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

Congratulations Richland County CASA!

Spotlight on RC CASA

The National CASA has award Richland County CASA with their Promising Practices Spotlight this April 17, 2010, during their recognition banquet at the National CASA Association Annual Conference held in Atlanta, GA.

According to their site:

Promising Practices Spotlights highlight original activities, programs, projects or events that enhance the CASA/GAL program’s ability to deliver on the mission of providing court-appointed volunteer advocacy to abused and neglected children. More than one program may be highlighted each year.

For a list of other award winners, click here.

-RFW

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.

Legal Services = Basic Needs

Extra! Extra! Read All About it!
Extra! Extra! Read All About it!

Earlier today the United Way of the Midlands released their Community-Needs Assessment Report online at http://uway.org/facing_facts/.

While the report is specific to Richland and Lexington Counties, the issues highlighted in the report may be universal for people living in poverty. According to the report:

Many households in our community daily struggle to pay for housing, utilities, food, clothing and legal help.

While many of us recognize shelter and food as basic necessities, we may not associate legal help as one. And, that’s the legal community’s fault for not publicizing this fact.

For people living in poverty, legal services is often their lifeline. As I note often, as a general rule (there are always exceptions), people do not seek legal assistance when all is going well.

  • In the criminal justice arena someone is either the victim of a crime or is accused of perpetrating the crime.
  • In civil legal services, it’s very similar. Someone has been wronged or someone receives a complaint for wrongdoing. This can be contractual – landlord/tenant, debt repayment/collections, utilities, etc. It can be in other forms – divorce, child support, child custody, government benefits, etc.

For those of us working in civil legal services, this is second-nature.

And we’re glad that others now recognize it.

Thanks to United Way of the Midlands for collecting this data and publishing the report!

-RFW

$44 million infusion to 20 counties to mitigate foreclosures!

The South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority (SCSHA) announced the $44,673,692 infusion to South Carolina via the U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) to help 20 counties with the highest foreclosure rates and targeted areas with high levels of subprime mortgages, mortgage defaults and delinquencies.

Greenville County received $2,262,856 and Richland County received $2,221,859 in separate allocations.

To review the HUD interactive map online, click here. According to the SCSHA, the NSP received allocations over $2 billion via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Thanks to the Columbia Regional Business Report for tipping SC Access to Justice about the story.

-RFW