Note To Our Readers: We want to hear from YOU to make the A2J Dispatch even better! Every month, the A2J Dispatch shares news from across the access to justice spectrum. Our free curated monthly makes it easy to keep up with recent developments and new stories, but it will be even better if we hear from YOU!

If your organization has released a report or developed new materials or videos, has been cited in a media article or will have community events or educational events, please share them with us so we can promote them in the A2J Dispatch and on A2J social channels!

The A2J Dispatch is delivered the last week of each month. We will accept submissions on a rolling basis. Reach out to us! Email with A2J News!

And get more stories and A2JC updates on and by following us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

The October Issue

Each year the nation recognizes September 15 through October 15 as Hispanic Heritage Month. The national celebration is meant to recognize the history, culture, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. 

Today, Hispanics and Latinos make up the largest racial and ethnic minority population in the U.S. In this month’s A2J Dispatch Story we explore how Maryland’s Hispanic and Latino communities have been disproportionately impacted by the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting civil justice crisis. Notably, as we highlight through our A2J Story, for Hispanic and Latino families trying to navigate an eviction during a global pandemic, it’s clear that the help of an attorney who has the language skills and cultural competency are critical to retaining housing and preventing eviction.  

A2J Commission News

In Memoriam. It is with great sadness that we share the passing of Supervising Attorney, Catrina Aquilino of Community Legal Services (CLS) of Prince George’s County. Catrina oversaw the expansion of CLS’s Latino Legal Access Clinic. Under her leadership, the Clinic grew into a staple resource for the Prince George’s County and Langley Park communities and was recognized as a 2021 Maryland Volunteer Lawyer Service’s Pro Bono Service award recipient. Catrina was a true advocate for justice and will always be remembered for her passion for making access to justice a reality for so many.

“Catrina was so impressive and will be sorely missed. She had a genuine desire to do what she could to ensure justice for her community.  She was so helpful during the MD Attorney General’s COVID-19 Access to Justice Task Force. She was responsible for many of the Spanish language translations of materials and also helped with putting on the Spanish language community forums,” said Reena Shah, ED of A2JC. CLS is part of the civil legal aid community supported by A2JC and its ED, Jessica Quincosa is a member of the Commission.

AG Frosh. A2J Commissioner, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, announced this month that he will not seek a third term as top law enforcement official in 2022. AG Frosh turned 75 years old earlier this month and has dedicated 35 years of his career to public service work as a legislator and attorney general. “Maryland has been fortunate to have an Attorney General so dedicated to access to justice issues. A2JC’s close work with him during the COVID-19 Access to Justice Task Force led to many reforms in the civil justice system. AG Frosh’s leadership on civil justice issues will be hard to replace,” said Reena Shah, ED of A2JC. 

Access to Counsel Task Force. The work of the legislatively mandated Access to Counsel Task Force started up in October, 2021. Commissioner Victoria Schultz, is the Chair of the Task Force. The Task Force held multiple listening sessions and heard from leaders in other states who are also in the process of implementing the right to counsel in their jurisdictions, including WA, CT and NY.  The Task Force also heard testimony from Chief Judge Morrissey on the Judiciary’s preparedness to implement access to counsel; DHCD’s rollout of the rental assistance and its tie to access to counsel; property managers; and legal services providers. More listening sessions are planned so that we can hear directly from impacted populations. The work of the three Committees of the Task Force – Funding, Implementation and Outreach & Assessment will begin in November. A final report is expected by January.

Pro Bono. A2JC congratulates Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service’s 2021 Celebrate Pro Bono Award Recipients for answering the call to action and volunteering their time and resources to help Marylanders navigate civil legal challenges. A2JC, joined by the Maryland Judiciary, MD AG and MSBA, urges legal professionals across Maryland to follow suit and commit to taking on at least one pro-bono case, or to devote a certain number of hours to helping Marylanders who are currently facing extraordinary civil legal challenges as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Answer the call here:

Access to Counsel Funding. A2JC, MLSC and PJC partnered to send a letter to Governor Hogan on September 28, 2021, requesting funding for the Access to Counsel in Evictions law, which became effective on October 1.  Showing broad support for the need to prevent evictions and avoid the destabilizing effect of eviction, the letter was joined by many civil legal aid organizations: Bar Association of Montgomery County; Bar Foundation of Montgomery County; CASA de Maryland; Catholic Charities; Community Legal Services of Prince George’s County, Inc.; Disability Rights Maryland; FreeState Justice; Heartly House, Inc.; Homeless Persons Representation Project; HopeWorks; Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service; Mid-Shore Pro Bono; Pro Bono Resource Center; University of Maryland Carey School of Law Clinical Law Program; Women’s Law Center.

A2J Stories

Meet Johana, a Prince George’s County resident who, like many Marylanders, struggled to make ends meet due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Johana was able to secure emergency rental assistance funds to pay her rent, but her landlord still moved to have her evicted. While a host of rules and regulations exist for tenants struggling to make rent, many tenants are unaware of the legal protections available to them and, as a result, are unable to effectively assert their rights. “A lot of the tenants don’t realize that [by accepting] emergency rental assistance payments, the landlord has agreed to not evict for 90 days and that includes withdrawing any active cases that have been filed . . . we’ve seen it happen where the landlord actually shows up with an attorney and is trying to proceed with the case,” says Jessica A. Quincosa, Executive Director at CLS of Prince George’s County. Read the full story here:

Local A2J News

National A2J News

  • LSC. Members of Congress and leaders of the legal community joined the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) on October 19 for a virtual forum on access to justice looking at housing instability, domestic violence and the challenges the pandemic and natural disasters present.