Georgia Legal Services Recognizes Trans Awareness Week

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Dear Friends,

In Celebration of Transgender Awareness Week, Georgia Legal Services Program invites transgender Georgians with low incomes to contact GLSP for help with their civil legal needs. GLSP recognizes that transgender people, especially low-income and minority individuals, according to the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, experience higher levels of discrimination and violence than other groups.  Black transgender women experience the highest levels of discrimination and violence and are also more likely to live below the poverty line.

GLSP is concerned about the well-being, health, education, employment and other legal needs of transgender Georgians, especially those who also belong to other minority groups. GLSP provides free legal services to Georgians with low incomes in 154 counties in Georgia, all of the counties outside of the Metro Atlanta area.  Low-income Georgians in the five metro Atlanta counties of DeKalb, Fulton, Clayton, Gwinnett and Cobb are served by the Atlanta Legal Aid Society.

GLSP has done the following things to help transgender Georgians:

  • Trained all GLSP offices on LGBTQ and Racial Cultural Competency (on representing LGBTQ populations and racial minority populations)
  • Provided education to attorneys and legal advocates on domestic violence issues in the LGBTQ community
  • Started the process to join the National Center for Transgender Equality’s Legal Services Network
  • Prepared to write in support of the transgender people who were denied a name change in the Augusta area.  These individuals are represented by Lambda Legal and their cases are being reviewed by the Georgia Supreme Court
  • Represented transgender clients in name change and public benefits cases
  • Presented a transgender rights forum

GLSP also accepts feedback on what else the program can do to help transgender Georgians and their families. Please contact Currey Hitchens or Whitney Knox at chitchens@glsp.org or wknox@glsp.org if you have suggestions for more actions GLSP can take to help transgender Georgians.

Please feel free to call GLSP for possible representation in the following types of cases:

  • Name change
  • Health law, including refusal of Medicaid to provide services based on transgender status
  • Public Housing
  • Housing Discrimination
  • Appeals of Unemployment Insurance Benefit denials
  • Twelve Month Protective Order cases based on family violence
  • Stalking Order cases
  • Family law cases involving domestic violence or access to the courts
  • Help with applying for crime victim compensation
  • Public Benefit appeals if illegally denied
  • School discrimination or school discipline cases
  • Language access issues (to law enforcement, courts, or to state or federal agencies)
  • Victims of Crime with civil legal needs related to their victimization in our Brunswick and Dalton office areas

There are financial and other eligibility requirements, but people are invited to contact GLSP for consideration for possible representation.

Call GLSP (outside of Metro Atlanta) toll free at 1-800-498-9469.
Call ALAS (in Metro Atlanta) toll free at (404) 524-5811.

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Georgia Legal Services Attorney Recognized For Outstanding Work

Wendy Glasbrenner Honored With Family Law Section’s Joseph P. Tuggle Award

Georgia Legal Services Attorney Wendy Glasbrenner was honored before 650 attorneys on May 19, 2016, with the Family Law Institute’s Joseph P. Tuggle award, recognizing her outstanding skills and contribution to family law. Ms. Glasbrenner has been managing attorney in Georgia Legal Services’ Gainesville office since 1999.

An attorney with Georgia Legal Services for over 35 years, Ms. Glasbrenner has been a leading advocate for low-income individuals in the Gainesville region. She regularly speaks out on issues that affect marginalized communities: fighting for the availability of affordable housing, access to critical financial support such as food stamps and health care, and access to justice for non-native English speakers.

Ms. Glasbrenner has long made it a priority to help people in abusive relationships and their families find safety and security. She founded Rape Response, Inc., in 1987 and served as a board member of the organization for over twenty years thereafter; was on the Board of Directors for Circle of Hope and Gateway House, two shelters for battered women; chaired the Women’s Giving Circle of North Georgia; and currently serves on the Hall County Commission on Children and Families.

Wendy Glasbrenner’s dedication and commitment to upholding rights for all people—regardless of gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or any other characteristic—is clear. Her decision to invest the skills, time, energy, and passion she has at Georgia Legal Services has been a gift to the non-profit law firm and its clients. The staff at Georgia Legal Services Program are honored to call her a colleague, and stand proud alongside her as she receives this well-deserved award.

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GLSP’s Champions of Justice Recognition Event, Oct. 13, 2016

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Join GLSP for its biennial Champions of Justice event on Thursday, October 13, 2016 from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the State Bar Center in Atlanta. The Champions of Justice event recognizes a diverse group of supporters of Georgia Legal Services who are respected members of the communities they represent and leaders in the cause of justice for Georgia’s poor.  Individual tickets are $50 and can be purchased by clicking here.

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Student-Run Organization at Emory Law Gives to GLSP

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Student representatives of the Asian American Law Students Association at Emory Law School give to Georgia Legal Services Program. Pictured from left: Minjun Kook, treasurer and incoming president, Elizabeth Suh, vice president of social affairs, Phyllis Holmen, GLSP executive director, and Currey Hitchens, GLSP staff attorney.

The Asian American Law Students Association (AALSA) at Emory University’s School of Law donated $1500 to Georgia Legal Services Program on April 14, 2016. According to Emory’s website, AALSA provides educational programs and offers networking opportunities within the Asian community.

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Elizabeth Suh, left, of AALSA gives to Phyllis Holmen, GLSP executive director.

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Losing Medicaid? You might not have to!

Has the Department of Family and Children’s Services sent you a notice saying your Medicare Part B premium will no longer be paid under the Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary program? 

It could be because you are eligible for a better program that will pay more–the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary program (QMB).

But the DFCS notices are not giving out that information.

For more information, you can contact Georgia Legal Services Program’s Benefits Hotline at 1-888-632-6332. Be aware: You must appeal within 33 days of the notice to protect your rights. See the back of your notice!

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Georgia Schools Take a Stand Against Teen Dating Violence

One in three adolescent girls in the U.S. is a victim of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner, and teens who experience violence are more likely to use drugs and alcohol, attempt suicide, and carry patterns of abuse into future relationships. Because of this, Georgia Legal Services Attorney Tomieka Daniel is working with local domestic violence task forces, asking schools to take steps to end dating violence among teens and formally recognize February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. The cities of Dublin, Irwinton, Fort Valley, and Madison have already committed to signing the proclamation.

While Georgia law requires that the Board of Education develop curriculum on teen dating violence prevention for grades 8-12, it’s unclear if one has been developed and implemented by local school districts throughout the state.

“Teens face many of the same issues that adults face when dealing with dating violence, however there are not as many avenues available for teens to tap into when seeking help,” says Daniel, the attorney with Georgia Legal Services, pointing to the lack of resources for teens in violent relationships. The civil legal aid organization handles hundreds of domestic violence cases each year throughout the state, including for high school and college students.

The proclamation Daniel and others are asking school district officials to sign states that, by addressing violence and unhealthy relationship behavior early on, domestic violence later in life can be prevented. “…By providing young people with education about healthy relationships and changing their attitudes away from supporting violence to embracing mutual respect, we recognize that dating violence can be prevented,” it reads.

With an estimated one in three women having experienced physical violence in an intimate partner relationship in their lifetime, prevention of such violence is significant, and could be life-saving. Fifty percent of victims who die at the hands of their abuser started those relationships while they were young, between the ages of 13 and 24, according to a report from The Georgia Domestic Violence Fatality Review Project.

For teenagers involved in abusive relationships, there is help. Attorneys at Georgia Legal Services can assist in obtaining a stalking order, which orders the stalker to stop hitting, harassing, and contacting the victim. The attorneys can also work with school officials to educate them on violence prevention, and advocate class schedule changes for victims.

Only one-third of teens who are in an abusive relationship tell anyone. But seeking help–like the legal protections that Georgia Legal Services attorneys can offer–can effectively stop a problem that might otherwise negatively impact one’s life in the long-term.

“If I can reach you before it gets to that stage, I won’t have to represent you in court a few years from now,” says Daniel.

Georgia ranks among the worst in terms of states with high prevalence of teen dating violence.

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Circuit Riding Around Albany Increasing Residents’ Access to Justice

This article was originally published by the Albany Herald under the headline “Georgia Legal Services adds Westtown Library to ‘circuit’”. Read the article here.

Georgia Legal Services “circuit rider” Whitney Knox, one of seven lawyers in the Albany GLS offices on Oglethorpe Boulevard, is available to discuss very specific legal issues with Westtown patrons from 10 a.m. to noon on the second Tuesday of each month. The program is part of Georgia Legal Services’ efforts to make its staff available where there are specific needs in the community.

“We circuit ride in all 33 of the counties in our service area,” GLS Supervising Attorney Rhonda Bass said. “Our services are offered to usually low-income individuals who meet federal poverty guidelines, and we offer elder law services to people 60 and over with no income guidelines.

Read this Albany Herald article in full here.

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New Guidelines for Law Enforcement Broaden Access to Justice for Non-Native English Speakers and Persons with Hearing Disabilities

GLSP’s newly developed model language access plan offers practical suggestions and resources to assist Georgia law enforcement agencies with meeting its legal obligations to ensure that limited English proficient and deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals have meaningful access to the agency’s services. This model plan is adaptable to local needs and can assist in identifying those who need language assistance; notifying the public of language assistance services; developing procedures for interpretation services in interviews, interrogations, filing complaints, and document translation; outlining training for agency staff and required qualifications for interpreters; and more. As a recipient of federal funds, the failure to provide meaningful language access can result in the filing of a federal lawsuit and the possible loss of federal funding under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Safe Streets Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and their implementing regulations.

Download the model language access plan here. (Appendices available here.)

Read the Vera Institute of Justice report Overcoming Language Barriers: Solutions for Law Enforcement here.

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GLSP’s Ira Foster On Rights at Youth and The Law Summit

The 2nd Annual Georgia Youth and The Law Summit was attended by over 100 youth and parents in Macon on Jan. 16. GLSP Managing Attorney Ira Foster helped organize the event and was joined by panelists such as judges, lawyers, police and correctional officers, and others in the legal community. Damon Elmore, former president of both the Young Lawyers Division and the Georgia Legal Services Board, moderated the event. One session was centered around “Think Before You Act” engaged students and sparked questions throughout the crowd (see photo below).

Youth and Law Summit (2)

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215 Georgians Served on Ask A Lawyer Day

More than 215 individuals with low-incomes received free legal help last Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015. Attorneys from Georgia Legal Services Program and the Georgia State Bar’s General Practice and Trial section teamed up to provide free legal services in 21 counties around the state, from Richmond to Tattnall, Dougherty to Whitfield.

Volunteer private attorneys and Georgia Legal Services Program attorneys worked together to provide legal help in areas related to family, probate, criminal, consumer, real estate, and housing law issues, among others. Below is a photo essay of the successful event.

Macon. Volunteer Attorney David Bury prepares for his next client.

Macon. Volunteer Attorney David Bury prepares for his next client.

 

Columbus. Attorney Ray Tillery and GLSP Attorney Chandra Wilson.

Columbus. Attorney Ray Tillery and GLSP Attorney Chandra Wilson.

Macon. Attorney Kevin Hicks and GLSP Pro Bono Coordinator Rachael Schell.

Macon. Attorney Kevin Hicks and GLSP Pro Bono Coordinator Rachael Schell.

Columbus. Attorney Ray Tillery and Rhudine Nelson, GLSP Pro Bono coordinator

Columbus. Attorney Ray Tillery and Rhudine Nelson, GLSP Pro Bono coordinator

Columbus. Attorney Paul Kauffmann and client.

Columbus. Attorney Paul Kauffmann and client.

Brunswick. Melissa Cruthirds, Casey Harris, and J. Wrix Mcilvaine.

Brunswick. Melissa Cruthirds, Casey Harris, and J. Wrix Mcilvaine.

Macon. Pro Bono Coordinator Rachael Schell is interviewed by a local television news station about Ask A Lawyer Day.

Macon. Pro Bono Coordinator Rachael Schell is interviewed by a local television news station about Ask A Lawyer Day.

Macon. Attorney David Bury (left) and client.

Macon. Attorney David Bury (left) and client.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Albany. Volunteer attorney Marshall Portivent and his client.

Albany. Volunteer attorney Marshall Portivent and his client.

Augusta. Volunteer Attorney Chade Franklin.

Augusta. GLSP Attorney Chastity Franklin.

Macon. Attorney Sharon Reeves (right) and client.

Macon. Attorney Sharon Reeves (right) and client.

 

Macon. Attorney David Bury, Attorney James Freeman, Judge Phillip Brown, Attorney Larry Brox, and Attorney Veronica Brinson.

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