PRO BONO COMMITTEE REPORT
May 2, 2002
The Wyoming/Sullivan County Bar Association Pro Bono Committee met on Thursday, April 18, 2002. The following report represents the nature of the discussions and the recommendations of the committee.
The Wyoming/Sullivan County Pro Bono Program is going very well. As of the date of this report, all but two members of the bar have signed up to participate in the program. This constitutes a 92% participation of the bar overall. The breakdown by county is as follows:
|COUNTY OF |
| NUMBER OF |
| NUMBER OF|
| PERCENTAGE OF
|Wyoming|| 16|| 16|| 100%|
|Sullivan|| 4|| 3|| 75%|
|Lackawanna|| 3|| 2|| 67%|
|Bradford|| 1|| 1|| 100%|
|TOTAL|| 24|| 22|| 92%|
Since the two remaining bar members have not refused to participate entirely, it is hoped that they will decide to sign up so that we can achieve 100% participation. As of the date of this report, there have been 13 pro bono referrals made since the program began in January 2002. Those cases represent the following areas of practice:
Child Custody - 9
Landlord/tenant - 1
Protection from Abuse - 1
Divorce without custody - 2
The Pro Bono Committee discussed and voted to recommend to the bar that it pass a motion requiring all future bar members to participate in the Pro Bono Program. This recommendation from the committee will be presented to the membership at the next regular meeting for consideration.
The committee tentatively has scheduled two legal clinics, both of which are slated to be held at the Tunkhannock Public Library. The first tentatively will be held on June 6, 2002, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. This clinic will focus on the magistrate court and debtor/creditor information. This clinic will be conducted by Russell Shurtleff, who will discuss the magistrate court and such topics as small claims, bad checks, landlord/tenant and protection from abuse. Kelly Carrubba will conduct the second half of the clinic and present information on the topic of debtor/creditor information, focusing on debtors, debt counsel and bankruptcy. The second clinic tentatively has been scheduled for June 11, 2002, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. This clinic will focus on family law and will cover such topics as general divorce and separation information, child custody, protection from abuse and support. The clinic will be conducted by Pail Litwin and Deborah Albert-Heise. There will be time allotted at both clinics for a question and answer period following each session.
The committee will solicit help from Judge Vantson with respect to pro se forms that can be made available at the clinics. Anyone who wishes to attend the clinic will be asked to register by calling the Legal Services Office. The committee discussed and voted to recommend to the bar that the membership approve a budget for the clinics in the amount of no more than $200.00 for business card size ads in the Advance and Pennysaver. This recommendation will be presented to the membership for consideration at the next regular bar meeting. Kelly Carrubba will be in charge of registering people to attend the clinics and also will make advertising posters to put around Wyoming and Sullivan counties. The bar is requested to inform the public by word of mouth about these clinics and to refer any interested people to the Legal Services Office.
The committee voted to recommend to the bar that a formal recognition ceremony be scheduled and held in November or December 2002, to honor those bar members who have participated in the Pro Bono Program. Kelly Carrubba agreed to accept responsibility for the planning and coordinating of this event. This recommendation will be presented to the membership for consideration at the next regular bar meeting.
Finally, the committee discussed the issue of whether or not defendants in domestic relations contempt cases should be eligible for the Pro Bono Program. These individuals often face the risk of going to jail, but are not eligible for public defender services or for legal services through the Legal Services Office. The committee voted to discuss this issue at the next regular bar meeting to receive feedback before the committee makes any further recommendations.