by John A. Torres
When 18th Circuit Chief Judge Lisa Davidson started up a Pro Bono Legal Clinic for Brevard County’s veterans this time last year, there was no way she could know how badly it would be needed.
But 2020 has been a year of firsts for many. The unrelenting pandemic that has claimed more than 200,000 American lives and upended the economy has been harsh on everyone but especially so on the disenfranchised or those living on the fringes, which include many veterans.
Now Davidson is making a push for more attorneys to get involved to help veterans, many of whom she says are in dire need of free legal services.
“The pandemic has caused many veterans to lose their jobs and fall behind on rent,” she said. “The state moratorium on evictions has ended and we expect a flood of eviction lawsuits to begin. No veteran should be hungry or homeless if legal assistance can make all the difference. In order for this project to succeed, the Pro Bono Legal Clinic for Veterans needs attorneys who will agree to take at least one case.”
To that end, attorney Geoffrey Golub is giving an online seminar Wednesday at noon, titled “Representing Litigants in Residential Evictions.” The presentation will provide a comprehensive overview of the rules both landlords and tenants must follow under Florida law.
But evictions aren’t the only issue facing veterans and so attorney Scott Robinson — a decorated combat veteran who was awarded the Purple Heart in 2004, while serving in Iraq — will present “Representing Parties in Domestic Violence Injunctions” on Nov. 18.
Robinson said that many veterans literally fall into the cracks legally because they are constrained by their federal benefits.
“The issue is that a veteran’s benefits prevent veterans from being represented by the public defender or legal aid. However, the benefits are not sufficient to allow a vet to hire an attorney,” Robinson said. “This pro bono clinic will close that gap and provide veterans quality representation.”
The legal clinic is made possible through the efforts of the 18th Circuit’s Pro Bono Committee, the National Veterans Homeless Support (NVHS), Brevard County Legal Aid, and the Brevard County Bar Association.
“Legal assistance ranks among the highest and most important of the unmet needs of veterans,” Davidson said. “Our veterans often face stressful legal situations that can affect their ability to gain or maintain employment and housing — such as eviction, foreclosure, or driver’s license revocations.”
Attorneys wishing to get involved should contact the Brevard Bar Association at firstname.lastname@example.org to register for these CLE programs and to learn more about how to assist local veterans.
Contact Torres at 321-242-3684 or at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter @johnalbertorres or on Facebook athttp://www.facebook.com/FTjohntorres.