Justice Speaks

AJFA Thanks Utah Law Firms this World Day of Social Justice

admin : February 19, 2016 11:10 pm : Blog, Firm Recognition
“With exclusion and inequality on the rise, we must step up efforts to ensure that all people, without discrimination, are able to access opportunities to improve their lives and those of others.”  Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon The World Day of Social Justice is the United Nation’s annual day to promote the pursuit of social justice for all. Today, we observe and celebrate Utah’s legal community coming together in the pursuit of poverty eradication, the promotion of full employment and decent work, gender equity and access to social well-being and justice for all. The law firms annually support AND JUSTICE FOR ALL through generous firm donations. 91% of the money donated funds legal aid services for Utah’s most disadvantaged residents: victims of domestic violence, the poor and the disabled. We acknowledge and thank Utah law firms such as Parsons Behle, Ray Quinney & Nebeker, Holland and Hart, Dolowitz and Hunnicutt, Parr Brown and Manning Curtis Bradshaw and Bednar as well as the dozens of other firms who donate generously to this cause. In the words of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, the work of AND JUSTICE FOR ALL partner agencies allows vulnerable Utah’s to, “access opportunities to improve their lives” without discrimination. Funding legal aid promotes social justice in many ways. Legal problems, left unaddressed, can cause the type of economic shock that pushes people in the margins deeper and deeper into poverty. The inability to enforce child support and alimony, for instance, can perpetuate poverty in single-parent households. Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake and Utah Legal Services work diligently to provide lawyers free of charge or for a small fee to improve financial and familial outcomes for parents and her or his children. Decreasing discrimination also improves economic and housing outcomes for struggling Utahns. The Disability Law Center, an AJFA partner agency, prevents discrimination for all protected classes (race, color, ethnicity, sex/gender, religion, disability and familial status) in housing by ensuring that an individual’s housing rights are upheld and that micro or systematic discrimination is not present. Utah Legal Services’ new program to expunge the records of chronically homeless populations resulted in a job and Read More »

Thank you, Manning Curtis Bradshaw & Bednar!

admin : December 12, 2015 12:26 am : Blog, Firm Recognition
Manning Curtis Bradshaw and Bednar has been a leading partner in “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” quest to provide access to justice for all since the beginning. In fact, the firm made the first significant donation to the “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” campaign approximately fifteen years ago from the attorneys’ fees received after favorably resolving a Utah Legal Services class action suit challenging the Social Security Administration’s systematic denial of disabled applicants’ rights to a fair process. This allowed hundreds more Utahns access to disability and medical benefits, increasing their independence. Brent Manning, one of the founders of Manning Curtis Bradshaw and Bednar, was one of the original Leadership members of the “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” campaign. He was president of the AJFA Leadership Committee from 2002 to 2004 and has been a strong supporter of providing civil legal aid to Utah’s vulnerable populations, generously donating personally to AJFA as well as encouraging his firm to donate at the highest per capita attorney giving for each of the last sixteen years. Not only is Brent Manning generous in supporting the work of our partner organizations, he is also generous with his time, continuing to serve on the AJFA Leadership Committee, while also cultivating a culture of giving back as a firm. Sammi Anderson, an MCBB partner, is on the triple A task force, the Affordable Attorneys for All Initiative implementing the recommendations of the Futures Commission to promote modest means’ accessibility to justice. Chris Glauser, an associate at the firm, has been on the Law Day Run Committee for more than two years. Firm Administrator Katrina Anderson has served on the Law Day Run Committee and as the Firm Recruiter for the Law Day Run for many years. Jack Nelson, another MCBB associate, serves on the founding board of the Emerging Legal Leaders.  MCBB runners have also won the Law Day Run team competition in most of the years in which the award has been given. We appreciate everyone at Manning Curtis Bradshaw and Bednar for their strong, consistent and generous support of access to justice initiatives.

Prevent Domestic Violence this October

admin : November 12, 2015 5:46 pm : Blog, Family Law, Utah Legal Services
October is a month used to increase awareness and decrease domestic violence across the nation. Nationally, each year women experience 4.8 million intimate partner related physical assaults and rapes. In Utah, there is approximately one intimate partner homicide every 22 days (Utah Government Services). However, the above statistics don’t illustrate the severity of this problem. According to, “The Justice Gap” about 75% of domestic violence cases in Utah are not reported to authorities and victims are left to suffer in silence. It is estimated one in every three Utah women will experience some form of domestic violence in her lifetime. “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” partner agencies, Utah Legal Services (ULS) and Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake (LAS) strive to help those who are suffering receive the protection they so desperately need and deserve through protective orders. In a recent national study, protective orders have been found to be the most effective way to put a stop to domestic violence, more than sheltering or counseling services. However, while most of the victims of domestic violence are female, one in four men will also experience violence. Utah Legal Services (ULS) helps many young men, like Shyam, fight for this deserved protection; here is Shyam’s story: Shyam was an immigrant from India who had been dealing with ongoing physical abuse from his estranged wife and her father for over a year. The abuse did not stop at these two individuals but often involved his wife’s friends as well. One of these attacks preformed by her friend was so brutal that it landed Shyam in the hospital, and eventually reduced him to living in his car with the constant fear for his life. Regardless of the attackers consistent threats that if he involved police he would become involved with immigration issues, Shyam decided that it was time to stand up for the protection that he deserved. Shyam filed for protective orders against his estranged wife and her father but the court did not grant either of these orders. Regardless of his wife’s’ confession of abuse they found that Shyam’s father-in-law was not a Read More »

Celebrating Senior Citizens Day with Civil Legal Aid Protection

admin : August 21, 2015 8:22 pm : Blog
Today is Senior Citizens Day, a national observance honoring all that our seniors have done for our communities. “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” and partner agencies would like to thank and recognize these seniors, and reflect on the important work our agencies are conducting to help these individuals transition into a more comfortable life. In 2014 Utah Legal Services (ULS) provided legal services through all twelve Area Agencies on Aging in Utah.  ULS assisted Utah seniors in 1,096 cases with advice and brief service, giving 22 presentations at senior centers to over 826 seniors throughout the state. Most of these senior centers were in rural areas. ULS arranged for over 500 hours of volunteer attorney time to assist in these cases, which enabled the visitation of homebound seniors in their homes to provide various types of legal assistance. Utah Legal Service along with the Disability Law Center and the Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake provide many different services to a range of individuals, including the following two cases assisting seniors. Caroline is a home-bound 84-year-old with several health issues. Wanting some peace of mind, Caroline contacted Utah Legal Services for help planning her end-of-life documents. Her case was assigned to pro bono volunteer – a retired attorney formerly with the attorney general’s office who has made a second career of volunteering for and helping seniors.  The attorney was able to prepare a will, medical directives and financial Power of Attorney for her to ensure that her future financial and medical concerns were taken care of. Knowing Caroline had difficulty getting out, he made these visits directly to her home so that Caroline could execute these documents without enduring further discomfort. Caroline can now sleep soundly knowing that when it is finally time for her to go, her loved ones could celebrate her life, rather than stressing over loose ends or ambiguity. Another particular area of legal assistance that our agencies are able to provide to seniors is preventing abuse, neglect and exploitation. Frankie is a 79-year-old who had been abused by her children who held Power of Attorney over her. Utah Legal Read More »

Celebrating International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples and how Legal Aid Protects the Rights of the Indigenous in Utah

admin : August 11, 2015 10:12 pm : Blog, Uncategorized
Sunday was the United Nations’ International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Observed each year to promote and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous populations, “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” would like to celebrate Utah’s indigenous history, while also recognizing how civil legal aid plays a role in protecting the rights of the indigenous in this state. Utah’s indigenous history has contributed much to the state we have today; everything from the name of our state to the most popular sports team within our borders is derived from the Ute people, “Ute” meaning “land of the sun.” The Utes are joined by the Paiute, Goshute, Shoshone and Navajo peoples living in Utah. In 2014, “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” partner agency Utah Legal Services’ (ULS) Native American Division helped 31 American Indian individuals and their 58 dependents access justice to meet their most basic needs, overcome discrimination, and obtain safety from abuse. Since 1976, Utah Legal Services has collaborated with Utah’s Tribal Nations to provide effective services to tribal members and non-tribal members in cases in tribal court. The ULS Native American Division assists income-eligible members of the five Native American Tribes of Utah.  ULS represents and assists individuals in two tribal courts, as well as urban Indians and individuals who have cases open in the Utah state courts.  They represent juvenile delinquents, and provide free legal services in civil domestic matters such as guardianship cases, divorce cases, child custody proceedings, adoption matters, child support matters, name changes, obtaining delayed birth records, wills and probate, representation of minor children as appointed guardians ad litem, land disputes, conservatorships, public benefits, expungements, and protective orders. The law can be convoluted and bureaucratic, and often, a lawyer is necessary to see the forest for the trees. Ailen* was born on the Navajo Indian Reservation and did not have an official birth record. As a young girl, the woman was sent to a boarding school where she was given a different name than the name given by her parents.  She later married and her name again changed, so her records from her tribe did not match her records Read More »

Thank you, Dolowitz Hunnicutt!

admin : August 10, 2015 5:24 pm : Blog, Firm Recognition
We would like to recognize Sandy Dolowitz, Jim Hunnicutt and the other attorneys at their firm Dolowitz Hunnicutt PLLC for their generosity in supporting the “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” 2015 Annual Firm Campaign. The firm has supported AJFA’s annual campaign since 2013. However, Sandy Dolowitz has generously supported our access to justice initiatives since 1999, and has donated hundreds of pro bono hours since he took his first pro bono case with Utah Legal Services in 2003. Of the seven cases — three divorce, an adult guardianship, a protective order, a qualified domestic relations order and a parentage case – his longest took three years to complete. Sandy has a long history of giving back to support legal services, appointed as Director of Salt Lake County Legal Services in 1970, serving for five years until it expanded, based on a plan he prepared, to become Utah Legal Services. Sandy’s strong commitment to service is emulated by firm members. Partner Jim Hunnicutt recently joined the AJFA Leadership Committee, committing his time to providing vulnerable Utahns with their most basic needs – safety, security, health, education and accessibility – through the gift of law.  Michelle Kennedy, a recent addition to the firm, has also volunteered many hours on the “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” Secret Lives of Lawyers Silent Auction Committee, Tuesday Night Bar, the Emerging Legal Leaders, and currently has a domestic case with the Utah Legal Services Domestic Lawyers Academy. Shane Marx regularly volunteers at Rainbow Law Clinic, and Brandy Curtis has checked yes for the Bar’s pro bono initiative. We are so thankful for the wonderful attorneys at Dolowitz Hunnicutt for their commitment to access to justice for all. Jim Hunnicutt says: “It seems fairly well understood that people accused of a crime have a constitutional right to legal counsel, to help protect their rights to liberty against the most powerful of forces, the government, which seeks to put them in prison for alleged crimes. However, there is no constitutional right to counsel for people going through civil lawsuits, which are separate from criminal lawsuits. Even though civil lawsuits don’t Read More »

Happy 49th Anniversary to the Voting Rights Act

admin : August 6, 2015 6:38 pm : Blog, Disability
The Voting Rights Act – prohibiting discrimination in the voting process – is celebrating its 49th anniversary today, and the 19th amendment – granting women the right to vote – is also celebrating its 94th anniversary later this month. Both of these movements made their way through Congress against extreme odds. Yet  both prevailed and helped shaped the United States as we know it, granting millions of citizens one of our most sacred rights, the right to vote.    In honor of the anniversaries of these landmark events, AJFA wants to emphasize and celebrate the work of the Disability Law Center (DLC),  The DLC’s advocacy benefits the 300,000 voting-age adults in Utah who have a disability and who value civil engagement and the right to participate in the electoral process.   The Voting Rights Act contains a provision that guarantees the right of people with disabilities to have voting assistance from a person they choose.  This early civil rights legislation recognized the right of people with disabilities to vote and began the journey to our current laws that uphold a person’s right to vote privately and independently and the responsibility of our government to provide accessible polling places and election practices. DLC voting specialists ensure that all Utahns can 1) register to vote, 2) access their polling place, 3) cast a ballot, and 4) file a complaint if excluded from any part of the voting process. They do this by educating voters with disabilities about their rights and how to vote.  Advocates also work with election officials to improve the accessibility of polling places, to ensure that elections practices meet the needs of voters with disabilities and to educate poll workers about how to provide an accessible voting experience. Now, many Utahn’s with disabilities are civically active, valued, and proud and engaged members of our society whose voices are heard and whose work is valued.   Today, on the 49th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, we celebrate our right to vote and make each of our voices heard. We thank you for supporting ‘and Justice for all’ and the Disability Law Center Read More »

Celebrating the ADA, and Recognizing There is Still More to Be Done

admin : July 27, 2015 8:49 pm : Blog, Disability, Uncategorized
Twenty five years ago yesterday, President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law.  The historic act provided sweeping civil protections to Americans living with disabilities on the scale of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and ensured that no U.S. citizen would be deprived of the opportunities to which they are entitled because of a disability.  The anniversary of the Act is certainly cause to celebrate how far we’ve come but also cause for thoughtful reflection on the plight of people living with disabilities and how far we still need to go to guarantee them a good quality of life. There are many parts of the ADA that are still violated across the country.  Many buildings still lack the structural changes necessary to accommodate those who have difficulty walking or use a wheelchair.  A good number of corporations in the U.S. still refuse to make changes to properly accommodate their employees living with disabilities. Employers are required under the ADA to consider people with disabilities on an equal basis with other applicants, however the ADA has provided little deterrent if an employer chooses not to hire  qualified individuals with disabilities.  Only 17.1 percent of people with  disabilities were employed in 2014, compared to 64.6 percent of those without a disability (Salt Lake Tribune, July 26, 2015). Additionally, health care for people with disabilities can be quite costly and difficult to acquire, and many times benefits to which they are entitled are wrongly withheld. Across the nation, Americans with disabilities are still fighting to receive the treatment they need. There is still much to do, but if we keep pushing forward, we can improve the lives of millions.  This is the mission of the Disability Law Center, an AJFA partner agency. Civil legal battles can be incredibly expensive, and many Utahans with disabilities can’t afford to take on the financial burden.  At the Disability Law Center, our attorneys work tirelessly  to ensure that every Utahan living with a disability is treated fairly regardless of income level.  At the DLC, we’ve helped thousands of Utahans with Read More »

Thank you, Parr Brown Gee & Loveless

admin : July 27, 2015 7:21 pm : Blog, Firm Recognition, Uncategorized
Parr Brown Gee & Loveless has been a vital partner in AJFA’s quest to provide justice for all since our first year. Daniel E. Barnett generously services on our Leadership Committee, using his energy and effective advocacy skills to champion fairness in access to the legal system. In Dan’s words: “All over the world, people struggle every day because they live under regimes that deny them justice. We live in a different world. We have the great fortune to live under a system “conceived in liberty” and “dedicated to the proposition” we are all equal under the law. The established institutions of justice we represent and serve exist to “secure the blessings” of our liberty and safeguard our proposition of equality. But security, liberty, and equality are not reality for those who lack the resources or capacity to access the promise of our institutions. Through the agencies it funds, “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” provides meaningful access to justice for individuals in our community with the greatest need: individuals living in poverty, individuals with disabilities, veterans, seniors, minorities, and victims of domestic violence. There is no other resource available for many of the clients served by the agencies that receive funds from “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL.” Please join me in supporting the “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL”  campaign. Much is riding on its success.” We are so grateful to Dan and his colleagues at Parr Brown for their commitment to justice for vulnerable Utahns, so struggling families can secure their basic needs and live a life of safety and well-being.

Happy 25th Birthday ADA

admin : July 23, 2015 7:01 pm : Blog, Disability
By Andrew Riggle, Disability Law Center Public Policy Advocate By prohibiting discrimination and mandating equal opportunity and access, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has given individuals with disabilities more control over their lives and allowed them to take a more active role in society. Thanks to the ADA, persons with disabilities can enter the vast majority of government buildings, shop at most stores, eat at most restaurants, ask for the help they need to get or keep a job, and travel around their neighborhood or across the country. And it keeps getting better. For example, it is causing us to reconsider the way we think about disability. Our thinking has largely shifted from emphasizing diagnosis and deficits to embracing strengths and abilities. Thanks to some amendments, its protections have also been extended to millions more Americans whose symptoms can come and go or be improved by things like glasses or hearing aids. With that said, many pre-ADA buildings do not have to be accessible. Within limits, an employer can decide whether a change requested by an employee with a disability is reasonable. Paratransit is required only if there is a bus stop or train station within three-quarters of a mile of a destination. Unless it is a new vehicle, a taxi does not have to be accessible. Ride sharing services, like Uber and Lyft, argue the ADA does not apply to them. Frustratingly, many persons with disabilities, their families, and those who support them remain unaware of the opportunities available to them. With few role models, is it any wonder parents, whose primary instinct is to protect their child, are fearful when it comes to what the future may hold? Even so, if we want others to believe we can do more, we must be willing to take the risks necessary to show what we are capable of. How can we ask others to have high expectations of us if we do not have them of ourselves? Such expectations may help explain why many students with disabilities are not included in the general post-high school education and career planning Read More »
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