Legal Services Advocacy Project Works for Fairness at the Legislature

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Each year during the legislative session, the three staff attorneys comprising the Legal Services Advocacy Project (LSAP) meet with Minnesota legislators, participate in committees and work diligently to measure the effects of statutes and administrative laws on the most vulnerable citizens. Their goal is to educate legislators and ensure the law works fairly for all.

In “Legal Services Advocacy Project: A Voice at the Legislature,” LSAP’s unique lobbying efforts are explained and examined with an eye on justice-seeking that is collaborative and draws on the expertise of legal aid colleagues.

“We try to leverage work in coalitions,” says LSAP’s Jessica Webster. “Since there are only three of us, we depend on partnerships to extend our reach.” Read more at Attorney at Law Magazine Minnesota.

MMLA, ILCM, and Advocates Provide Representation to Hennepin County Residents Facing Deportation

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Hennepin County is now one of only a few regional jurisdictions to fund legal representation of its residents in deportation proceedings. This past summer a new legal defense fund was established by Hennepin County in cooperation with three nonprofit organizations. The grant and the participating organizations — Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid (MMLA), Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota (ILCM) and the Advocates for Human Rights (Advocates) — aim to provide universal representation to immigration defendants regardless of the merits of their case. Preference is given to people who were transferred from the Hennepin County jail to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody.

Speaking to the Star Tribune, Peggy Russell, managing attorney with MMLA said, “Many immigrants who are placed in removal proceedings are lawful permanent residents who pay taxes and are at risk of extended detention and separation from their families.” She also noted studies emphasizing the rate of success for immigrants with legal representation in establishing a right to stay in the United States.

Read more at MPR News.

CMLS Attorney to be Honored at MJF’s Annual Awards Celebration November 7

Elizabeth F. Sauer

Elizabeth F. Sauer

This Wednesday, November 7, marks Minnesota Justice Foundation’s Annual Awards Celebration. Every year since 1991, MJF has honored the work of public interest attorneys, private pro bono attorneys, advocates, and law students whose commitment to service shines as a beacon of hope and embodies the very best of our profession.

This year, MJF’s award for Outstanding Service by a Direct Legal Services provider will go to Elizabeth F. Sauer, supervising attorney at Central Minnesota Regional Legal Services (CMLS).

Sauer has been the housing supervising attorney at CMLS since May 2017, with over seven years of prior service as a staff attorney. While she focuses on housing law, her caseload also includes family law cases, predominantly Orders for Protection. Her advocacy skills and legal knowledge exceed expectations for her seniority at CMLS, and she handles hundreds of housing cases on an annual basis. Countless tenants in Hennepin and Anoka counties have avoided homelessness because of Sauer’s outstanding advocacy.

Sauer has become an expert in subsidized housing law, and CMLS attorneys who have cases involving vouchers, as well as attorneys from other legal aid programs, regularly consult with her on their own cases. She mentors CMLS attorneys in all the program’s offices, and provides counsel to other attorneys in Minnesota, thereby improving advocacy for clients statewide.

Sauer has represented over a thousand clients during her career, and through her mentoring of others, has impacted hundreds more cases. She is always on the look-out for new ways to apply the law to ensure that clients remain housed, and that their housing is in good repair.  Her work recognizes the essential role that housing plays in a client’s success in all areas of life. 

MJF’s 2018 award winners also include Timothy McLarnan of McLarnan & Skatvold – Moorhead, recipient of the Private Practice Award; Imani Jaafar of the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights, recipient of the Advocate Award; and law students Royzetta Evans of Mitchell Hamline School of Law, Dr. Susan Craig, M. D. of the University of Minnesota Law School, and Jonathan Snyder of the University of St. Thomas School of Law.

There’s still time to get a ticket to the Annual Awards Celebration. Click here for more information and to reserve your ticket.

Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid Helps Ensure Immigrants’ Rights

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Starting this month, immigrant community members will be reminded of their rights in all Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) squad cars. Thanks to the hard work and effective advocacy of attorneys at Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, printed placards explaining an immigrant’s right to remain silent about their place of birth, and immigration status, along with other applicable rights, have been placed on the back seat of MPD squads in both English and Spanish. Staff attorneys Alison Olson Cox and Laura Wilson worked closely with the Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office on the placard language. Cox was also a strong advocate for the city to take ownership of the placard and the recitation of immigrant rights. 

Read more about the placards in the Star Tribune.