20 May, 2024
2 mins read

Indiana Bar Foundation’s kiosks expand access to legal resources

The new kiosks help connect all Indiana residents to legal resources.

For renters navigating housing related legal issues, finding resources and understanding the process can be challenging. In partnership with the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA), the Indiana Bar Foundation (Foundation) has been able to install 95 IndianaLegalHelp.org kiosks around the state of Indiana.

The kiosks are placed in courthouses, libraries and other publicly accessible buildings and are available to any Indiana resident in need of legal resources. To get started, users can walk up to the kiosks and enter their zip code and county using the touch screen or keyboard. From there, they can access a list of organizations and events that can help with their evictions or housing-related issues.

The kiosks also give Indiana renters the ability to access housing-specific resources, legal forms, IndianaHousingNow.org and county-specific assistance programs and organizations. Hoosiers can also use the kiosks to access IndianaLegalHelp.org’s calendar of legal events and find housing-related legal aid events available both in person and virtually.

There are two types of kiosks available for use by Indiana residents: a standing version and a desktop version. Each kiosk is equipped with the same technology including a touchscreen computer, keyboard, trackball mouse, scanner and printer. The kiosks include accessibility features including an option to plug in a set of headphones to provide assistance to blind or partially sighted people.

Users are able to fill in and print out case-related documents that can be used when meeting with a legal navigator or during the court process. The kiosks also include security measures to ensure a user’s personal information is not accessed by other users or bystanders. The kiosks are equipped with a disposal process for any paperwork printed off and left behind, as well as an idle feature that clears the user’s information and returns to the home page after

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2 mins read

RodeoHouston, NRG Park correct ADA violations for people with disabilities ahead of 2023 season, US Attorney says

HOUSTON – The US Attorney’s Office announced Thursday that the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and NRG Park are in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act following a yearlong investigation.

US Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani of the Southern District of Texas said in a news release that the investigation into accessibility for people with disabilities included the entire NRG Park area, including NRG Stadium and the outdoor areas.

The investigation stemmed from numerous complaints from disability advocates after they said RodeoHouston did not provide enough accessible parking, accessible seating, and accessible routes.

The US Attorney’s office said Rodeo-Houston fully cooperated with the investigation and officials worked to correct violations identified by officials before the start of the 2023 Rodeo season.

These corrections include:

  • Increased accessibility of porta-potties, dining areas, and seating

  • Stair-lift added to NRG Arena

  • Revised elevator policy during the Rodeo to improve accessibility for individuals with disabilities.

  • Revised parking policies and accessible drop-off points.

“HLSR did the right thing and made its facilities accessible to the entire community, including those with disabilities,” said Hamdani. “With the cooperation of the HLSR and NRG Park, and after my office’s investigation, all individuals in the district will have a chance to enjoy the Rodeo.”

This year’s RodeoHouston runs from Feb. 28 to March 19.

To learn more about the steps Rodeo Houston is taking to accommodate guests with disabilities, click here.

To file a complaint or comment, or to learn more about the ADA, contact the US Attorney’s office for the Southern District of Texas at 713-567-9140 or email here.

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‘It’s about time’: Disability rights advocates welcome justice department review of ADA compliance at Houston Rodeo

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo to undergo compliance review to evaluate accessibility for disabled people

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2 mins read

Lakeland Police, US Attorney announce charges in Lakeland mass shooting

LAKELAND, Fla. — The US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida said two people face federal charges in relation to the Lakeland shooting on Jan. 30.

In a Wednesday press conference, US Attorney Roger Handberg said Nicholas Quinton Hanson and Marcus Dewann Mobley, Jr. were charged in connection to the Lakeland shooting that injured 11 people. Hanson was charged with felon in possession of ammunition, and Mobley was charged with felon in possession of ammunition and a weapon.

“It’s by the grace of God that you don’t have 11 people dead. I believe two are recovering in the hospital,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

Detectives say DNA was collected from shell casings at the crime scene and in the Nissan Altima that the shooters rode in. A 15-year-old boy, who was also inside the Altima, is facing local charges.

“We have identified everyone who was in the vehicle at the time. We feel like there was certainly a possibility of as many as five people being in the vehicle at the time of the shooting. The victims range from the ages of 22-39,” said Lakeland Police Chief Sam Taylor.

Chief Taylor said Booker Green was charged with tampering with evidence. Alex Greene, who died during a police chase in Winter Haven last week, was found to be providing and modifying weapons.

RELATED:

No one has been charged with pulling the trigger in the mass shooting.

Police believe the drive-by was gang-related and was ordered because drug money was owed.

Shortly following the mass shooting, ABC Action News spoke to neighbors worried about an uptick in gang-related activity in their community.

“They are there every day, you can see for yourself. If you’re driving, you see all of them sitting there. Selling marijuana,” said Miguel Joseph.

According

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1 min read

Bankruptcies climb as pandemic aid vanishes

The end of federal pandemic aid is putting many Americans and businesses under mounting financial pressure, leading to a spike in bankruptcies.

Total bankruptcy filings in January shot up 19% in January to 31,087, up 19% from a year ago, according to data from Epiq, a legal research firm. The number of Americans who filed for bankruptcy across Chapters 7, 11 and 13 shot up 20% in January from a year ago.

The surge in filings comes as rising interest rates and high inflation continue to stress household budgets.

“There’s no cash coming in from the government anymore,” Amy Quackenboss, executive director at the American Bankruptcy Institute, told CBS MoneyWatch. “Some people are finally experiencing that economic crunch. They’re having to pay their mortgages, their car payments. There are several people who haven’t been able to weather that storm.”

Difficulty hiring in a tight labor market, the ongoing war in Ukraine and fears of a recession have also prompted some companies to file for bankruptcy, Quackenboss said. That said, while bankruptcies have increased, they still haven’t reached pre-pandemic levels, she added.

Reality setting in

The federal government sent $817 billion in stimulus payments to Americans, according to a New York Times estimatebut that lifeline ended in March 2021. Congress similarly doled out $800 billion in Paycheck Protection loans to companies large and small before that program ended in May 2021.

Those federal funds helped struggling companies and individuals for about a year and a half, but reality is starting to set in, bankruptcy experts say.

“Many businesses were sorting it out during COVID-19 and have just now filed for bankruptcy,” said Paige Marta Skiba, a bankruptcy law professor at Vanderbilt University. “They just now realized their business won’t survive outside that protected world of paycheck protection payments.”

Bankruptcy filings

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2 mins read

Los Angeles US Attorney Sells Diverse Lawyers on Jobs in Office

Martin Estrada, the new US attorney in Los Angeles, is trying to tackle the barriers of convincing lawyers of color to join his office as prosecutors.

The former federal line attorney, whose parents immigrated to the US from Guatemala, said in an interview he’s “very cognizant” of the “skepticism” toward prosecutors in communities of color.

“I see that as something that is healthy and often appropriate, but something that I need to work on overcoming through education,” said Estrada, 45, who was a partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson before being sworn in last September.

Estrada has in his first month on the job routinely brought his recruiting pitch for the Central District of California—the nation’s most popular jurisdiction—to minority bar associations, law schools, and other forums.

He touts a focus on high-impact cases against the most aggressive offenders, including those who prey on victims of color. He’s also said his office won’t be targeting low-level offenders for drug crimes.

The outreach is earning accolades from the city’s minority legal community, including former attorneys in the office. Still, they caution it’s a hard sell, given discomfort about how law enforcement targets people of color.

“That’s a heavy one. If you are a person of color, that’s a deep-seeded philosophical question,” said Terrence Jones, founding partner at Cameron Jones LLP, who worked alongside Estrada when both were federal prosecutors in Los Angeles. “How do you feel about changing something from the inside? Is it in your personal constitution” to “make an effort—while sometimes having to bang your head against the wall—to try to prompt systemic change?”

‘Looked Badly Upon’

Estrada cites high profile white-collar cases he hopes can attract diverse applicants such as the fraud indictment earlier this month against Thomas Girardi and other attorneys accused of stealing more than $15

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2 mins read

In Trump probe, US seeks to pierce attorney-client privilege

WASHINGTON — Justice Department prosecutors investigating the mishandling of classified documents at Donald Trump’s Florida estate are seeking to pierce the attorney-client privilege and want to again question one of the former president’s lawyers before a grand jury, a person familiar with the matter said Tuesday night.

The privilege protects lawyers from having to tell prosecutors about the confidential conversations their clients have with them. But prosecutors can get around that privilege if they can convince a judge that the communications they want information about were made in furtherance of a crime — a principle known as the crime-fraud exception.

Prosecutors have already questioned M. Evan Corcoran before a grand jury, but he repeatedly invoked attorney-client privilege in declining to answer certain questions, according to the person who spoke with The Associated Press and insisted on anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. They’re seeking to question him again, and want to be able to move past attorney-client privilege, the person said.

The request from prosecutors working with special counsel Jack Smith is expected to lead to closed-door arguments before the chief judge of the District of Columbia federal court about whether prosecutors can compel Corcoran to answer their questions about his conversations with Trump.

This is not the first time during the course of the investigation prosecutors have raised the specter of criminal conduct in connection with the Mar-a-Lago investigation. Last August the Justice Department revealed in a search warrant affidavit that it had probable cause to investigate the unlawful retention of national defense information as well as efforts to obstruct that probe.

It remains unclear whether Trump or anyone else will be charged, even though the move is a notably aggressive act by Smith’s team. A war crimes prosecutor who previously led the Justice Department’s public

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1 min read

1,000 Legal Aid workers in New York City hold walkout in contract struggle

Legal Aid and Legal Services workers, please contact us and tell us about your working conditions, what you think about the Legal Aid contract struggle and socialist Will Lehman’s exposure and challenge to the UAW union election.

New York Legal Aid attorneys protest (New York City Central Labor Council AFL-CIO Facebook) [Photo: New York City Central Labor Council AFL-CIO Facebook]

One thousand Association of Legal Aid Attorneys conducted a one-hour strike and informational picket for a new contract last week on Wednesday, February 8. They chanted “two percent won’t pay the rent” during lunch-hour pickets at Legal Aid Society offices in all five boroughs of New York City. The Legal Aid Society is a non-profit corporation operating in New York City, funded mostly by the city and state with some private donations. Among their responsibilities, legal aid lawyers and support staff are responsible for providing legal representation to lower-income tenants facing evictions who are employed by the Legal Aid Society and Legal Services, nonprofit corporations that contract with the city to provide these services.

This followed a strike authorization vote of 92 percent, with 93 percent of the eligible membership voting, announced by UAW Local 2325 on January 23. Local 2325 represents civil and public defenders employed by the Legal Aid Society. Their previous contract expired last summer.

The overwhelming strike vote was announced two days before negotiations with Legal Aid were set to begin. During the negotiations, Legal Aid proposed a derisory 2 percent wage increase amid soaring inflation and cost-of-living increases in one of the most expensive cities in the world. In the face of overwhelming strike authorization by the members, the UAW 2325 leadership rejected the insulting offer and called for the one-hour strike on Wednesday.

The strike announcement on February 6 stated the action was being

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2 mins read

US Attorney General touts government, community partnerships in St. Louis visits

st. LOUIS — US Attorney General Merrick Garland touted the importance of government and community groups working together to reduce violence Thursday morning during a national crime-prevention conference in St. Louis.

Hundreds of people from across the US gathered this week at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch to attend the first Community Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative grantee conference. The grant program, offered by the Department of Justice, supports violence reduction efforts in cities nationwide.

“One of the purposes of this gathering is to exchange the knowledge, the lessons learned and the best practices informed by those from different perspectives,” Garland said.

He said the DOJ’s approach to disrupting and preventing violent crime focuses on partnerships with other government agencies, police departments and communities most affected by violence to create strategies that are tailored to local communities.

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2 mins read

Seyna added a claim management product for insurance brokers

French startups Seyna is slowly building an all-in-one platform for insurance brokers so they can create, sell and manage insurance products from scratch. And the company is launching a new product called Seyna Claims. As the name suggests, Seyna Claims empowers insurance brokers so they can handle claims themselves.

Seyna is an insurtech startup that has obtained an insurance license from the French regulator (ACPR). The company has created a core insurance system, which means that it can quickly generate insurance policies with different clauses so brokers can find the right balance between coverage and price. The startup has raised €47 million since its inception.

Some companies working with Seyna include Dalmaa pet insurance startup, and Garanme, an unpaid rent insurance company. Seyna clients can build a subscription funnel with real-time quotes, generate contracts and invoices on the fly and more.

In addition to Seyna’s own balance sheet, the company also partners with big reinsurance companies like Swiss Re, Scor or Munich Re. Some companies also have an existing relationship with insurance companies so they only use Seyna’s tech platform.

While brokers can now do a lot of things, they often have to rely on third-party claim management companies. Those companies pick up the phone, check whether an incident is covered by the policy and analyze documents. They also take a cut on insurance premiums.

With Seyna Claims, many insurance brokers will be able to handle those pesky tasks directly. It’s a software-as-a-service product with a white-label interface that should cost less than working with a claims management partner.

Unlike other broker platforms, such as Courtigo and Sydia, Seyna isn’t just an administrative tool. It integrates with the rest of the Seyna insurance platform. For example, claim data can directly enrich the accounting tab that

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