic truth of the marketplace: not everyone can afford to stand up for his rights. That is the plank on which the Maryland Legal Services Corp. stands as it seeks to represent those for whom "enforcement of rights" can be a matter of survival -- the poor.Yet there was state Sen. Walter M. Baker, D-Cecil, accusing the Legal Services Corp., which is funded by the state, of biting the "hand that feeds" it by taking the state to court from time to time.
NEWS
By Jessica Anderson, The Baltimore Sun | August 12, 2014
A Towson attorney was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in jail for smuggling drugs into the Baltimore County jail. "I am ashamed and saddened I stand before you in this capacity," Jill Swerdlin told Circuit Judge Timothy J. Martin before the she was sentenced. Swerdlin, 47, a defense attorney who has represented suspected dealers, pleaded guilty to drug charges in June. She admitted she had smuggled Suboxone — a drug used to treat addiction to opiates — into the Baltimore County Detention Center to clients during visits.
NEWS
By C. Fraser Smith and C. Fraser Smith,Annapolis Bureau of The Sun | March 20, 1991
ANNAPOLIS -- An appearance of plenty in the coffers of poverty law programs is being used as a compelling argument for legislative opponents of Maryland Legal Services Corp. to raid those assets.Three bills in the Senate would remove more than 20 percent from balances built up in the programs, which are designed to bring legal services to those who could not otherwise afford them.The bills are backed by Sen. Walter M. Baker, D-Cecil, chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, who admits that his pursuit of budget balancing is driven also by his distaste for the Legal Services program.
NEWS
By Robert Jordan | August 1, 1995
THE REPUBLICAN-led House recently took one more step against humankind -- by voting to sharply reduce funding for legal services for the poor -- and the Senate is poised to take a second step that could destroy this vital link between the poor and American justice.The full House voted for a bill that included a 33-percent cut in the legal services budget, bringing the already inadequate level of spending down from about $400 million to $278 million.Despite rallies and letters to leaders and members of Congress, the House's majority still decided to ax the budget; and the upcoming Senate vote appears ready to permanently damage the service that most often is the only access poor people have to the nation's judicial system.
BUSINESS
By David Conn and David Conn,Annapolis Bureau of The Sun | March 28, 1991
ANNAPOLIS -- State lawmakers will propose today that control over a growing pool of money that funds legal services for the poor should be shifted from a private-sector corporation to the state, with some of the money ending up in state coffers.The money -- $4.9 million last year -- is the interest law firms accrue on trust accounts set up for their clients. Since 1989, lawyers have been required to give the money, known as Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts, or IOLTA, to the private, non-profit Maryland Legal Services Corp.
NEWS
By Andrea F. Siegel and Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF | January 11, 2003
The main funding source for Maryland's legal services to the poor has fallen on hard times, and advocates are preparing to seek unprecedented state financial help - even as they keep an eye on a legal challenge that threatens to cut off a main source of funding for such services nationwide. The Maryland Legal Services Corp. - which supports 28 organizations providing legal help to those with cases involving domestic abuse, landlord-tenant disputes and other issues - faces a $1 million budget shortfall because of slack interest on the accounts that help fund it. The state's chief judge is seeking a $1.2 million subsidy to close the gap in the organization's $7 million annual budget, and advocates are planning a strong push in the General Assembly.
NEWS
By Ariel Sabar and Ariel Sabar,SUN STAFF | September 3, 2003
The cash-strapped Maryland Legal Services Corp., the quasi-public state agency that finances legal help for the poor, received a $425,000 check yesterday through the efforts of a Washington law firm, the second-largest private gift in the agency's 21-year history. The agency, which scaled back its grants to legal aid groups last year, said the donation will help maintain and possibly boost funding this year. "This really is a godsend for us," Robert J. Rhudy, the agency's executive director, said yesterday at a ceremony at the Robert C. Murphy Courts of Appeal Building in Annapolis.
NEWS
June 19, 1998
THOSE WHO worry about the fairness of American justice can take some comfort that the Supreme Court this week stopped short of declaring outright that state programs to fund legal services for the poor are unconstitutional.What the court did decide, however, is threat enough to a system known as IOLTA (Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts) that provides about $100 million a year for legal aid services.IOLTA programs became possible as banks began paying interest on checking accounts in the early 1980s.
NEWS
By Michael Millemann | April 5, 2014
Studies document the extraordinary unmet legal needs of low and middle-income people. To appreciate this, visit Baltimore City's Rent Court, where hundreds of tenants, including families with children, face eviction and homelessness. Or watch a docket of debt-collection cases in district court, where many defendants face financial ruin; or custody cases in a circuit court, where distraught parents fight for their children. The overwhelming majority of these litigants are representing themselves, often against lawyers.
NEWS
By Claudia Diamond | November 7, 2013
Last week, more than 1,500 people - most of them recent law school graduates - found out whether they passed the Maryland Bar Examination, a grueling, two-day test designed to assess the taker's readiness to enter the marketplace and become your lawyer. Despite a decrease in law school applications nationwide and increasing concerns that the United States has too many lawyers, most test takers - about 80 percent - passed the Maryland bar exam given in July. Barring any issues that cast doubt on their "character and fitness" to be a lawyer, these successful test takers will be sworn in before the Court of Appeals of Maryland in January.
NEWS
By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun | January 23, 2013
Rebecca F. Parker, who had worked as an administrator for Maryland Legal Services Inc., died Jan. 17 from breast cancer at her Charles Center apartment. She was 62. A daughter of a minister and a homemaker, the former Rebecca Fletcher was born and raised in Camden, S.C., where she graduated from high school. She moved to Paterson, N.J., in the 1970s, and first worked at a Woolworth's department store before becoming a cost accountant for General Electric Corp. She also had been a GE product model.
BUSINESS
By Steve Kilar and The Baltimore Sun | January 10, 2013
Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and officials from the Department of Housing and Community Development on Thursday awarded $6.2 million from the national mortgage settlement to nine legal aid groups in order to expand the availability of low-cost and pro bono legal services to Maryland homeowners facing foreclosure. Recently, DHCD has been setting aside about $1 milllion per year for foreclosure legal services, so the settlement funds greatly expand available financing, said Carol A. Gilbert, a DHCD assistant secretary.
NEWS
By Erek L. Barron | January 7, 2013
This just in: Maryland civil legal service programs not only benefit the poor but also save the state millions per year. Legal assistance to low-income Marylanders is a significant economic boost to the state and benefits more than just those receiving aid, according to a report just released by the Maryland Judiciary's Access to Justice Commission. Legal services mean a lot more than just helping people without means get access to the courts. For example, these services help low-income residents receive the government benefits to which they are entitled; prevent homelessness by avoiding eviction; and help protect against domestic violence.
NEWS
By Yvonne Wenger, The Baltimore Sun | October 26, 2012
Barbara McDowell is banking on the free legal advice she received at one of Maryland Legal Aid's recent pro bono days to help resolve a seven-year child support dispute with the father of her grandson. The Pikesville woman, who said she has raised her grandson since her 32-year-old daughter died of breast cancer , said finding money on her fixed income to pay for a lawyer has never made the top of her priority list. She was one of more than 100 people who turned out Oct. 20 for the free help in Randallstown, one of several such events held across the state each year.
BUSINESS
By Mark Hyman and Mark Hyman,SUN STAFF | February 2, 1996
Advocates of legal aid for Maryland's poor are looking to the General Assembly for help in keeping their programs afloat in the wake of federal budget cuts that have reduced funding by millions of dollars.A bill filed yesterday in Annapolis would raise money for such programs, including Legal Aid and the House of Ruth, by collecting a surcharge when civil cases are filed in district and circuit courts across the state.The bill, sponsored by Del. Samuel I. "Sandy" Rosenberg, D-Baltimore, does not specify the amount of the extra charge, which would set by court officials.
BUSINESS
By David Conn and David Conn,Annapolis Bureau of The Sun | March 14, 1991
ANNAPOLIS -- Members of a Senate panel were given a choice yesterday between putting the screws to homebuyers, already suffering from high closing costs, or denying money to fund legal services for the poor.That, at least, was how advocates and opponents of Senate Bill 573 characterized the legislation during a hearing before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee yesterday. The committee is expected to vote on the bill in the next few weeks.The bill would require title companies, which conduct real estate settlements, to donate to the Maryland Legal Services Corp.
NEWS
By Andrea F. Siegel, The Baltimore Sun | October 25, 2012
Marquis Jones remembers Peter Holland clearly. He's the lawyer whose work, with his law clinic students, led to the dismissal of a claim against her - a credit card debt she said she knew nothing about. "If it hadn't been for Peter and his team, I have no idea what would have happened," the Severn woman recalled, saying a debt-buying company had the wrong person and claimed it served the legal papers on her spouse. She's not married. But unlike Jones, most of those who've benefited from Holland's consumer advocacy never met him. Few of them know that in December he will receive an award for his legal work from the Maryland Legal Services Corp.
NEWS
By Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun | October 17, 2012
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Wednesday that Comptroller Joan M. Pratt's use of free legal services from Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos' law firm represents a breach of the city ethics code — an accusation vehemently rejected by Pratt. The Angelos firm is handling without charge Pratt's lawsuit against the administration's efforts to install a new city phone system that Pratt says illegally circumvented the competitive bidding process and wasted taxpayer dollars. Addressing reporters after Wednesday's Board of Estimates meeting, the mayor contended that Pratt's acceptance of the free legal help violates the ethics code, which generally prohibits elected officials from taking gifts from people who do business with their agency.
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