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April 2014

In this issue:

For the want of $250, how many will lose their homes?

Call for Papers & Presentations – 2014 Urban Agriculture Conference

What is the Maryland Partners for Justice Conference?

Featured Clinic: Pro Bono Day in Baltimore County - Saturday, April 26, 2014

Dates to Save

April newsletter from the Section on Delivery of Legal Services!

Have an idea for a story or announcement in a future newsletter? Email Dave.Pantzer@mdcourts.gov.

For the want of $250, how many will lose their homes?

The number of homeowners at risk of tax sale in Baltimore City is staggering. In tax year 2011, there were 27,000 Baltimore properties with delinquent taxes, 10,000 of which were sold at tax sale. In tax year 2012, the number jumped to 46,000 delinquent properties. In Baltimore City, a homeowner can lose a property that he or she owns outright for as little as $250 of unpaid property taxes or $350 of unpaid water bills. Unlike the mortgage foreclosure process, at tax sale the homeowner receives no compensation whatsoever for his or her equity in the house.

Homeowners facing tax sale are often very low-income people on fixed incomes and persons with disabilities. Seniors are also often affected by this issue, particularly those who have reverse mortgages. At the time the list was published in March 2104, there were 8,620 owner-occupied properties on the Baltimore City tax sale list.

If homeowners are not able to pay their taxes prior to tax sale or redeem their properties following tax sale, they can lose their homes. Additionally, some homeowners are able to pay to redeem their properties but pay illegal attorney’s fees, illegal interest rates, and other fees to which the tax sale purchaser is not entitled under law. Paying these illegal fees puts these homeowners in a precarious situation in which they will likely fall behind on other bills or be unable to pay the next years taxes. Finally, some tax sale lien certificate holders purchase the tax sale lien certificate but never complete the process of foreclosing on the property and recording a deed to the new record owner. Many homeowners are not aware that they still legally own the home and do not have to leave. This practice also affects the homeowner’s ability to sell, mortgage or transfer the home in the future.

In order to provide targeted assistance to vulnerable homeowners in Baltimore City, Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS) and Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland (PBRC) are partnering to provide free brief advice clinics staffed with volunteer attorneys who have been trained in this specific area. Free training is available to volunteer attorneys who make a pro bono commitment to assist Baltimore City homeowners at risk of tax sale. Following the clinics, MVLS will place cases where necessary with volunteer attorneys who will work with homeowners to negotiate a payment plan of their delinquent taxes in order to avoid losing their homes. These cases are likely to require 10 hours or less of the volunteer attorney’s time.

For more information, contact the Pro Bono Resource Center at 410-837-9379 or pbrc@probonomd.org.

Call for Papers & Presentations – 2014 Urban Agriculture Conference

Community Law Center, Inc. and University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law are hosting the 2014 Urban Agriculture Law Conference on September 19, 2014 in Baltimore to share information and best practices in urban agriculture laws, policies and practices across the country. The conference will bring together national and local leaders, legal practitioners, and scholars who are addressing the diverse roles of urban agriculture in the renewal of urban communities. We are currently accepting proposals for conference papers, presentations, and workshops.

Proposals will be accepted for:

Case Study Panels – We invite panel discussions by attorneys and clients with other partners (nonprofit, government, or private sector). The panel may be organized and submitted as a group by a panel coordinator, or an individual may submit a particular viewpoint to be considered for part of a panel organized by the Conference Committee.

Legal Academic and Research Presentations – We invite papers and presentations of research about issues concerning urban agriculture law and/or policy. Accepted papers will be considered for publication by the legal journals of the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.

Legal Workshops – We invite workshop sessions designed to teach a diverse audience about legal issues of concern to urban farmers, municipalities, and to lawyers providing representation to urban farmers.

For more information, visit www.communitylaw.org/2014-Urban-Agriculture-Law-Conference.

What is the Maryland Partners for Justice Conference?

The Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland, Inc. is proud to host the 2014 Maryland Partners for Justice Conference on Thursday, May 15 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore City. This annual conference presents a unique opportunity for legal services program staff, the public and private bar, members of the judiciary, human services agencies, elected officials, and others to discuss critical issues facing the poor and underrepresented.

This year’s panels will cover both timeless issues faced by the legal services community and emerging topics that have yet to be fully addressed by our legal system, with topical areas ranging from youth homelessness to workers’ rights to immigration to marriage equality. Selected panel topics include: Serving our Service members; Community Engagement and the Web; Making the Affordable Care Act Work for Low-Income Marylanders; Learning the Nuts and Bolts of Maryland’s New Lien for Unpaid Wages; and The Role of Legal Advocates in Addressing Baltimore’s HIV/AIDS epidemic; and much more.

Additionally, we are thrilled to announce our keynote speaker Martina Vandenberg, founder of The Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center in Washington, D.C.

Sharon E. Goldsmith, Executive Director of the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland, states, “There is no better vehicle than this conference for networking and exchanging new ideas related to the legal rights and protections of Maryland’s disadvantaged and underrepresented populations.”

Attendees can take advantage of the Early Bird registration fee of $85 if registered by Friday, April 25. Otherwise, pre-registration cost for the conference is $95, which includes a breakfast, materials, and a plated lunch. On-site registration, required after May 9, is $105. Lunch only and student tickets are also available.

For additional information about the Conference, including a full list of panel topics, panel descriptions and panelists, or to register, visit: www.probonomd.org/conference.

Featured Clinic: Pro Bono Day in Baltimore County - Saturday, April 26, 2014

What: Pro Bono Day: Free Legal Advice – Members of the public can discuss civil legal problems one-on-one with volunteer attorneys at a free legal clinic. No registration required. Visitors should bring any relevant documents.

Types of issues include:

  • Bankruptcy
  • Consumer
  • Divorce, Custody & Child Support
  • Expungements
  • Government Benefits
  • Landlord-Tenant
  • Veterans Issues & Benefits
  • Wills & Advance Directives

When: Saturday, April 26, 2014 | 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Who: This event is sponsored by Baltimore County Bar Association; CCBC Legal Studies Program; Maryland Legal Aid; Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service.

Where: CCBC Randallstown Center - Liberty Center
3637 Offutt Road, (Corner of Liberty Rd & Offutt Rd), Randallstown, MD

Contact: 410-321-8860

Dates to Save

May 30 - Bankruptcy and Foreclosure in Maryland
This training focuses on Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
When: Friday, May 30, 2014, 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Where: Ecker Business Training Center, 6751 Columbia Gateway Drive, Columbia, MD 21046.
Sponsored by: Civil Justice, Inc. and Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland
To register: Contact Louis Bracco at 443.703.3052 or lbracco@probonomd.org

June 6 - 6th Annual Veterans’ Legal Assistance Conference & Training
When: Friday, June 6, 2014, 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Where: University of Baltimore School of Law, 1401 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21201
Conference organizers include: Homeless Persons Representation Project, University of Baltimore School of Law, The Bob Parsons Veterans Center at the University of Baltimore School of Law, the Veterans’ Affairs and Military Law Committee of the Maryland State Bar Association, and Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland.
Co-sponsored by: American Bar Association Commission on Homelessness & Poverty and the Veterans and Military Law Section of the Federal Bar Association
Interested in attending? Contact Kiah Pierre at 443.703.3046 or kpierre@probonomd.org

This Announcement list is used to periodically alert Delivery of Legal Services members of important news and events.

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The Maryland State Bar Association, Inc.
520 West Fayette Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201
Phone: 410.685.7878 Fax: 410.685.1016 www.msba.org