Listen to a radio program on which Macon Supervising Attorney Tomieka Daniel is interviewed about domestic violence and what can be done to prevent it and to help its victims. CLICK HERE to link to the program aired on WCLK Atlanta.
To see the video CLICK HERE
Click below to see in both English and Spanish who is eligible to enroll children in school and the documents required.
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Lawyer Biking in All 159 of Georgia’s Counties for Legal Services
Damon Elmore is bicycling in all 159 of the state’s counties to spread the word and raise money for Georgia Legal Services Program
Paul Shea, Daily Report
The Moore Sparks partner is spending many weekends this year riding his bike around Georgia—all of Georgia. Elmore, whose practice focuses on labor and employment, is determined to pedal in each of the state’s 159 counties. It’s for a good cause.
Elmore is risking saddle sores and weary legs to raise awareness and money for the Georgia Legal Services Program, a nonprofit law firm founded in 1971 that offers free legal help to the state’s poor in all but the five-county metro Atlanta area. Elmore is a longtime member of GLSP’s board of directors.
GLSP has 10 regional offices helping low-income Georgians with civil matters such as domestic violence, housing, education, access to health care, benefits and civil rights issues.
The biking attorney is more than halfway through his journey. He has ridden in 91 counties and, weather permitting, will add as many as four more by this weekend. He rides mostly in county seats, often on 20-mile tours, but has gone as far as 100 miles on multiple-county weekends. The goal is to raise $15,900 by year’s end (for 159 counties).
Elmore, who is 42, is peddling as fast as he can on social media, too, using Twitter (@bikeGAcounties) and Instagram (@damonelmore). He is also using www.razoo.com/story/Damon-Bikes-In-Every-Georgia-County for fundraising and messaging.
What gave you the idea for bike-ride fundraisers?
It was a marriage of convenience. Like many, I had been a casual bike rider all my life. It has been within the last two or three years that I have gotten serious about the sport, mainly for the health benefits. What gave me the idea to marry my bike riding and raising money for the Georgia Legal Services Program was some time I spent with a friend who was training for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. On a very small scale, I thought, I can do that for GLSP.
You are now more than halfway through. How would you characterize the response so far?
It has taken a while for the idea to sink in because I have been more shy about my effort than I should be. However, now that the exposure has grown and more people are talking about it, everyone seems fascinated by the bike portion.
That gives me a chance to introduce the cause, and that’s when I see people become enlightened about the broad range of legal services provided for a large part of our state’s population. That’s for lawyers and nonlawyers alike.
What are you seeing as the biggest needs of GLSP clients in 2014?
GLSP’s clients have legal problems that impact their very basic needs, such as wages, or sometimes the very basic benefits of our country’s safety net: keeping a roof over their heads, getting access to medical care and getting a good education for their kids.
Seniors are being exploited by unscrupulous creditors and are also getting caught in the red tape surrounding old-age benefits. We’re working to help clients who don’t speak English well. It shouldn’t take a lawyer to get Medicaid, or to keep your child in school, but often it does.
What are people along your routes telling you?
People are surprised at the breadth of services that GLSP provides and what civil legal services for the poor really means. In talking to people along the way, I hear time and again: “We need help. People here need help.”
Often, people don’t see these every-day problems as legal ones, so it’s always great to connect with them, talk to them and educate them a little about why I ride, both for myself and GLSP.
What are the challenges of meeting those needs?
The increasing number of poor people in the state and lack of enough lawyers to address their critical problems. Clients in very rural parts of the state often are without transportation or money for phone minutes to contact a lawyer for help. Sometimes the legal issues are complex. And there are few alternative sources of help for poor people.
Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of Georgia lawyers who are generous with their time and support of pro bono efforts. Even with all of their support and the heavy load our staff attorneys manage, there is always more [need].
How are lawyers in regional GLSP offices reacting to your visits?
Like everyone else, they are somewhat fascinated by the cycling component. Beyond that, we know that the staff attorneys are grateful for the support provided as a member of the board of directors, and the awareness we are trying to bring to their work.
Aside from social media, how are you publicizing your rides before going to specific counties?
A phone call to the chambers of commerce, visitors/tourist centers or similar entities. We were able to generate a bit of buzz with that effort in Baldwin, Laurens and Talbot counties. We’ll also send a notice or mini-press release to the local paper. If one is in the area, I will give a heads-up to local bike shops.
Whether spontaneous or planned, I have always found a coffee or snack shop where a conversation is started up about the biking and, then, we launch into our story.
Are you riding with attorneys from the regional offices?
We try and ride with any that will join and extend an open invitation. This is even for the casual, new rider or person looking to get a little exercise. Attorneys and friends of GLSP have joined us on rides in Augusta (Richmond County), in Greene County and along the Silver Comet Trail through Polk and Paulding. From time to time we will get interest in some of the poorer areas from children on their bikes that want to race.
You are taking photographs and telling stories about your trip on a Web page. How has that been received?
I’ve really enjoyed taking photos and researching the counties where I ride and adding information about that in the captions and tweets. Using social media to get the word out about my efforts is a fun and rewarding component.
It’s been well received by the cycling and legal community in Georgia, as well as folks that just happen upon my Instagram feed. In a sense, I think many of those pictures of #thingsseencycling tell more about our story.
Who has helped you with this project?
The support and suggestions have been overwhelming. The leadership team and members of the board with Georgia Legal Services have made sure we are accurate with our message. Josh Bell from Whigham, Ga., has been a huge support and one of our largest donors to date. Our friends at Loose Nuts Bike Shop in Grant Park have been kind with technical advice and keeping our equipment up-to-date.
But Sarah Coole (State Bar of Georgia) has been the biggest help—willing to give her thoughts on our press releases and social media notices. She has also been kind enough to snap a picture or two.
If you had the money in hand today, what would you do with the $15,900?
We’d be sure to spread it out and around the counties and potential clients we serve. What’s really important about this initiative is being out there, in every county in Georgia, connecting with a huge range of people and getting the word out about GLSP. The $15,900 could help supplement the salary for an attorney in one of our regional offices where we could help our neighbors, particularly in those middle regions.
Copyright 2014. ALM Media Properties, LLC. All rights reserved.
Macon GLSP attorney Jana Edmondson-Cooper was recently honored,by her law school alma mater, Mississippi College School of Law. Edmondson-Cooper received the Young Lawyer of the Year Award, which recognizes a lawyer who has graduated within the past 10 years who has made outstanding contributions to the legal community. Also honored by the Mississippi College School of Law was Judge Stephen Dillard from the Georgia Court of Appeals. Judge Dillard is an alum as well and received the State Judge of the Year Award for outstanding judicial service.
Piedmont Staff Attorney Currey Hitchens wrote a gripping story for The Daily Report about a victim of domestic violence that was almost her client.
Atlanta, February 26, 2014 – Two Georgia Supreme Court Justices and several superior court judges lent support to the idea that “equal justice for all” includes providing language access to the courts through well-qualified interpreters to people with limited English, as well as those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Justices Harold Melton and Keith Blackwell both spoke at a Continuing Legal Education Session on Feb. 20 at John Marshall Law School in Atlanta, sponsored by Georgia Legal Services Program, the Southern Center for Human Rights, the State Bar of Georgia Access to Justice
Committee and the Supreme Court of Georgia Commission on Interpreters, among others. Justice Melton is stepping down as chair of the Commission on Interpreters and Justice Blackwell is taking over the chairmanship. The Justices spoke of the need not only for certified interpreters proficient in a number of languages, but also for well-qualified interpreters who understand legal terminology and their obligation to protect the confidentiality of their clients. Judges from rural areas of Georgia spoke about the difficulty of making sure qualified interpreters are available, especially in cases where parties are low-income and the court is obliged to pay for language services.
Georgia Legal Services Program, which serves low-income Georgians in civil matters in 154 counties outside Metro Atlanta, has made language access a major priority in its service to Limited English Proficiency clients, as well as to clients who are deaf or hard of hearing. GLSP staff members were among the leaders in planning for and presenting the CLE. GLSP Litigation Director Lisa Krisher and
Bilingual Staff Attorney Jana Edmondson-Cooper spoke at the CLE about the importance of providing interpretation services and on how interpreters must be highly trained to be effective.
The CLE also included discussions of “Legal Underpinnings for Language Accesss,” “Cultural Competency,” “Best Practices for Working with Interpreters: From Client Intake to the Bench,” and “Ethical Considerations When Representing Limited English Proficient and Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing Clients.”
To look at the detailed materials from the CLE, please click here…
The Supreme Court of Georgia put information about the CLE up on the court’s website at: http://www.gasupreme.us/press_releases/melton.php
GLSP Senior Staff Attorney Cole Thaler co-authored a piece in the Clearinghouse Review about legal aid organizations’ mission to work with low income Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Queer clients.
Click below to read the whole article…
Can a defendant in a civil case who cannot speak English effectively participate in her court case without a trained interpreter? Are courts required to provide trained interpreters? Can a judge summon a bilingual clerk to assist?
Georgia Legal Services Program bilingual attorney Jana J. Edmondson-Cooper recently interviewed Georgia Supreme Court Justice Harold D. Melton to work through some of those questions and discuss his passion for improving access to justice among those who speak limited or no English or have other communication challenges, such as hearing impairment.
Click below to see the entire interview in The Daily Report
PDF Justice Melton in DR