Guest Blogger: Cynthia Cothran, LRE Director at the SC Bar

Help make mock trial rock!

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Volunteers Needed!

It is that time of year again!

The Law Related Education (LRE) Division is seeking volunteers for its growing mock trial programs, which teach middle and high school students about the legal system through trial role playing. Mock trial volunteers enjoy the thrill of competition while scoring and presiding over trials. LRE not only needs volunteers to score the competitions, but attorney coaches to help prepare the teams.

WANT TO SCORE A COMPETITION?

Competitions Dates and Locations are as follows:

October 31, 2009 Middle School Mock Trial Regional Competitions (Charleston (full), Columbia, Conway and Greenville)

November 21, 2009 Middle School Mock Trial State Competition (Lexington) (full)

February 27, 2010 High School Mock Trial Regional Competitions (Charleston, Columbia, Conway, and Greenville)

March 12-13, 2010 High School Mock Trial State Competition (Columbia)

WANT TO COACH?

If anyone is interested in serving as an attorney coach instead of a scoring judge, there are several high schools that need attorney coaches that are as follows:

Berkeley County: Cane Bay High School

Horry: Carolina Forest High School

Richland: Lower Richland High School, Ridgeview High School, Spring Valley High School

York: Nations Ford High School, Westminster Catawba Christian School

Pickens: D.W. Daniel High School

All mock trial volunteers earn pro bono credit for their hours dedicated to the mock trial program. To learn more or volunteer, contact Cynthia H. Cothran at ccothran@scbar.org or at (803) 252-5139.

One Thousand – That’s a lot!

1,000: That's a LOT

1,000: That's a LOT

Summertime in the South. Ah, sweltering, humid temps. Columbia is FAMOUSLY HOT and Atlanta is known as HOTLANTA.

Nothing new there, right? Not so fast.

Even here in Columbia, we recognize cool stuff and our neighbors have something to celebrate:

The Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta recently hit a milestone – placement of their 1,000th legal matter with a volunteer attorney! Very cool indeed!

Congratulations Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta! We look forward to hearing more about your work and service to the community!

-RFW

Upcoming SC Events

Here are some noteworthy events coming up in May 2009. Feel free to add them to your calendar.

 

Columbia, SC:

Friday, May 1 – P&A’s Annual Gala: Celebrating Abilities: An Evening of Jazz and Art

To benefit Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities, Inc. (P&A)

6:00 to 9:00 p.m. on the 17th floor of the Meridian Building.

Admission: $50 per person, sponsorships available

 

Friday, May 8 – University of South Carolina School of Law GRADUATION

 

Saturday, May 9 – South Carolina Bar Young Lawyer Division’s 3rd Annual Justice Jam

To benefit Sistercare

7:00 p.m. at Sudworks in Five Points

Admission: $5 per person

 

Tuesday, May 12 – Women After Five 16th Annual Reception and Silent Auction
To benefit Sistercare
5:30 to 8:00 p.m. at the Columbia Conference Center
Admission: $40 per person donation requested

 

Beaufort, SC:

Friday, May 22 – CODA 2009 Carolina Spring Fling

To benefit CODA and Lowcountry survivors of domestic violence

6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the University of South Carolina Beaufort Hargray Building and Harvey Plaza

Admission: $50 per person or $40 per person for groups of 10 or more

 

Charleston, SC:

Saturday, May 16 – Charleston School of Law GRADUATION

 

-RFW

Save the Dream Tour Brings Hope to Homeowners

When: MARCH 13th – 16th

Where: Columbia, SC

What: NACA Save the Dream Event allows some homeowners to restructure their mortgages the same day

Hosted by: Representative James Clyburn

Cost:  FREE

Thousands line up to meet with Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) counselors to discuss their mortgages and keep their homes. According to an article in the Columbia Regional Business Report (CRBR), more than 10,000 people participated in the first three days of the Save the Dream event. NACA’s role is to work with homeowners and lenders to stave off foreclosures; often by reducing mortgage rates.

U.S. House Majority Whip James Clyburn was instrumental in bringing the group to Columbia. According to the CRBR report, Rep. Clyburn noted that “homeownership is the most widespread access to wealth in this country.”

According to an article in The State, 202 counselors were on hand to evaluate each homeowner’s situation; which averaged 45 minutes per case.

Even though the special event ends today, NACA will continue its work in South Carolina at its offices in Columbia and Charleston as well as its nearby offices in Augusta, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina.

If you are a homeowner and have questions, click here or call toll-free 1-888-302-NACA. Information is also available in Spanish here. (Español aquí)

-RFW

South Carolina, Subject of Washington Post Article

Columbia, South Carolina (my hometown) is featured today in More Need, Less Help by Amy Goldstein at the Washington Post.

The subject is that as South Carolina’s ranking rises in unemployment and the financial crisis spirals out of control, the need for assistance rises.

  • South Carolinians are out-of-work.

  • South Carolinians are hungry. 

  • South Carolinians cannot pay rent or mortgages. 

  • South Carolinians are going without medication.

  • South Carolinians are worried about their children and their futures.

Food pantries like Harvest Hope are working as hard as they can to fill orders. But their supplies are running short.

Other charities, like the United Way of South Carolina, United Way of the Midlands, the Central Carolina Community Foundation, the Family Service Center, and the Salvation Army, are working round the clock to assist, but their donations are dwindling as well.

Excerpts:

Timothy Ervolina, president of the United Way Association of South Carolina, worries that the web of philanthropic and nonprofit groups may not be able to fulfill the governor’s [Sanford] expectations. Ervolina has watched fundraising fade at United Ways across the state, even as calls pour in to their crisis hotlines.

. . .

South Carolina Legal Services, a statewide network that gives free legal help, in July received the biggest grant handed out by the South Carolina Bar Foundation but in January was asked to return 15 percent of it.

The time to act is now. If you can afford to make a donation, please do so.

Your donation may offer someone else hope. Hope to carry on. Hope for their children. Hope to live.

Thanks Washington Post for sharing the story of Columbia, SC!

-RFW

What’s wrong with this picture?

picture-frame-rfw-2

I found the following comment by “Dan” to an article posted by www.ctv.ca entitled “Canada’s top judge says justice often blockedhere.

Dan
I lost the car, the driver licence because I was registered with Family maintenance – no communication from them whatsoever – and the mother leaves the country and I always took care of the kids.
I lost because 

  • I cannot afford a lawyer.

  • I lost jobs also. Very soon I will be on the streets.

  • No laywer – the judges don’t want to listen.

Why did “Dan’s” words hit so hard?

Because the comments by “Dan” from Canada could easily have been written by “Carl” from Cowpens or “Collin” from Columbia. This past year, the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission conducted public hearings around the state to learn of barriers to justice by those living in or just above the federal poverty guidelines.

What did we hear?

  • We heard that transportation to the courthouse is a barrier, especially in rural areas.
  • We heard that many South Carolinians, including many who work, are unable to afford to hire an attorney.
  • We heard that when people lost their jobs or had medical emergencies, it completely depleted their savings and put them into debt.
  • We heard that South Carolina Legal Services attorneys with large caseloads having to decide whether to help a  19 year-old woman  living in a shelter and also a victim of domestic violence, recently beaten and raped by her husband and then sued for child custody OR an 82 year old widow who has been sued with a foreclosure action due to an unscrupulous, illegal predatory loan. (from actual testimony given at the Anderson regional public hearing)
  • And we heard more.

So why did “Dan’s” words hit so hard?

Because as an attorney and officer of the court, I took an oath to “assist the defenseless or oppressed by ensuring that justice is available to all citizens and will not delay any person’s cause for profit or malice” (see Lawyer’s Oath).

So why did “Dan’s” words hit so hard?

Because “Dan’s” words let me know that I need to continue to assist South Carolinians in need of access to legal representation and the courts. His words echo the words of so many South Carolinians who spoke at the hearings and many who did not who continue to believe that justice is simply a theory that has not, does not and will not be reality for him.

It’s time for justice to become real to people in need. It’s time for justice to become active. And it’s time for the legal community to come together to make it happen.

It’s time for “Dan’s” words to become obsolete.

-RFW

PS – Original Art by RFW/Paint

 

SC Attorneys: Are you looking for a short-term Pro Bono Project?

Looking for a short-term Pro Bono Opportunity? Look no further!

From the South Carolina Bar:

Phone bank date change — volunteers still needed!

Volunteers are needed to staff upcoming Ask-A-Lawyer phone banks.

The Florence/Myrtle Beach phone bank has been changed to February 25.

Phone banks will also be held in Columbia on March 10; Greenville/Spartanburg on April 15; and Charleston on May 20 to assist the public with its legal questions.

To volunteer, please contact Debbie Morris at (803) 799-6653, ext. 158.

-RFW