Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thank you to our volunteers and Happy Thanksgiving!

The Legal Aid - District 11 staff and board wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!  We are grateful each year for the support we receive through volunteers, the community and our funders.  We would like to take this time to thank the attorneys and their staff in Bartholomew, Brown, Decatur, Jackson, Jennings, Johnson, Rush and Shelby counties who have given of their time and resources in support of the pro bono cause.  Thank you!

James Admire
M. Alsip
Scott Andrews
Gene Arnholt
Robert Arnold
Jeff Bate
Arthur Beck
Amanda Blackletter
Kirsten Bouthier
Murielle Bright
Tyler Bryant
Jay Charon
Timothy Coriden
John DePrez
Peter DePrez
William Dillon
Tamara Drummond
Andrew Eads
John Emery
Richard Eynon
Rodney Farrow
James Funke
Dominic Glover
Amanda Goecker
Warren Good
Larry Greathouse
Bradley Gregory
Jason Guthrie
Ashley Hadler
Frank Hamilton
Eric Hayes
David Henn
Jim  Holland
Martin Howe
Miriam Huck
Amy Huffman Oliver
Curt Johnson
Wanda Jones
Bradley Kage
Pete King
Stephanie Kress
Tom Lantz
Ben Loheide
Jeff Lorenzo
Daniel Kiehl
Michele Kramer
Jerry Lux
Angel Marks
C. Richard Marshall
Roderick McGillivray
Michael McIver
Mark McNeely 
Stephanie Mellenbruch
Kathryn Molewyk
Lee Money
Chris Monroe
Greg Morin
Dannette Morgan
Leigh Morning
David Nowak
David O'Neil
Michael Patrick
Daniel Paul
Steve Pierson
Jerry Prall
Laura Raiman
Dan Reuter
William Robbins
Chad Robertson
John Roche
Jeffrey Rocker
Cynthia Rose
Susan Sparks
Tim Staggs
Dennis Stark
John Stroh
Mary Stroh
Jennifer Sturges
Christopher Tebbe
Joyce Thayer-Sword
Travis Thompson
Robert Thopy
Grant Tucker
Tom VanderLuitgen
Stephen Voelker
Alan Whitted
Robert Wickens
Jennifer Wilson
Robert Yeager
John Young
Kurt Young

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Featuring Attorney Daniel Reuter

Each week, Legal Aid will feature one of our many, dedicated volunteer attorneys.  This week, we are proud to feature Brown County attorney, Daniel Reuter.  He shares his background, legal career, and what drives him to work towards equal access to justice.  Daniel is one of our more active volunteers and works tirelessly for the rights of his clients. Thank you, Dan, for your continued support of Legal Aid!

Attorney Daniel Reuter

I am a (very) senior citizen. My last day job was as a minister in Brown County. I came here in 2004 from a long-term pastorate in western Pennsylvania. By early 2006, it had become clear to me that the job I had here needed to end & that I had to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Some might think this should not be much of a problem at age 71, but my mother was then 95 and still driving and living by herself, so it seemed likely that I needed to do something. My father (who only lived to be 91) had been a lawyer, and this seemed like something to investigate. They told me at IU that I could come to their law school, but I needed to know that nobody would hire me. So I went.

My aim is to provide help to people who need it and can't afford to get it from most lawyers. I do a fair amount of pro bono work. I do a lot more for low fees, taking payments, etc. Few of my clients have bank accounts or credit cards. I get paid mostly in cash or money orders. Folks in these circumstances tend to have a lot of problems with family law and criminal law, so that's what I mostly do. My overhead is low: office in our home, no staff, legal research via Casemaker, not Lexis or Westlaw. I knew this was where I was headed, so passed up the free Lexis & Westlaw while in law school in order to train myself on Casemaker. 

I don't think I'm handicapped at all. Because a lot of what I do is criminal defense & my wife has some mobility problems, I don't see people in my home office, but in places such as McDonald's. Sometimes I think Mickey D makes as much out of my practice as I do. However, because the overhead is low, this business has been in the black from day 1. Of course, there wasn't much  on the black side until very recently. I have a pension & social security, so could afford to wait, which wouldn't be true for a younger person with family responsibilities.

For money, I practice in seven counties regularly, with an occasional foray into two or three more. I accept pro bono cases only in Brown & Bartholomew counties & try to keep them in Brown. Since law school, I have volunteered in other ways in District 10, currently serving in their Bloomington Justice Building clinics in family law and collection law about once a month. I do sometimes take a pro bono case in Brown County that comes to me directly, rather than through District 11, though I try to funnel it back so District 11 can get credit for it.

Because the people who depend on me (my wife and my mother) have needs, there isn't a lot of time for most forms of community service. I am the preacher (not the pastor--we don't have one of those) in our little church--and sometimes am the church's agent for directing material help to people with financial emergencies. That is about the sum of it.

Thank you again, Daniel, for your support for our cause!  For more information visit his site.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Save the Date: Know Your Rights Workshop

On Monday, December 2, Legal Aid - District 11 and Su Casa are hosting a FREE "Know Your Rights" workshop.  This event will be held at the Columbus Learning Center Auditorium, located at 4555 Central Avenue, Suite 1600, Columbus, Indiana.  Experienced immigration attorney, Fatima Johnson, will be the presenter for the evening.  The workshop begins at 5:30 p.m. and will start with general information about U.S. immigration policies and how they affect you and your family.  Please arrive on time or early as we will begin promptly at 5:30 p.m.  Time will be allowed after the presentation for questions.

Details of the event:

Please join us for a FREE “Know Your Rights” Workshop
Presented by Immigration Law Attorney Fatima Johnson

WHERE: Columbus Learning Center Auditorium, 4555 Central Ave, Ste 1600, Columbus, IN 47203

WHEN: Monday, December 2nd at 5:30 p.m.

WHAT: An experienced immigration attorney will provide general information about U.S. immigration policies and how they affect you and your family. There will be time after the presentation for you to ask specific questions.

This event is brought to you by Legal Aid – District 11, Inc. and Su Casa Columbus

For more questions contact Legal Aid at 812-314-2721.

Monday, November 18, 2013

National Adoption Month

“Foster kids are in the system because something happened in their life that wasn't supposed to…(foster care) has an assumption built in that it is temporary…(adoption tells kids) ‘you matter here; I’m yours and you’re mine.’” --Bill Johnson, Ft. Wayne, Indiana (Bill and Camilla Johnson are the proud parents of three daughters ages 9, 13 and 15.) (Quoted on the Indiana Department of Child Services site)

The month of November is celebrated nationally as National Adoption Month.  This month serves as an excellent time to raise awareness of an issue and need that arguably is an all-year need.  Adoption covers many areas, including step-parent adoptions, but also foster parent adoptions.  Both are equally important, but it is important that before you do make that decision to adopt, it is best to educate yourself as to the requirements of adoption in Indiana.  Adoption requires a preparation process, including training, background checks, a home study and more.  After completing the preparation, individuals must be considered as potential pre-adoptive placements for waiting children.  They are selected based on characteristics that make them a good match for the child and the child's needs.  You can begin the preparation process by calling 1-888-25-ADOPT.

It should be noted that Indiana residents must also have a recommendations from the Department of Child Services Special Needs Adoption Program (SNAP) before being considered as potential placement for a child.

This month also raises awareness of those children who can be difficult to place in permanent placements, including sibling groups, adolescent and teenager children, and special needs children.

Adopt Us Kids has an ongoing list of children and sibling groups who are available and waiting to find forever families.  You will find photos, as well as information about their interests, strengths and hobbies, and you are encouraged to submit an inquiry if you feel drawn to a specific child or sibling group.

For more information, also visit the Indiana Foster care and Adoption Association

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Grant a Wish for Legal Aid

'Tis the season for giving!

This year, Legal Aid is participating in the Heritage Fund (Bartholomew County's Community Foundation) Grant a Wish again this year.

This is a great gift for a friend, loved one or business associate that shows appreciation for that individual and helps a not for profit at the same time with a tax deductible donation.

...The bonus is that each organization can receive up to $3,000 in wishes matched dollar for dollar! So if Legal Aid receives $3,000 in wishes it will translate to $6,000!!!

To donate:
PLEASE NOTE: On the payment screen please complete the box labeled "DONATION DETAILS" by entering the wish number that you are fulfilling. If you are granting multiple wishes, please list each wish number separately indicating the amount that you would like given to each wish.

Our wishes are 90-92:  Legal Aid-District Eleven, Inc.

Wish 90: $25 would allow Legal Aid to pay for the costs of parents to take a mandatory Children's First class, one they would otherwise not be able to afford, to learn how children are affected by divorce.
Wish 91: $50 would provide the cost of a mediation session. This donation would allow Legal Aid to pay for this mediation so that low-income applicants who do not have the financial resources to pay have access to this available service.
Wish 92: $50 would provide a portion of the filing fee costs for an individual so that they may have access to the justice system.

Thank you all for your support!  As always, Legal Aid relies upon donations of generous funders and appreciates each and every one.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What is pro bono?

Legal Aid provides "pro bono" legal services to individuals who qualify per our income guidelines, as well as case qualifications in terms of legal matter.  So what is pro bono exactly?

The phrase "pro bono" means "for the common good."  When attorneys take an oath before receiving a license to practice law, part of that oath includes swearing to help the defenseless, weak and oppressed regardless of an ability to pay.  In many states, this is not just a promise but a requirement that attorneys take on a specific number of pro bono cases per year.  Under Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 6.6, Indiana attorneys take this oath to protect all citizens and protect our system of justice.  The pro bono promise ensures that all individuals will receive equal access to the justice system even if they are not able to pay for these services.

Legal Aid is proud of our over 100 volunteer attorneys who help clients without any form of pay each year.  These attorneys donate their time through direct representation, as well as legal consultation.

The State of Indiana is divided into 12 pro bono districts overseen by the Indiana Pro Bono Commission.  The mission of the Indiana Pro Bono Commission is:  "The Indiana Pro Bono Commission will strive to promote equal access to justice for all Indiana residents by facilitating the integration and coordination of existing services; fostering the development of new pro bono programs; supporting and improving the quality of existing pro bono programs; fostering the growth of a public service culture within the Indiana Bar which values pro bono publico service; promoting the ongoing development of financial and other resources for pro bono organizations in Indiana; and enabling Indiana attorneys to discharge their professional responsibility to provide pro bono services."

Of the 12 districts, Legal Aid - District 11 is the plan administrator for Pro Bono District I, serving eight counties in South Central Indiana.  We further the oath attorneys take to ensure help for the defenseless in our district, providing legal assistance in some manner regardless of their ability to pay.

Monday, November 11, 2013


Welcome to Legal Aid – District 11’s blog and thank you for reading our first official blog post!  We would like to use this first post to introduce ourselves.  We are a non-profit legal services agency covering an eight county district in South Central Indiana.   The counties we cover include Bartholomew, Brown, Decatur, Jackson, Jennings, Johnson, Rush and Shelby.

What is legal aid?  Many people are not aware that while the U.S. Constitution guarantees an attorney to those who cannot afford one in their criminal case, this is not the situation in a civil case.  If you are facing a divorce, custody battle, legal issue with your landlord tenant, or collections matter, you are not entitled to an attorney.  So where does that leave you?  For many people, it leaves them walking into the court alone and unsure of what to do.

Legal Aid helps those who cannot afford an attorney for their civil case and are qualified per our income guidelines and case qualifications.  We do this through several different means.  Our main service is our lawyer referral program.  We have over one hundred attorneys throughout our eight counties who give of their time and effort to represent Legal Aid clients on a purely volunteer basis.  These attorneys do not receive any money for their work.  We also provide brief legal consultations, as well as assist individuals in preparing to file and handle their case on their own. 

The staff and board at Legal Aid is passionate about one thing and that is providing equal access to justice to all.  Our staff cares about your legal matter, as we understand it is important to you.  Therefore, it is important to us. 

We hope to use this site as a means of providing legal information to our clients and those who need it, as a way of recognizing our many volunteer attorneys and board members, and as means of shining the light on what exactly Legal Aid and other legal services providers do.  Please come back and visit us often!