Capp, McKinney, & Pawlik Appointed to Foundation Board

The Arkansas Access to Justice Foundation is pleased to announce that the following attorneys have joined its board:

Representative Sarah Capp

Rep. Capp, of Ozark, has been appointed to the Foundation Board by the Arkansas Supreme Court. She is in her first term in the Arkansas House of Representatives and represents District 82, which covers portions of Franklin, Madison, and Crawford Counties. Rep. Capp practices law in Ozark, where she is a member of the Chamber of Commerce. She also serves on the Parent Counsel Advisory Committee.

J. Cliff McKinney II

Cliff McKinney, a Little Rock attorney at Quattlebaum, Grooms & Tull, was appointed to the Foundation Board by the Arkansas Supreme Court. McKinney’s practice focuses on real estate and regulatory matters. In addition to his practice, he is involved in the Arkansas Bar Association, serving on the Board of Governors and as Chair of the Real Estate Law Section. McKinney also serves as an adjunct professor at the William H. Bowen School of Law and is on the Board of Directors of Habitat of Humanity for Central Arkansas.

Kristin Pawlik

Kristin Pawlik, an attorney practicing with Keith, Miller, Butler, Schneider & Pawlik in Rogers, has been appointed to the Foundation Board by the Arkansas Bar Association. Pawlik’s practice focuses on domestic relations, criminal defense, and family law. She is also an active member of the Arkansas Bar Association, serving on the Board of Governors. Pawlik has previously been honored as a Pro Bono Attorney of the Year.

The Arkansas Access to Foundation would like to express its gratitude to Rep. Capp, Mr. McKinney, and Ms. Pawlik for agreeing to devote their time and talent to reducing the justice gap in Arkansas. The Foundation also thanks its outgoing members, Zina Frazier, Tamara Cochran, and J.D. Gingerich, for their service.

About the Arkansas Access to Justice Commission & Foundation

The Arkansas Access to Justice Commission works to ensure justice for all. That means that all Arkansans get the protections of the law. We research the unmet legal problems of Arkansans, encourage attorneys to do pro bono work for families who are priced out of the legal market, and recommend evidence-based solutions to policymakers.

Our sister nonprofit organization, the Arkansas Access to Justice Foundation, funds the state’s two civil legal aid organizations: The Center for Arkansas Legal Services and Legal Aid of Arkansas. Together, their lawyers help more than 13,000 Arkansans yearly with knowing and enforcing their rights and by being their voice in court. Through these approaches, we all work together to achieve fairness and make sure nobody with a legal problem is excluded from justice.

Legal Aid Honors Attorneys for Volunteerism

In observance of Law Day, a day designed to celebrate the role of law in our society and to cultivate a deeper understanding of the legal profession, Legal Aid of Arkansas has announced awards for its top volunteers. According to Lee Richardson, Executive Director of Legal Aid of Arkansas: “Attorneys in Arkansas are selfless in their commitment to providing access to justice to those of humble financial means. Pro Bono volunteers allow Legal Aid to serve hundreds of individuals and families annually who would otherwise be standing alone at the Courthouse door.”

The Arkansas Access to Justice Commission joins Legal Aid in thanking these attorneys for living up to their professional duty to serve the impoverished, defenseless, and oppressed. Pro Bono service represents what is best about the legal profession and the Commission encourages all lawyers to follow the example of these honorees by giving back to their community.

2017 Outstanding Pro Bono Service Awards

Equal Access to Justice Panel-Outstanding Attorney

John Blair (Rogers)

Arkansas Volunteer Lawyers for the Elderly-Outstanding Attorney

Steven Davis (Harrison) & Ray Nickle (Jonesboro)

Medical-Legal Partnership-Outstanding Attorney

William Waddell Jr. (Little Rock)

Outstanding Pro Bono Attorneys

First Judicial District: Carter Dooley (Wynne) & Austin Easley (Forrest City)

Second Judicial District: Kevin Cole (Jonesboro), Christopher Jester (Jonesboro), Jeanette Whatley (Marion), Bill E. Bracey (Blytheville), & Jay Scurlock (Paragould)

Third Judicial District: Ed Boyce (Newport), Jim McLarty (Newport) & Joe Grider (Pocahontas)

Fourth Judicial District: Donald Tippett (Fayetteville) & Greg Cuzick (Springdale)

Fourteenth Judicial District: James Wallace (Flippin), Jodi Strother (Mountain Home), & Johnny Nichols (Harrison)

Sixteenth Judicial District: Scott Stalker (Batesville) & Mat Dellinger (Melbourne)

Nineteenth Judicial District: Joshua Meister (Rogers), Hadley Hindmarsh (Rogers), Will Prettyman (Rogers)

Twentieth Judicial District: Jerry Patterson (Marshall) & Donna Price (Clinton)

Over 50 Hours of Pro Bono Service

Ray Nickle (Jonesboro), Donn Mixon (Jonesboro), Jeanette Whatley (Marion), William Waddell Jr. (Little Rock), Harry Light (Little Rock), Jacob Worlow(Fayetteville), & Adam Lentz (Fayetteville)

Over 20 Hours of Pro Bono Service

Joshua Meister (Rogers), Joanne McCracken (Lowell), Mary Schneider (Rogers), Johnny Nichols (Harrison), Steven Davis (Harrison), Chris Flanagin (Eureka Springs), Ariel Snyder (Jonesboro), Roger McNeil (Jonesboro), Kevin Cole (Jonesboro), Christopher Jester (Jonesboro), Kevin Orr (Jonesboro), Megan Henry(Jonesboro), Justin Parkey (Jonesboro), Seth Williams (Jonesboro), Quincy Jaeger (Jonesboro), Lorie Whitby (Paragould), Jay Scurlock (Paragould), Blair Arnold(Batesville), Scott Stalker (Batesville), Bill E. Bracey (Blytheville), Michalene Connealy (Blytheville), Ben Hollowell (North Little Rock), Tory Lewis (Little Rock), Ann Faitz (North Little Rock), Jerry Patterson (Marshall), Donna Price (Clinton), Donald Tippett (Fayetteville), Raymond Smith (Fayetteville), Greg Cuzick (Springdale), Everett DePangher (Fayetteville), Kelly Freeze (Fayetteville), Kimberly Petrone (Fayetteville), Maggie Benson (Fayetteville), J. Timothy Smith (Fayetteville), Scott E. Smith (Fayetteville), George Butler (Fayetteville), D. Westbrook Doss (Fayetteville), Gail Segers (Fayetteville), Bob I. Mayes (Fayetteville), Greg Niblock (Stuttgart), Leigh Ann Yeargan (Fayetteville), Sarah Reyes (Rogers), Geoff Edwards (Fayetteville), Jennifer Quezada (Cave Springs), Tara Smith (Rogers), & Jeff McGinnis (Bentonville)

Caitlin Savage Named Recipient of Equal Justice Distinguished Service Award


Caitlin Savage, a devoted pro bono attorney and community volunteer, will be honored with the Equal Justice Distinguished Service Award at the upcoming 2017 Arkansas Bar Annual Meeting in June. The Arkansas Bar Foundation annually issues the award to an individual who shows a commitment to equal justice programs for the poor, including pro bono efforts through legal services programs.

Ms. Savage is one of the youngest recipients to have received this award, having just graduated from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 2013. Since becoming an attorney, Ms. Savage has volunteered for Arkansas Access to Justice, Legal Aid of Arkansas, and Center for Arkansas Legal Services in clinics to assist marginalized Arkansans with legal documents necessary to improve employment opportunities, preserve family stability, and obtain identity documents.

In 2016, Ms. Savage was appointed as the chair of the Pro Bono Committee for the Arkansas Bar Association’s Young Lawyers’ Section. As chair, Caitlin has worked tirelessly to serve the low-income citizens of Arkansas. She has assisted Legal Aid of Arkansas with its expungement clinic at St. Vincent’s Hospital through its Medical-Legal Partnership. She has also organized three separate Wills for Heroes Estate Planning Clinics across the state which specifically serve police, firefighters, first responders, and veterans.

Apart from her pro bono work, Caitlin is passionate about fundraising for local nonprofits. In 2015, she received a grant from the Southern Partners Fund to study “raising resources in the rural South.” In 2016, the Arkansas Association of Fundraising Professionals named her as the Chamberlain Scholar for her devotion to fundraising.

Since 2015, Ms. Savage has volunteered her time with Lucie’s Place, the only nonprofit in Arkansas that specifically houses and assists homeless LGBT youth. She now serves as the chair of the Fundraising Advisory Board, where she organizes and supervises several fundraisers throughout the year.

Last year, Ms. Savage served as the chair of the Merchants Lounge Committee for the Junior League of Little Rock’s Holiday House fundraiser. This event is the organization’s largest fundraiser, providing the bulk of the funding for their volunteer work throughout the community.

Caitlin also volunteered last year on behalf of the Arkansas Bar Association at Hall High School’s Law Day celebration, where she discussed the importance of Miranda rights with students.

Ms. Savage is an attorney with Wilson & Associates, PLLC, in Little Rock.

Volunteers Needed for Expungement Clinic

Legal Aid of Arkansas’s St. Vincent Medical Legal Partnership is in need of attorney volunteers for an expungement clinic to be held on March 16th. The event will assist low-income clients with sealing their criminal records in order to improve their ability to secure employment and decent housing. Volunteers are needed for a morning shift (8:30-11:30) and an afternoon shift (1-4:30). A few shifts for law student volunteers are also open.

Experience with criminal law and expungements is beneficial, but not required. A one hour CLE (accreditation pending) webinar will be provided at noon, March 14th, for anyone new to expungement or wanting a refresher.

For more information, or to volunteer, please contact our Program Coordinator, Jordan Rogers or call 501.492.7174.

Arkansas Access to Justice is Moving

The Arkansas Access to Justice Commission and Foundation are relocating to a new office effective February 21, 2017.

The addition of two new Commission staff positions–a Program Coordinator and an AmeriCorps volunteer–have doubled the organizations’ capacity and needs for space, said Executive Director Amy Johnson.

The new mailing address will be 1111 West 6th Street, Suite D, Little Rock, AR 72201. All other contact information will remain the same.

Commission Launches Pro Bono Survey

The Access to Justice Commission is partnering with the American Bar Association’s Center for Pro Bono to survey Arkansas attorneys about your views on pro bono service. Whether you currently do pro bono or not, we want to hear from you! The results of this survey will be used to help us better understand how we can provide meaningful pro bono opportunities to attorneys across the state. The survey takes about thirty minutes to complete.

Your time is valuable. If you complete the survey and provide your name and contact information (which will not be linked to your answers), you will get one free registration pass for a lunchtime April webinar on the state of access to justice in Arkansas and related ethical rules (1 hour of ethics CLE credit pending). You will have two dates to pick from, and we will contact you to provide registration information in March.

If you have any questions, please contact our Program Coordinator, Jordan Rogers or call 501.492.7174. Please share this survey with other attorneys!

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE SURVEY

Please complete survey by Feb. 28th.

Suit Filed Over Computer Program Making Medicaid Cuts

LITTLE ROCK, Ark., January 27, 2017– Seven Arkansans represented by Legal Aid of Arkansas filed suit today in Pulaski County Circuit Court to stop the Department of Human Services from using a secret computer algorithm to cut Medicaid in-home services for people with disabilities such as cerebral palsy and quadriplegia. The suit alleges that DHS hid the algorithm from public input and oversight in an act of bureaucratic lawmaking that violates the Administrative Procedures Act.

The services at issue are provided through the Medicaid ARChoices program. The program exists so that low-income individuals with disabilities can receive care in their communities instead of in a nursing home that would cost the state up to six times more. Serving around 8,000 people, the program provides an in-home caregiver to help with tasks of daily living that individuals with disabilities may not be able to do independently, such as using the toilet, bathing, eating, getting dressed, preparing food, keeping the house clean, and laundry. The number of caregiving hours a recipient gets is supposed to depend on the severity of their condition. The seven plaintiffs received between 40 and 56 hours per week, the maximum.

However, once DHS replaced the discretion of a trained nurse who visited the individuals in their homes with a computer algorithm known as RUGs, clients whose medical conditions had not improved started facing big cuts. The seven plaintiffs lost an average of 43% of their services, a drop of up to 4 care hours per day. With such large cuts, the plaintiffs have had to sit in their own waste, go without meals, risk falls, and stay shut in. If the cuts are upheld, nursing homes will be in their futures.

Despite losing a federal court case for failing to give ARChoices clients proper notice about cuts, DHS continues to defend the secret RUGs system. Legal Aid of Arkansas attorneys offered three times in writing to meet with DHS officials before filing this lawsuit, but their requests were refused.

“The RUGs computer algorithm was decided on in secret by unelected DHS leaders who don’t understand the system well enough to explain how it works. It’s not responsible to trust a computer you don’t understand when someone’s life is at stake, and it’s against the law to do it without going through the right public process,” says Kevin De Liban, lead attorney on the lawsuit for Legal Aid of Arkansas.

If the suit is successful, the RUGs system will be invalid, and DHS will have to submit it for public vetting and possible rejection. As plaintiff Louella Jones says, “I did not know DHS was ever considering a new method for determining the number of hours I would get. Now that the computer algorithm has been used to reduce my hours, I want the chance to explain what the impact of the algorithm has been on me.”

All media inquiries should be directed to Kevin De Liban at (901) 834-0436.

The Power of “Mmm” by Rachel E. Pisors

We recently read a brief, but powerful piece of writing by Rachel Pisors (pictured right), an attorney at Legal Aid of Arkansas. It’s worth reading, whether you work in legal aid or not.

The Power of ‘Mmm’

Rachel Pisors
Legal Aid of Arkansas Attorney

It doesn’t get you into trouble.
You’re not giving legal advice.
It won’t make the other person stop talking.

But what it will do is tell the person on the other end of the line that you care.
That you’re human—and not a machine.
That someone is listening to them, and that it’s safe for them to keep talking.

But first, let’s just try something.

I’m gonna run through a few basics to get to know where you’re at.
Just shout out the answer; won’t take but a minute.

How much money is in your bank account?
Do you have a car?
Do you go to Commodities to get free peanut butter?

And about that abuse…were you sexually assaulted?
Did this happen to you more than once?

And you said your name is “______,” right?
And you stay at the “________” shelter?

Thanks!

I now know exactly how bad-off you are financially, and I know what happened in your bedroom last night.

Me? Well, you don’t have to know me.

I just ask the questions, and you answer them.
Tough luck; that’s how this system works.

Enter “Mmm.”

What if we gifted our callers with pauses?
What if we gifted them a brief “Mmm,” after they’ve provided us with an answer that must have been particularly difficult to tell us—a stranger.

What if—just sometimes—we combined the “Mmm” with the pause, and after he says, “Well, I’m on SNAP, and I really don’t have any assets,” we say, “Mmm,” pause a second, and then gently pose our next question.

How about after she says, “Yes…he tore my panties off and held me down; it really hurt,” we say, “Mmm,” pause a second, and then gently pose our next question.

This isn’t an expensive gift.
It doesn’t commit us in any way or require you voice an opinion.
Just empathy—that’s all.
No sympathy—just a brief second of empathy.

Would you consider giving this gift to your HelpLine callers this New Year?
I know if I had been a HelpLine caller when I needed my divorce, I sure would’ve been grateful to you for this.

Yoga Class Relaxes Mind, Raises Funds for Legal Aid


Pictured here, Amy Johnson, Executive Director of the Arkansas Access to Justice Commission, accepts a donation from Bill Rahn and Caren Thompson. The donation of over $500 comes from the proceeds of a yoga class taught by Thompson at Rahn’s SNAP Fitness Club, located in downtown Little Rock. “I love to teach yoga. I knew from the first time I approached Bill about doing a yoga class at SNAP that I wanted to donate the proceeds. Because Bill had worked for legal services for years and I currently work at legal services, it seemed the perfect fit.” Thompson said.

The Access to Justice Commission thanks Ms. Thompson and Mr. Rahn for their generous support. 100% of their gift will be used to support legal aid in Arkansas. Each year legal aid assists thousands of low-income Arkansans facing a legal crisis, such as eviction, domestic abuse, or discrimination.

Commission to Participate in Helena and Eudora “Super Saturday” Events


The Arkansas Access to Justice Commission will be joining with businesses and non-profits for two “Super Saturday” events, one in Helena and one in Eudora. Partner organizations include Sourthern Bancorp, Friday, Eldredge, and Clark, Legal Aid of Arkansas, and the Center for Arkansas Legal Services. These events will provide free tax and will preparation services to low-income residents of Helena and Eudora.

Event details are as follows:

Helena
February 11th, 10am-2pm
Southern Bancorp, 502 Cherry Street

Eudora
February 25th, 10am-2pm
J Austin White Community Center, 160 South Main Street

Tax payers interested in learning more or who need to locate another “Super Saturday” event in their area can visit banksouthern.com/vita to find more information. Attorneys or law students interested in volunteering to prepare estate planning documents at these events should contact the Commission’s Program Coordinator, Jordan Rogers.