LSC UPDATES | DECEMBER 2019

FATHER PIUS PIETRZYK ELECTED NEW LSC VICE CHAIR

LSC's Board of Directors has elected Father Pius Pietrzyk, O.P., as the board's new Vice Chair. He is a priest of the Order of Preachers ("the Dominicans") and serves as the Chairman of the Department of Pastoral Studies and as Assistant Professor of Canon Law at St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park, CA. He also previously served as editor of the scholarly journal of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Father Pius was ordained to the priesthood on May 23, 2008, after having entered the novitiate for the Dominican Province of St. Joseph in 2002.​ Prior to entering the Dominican Order, he worked for three years in the corporate and securities practice of Sidley Austin LLP in Chicago.​ ​He ​obtained his​ ​​law degree from the University of Chicago and holds a Doctoral Degree in Canon Law from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Rome).

He succeeds Professor Martha Minow, former Dean of Harvard Law School and Harvard University's current 300th Anniversary University Professor.

Hear Father Pius Pietrzyk discuss his new role as LSC's Vice Chair.

LSC HOLDS ACCESS TO JUSTICE FORUM IN SALT LAKE CITY

(L-R Clockwise) Former Utah Chief Justice Christine Durham; Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Matthew B. Durrant; Idaho Legal Services Executive Director Jim Cook; and Nevada Legal Services Executive Director Annamarie Johnson. 
Distinguished jurists and leaders from government and legal aid gathered in Salt Lake City on Monday, October 21, for LSC’s Forum on Increasing Access to Justice.

Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Matthew B. Durrant provided opening remarks, along with LSC Board Chair John G. Levi. Advocating for innovative approaches to bridging the justice gap, Chief Justice Durrant discussed statewide reform efforts, including establishing Licensed Paralegal Practitioners and piloting an online dispute resolution model for small claims court.

The first panel, “Regional Efforts in Managing Statewide Legal Services Programs in the Mountain West,” featured legal aid leaders of statewide programs in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Utah. The panelists explored strategies on how to best meet the civil legal needs of low-income Americans in their region. LSC President Jim Sandman moderated the panel featuring Jim Cook, Executive Director, Idaho Legal Services; Annamarie Johnson, Executive Director, Nevada Legal Services; Eric Mittelstadt, Deputy Director, Utah Legal Services; and Alison Paul, Executive Director, Montana Legal Services.

LSC Board Member Gloria Valencia-Weber moderated the second panel, “Civil Legal Services and Native American Communities.” It examined the unique challenges faced by indigenous American communities in the justice system. The panelists included Judge Dustin Jansen, Tribal Court of the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Tribe; Bertie Kee Lopez, Tribal Legal Advocate, Utah Legal Services; and Honor Keeler, Assistant Director, Utah Diné Bikéyah. 

Prior to the forum, Former Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Christine Durham, Appellate Attorney with Zimmerman Booher, spoke at a luncheon on the importance of ensuring access to justice in the state and across the country.
Watch videos from the forum

REPS. DEUTCH AND DINGELL JOIN MICHIGAN SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE BRIDGET MARY MCCORMACK AND LSC IN ANN ARBOR FOR ACCESS TO JUSTICE EVENTS

(Left top): Rep. Debbie Dingell (MI-12). (Left bottom): Herb Fluker, Career Advisor, Michigan Works! Southeast; Letitia "Tish" Lee, Managing Attorney, Legal Services of South Central Michigan-Washtenaw, Michigan Advocacy Program; and LSC Vice President and General Counsel Ronald Flagg.
(Right:) Chris Baumgartner, Managing Attorney, Indiana Legal Services - Fort Wayne; Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack; Judge Thomas P. Boyd, 55th District Court of Michigan.
LSC headed to Ann Arbor, Michigan, on October 25 for two days of access to justice events.

The first day, LSC hosted two panels at the University of Michigan Law School highlighting the difference legal aid can make in the lives of low-income individuals and communities. LSC Board Chair John G. Levi and Michigan Law School Dean Mark D. West delivered opening remarks.

Representative Theodore “Ted” Deutch (FL-22) and Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack also offered their insights on expanding access to justice for low-income Americans. 

“There are so many barriers ahead of low-income individuals before they even reach the courthouse door,” noted Rep. Deutch. “Barriers put equal justice at risk in the most dire circumstances: to escape from an abusive relationship, to keep a family together, to keep your home, to fend off fraud, to find your way through government benefits, to get basic health care, to recover from natural disasters, to protect our most fundamental constitutional rights. Legal Services Corporation—LSC—is there to help address all of these. Legal aid is there at times when our most universal needs are in jeopardy.”
Hear Rep. Deutch explain why "an accessible justice system is necessary for a healthy society."
Chief Justice McCormack moderated the first panel, “Housing and Eviction Defense.” The panelists explored the importance of legal representation for families facing the threat of eviction and other pressing housing issues–something of particular relevance to the state of Michigan, where three cities (Detroit, Lansing, and Warren) have been ranked among the top hundred larger American cities with the highest rates of court-ordered evictions.  

A second panel, “How Expungements Affect Employment,” focused on the ways expungement can expand career and educational opportunities for eligible persons. The panelists included legal services leaders and Judge Michelle M. Rick, Chief Judge Pro Tem of the 29th Circuit Court of Michigan. LSC Vice President and General Counsel Ronald Flagg served as moderator. LSC Vice Chair Father Pius Pietrzyk provided closing remarks at the forum.

Representative Debbie Dingell (MI-12) spoke at a luncheon later that day sponsored by the Michigan Bar Foundation and Michigan Advocacy Program. She stated that “access to justice is essential if we are to have due process in this country, and there are just too many barriers that remain.” Rep. Dingell is one of four co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Access to Civil Legal Aid Services Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The following day, LSC Board Chair John G. Levi and LSC President Jim Sandman were among those recognized by Michigan Athletics prior to the Notre Dame v. Michigan football game. University of Michigan Head Football Coach Jim Harbaugh is a member of LSC’s Leaders Council, which works to raise public awareness of the current crisis in legal aid.

Levi and Sandman were joined on the field along with members of LSC’s Board of Directors, including Robert J. Grey Jr., Matthew Keenan, Abigail Lawlis Kuzma, Victor B. Maddox, John G. Malcolm, Laurie Mikva, and LSC Vice Chair Father Pius Pietrzyk. Jon Laramore, Executive Director of Indiana Legal Services, and Ann Routt, Executive Director of Michigan Advocacy Program, were also recognized. 

Watch videos from the forum
LSC board members, legal aid leaders, and other supporters on the field at Michigan Stadium.

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