South Carolina: Beware of Stimulus SCAMS!

The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs, SCDCA, has received numerous reports of scams using the stimulus package – each with a different twist – to steal personal information and/or money.

If you have questions or concerns, contact SCDCA’s Public Information Division at (803) 734-4190, toll free in SC at 1-800-922-1594, or online at www.scconsumer.gov.

To read more, click here.

-RFW

Former VP Mondale celebrates Gideon v. Wainwright

Former Vice President Mondale celebrates Gideon v. Wainwright

In case you missed, this morning, former Vice President Walter F. Mondale wrote a column for the Washington Post about the landmark case, Gideon v. Wainwright. What you may not know is that in 1963 in his role as Minnesota’s State Attorney General, the former VP persuaded 23 other state attorneys general to sign a brief in favor of Clarence Earl Gideon.

In Florida, Mr. Gideon was charged with a non-capital felony. Mr. Gideon had no money and no attorney. He asked the Court to appoint an attorney for him, but his request was denied on the ground that state law appointed attorneys for indigents only in captial cases. Mr. Gideon represented himself and was convicted.

Mr. Gideon appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where it was held unanimously that under the 6th Amendment Mr. Gideon and other criminal defendants have a right to be represented by a court-appointed attorney.

The former Vice President’s column is not only a celebration of the decision for indigent criminals, but also a reminder to Americans to review our justice systems – both criminal and civil. He notes that the American Bar Association has “endorsed an expansion of the right to counsel to noncriminal matters where important legal rights, such as loss of housing, are at stake” and that “our justice system depends on the idea that everyone is to be treated fairly, but a lack of resources is affecting the progress the Gideon decision brought to our criminal justice system and is blocking progressive efforts to extend the right to counsel in certain civil cases.”

-RFW

Ask-A-Lawyer in Columbia 3.19.09

The South Carolina Bar Pro Bono Program is sponsoring an Ask-A-Lawyer television telephone bank and web chat on Thursday, March 19th., from 5:00 pm.-7:45 pm. 

The telephone bank will be held at WIS-TV Columbia at 803-758-1020.
 
To use web chat simply log onto the South Carolina Bar’s website (www.scbar.org) , click Ask-A-Lawyer and click to begin LIVE CHAT with an attorney.
-RFW

Latte and the Law

LATTE -n- LAW: legal assistance for middle class

java-and-justice-3

While many of the posts here have focused primarily on people living at, below or slightly above federal poverty guidelines, there are many more people unable to adequately access legal assistance or the civil court system due to prohibitive costs. And the numbers are rising.

According to a Los Angeles Times article “an estimated 60% of Americans find themselves in the gap between those poor enough to qualify for publicly funded Legal Aid and those wealthy enough to afford an uptown lawyer.”

And at storefront law offices like Santa Monica’s LegalGrind, a cafe-legal clearinghouse, those facing court dates to deal with divorce, custody matters, driving offenses and debt can find out for $45 how best to tackle their problems without plunking down a $5,000 retainer and $400 an hour for a lawyer.

One of the proffered solutions is unbundled legal services. Another is additional online resources. Yet another is more Pro Bono service.

Latte and the law – a solution for all of us?

-RFW