GLSP Attorney Anthony Davenport represented Georgia Legal Services at the 4th Annual “Project Homeless Connect” event on Nov. 17, 2015, where the individuals in the area experiencing homelessness and the working poor population are connected to community agencies offering much needed services. At this year’s event, more than 500 individuals received health screenings, legal services, haircuts, clothing, food, and much more. The event was hosted by the Albany Dougherty Homeless Coalition. GLSP in Albany is proud to participate in this event each year.
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.
This article was originally published on Capital Soup on Oct. 29, 2015.
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) has named Angela Felecia Epps the new dean of the FAMU College of Law. Professor Epps will join the College of Law, located in Orlando, Fla., on January 4, 2016.
Epps currently serves as a professor of law at the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR). She also served as associate dean for Academic Affairs and professor of law from 2008-2014. Epps joined the UALR in 1999. Her teaching and scholarly focus is on criminal law, criminal procedure, and legal counseling, a reflection of her distinguished career as a legal officer and judge advocate for the United States Marine Corps. She previously served as a managing attorney for the Georgia Legal Services Program in Albany.
Commenting on her appointment, Professor Epps said, “I am honored to be selected as the next dean of the FAMU College of Law. I am excited about becoming part of the legacy of ‘Excellence with Caring’ that is FAMU and I look forward to working with the College of Law community. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve in this important position.”
Epps was selected after a national search conducted in partnership with Greenwood/Asher & Associates, Inc.
Dean Michael Hunter Schwartz of the UALR William H. Bowen School praised Epps for her contributions to the legal community.
“Florida A&M University is getting a gem of an educator, colleague, administrator and, most of all, human being in selecting Felecia Epps as the dean of the Law School,” he said. “Her departure from UALR-Bowen is bittersweet for her colleagues here in Little Rock, but we all have known for a long time that she possesses a deep reservoir of skills and abilities that could be tapped.”
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Marcella David noted Epps’ extensive and significant practical experience as important to what she will bring to the FAMU deanship.
“Professor Epps’ ability to nurture connections with the legal community and local community will support FAMU’s continued growth and impact in the region and across the state. At the same time, she is an active and engaged scholar who will focus on the student experience and supporting faculty members’ scholarly, research, and service activities,” David said.
Professor Epps earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology and political science from Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa in 1980, and her Juris Doctor (magna cum laude) from Creighton University School of Law in Omaha, Nebraska in 1983.
This commentary was originally published in the Daily Report on Oct., 23, 2015.
In Service: Georgia Legal Services Director Reflects on Big Year
So many of our clients’ stories start with struggle and result in triumph, through their own persistence and a lawyer’s help at the right moment.
One senior citizen finally decided that 30 years of abuse was enough. Once she made that decision, with our help she was able to leave her husband and find peace and safety. But the decision to make the journey was hers.
Or the high school student near graduation with options for college—threatened with harsh discipline for a minor act for which others were not punished. With our help he was able to graduate.
Read the full article here.
Phyllis Holmen is the executive director of the Georgia Legal Services Program.
This commentary piece was originally published in The Daily Report on Oct. 6, 2015.
Guns are being left in the hands of abusers despite a federal law making it illegal in certain cases. In the past few months, at least four women have died, reportedly shot and killed with weapons that should have been removed from abusers under federal law.
Read the full article here.
This Georgia Bar Journal article featured and interview with GLSP attorney Jana Edmondson-Cooper on language barriers and access to justice. Read the full article here, on pg. 76.
Eliminating Barriers to Justice: How and Why to Ensure Language Access for Limited English Proficient and Deaf/Hard of Hearing Litigants
The Lawyer’s Creed states that we should: “strive to improve the law and our legal system, to make the law and our legal system available to all, and to seek the common good through the representation of my clients.” This access to justice extends to those with limited English proficiency, and deaf and hard of hearing litigants. In his 2014 State of the Judiciary address, Chief Justice Hugh P. Thompson addressed the subject of language access: “As Georgia continues to grow in population and diversity, access to justice is a challenge requiring the commitment and hard work of us all. . . . In addition to poor people, those who do not speak English are entitled to justice as well. . . . To prepare for the future, Georgia’s courts need an army of trained, certified interpreters. . . .
Currently, Georgia has only 149 licensed court interpreters, and they speak only 12 languages. That is not enough. . . .” Through the leadership of Chief Justice Thompson and other justices, and the work of attorneys like Jana J. Edmondson-Cooper, Immediate Past President Patrise M. Perkins-Hooker and countless other Georgia judges and attorneys, we are making strides toward ensuring access to justice for those with language barriers such as limited English proficiency (LEP) and deaf/hard of hearing litigants (DHH).
Spotlight on Jana J. Edmondson-Cooper
I asked Jana J. Edmondson-Cooper, Bilingual Staff Attorney in the Macon Regional Office of the Georgia Legal Services Program (GLSP) and member of the Supreme Court of Georgia Commission on Interpreters (COI), to share her involvement with this important issue—ensuring those persons involved in our judicial system who have limited English proficiency or are deaf or hard of hearing get the justice they are owed, and we had an enlightening dialogue. AH: How did you get involved in the movement to recognize language as an access to justice issue?
JEC: After fellow GLSP attorney Lisa Krisher and I co-wrote an article in 2012, “Seen But Often Unheard: Limited English Proficiency in Georgia,” Bernadette Olmos, of A.B. Olmos and Associates P.C., contacted us and told us she was pleased to learn that other attorneys were also interested in addressing language access challenges faced by LEP and DHH litigants. As a result, the three of us formed an ad hoc committee of attorneys representing various public interest organizations and the private bar that began meeting monthly in January 2013. We discussed ongoing issues seen in courtrooms statewide regarding language access and in several practice areas including family law, education law, criminal law and civil rights, and later invited other attorneys, interpreters and judges to discuss these issues in greater depth. The committee decided that one way to tackle the common problems of language access in the courts was to develop a comprehensive training where language access stakeholders, especially attorneys and judges, would learn best practices when using interpreters in legal proceedings, strengthen cultural competency skills and learn the legal ethics of language access.
AH: Can you share some contexts where language access and the need for an interpreter are at issue?
JEC: Here are a few anecdotes provided by Georgia attorneys: SCENARIO #1: An attorney represented a client in a family violence matter on a day when no interpreters were available. The judge asked the bailiff to go to the local Mexican restaurant and grab somebody to come and interpret for the proceedings
Read the full article here, on pg. 76.
A letter from a client’s son reminds us at GLSP of the importance of this work.
August 26, 2015
To Whom it May Concern,
This letter is to serve as a testament and record of outstanding work by [GLSP attorney], Attorney for Georgia Legal Services on behalf of my mother, [name kept confidential] and her family.
In all work, communication, and outcome [GLSP attorney] was nothing short of extraordinary.
In order to qualify for a government program, one must have the Wisdom of Solomon and the engagement of a Wall Street Banker. [GLSP attorney] navigated the ways and means of my mother’s needs with aplomb, energy, and a delightful sense of charm. She was at all times a complete professional, yet my family always felt that she treated individuals as people, not rotating digits.
That [GLSP attorney]’s work was completely successful is beyond our dreams, and yet that is exactly what this outstanding attorney accomplished. My dear mother is in a nursing home under the care of the Medicaid program, and she is finally receiving the immediate care an elderly woman with health problems should receive.
We are grateful to Georgia Legal Services, and in particular, to [GLSP attorney] for providing sterling assistance in a difficult field.
You have our profound thanks.
[Son of client kept confidential]
Georgians for a Healthy Future’s First Annual Consumer Health Impact Awards were held on Sept. 9, 2015, and included a Health Advocacy Award in honor of Linda Lowe, Health Policy Specialist at Georgia Legal Services. The award is to be given to a professional or volunteer advocate whose “work advances access to quality, affordable health care in Georgia”, focusing on a vulnerable population and working toward policy change. Georgians for a Healthy Future say Linda, “has dedicated her career to serving as an advocate on behalf of underserved Georgians who need a voice on health and human services issues.” Linda is a public policy advocate focusing on Medicaid and other health programs for low-income Georgians, and has been at GLSP for over thirty years.
Jana J. Edmondson-Cooper was selected by the National Bar Association (NBA) to receive its Nation’s Best Advocates: 40 Under 40 Award during the NBA’s 90th Annual Convention held in Los Angeles, CA July 19 -23, 2015. The award recognizes the nation’s top lawyers under 40 who exemplify a broad range of high achievement, including in innovation, vision, leadership and legal and community involvement. In addition to the 40 Under 40 recognition, five of the forty awardees were deemed to have distinguished themselves further by exemplifying Excellence in Activism, Excellence in Innovation, Excellence in Leadership, Excellence in Service and as Best Advocate of the Year, respectively and honored with a second award to that effect. Jana was honored with the Excellence in Service Award for exemplifying service to low-income and underrepresented individuals, particularly those who have limited or no ability to communicate in English.
Jana J. Edmondson-Cooper has been selected to receive an Award of Achievement from the Young Lawyers Division (YLD) of the State Bar of Georgia . Jana has been active with the YLD for several years including graduating from the YLD’s Leadership Academy in 2012 and serving as a Middle District Representative from 2012-2014. Last year, Jana was appointed to serve on the 2014-2015 YLD Board of Directors as Director of Membership Outreach. Jana will be honored for her distinguished service to the YLD and presented with the award during the Young Lawyers Division Dinner , which will be held during the State Bar of Georgia’s Annual Meeting at the Marriott Evergreen Conference Center in Stone Mountain, Georgia. The Dinner will take place on Friday, June 19th starting at 7:30pm