Many people are struggling to overcome life’s challenges during the pandemic. However, some challenges do not have to be tackled alone. Superheroes are available to help fight homelessness, domestic violence, and unemployment. Assistance with child custody; and finding benefits to help out in difficult times. These superpowers are real because families in need have access to free legal advice. The Pro Bono Committee of the Second Judicial District Court works with New Mexico Legal Aid to provide free legal advice to people in Bernalillo County every month.
The Pro Bono Teleclinics of the second judicial district helps with cases like eviction, foreclosure, custody, guardianship, consumer debt and withholding orders against an abusive partner.
Unlike in criminal matters, lawyers in civil matters are not provided free of charge. However, more than ever, assistance in civil matters is needed during the pandemic. Our monthly clinics help people navigate the legal system by providing free assistance in family and civil cases. Teleclinics is now available so people can get civil law advice and assistance remotely.
This is how it works: Teleclinics takes place every first Thursday of the month from February 4th. Consultation with a lawyer is free. You have to do two things. First, sign up for Legal Aid by emailing [email protected] to receive a registration form or by calling 505-521-6129 if you don’t have internet access. Second, fill out a registration form and send it back to Legal Aid. You must do this before you can be registered and assigned to a volunteer attorney. Once registered, you will be given a time frame to get a call from your lawyer. For example, you may be asked to ensure that you are free between 8am and 10am on the day of the clinic and the volunteer attorney will call you during that time to discuss your legal issue.
The program provides support on: domestic violence; Care; Child support payments; Landlord tenant; Foreclosure; Extinction; Consumer debt; Real ID; Wills, estates and estates; Guardianship; Bankruptcy; Contracts; Personal injury; public services; Employment; and immigration.
The legal system is complicated and frightening for many people. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an urgent need for civil law services in our state. For example, a recent study estimates that if the eviction moratorium is lifted in the first month, up to 50,000 New Mexicans could be at risk of eviction. Civil law service providers and volunteer lawyers can help keep people in their homes or make a scheduled move.
This teleclinic would not exist without continued funding from our legislators and the support of our volunteer lawyers, the superheroes among us.
Supporting civil legal services is vital to ensure that legal service providers have the resources they need to stabilize our community. Legal Aid and other nonprofit civil legal services providers across the state have worked tirelessly to move from personal to remote service, and they are some of the silent superheroes in our community. We thank you for your service.
Justices Jane Levy and Erin O’Connell are co-chairs of the Pro Bono Committee of the Second Judicial District Court.