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The Maryland Access to Justice Commission (A2JC) through its newly launched Maryland Voices for Justice Project is working to elevate the voices and work of the access to justice community in Maryland and beyond. 

In honor of Asian American Pacific Heritage Month, for our May edition of the A2J Dispatch, we are focusing on the civil legal challenges faced by Asian Americans. Not only do they face language barriers, but differences in culture often prevent this diverse population from reaching out for help. And when they do reach out, finding cultural competent civil legal help is hard to come by. The Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center (APALRC) is working to change that. 

Feature Story

She came to the United States with her children, imagining a better life with the man she loved.  What she found, however, was a home that felt more like a prison, and a threat of deportation if she protested. Discover how APALRC is working to address issues like this and much, much more in the Asian and Pacific American community.

Access to Justice News 


A2J National – President Biden issued a memorandum on May 18th reestablishing the White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable and directing the Department of Justice to begin planning to restore the critical functions of the Access to Justice Office. The president directed the Round Table to examine how the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequities in the justice system. Read more: https://apnews.com/article/us-news-ahmaud-arbery-business-legal-services-health-db65d3202a3a795e6cb65c78c9580121


Consumer Debt – ‘It’s been heart-sickening:’ A major US hospital chain has sued thousands of patients in the last year. One of America’s largest hospital chains, Community Health Systems, has filed at least 19,000 lawsuits against patients in the last year, a CNN investigation finds. Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/17/us/hospital-lawsuits-pandemic-invs/index.html

A2J & Nonlawyers
– “Under Utah’s regulatory “sandbox” program, nonlawyer professionals with the groups will offer legal support to citizens on financial matters relating to their medical care, in an effort to cut down barriers low-income citizens face to receiving adequate legal assistance.” Read more: https://apnews.com/article/us-news-ahmaud-arbery-business-legal-services-health-db65d3202a3a795e6cb65c78c9580121

A2J Tech
– Inspired by their own struggles, a growing number of ‘justice tech’ entrepreneurs are developing systems to help the public access the justice system effectively, even when they can’t afford an attorney. Read more: https://www.law360.com/access-to-justice/articles/1384737/for-justice-tech-entrepreneurs-it-s-deeply-personal?nl_pk=787ce2d6-3986-4425-a14d-8a320e4310a8&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=access-to-justice

A2J Tech
– Technology has helped improve access to the co-parenting mediation process during the pandemic, a new study reports. Read more: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3835515


Focus: Asian Pacific Americans and Justice

COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act – In response to a 164% rise in violence targeting Asian Americans, Congress has passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, designed to streamline the Justice Department’s review of hate crimes and help states better track hate crime incidents. Read more: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2021/05/18/anti-asian-hate-crimes-bill-go-before-joe-biden-after-full-house-vote/5144587001/


Law Enforcement – Representation in law enforcement impacts how citizens interact with the justice system, say some reformers in Santa Clara, California. Despite 36 percent of the local population identifying as Asian, only 10 percent of police officers are of Asian descent. {VIDEO}


Legal System – Asian Americans are underrepresented in New York’s legal system, some say, and the time has come for this population to be represented on the state’s highest court. Read more: https://www.cityandstateny.com/articles/opinion/opinion/time-ripe-asian-american-new-yorks-highest-court.html


American Pacific Heritage Month Unity Summit – Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Unity Summit. Watch her remarks here {VIDEO}: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/watch-live-harris-gives-remarks-at-the-asian-pacific-american-heritage-month-unity-summit


Racism – In many Asian American families, racism is rarely discussed. One author explores cultural influences that impact silence. Read more: https://www.vox.com/22442046/asian-american-racism-violence-families-talking-about-race-heritage-month


Report – This PEW Research study reveals how Asian Americans view trends in violence directed at their population. 

Onus of Responsibility – “The pandemic, and its associated blame game, has reminded many of us just how quickly tides can turn,” writes AMANDA YIJUN WANG in MS. magazine. “How quickly, stepping out of the hospital and taking off my white coat propels me from “health care hero” to dirty bat-eating foreigner, or exotic, submissive object. Alone, with the color of my skin and my hair, I suppose I can only rely on my own “situational awareness.””