Legal aid in action: Stories from the frontlines

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

UPDATE | By Texas Access to Justice Commission

I pledge allegiance to the Flag
of the United States of America,
and to the Republic for which it stands,
one Nation under God, indivisible,
with liberty and
justice for all.

With a hand over our heart, we have all made the pledge. For many of us, it’s those final words – Justice For All – that echo loudest.

Yet millions of Texans don’t have access to this fundamental and deeply American right of justice. Not because they don’t believe in it or don’t deserve it. It’s simply because they can’t afford it.

The Texas Access to Justice Commission invites you to make good on that pledge with your contribution to the 2015 Access to Justice Campaign

Last year, over $1.16 million was raised from just 7.5 percent of licensed Texas attorneys. But this year – our fourth year of this campaign – our goal is higher.

We want to double participation to 15 percent in 2015, and together we can get there.  

Honor your pledge of Justice For Allmake the suggested $150 ATJ contribution now or on your annual State Bar dues statement. Or, join our Champion of Justice Society, created to recognize those who wish to show their strong support of access to justice at gifts of $250 or more.

“Access to justice for all is a righteous cause,” Chief Justice Nathan Hecht said in his State of the Judiciary address this year. “Justice for only those who can afford it is neither justice for all nor justice at all.”

The funding gathered by the Texas Access to Justice Commission goes to legal services offices, faith-based service providers, law school clinics, and respected nonprofit organizations that have the resources and staff to serve the civil legal needs of low-income Texans.

These funds help women and children suffering from abuse, veterans struggling to survive in their own country, and families desperate to complete basic legal documents necessary for survival.

Your support of Justice For All helps organizations help Texans like these:

Dallas’s Legal Hospice of Texas provides Justice For All Families Coping with Medical Problems:

Victor’s mother had been in a coma for several months. He was using his own money to pay her household expenses and care for his disabled sibling, but he desperately needed access to his mother’s accounts to help with the bills. The demands of navigating this situation were also putting Victor’s job at a local grocery in jeopardy. Victor wasn’t sure how to proceed, so he turned to Legal Hospice of Texas. With their help, Victor was able to file the applications to be appointed his mother’s permanent guardian, a process that allowed him to take care of her and the family.

All across Texas, Disability Rights Texas provides Justice For All People Living with Disabilities

William, a young boy with cerebral palsy, was denied a powered wheelchair in violation of federal law.  He was deemed mobile because he could drag himself down the hallway of his home. Disability Rights Texas intervened on his behalf and appealed the case until its final conclusion. Because of this seminal case, William has a wheelchair and all young children with mobility impairments must now be treated fairly.

In Houston and across the Gulf, Lone Star Legal Aid provides Justice For All Children:

Kate came for help after her two young sons were kidnapped by their father, Aaron. Kate had separated from Aaron a few months earlier due to severe abuse. Now, she was worried that she would never see her boys again. Lone Star Legal Aid tracked him down and served him with a habeas corpus petition. Aaron came to court with the boys and claimed CPS was investigating Kate for abuse. The judge stopped the hearing, contacted the county attorney representing CPS, and within an hour the attorney testified that there was no CPS investigation. Kate left the courtroom united with her two young children and, with the help of Lone Star Legal Aid, secured a divorce from Aaron. 

Waco’s Veteran’s Assistance Clinic at Baylor University provides Justice For All Veterans:

Over half of all Americans die without a will, but that won’t happen to Melanie Rogers. She got help from Baylor’s Veterans Assistance Clinic. The clinic’s volunteers first began helping Ms. Rogers during their inaugural Veterans’ Day Wills Clinic in 2012. When Ms. Rogers wanted to make some changes in 2014, the volunteer attorneys were there to help. She now has peace of mind that her estate will be distributed exactly as she desires.

In Austin, through the Valley, and across rural West Texas, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid provides Justice For All Victims of Abuse:

Maria and her daughter were taken to a shelter after the police arrested her boyfriend for domestic violence. Advocates put her in touch with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, where Maria obtained a lifetime protective order. While at the shelter, Maria obtained a license to provide child care and applied for a job with a local daycare center, proud that she was rebuilding her life. But she didn’t know that Child Protective Services had placed her on their child abuse registry due to the events surrounding her boyfriend’s arrest, which would prohibit her from getting a job in day care. TRLA stepped in to appeal the issue and cleared Maria’s name. Maria is doing very well and hopes to one day open her own daycare facility.

As you can see, your help makes a tremendous difference.

For more information about the Champion of Justice Society or the ATJ Contribution Campaign, contact Liza Levine, director of development, at (512) 427-1892 or