The Legal Connector


Vol. 4, No. 3                                                                                   April 2017

C4J News
Second Chances

Many of us have worked with low-income clients whose future options have been severely stunted by the record of their past criminal activity.  We know well that having a criminal record is a major obstacle to getting a job, renting an apartment, and moving forward with one's life to demonstrate lessons learned and second chances earned.

In theory, once a person has served her or his time, the debt to society is paid and the person can re-enter life with a clean slate.  In practice, the record of that past criminal offense--and the common prevalence with which we can now access everyone's criminal history online--curses thousands of people to homelessness, unemployment, and living on the fringes of society.

The modern phenomenon of denying opportunities to people with criminal records has an even more sinister dimension:  the well-documented history of racially disparate policing in communities of color means that people of color are more closely scrutinized and more frequently arrested and convicted of crimes.  For example, in a 2015 Metro Transit Study of Enforcement, African American adults are 16% more likely than Whites to be issued a citation and 40% more likely to be arrested than Whites; Native American adults are 55% more likely than Whites to be issued a citation and twice as likely to be arrested than Whites.  Another study found that while Minneapolis is 64% White, 59% of all arrests are of African Americans.

What's more, most of the crimes for which people of color are arrested are in fact low-level, non-violent offenses:  driving after revocation or suspension, no proof of insurance, consuming in public, curfew violation, and other low-level, often technical offenses account for around two-thirds of all criminal charges.  Criminal punishment includes an escalating amount of fees and fines owed, debt that follows the person indefinitely, strips them of economic opportunities, and makes them even more vulnerable to even more police intervention in their lives.

It can feel impossible to overcome.  The good news is that there's hope for change, and there are immediate opportunities for you to be part of that change.

First, if your clients have criminal records in Hennepin County, there is a Misdemeanor Warrant Forgiveness Day coming up on Saturday, May 20 (more info on this here).  Second, there are numerous Criminal Expungement Clinics coming up all around the state with free attorneys helping people clean up their criminal records (more info about this here).  And third, there's a fantastic group of public policy experts at the MN Asset Building Coalition who are pushing to change state law on criminal fees and fines to make it easier for people to get out of debt caused by court costs; join the MN Asset Building Coalition here to learn more about their work.

Cheers to justice, mercy, and second chances.

Nicole Lindemyer , Executive Director 
Legal News You Can Use
Practical Information on Legal Issues and Resources
Some of What's In This Issue:
© Call for Justice, LLC. Note: The Legal Connector seeks to better inform the Minnesota nonprofit legal and social services communities of relevant developments that might impact their work in helping low-income Minnesotans connect with legal services. This publication may only be reproduced and used for noncommercial, personal, and/or educational uses. All other rights reserved. To the extent opinions are expressed in the TLC, they are solely opinions of Call for Justice, LLC. In the event we get something wrong or incorrect, let us know and we'll make the appropriate correction.
1. Legal Liaison Program Training: HOME Line
Call for Justice had our first Legal Liaison Program (LLP) Training of the year! On Thursday, April 20th over 40 people attended our training regarding housing law with attorney Mike Vraa from HOME Line. If you missed us on the 20th, we will conduct the same training at the Wilder Foundation in St. Paul on May 4th from 1:00 to 4:00. RSVP here for May 4. 
2. Immigrant Law Center Help Hotline
The Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota has attorneys available by phone Tuesdays 1:00 to 3:00 PM and Thursdays from 6:00 to 8:00 PM for people seeking legal help with immigration issues. See flyers available in English, Somali, and Spanish.
3. Fund Aurora At UMN
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The Aurora Center at the University of Minnesota has a goal to raise $12,500 to benefit their services. Last week, a number of student groups came together to bring attention to the need for greater funds to help promote sexual violence advocacy. Donate here.
4. MNCASA Safe Harbor Protocol
 The Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault has developed a resource for communities seeking to improve their systems of protection. The Safe Harbor Protocol Guidelines presents methods to increase the level of help provided to sex trafficking victims in individual communities. Learn more here.
5. Expanded Resources for Self-Representation
Courts have seen a recent rise in the number of self-represented litigants, currently with around 80% of individuals. To meet the demand for the volume of people seeking self-help, Legal Services State Support and the MSBA Legal Assistance to the Disadvantaged Committee developed a document as a resource. Access it here.
People, Places, and Things
News about events, personnel changes, and other items of interest.  Please send your news items to lynn.hu@callforjustice.org or nicole.lindemyer@callforjustice.org.
1. Call for Justice On the Road
Call for Justice is heading to greater Minnesota! We have several upcoming LLP trainings in East Grand Forks, Fergus Falls, and Park Rapids. We would love to connect with you on how to help low-income people access legal resources. Registration is found on our website. If you are interested in hosting or attending an LLP training, please email nicole.lindemyer@callforjustice.org.  
2.  Minnesota Lawyer Diversity and Inclusion Awards
This October, Minnesota Lawyer will present for the first time the Diversity and Inclusion Awards. If you know a member of the legal community who has made a significant impact with respect to diversity and inclusion, nominate them for the event. Decisions will be made by an independent panel, and announcements will be made in September. Deadline for nominations is May 12. Read more here.
3. New Legal Aid Podcast
Legal Services State Support has released a new podcast called "In the Know with Legal Aid." The goal is to share information about specific legal topics in a convenient format for listeners to access any time. To submit a suggestion for a topic or presenter, please contact Emily Good, Legal Projects Manager for Legal Services State Support. The first episode features Meghan Maes of SMRLS who discusses how single parents can obtain a passport for their child. ProJusticeMN users can listen here.
In Closing
Winston Churchill

If you have an announcement or legal update that you'd like to submit for possible inclusion in our May issue, please contact Lynn Hu at lynn.hu@callforjustice.org or Nicole Lindemyer at nicole.lindemyer@callforjustice.org by March 15th. We look forward to updating you again soon!
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Friends of Justice (Individual Donors)
David Anderson, Lisa Lamm Bachman, Ginny A. Bell, Les Bendtsen, Joan Bibelhausen, Mark Bloomquist, Elizabeth A. Brenner, Dan Burton, Vicki & Richard Carlson, Regina M. Chu, Hanna T. Coleman, Emily Cooper, Eric Cooperstein, David Couillard, Clara Cypull, Joan Countryman, John Daly, Lindsay Davis, Gina DeConcini, Martha Delaney, Paul Dieseth, Liz & Brian Dillon, Phyllis Doman, Jim Dorsey, Jerrad Fenske, Charles Ferrell (In honor of Richard Kyle), Al & Ellen Fisher, Donna & Paul Floyd, Donald & Arvonne Fraser, Tom Fraser, Sara Galligan, Beth Garland, Elise Ginsburg, Sara Granberg-Rademacker, Fouthma Haji-Taki, Rebecca Hallette, Joy Hamilton, Frank & Jayne Harris, Bradley Hart, Robert J. Hauer, Jr., Catharine Haukedahl, Dick & Peg Kavaney, Amy Walsh Kern, Anita Kozan (In memory of Ruth Evelyn Iverson Kozan), Ellen Krug, Mark Krug, Richard Kyle, Jr. & Elizabeth Wittenberg, Brian & Erin Lindholm, Emily Lindholm, Jim Long, Steve Marchese, Larry McDonough, John Medeiros, Pete Michaud & Tom Wilson, Caitlin Miles, Alan Miller, Kathy Moran, Diana Morrissey, Ari Murphy, Nora Murphy, Jean Nead, Crystal Ng, Kathy Nielsen, Brian Nord, Kelly Olmstead, Melissa Otto, Laurie & Gary Pearcy, Gary Pederson, Kelly Phillips, David Piper, David Potter, Jill Prohofsky, Paul Quast, Linda Raines, Mary Rea, Christine Rehm, Thea Reilkoff, Liz Reppe, Jon Robinson, Becky Rooney, Jamie Roth, Brent Routman, Joseph Satter, Laura Schlatter, Laura Strong & Pam Michaud, Ellen Sackrison, John L. Sullivan, Vanessa Tennyson, Dennis Tharp, Jamila Tharp, Tom Tinkham & Jacquelyn "Jacq" Hauser, Tiana Towns, Mike Unger, Mary Vasaly, Ella Washington, Paul Wehrwein, Jodi Williams and Jay Wolkenbrod.