Cumberland Times-News

Local News

April 20, 2013

Legal services receives help from lawmakers

General Assembly bills provide funding for civil cases

CUMBERLAND — Funding relief provided this session by the General Assembly to the Maryland Legal Services Corp. is welcome, but only limits the impact of other cuts to local legal services operations, said Marcia Conrad, the executive director of the Allegany Law Foundation Inc.

With the help of local contract attorneys and those donating services, along with funding from the state attorney general’s office, the foundation is doing more with less.

“The Maryland Legal Services Corporation has been cut 5 percent each of the past two years,” Conrad said. Local offices receiving corporation funds have been directed to cut their budgets by an equal amount. And that 5 percent cut continues into the 2014 fiscal year.

“Things are looking pretty grim,” Conrad said. It’s been hard to keep up with a growing demand for services, Conrad said. Yet, the Allegany Law Foundation has managed to keep services going, despite growing demand on almost all fronts.

“We’re meeting the needs of many more clients,” despite the cuts, Conrad said. Conrad works at the office three days a week and her assistant is full time. A substantial amount of the funding available goes to contract attorneys, who handle a variety of cases for the foundation.

To stem further cuts, the General Assembly passed two bills to help fund legal services throughout the state. House Bill 8383, signed into law by Gov. Martin O’Malley last week, extended surcharges on civil cases designated to go to legal services.

“We’re pleased about that,” Conrad said.

Those surcharges would have ended this year without passage of the legislation. Senate Bill 809, also passed but not yet signed, added to the amount designated to the abandoned property fund that the state comptroller would send to legal services. That amount would go from the current $500,000 to $1 million in fiscal 2014, to $1.5 million in fiscal 2015 and to $2 million in fiscal 2016.  

Conrad credits money from settlements obtained by Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler with providing major help.

Gansler recently awarded part of those funds, $200,000, to the foundation to help families facing foreclosure. The money will help the foundation to continue a series of workshops, and work with private attorneys to provide representation in bankruptcies and foreclosure mediation cases, Conrad said.

Services provided by the foundation go far beyond foreclosure cases, Conrad said, and include domestic and family law, as well as other cases.

Legal services in Maryland are also funded by interest from lawyers’ trust accounts, but because of low interest rates, those funds are drying up.

In 1997, Allegany Law Foundation Inc. was organized by the Bar Association of Allegany County to provide civil legal services to senior and low-income residents of Allegany County. The purpose was to supplement the legal services provided by the Western Maryland Legal Aid Office through local private bar pro bono assistance and staff support, information provided by the foundation stated.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Easter experience Easter experience

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Game on: City interested in baseball study

    After it looked like the objection of a couple of constituents to a study on the feasibility of bringing a minor league baseball team to the area may have torpedoed the thought, county commissioners and some city officials sounded ready to sing a chorus of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on Thursday.

    April 18, 2014

  • DEREK SHEELY Charges against helmet maker stand in case of Frostburg player’s death

    A Montgomery County judge this week declined to dismiss charges against a helmet manufacturer in a case brought by the parents of a Frostburg State University football player who died of head injuries in August 2011 following four straight days of heavy contact drills in practice.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • GAYLE MANCHIN W.Va. BOE president speaks on issues at WVSDB

    West Virginia Board of Education President Gayle Manchin responded to issues at the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind during an interview with the Times-News Wednesday morning.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • REGINALD REDMAN Moorefield man jailed on felony drug count

    A Moorefield man was arrested on various charges Thursday, including a felony drug offense for possession of amphetamines, according to the Keyser Police Department.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Blossoming optimism Blossoming optimism

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cemetery group’s efforts revive Oak Hill grounds Cemetery group’s efforts revive Oak Hill grounds

    After you drive Alexander and Furnace streets then navigate a couple of switchbacks on Cemetery Road, you’d figure there would be no more uphill.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Proposed county budget holds most agencies flat

    After taking into account an income tax shortfall, Allegany County Finance Director Jason Bennett said he’ll propose a budget that holds most outside agencies to flat funding and funds the Board of Education at what county officials say are maintenence of effort levels for 2015.

    April 17, 2014

  • RYAN WOLF Wolf named 2014-15 Garrett Teacher of the Year

    Southern Garrett High School teacher Ryan Wolf has been named the 2014-15 Garrett County Teacher of the Year.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rep. Delaney discusses congressional gridlock Rep. Delaney discusses congressional gridlock

    While giving a civics lesson at Frostburg State University on Thursday, U.S. Rep. John Delaney, congressman from Maryland’s sixth district, told students that the polarization in Congress is due primarily to redistricting and a poorly designed Congressional schedule.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Facebook
Must Read
News related video
Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Beau Biden Plans 2016 Run for Del. Governor Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military