GLSP Attorney Jana Edmondson-Cooper Given State Bar YLD’s Signature Service Award

Jana Edmondson-Cooper, GLSP attorney of nearly six years, was awarded the State Bar Young Lawyers Division’s Signature Service Award on Saturday, Jan. 23 in Atlanta at the organization’s 10th annual Signature Fundraiser. The Young Lawyers Division (YLD) notes that the award is “presented annually to recognize an individual who has achieved a certain level of service, as measured by his or her commitment to the YLD and other service-related organizations”.

In a Jan.15 statement, they write:

Jana Edmondson-Cooper was an obvious choice for the YLD Signature Service Award,” YLD President John R.B. “Jack” Long of Augusta said.  “Through her job at GLSP, she shows her daily commitment to helping Georgia’s indigent who are in need of legal services.  Furthermore, her volunteer efforts for the YLD reflect her true passion to fulfill the primary mission of the State Bar of Georgia: service to the public.  I am proud to have her serve on the YLD Board of Directors, and appreciate her steadfast dedication to the YLD.

Read more about the event here.

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GLSP Attorney Jana Edmondson-Cooper Named to Top 100 Black Lawyers

Jana J. Edmondson-Cooper. Photo by John Disney/Daily Report.

Jana J. Edmondson-Cooper. Photo by John Disney/Daily Report.

The National Black Lawyers: Top 100 announced that Jana Edmondson-Cooper of Georgia Legal Services Program was selected for inclusion into its Top 100 Black Lawyers, an honor given to only a select group of lawyers for her superior skills and qualifications in the field. Membership in this exclusive organization is by invitation only, and is limited to the top 100 attorneys in each state or region who have demonstrated excellence and have achieved outstanding results in their careers.

Jana J. Edmondson-Cooper provides bilingual legal counsel and representation to low-income individuals, the majority of whom are limited English proficient, in administrative forums and courts of law. Her areas of practice include family law, health law, housing, public benefits, wills & estates and education law with a focus on language access as an access to justice issue.

Read more here.

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GLSP Provides Legal Services to Albany’s Homeless

Anthony Davenport, Albany Dougherty Homeless Coalition's 4th Annual Project Homeless Connect, Nov 2015

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.

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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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Former GLSP Managing Attorney Named Dean of the FAMU College of Law

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.

Angela Epps

Angela Felecia Epps, courtesy of Capital Records.

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.

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GLSP Director Reflects on Big Year

This commentary was originally published in the Daily Report on Oct., 23, 2015.

scales empty courtroom

Courtesy of the Daily Report.

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.

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Daily Report: Enforce Laws Against Domestic Abusers Having Guns

Vicky O. Kimbrell.  Photo by John Disney/Daily Report.

Vicky O. Kimbrell. Photo by John Disney/Daily Report.

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.

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Eliminating Barriers to Justice: Language Access

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.

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A letter from a GLSP client’s son

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.

Most Sincerely,

[Son of client kept confidential]

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GLSP Health Policy Specialist Honored

Linda Lowe_Award Ceremony_Sept 9 2015_2

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.

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