The Advocate
Guarding Justice for Low Income and Vulnerable Alabamians
October 2018
Your Support to LSA helps:

  • Keep families safe from domestic violence
  • Prevent foreclosures & illegal evictions
  • Advocate for Veterans and the Elderly 
  • Protect the wages of working poor families
  • Empower citizens through community outreach & education
  • Restore Dignity to low income individuals and families 

Be a Hero! Change a life!
Become a Guardian of Justice today!  

Your donation means so much to the almost one million people living in poverty throughout Alabama!  Over 90% of LSA's budget is spent directly on services to our clients!
Congratulations to LSA Advocates Michael Forton, Farah Majid and Laurie McFalls, who recently gained a victory in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals! In the case, our client had her housing benefits terminated without any proof after being accused of a crime. The Decatur Housing Authority elected to terminate her benefits even after the charges against our client were dropped. On Oct. 3, the Court of Appeals issued a decision overturning the federal district court and recognizing that our client's rights had been violated. The decision is a huge victory for tenants who receive federal housing benefits!
Attorney Spotlight:
Willie Mays Jones,
Managing Attorney,Tuscaloosa Regional Office

Why have you chosen to advocate on behalf of low-income people?
I grew up in the projects of Bessemer, Alabama. I well know the injustices and feeling of dismay when faced with these injustices as well as everyday issues. I witnessed evictions, repossessions and the total confusion related to making everyday family related decisions. While I never planned to stay at LSA as long as I have,
I now know this is one of the purposes God has for my life. I have positively impacted many poor Alabamians and helped them to find hope again. 

What is your most memorable experience (at LSA)?
There have been many memorable experiences while working at Legal Services Alabama. It gave me great pleasure and a sense of pride as a small office to win Office of the Year. Tuscaloosa accepted this award for all the small LSA offices across the state. Being at LSA is challenging in and of itself, but working in a small office is even more challenging. Can you imagine serving 8-10 counties with three lawyers and one Administrative Assistant?

Another fond memory I have is representing an older Caucasian man in Walker County. I was trying to keep him in his home. He told me he had never seen a black lawyer and asked If I was any good. I knew my mission was to win this case and change this man’s outlook on life. I won the case and he hugged me and said I was the best “D” lawyer he had ever met! I considered this another “step” for the good of mankind.

What advice can you give attorneys who are thinking about joining LSA?
LSA is a great place to work if you take pride and pleasure in making a difference in the lives of others who have unmet needs. It is extra challenging because the clients present in a stressful state, and expect “fast food speed” in a nice restaurant where everything has to be custom made for the client, to get the best result. The court also has its system and a process which moves at its own pace.

What do you like to do in your spare time?  
I spend my spare time working at my church in various capacities. I also enjoy the time I spend with my husband, children, grandchildren, sons-in-law and daughter-in-law. We have some great Spades Tournaments and great food provided by the one-and-only Chef Terry
(my husband). 

* Willie Mays Jones joined LSA in August 1986. Jones' specialty areas include: housing, domestic violence, social security, public benefit cases, and priority cases as needed. Jones began her career as Staff Attorney. Before joining LSA, Jones taught full-time at The University of Alabama and Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa, AL. Jones received her bachelor's, Master of Arts in Speech Communication and Rhetoric, and Juris Doctorate from The University of Alabama. Jones currently serves as the Managing Attorney for the Tuscaloosa Office, covering 10 counties.
Congratulations to Selma Office Staff Attorney Elizabeth Hollie on a recent wage garnishment Case win in September!
Elizabeth represented a client in Dallas County District Court on her Motion to Set Aside & Vacate the Garnishment. The Plaintiff argued that the Pineda case amended the Constitution and found that wages could not be exempt using Statue 6-10-6.1 of the Code of Alabama, he further stated that in federal court this filing of the Defendants Claim of Exemptions could be used as a Rule 11 against Legal Services.

At the hearing, the parties also argued the constitutionality of the recently passed Ala. Code 6-10-6.1, which purports to change the constitutional definition of personal property and provides that wages can no longer be claimed as exempt at all. Once the Alabama Supreme Court has interpreted the Constitution, the Legislature cannot change that interpretation by the passing of a mere statute. The parties argued this issue, which is a basic one of separation of powers.

The creditor also argued that a recent Court of Civil Appeals decision, North Alabama Real Estate Group v. Pineda, somehow “amended” the Constitution. In the Pineda case, the court actually held that it could not decide the constitutional issue because of a procedural reason. LSA explained what the Pineda case actually said. In this case, the court ruled for our client for another reason, but this issue will have to be decided on appeal in the near future. LSA will continue to look for a case to appeal in order to clearly establish this right for all low income judgment debtors. 

LSA is happy to receive this WIN!

By Selma Managing Attorney Felecia Pettway and Lead Consumer Attorney Farah Majid.
Congratulations to Holly Ray, Managing Attorney in the Huntsville Office, and Laurel Crawford, Executive Director of the Montgomery County VLP, who were recognized in the Alabama State Bar Profiles on Oct. 1 to kickoff Pro Bono Month!
Ray, a 2007 graduate of the Thomas Goode Jones School of Law, joined LSA in 2008, and specializes in foreclosure prevention, eviction defense, and bankruptcy.
Education & Outreach
2018 Biennial Prosperity Summit

Jaffe Pickett, LSA Deputy Director, was invited to serve as a panelist during the 2018 Prosperity Summit held Sept. 5-7 in Washington, D.C. The panel discussion addressed fines and fees, the criminalization of poverty, and the impact these factors have on communities of color and low-income families. Community leaders and dignitaries joined thousands of attendees in this nationwide discussion.
Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ACADV) Statewide Training
The Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ACADV) welcomed court advocates/caseworkers from across the state to its training held in downtown Montgomery in September. Jaffe Pickett, Deputy Director, was asked to keynote and discussed the important LSA services available to DV clients as well as strategic partnerships with community organizations that provide resources to domestic violence victims.
Longtime Montgomery LSA Domestic Violence Attorney and Domestic Violence Practice Group Chair, Jim Smith, who works from LSA partner organization, One Place Family Justice Center)., discusses Alabama Laws that help DV victims as well as Protection From Abuse Orders, custody, and visitation after abuse.        
 Client Success Stories:
Huntsville Regional Office
Pamela Jackson, Lead Attorney in the Huntsville Office, prevented a wage garnishment against our client!
Our client (who is the only wage earner in a family of five) was being garnished. The client lived in an heir property acquired home (house with mortgage) and filed a Claim of Exemption in District Court and the claim was denied due to 6-1--6.1. Our Advocate filed an appeal to Circuit Court with a motion to stay. The stay was denied but the garnishee did not start taking out our client's wages and the Plaintiff did not file any pleadings in response to this, so the wages were not garnished pending appeal. Our Advocate argued 6-10-6.1 opposition (plaintiff did not file opposition in Circuit Court and our Advocate provided the court with a copy of the Plantiff's contest from District Court. The court took it under advisement, and issued order dismissing the garnishment and closing the case!

Thank you to our Huntsville Office Advocates for protecting a client's income/stopping a wage garnishment!
Selma Regional Office
Elizabeth Hollie, Staff Attorney in the Selma Office, helped to protect the income of an elderly client!
Our client, who is elderly, sought the Selma Regional Office for assistance with a lawsuit for a credit card debt. The client had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had additional healthcare bills not covered by health insurance. Our Advocate negotiated with the Credit Card company to have the debt in excess of $6,000 dismissed with prejudice. Our client received the news of the dismissal while hospitalized, and was able to focus on his health and not the debt.

Thank you to our Selma Office Advocates for helping to protect the income of the elderly!
Mobile Regional Office
Ann Brown, Managing Attorney in the Mobile Office, helped to protect a client's home!
Our advocate was able to get more than $100,000 worth of medical debt discharged for our client! Our advocate was also able to protect the client and her family of six's finances and home! Further, our advocate was able to prevent a foreclosure on this client's home!

Thank you to our Mobile Office Advocates for getting our client debt relief as well as preventing a foreclosure!

LSA Advocates closed 3,000 Domestic Violence cases in 2017!
In Our Clients' Words:

"I loved the way [the advocate] handled my case. It was done in a timely manner and [the advocate] was very nice and explained everything to me ... will recommend this service"
-Client, Birmingham Office

"[The Advocate] is a wonderful person who handled my case as well as I had hoped for, and was pleasant and friendly at every encounter."
- Client, Tuscaloosa Office


Thank You for providing
Help & Hope to low-income & vulnerable individuals throughout Alabama!  

Support our Veteran Services 
  LSA provides free, civil legal services to Veterans!   
L SA continues providing legal services to Veterans by providing on site services through a partnership with the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System and VA Gulf Coast.
 LSA is dedicated to providing holistic solutions to the root issues plaguing low-income and homeless Veterans. An LSA attorney and intake specialist will be available on Wednesdays at two VA locations to provide legal assistance to Veterans: 

Montgomery VA Medical Center on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month and the Tuskegee VA on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Wednesday of each month from 9 am until 3 pm
South Alabama Civil Legal Clinic on the 1st Thursday of each month from 10 am to 2 pm at our Mobile Regional Office

Call 1-866-456-4995 for more information!