Access to Justice: Interpreters for the Deaf

The SC Access to Justice Commission is pleased to collaborate with the SC School for the Deaf and Blind (SCSDB), SC Court Administration, the SC Association of the Deaf (SCAD), the SC Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (SCRID), SC Legal Services (SCLS), the SC Bar Public Services Division, and Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities, Inc. (P&A) to ensure that all Deaf South Carolinians have equal access to the civil court system.

Part of that collaboration was to increase the number of qualified American Sign Language Interpreters in the courts. Well, as you may recall, last summer, the SCSDB partnered with Richland County to help 25 sign language interpreters work toward nationally recognized legal certification. And earlier this month, that’s exactly what occurred.

From January 6, 2011 through January 9, 2011, 25 sign language interpreters gathered in Richland County for “Foundations of Court Interpreting” by Carla Mathers, who is licensed to practice law in Maryland and D.C. and holds a Comprehensive Skills Certificate (CSC) and a Specialist Certificate:  Legal (SC:L) and has written a book about legal interpreting.

And the collaborators remain committed to providing quality sign language interpretation in the courts.

And many thanks to The State for its coverage of this topic!

-RFW

P&A Wants You(r Input)!

Every year the South Carolina protection and advocacy system, Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities, Inc. (P&A) asks for public opinion on what they should do also known as priority work areas.

Their Board of Directors reviews the information from the public and compares it to data they have received throughout the year. Once the Board has completed this process, it sets the priority work areas for the year. The reason they’re asking for it now is that their fiscal year runs October 1 to September 30.

To get your input into setting their priority work areas, P&A asks that you complete their online survey that will close on September 10, 2009.

suggestion box

-RFW

Report from P&A about CRCFs in South Carolina

P&A Report
P&A Report

Press Release from Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities, Inc. (P&A):

 This is to notify you that No Place to Call Home: How South Carolina has failed Residents of Community Residential Care Facilities has been published today and can be located on the P&A Website at http://www.protectionandadvocacy-sc.org.

 Due to the memory of the actual files, we have provided direct links to the press release, cover letter, report and slideshow.

No Place to Call Home Press Release

No Place to Call Home Cover Letter

No Place to Call Home Report

No Place to Call Home Picture Slideshow

 For a hard copy, please contact P&A:

  • By phone 1.866.275.7273 (Voice) or 1.866.232.4525 (TTY) (Toll-free in SC)

OR

 -RFW

Harriet McBryde Johnson: A Tribute

In June 1999, while I was studying for the South Carolina Bar Exam, an event occurred many miles away that would significantly impact my life. The United States Supreme Court decided Olmstead v. LC on June 22, 1999. (If you’re not familiar with this landmark decision, please read it or about it)

I know, you’re wondering “What does this have to do with Harriet?”

Read on.

My first job out of law school was at Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities, Inc. (P&A) as the PAIMI attorney. Most of my time was spent in mental health institutions working on civil rights for people with serious mental illness. And then in January 2000, I was asked to work to implement the Olmstead decision in South Carolina.

That’s when Harriet entered my life.

I’d heard about Harriet. Much. She was tenacious. She was a force to be reckoned with. But I’d not yet met her. Harriet was a board member at P&A and at one time had worked there. Now she was a successful attorney in Charleston. I couldn’t wait to meet this woman who struck fear in some and awe in others.

And then she came to a meeting. A small woman with a long braid in a big wheelchair. We exchanged greetings and the meeting started. We discussed the usual stuff. And then she spoke. Wow. She didn’t yell. She didn’t rant. She spoke. With feeling. With knowledge. With personal conviction. Harriet won me over.

Over the next several years, I would work with Harriet on some projects, even give joint presentations. I read her books. Her short stories. I brought her to tears once with a personal story. (I didn’t mean to do that) We lunched together. Then we no longer lunched together because of special diet restrictions.

I told her I admired her. She questioned me “why? Because I’m in a chair and I do things?” I stammered and stumbled all over my words. I wish I’d been able to answer her appropriately that I admired her simply because she inspired me to be a better person. A better attorney.

Harriet didn’t relinquish much. And she didn’t turn away from a fight. She was a great woman and a great attorney.

July 8, 2009 would have been Harriet’s 52nd birthday.

And July 8, 2009 there will be a concert in Charleston to benefit the Harriet McBryde Johnson scholarship. Details below from SCWLA:

Music will focus on Latin music and protest songs.  Leah Suarez and Lindsay Holler will be the featured performers.  The event is July 8th at 7 pm at Circular Church, 150 Meeting Street, Charleston, South Carolina.  The suggested donation is $10.00. 

If you cannot attend, but would like to send a contribution:
Checks should be written to:  USC Educational Foundation, Memo line “Harriet M. Johnson Scholarship”  

Mailed to:   Office of Development USC, School of Law 701 S. Main Street Columbia, SC 29208   For more information, contact Susan Dunn at 830-1571, skingdunn@aol.com.

-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

The Name’s Bono, Pro Bono

bono

It seems only appropriate to use a movie theme as we start to close out the year. After all, in Hollywood, this is the time for new releases as well as a time to reflect on movies from the past year. The same is true in the Access to Justice (ATJ) Community.

There are 4 main components to ATJ:

  1. EDUCATION. Education of the Bench, Bar, and General Public about ATJ as well as what’s currently available for people living within the federal poverty guidelines or those living just above the guidelines, but still unable to afford legal representation.
  2. STAFFED PROGRAMS. This category encompasses LEGAL SERVICES, in South Carolina SCLS, as well as other IOLTA grantees such as Crisis Ministries (homeless), Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation (heirs’ property), CODA (domestic abuse), SisterCare (domestic abuse), SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center (poverty groups and policy), and Low Country Legal Aid to name a few. The Commission would like to expand this collaboration to include entities such as Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities, Inc. (P&A)Catholic Charities,  Charleston Pro Bono Legal Services and others who are providing much needed legal services to people who would otherwise remain disenfranchised. The goal is to collaborate and coordinate in order to serve more while maintaining high quality legal services.
  3. PRO BONO. This category expands to the entire Bar membership, the South Carolina Bar’s Pro Bono Program and law firm pro bono programs, as well as paraprofessional organizations such as the South Carolina Court Reporters Association (SCCRA) and paralegal associations. And Law Students – YOU play a large role as well. Law librarians also play a large role. We are looking to expand existing services and develop new services.
  4. SELF-REPRESENTED LITIGANTS (SRLs). This category encompasses all of the previous components in order to provide quality resources to SRLs as well as develop new resources including forms, clear guidelines, instructional packets, clinics, etc.

None of these components can exist in a vacuum. They must co-exist and coordinate in order for access to justice to become a reality.

Today’s focus is PRO BONO; Pro Bono in South Carolina and Pro Bono elsewhere.

SOUTH CAROLINA. There have been previous posts about the SC Bar’s Pro Bono Program, namely that nominations for Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year are due – NEXT WEEK.

It saddens me that as of this post today there have been NO NOMINATIONS RECEIVED!

Now, I know there are South Carolina attorneys who have volunteered their services in the past year for pro bono. So why aren’t they are clambering for recognitition? Isn’t there at least ONE person who will see this post and nominate someone?

If  you are an attorney who has NOT yet participated in the SC Bar’s Pro Bono Program, let’s address why not, shall we?

  • LACK of TIME. Did you know that the SC Bar’s Pro Bono Program receives requests of all kinds and staff will take into consideration the amount of time you’re willing to spend?
  • LACK of INSURANCE. Did you know that the SC Bar’s Pro Bono Program provides malpractice insurance to ALL of its participants? Even if you are currently unemployed, you will be covered.
  • LACK of EXPERIENCE. NOT TO WORRY! The SC Bar’s Pro Bono Program has MENTORS! Just request one when you sign up. This also allows you the opportunity to NETWORK and grow in another practice area. AND when you sign up, you are eligible for FREE TRAINING! That’s right – FREE!
  • LACK of KNOWLEDGE about the PROGRAM. What do you want to know? If it’s not covered on the website, then feel free to call Angela McKeirnan at 803-799-6653 x. 169 or 877-797-2227 x. 169 for more information. She’ll answer your questions.
  • My job/firm doesn’t allow me to represent individuals. Ok, there are other tasks you can do such as develop manuals, conduct training/clinics in the evening or weekends, ASK-A-LAWYER, be a MENTOR, etc. Just ask.
  • LACK of MOTIVATION. Did you know that Pro Bono attorneys actually feel BETTER after assisting others? Additionally with all the community good will you’re developing, it may benefit your rainmaking efforts without having to go into overdrive. Try it, you just might like it.

And now for Pro Bono news elsewhere:

NY: Found on The Home Equity Theft Reporter – HEADLINE: NYC Pro Bono Effort Training Lawyers In Fight Against Foreclosures. Full story at http://www.brooklyneagle.com/categories/category.php?category_id=4&id=25032.

NY: Attorney Adrienne Flipse Hausch of Garden City has been recognized for her outstanding pro bono legal commitment. Full story at http://www.gcnews.com/news/2008/1205/Community/034.html

FL: Found on http://www.suncoast.com (WWSB ABC Channel 7) – “Study: Fla. lawyers lax on free legal service.” Report found at http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/pub_info/documents/2008_Pro_Bono_Report.pdf.

CA: Santa Clara Bar offers Pro Bono Boot Camp tomorrow – found at http://www.probono.net/calendar/event.221637-Pro_Bono_Boot_Camp.

Western Australia: Pro bono work standard practice found at http://www.wabusinessnews.com.au/login.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wabusinessnews.com.au%2Fstory%2F1%2F69039%2FPro-bono-work-standard-practice.

-RFW

SOUTH CAROLINA VOTERS: 2008 Election Site Survey

Most Americans agree that voting is a fundamental civil right. And with this year’s voting fever, it’s as much so as it ever has been.

So, dear South Carolinians, as you head to your voting site, please complete a simple survey (1 1/2 pages long) and email or mail it back to Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities, Inc. (P&A). It can make the difference between voting and voting discrimination.

The survey is found at http://www.protectionandadvocacy-sc.org/Polling%20Place%20Accessibility%20Survey.pdf. If you have questions, please CALL 1.866.275.7273 and ask for Kimberly Boozer.

Thanks.

-RFW