Legal Aid Society saves an elderly woman’s home.
An elderly woman owned a modest home on Milwaukee’s South Side. One day a stranger knocked on her door and told her she needed new siding and a new roof. He told her she could use the equity she had patiently built up over many years to finance the repairs. The high-interest loan payments consumed 70% of the woman’s monthly income. When she was unable to make the unconscionably high payments for work that was both shoddy and incomplete, the contractor began foreclosure proceedings against the home. The woman did not know any attorneys, so her daughter brought her to the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee where Attorney Catherine M. Doyle went to work on the case.
In short order, Attorney Doyle got the case dismissed and the loan paid off in its entirety. The elderly woman was so thrilled with Attorney Doyle’s work that she played and sang a hymn for her in gratitude.
Legal Aid Society exposes fraud by a slumlord.
An African American couple came to the Legal Aid Society with a $5,100 judgment against them. They stated that they had never received notice of the case. Attorney Colleen A. Foley launched an investigation. She found out that the lender, an inner-city landlord, had obtained more than $600,000 in small claims judgments against hundreds of tenants and borrowers – all of them by default. Further investigation revealed that none had been served with notice of his claims. The landlord had filed false affidavits in each of these cases fraudulently claiming to have served his legal notices.
As a result of Attorney Foley’s conscientious investigation, the Milwaukee County Circuit Court vacated $600,000 in judgments obtained by the slumlord. The court also vacated the $5,100 judgment against the African American couple and dismissed the complaint against them on the merits. After the case’s conclusion, the District Attorney’s Office began a criminal investigation into the activities of the slumlord.
Legal Aid Society wins benefits for disabled homeless man
A 31-year-old cognitively-impaired homeless man showed up at the Legal Aid Society one day. He also suffered from a major spinal deformity. The Social Security Administration had recently sent him a letter cutting off his benefits and health insurance, declaring him no longer disabled, and ordering him to repay $21,000 in past benefits.
The case was assigned to Attorney Paula Lorant, an experienced public benefits lawyer. Attorney Lorant obtained the man’s medical records and had him evaluated by a psychologist and vocational expert. Her skillful marshaling of the evidence forced the Administrative Law Judge to reverse his previous decision, restore past and current benefits, and vacate the order to repay past amounts. Her client now has stable housing and, with appropriate support, is living semi-independently.
Legal Aid Society fights for best interests of a small boy.
A bitter divorce proceeding in Mexico resulted in the husband winning custody of the couple’s 4-year-old son. The mother seized the boy and fled to Milwaukee. The distraught father tracked her down and filed suit in United States District Court. He alleged a violation of the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The federal judge needed to find capable legal representation to ensure that the little boy’s interests were protected in the dispute between his parents. He appointed Attorney Jennifer A. Ortiz, Supervising Attorney with the Legal Aid Society’s Guardian ad Litem Project, to advocate on behalf of the boy.
Attorney Ortiz, a native Spanish-speaker, thoroughly investigated the complex international law matter. Drawing on 17 years of experience in child custody cases, she negotiated a resolution that allowed both parents to have a continuing relationship with their son – the best outcome for the young boy who loved his mom and dad equally.
Legal Aid Society stops discrimination.
Six Hispanic residents on Milwaukee’s South Side, all of them living with HIV/AIDS, scheduled appointments at Johnson Community Health Center’s Primary Care Clinic. Clinic staff later called their case manager at UMOS (United Migrant Opportunities Service) and cancelled their appointments. The clinic explained that Johnson would not treat HIV/AIDS patients. The case manager immediately called Attorney Lisa Clay Foley at the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee.
Attorney Foley is in charge of the Society’s ALERT Project (AIDS Law, Education, Representation, and Training). She got the U.S. Office of Civil Rights involved in the case, and the matter then went to mediation. As a result of that legal process, Johnson Community Health Center agreed to treat her clients, wrote them a formal letter of apology, revised the Center’s policy manual, and retrained their staff to accept HIV/AIDS patients in the future.