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30 free family law clinics scheduled in June

May 24, 2018

Thirty free family law clinics are scheduled across the state during June, which is Access to Justice Month.

Low-income people who need help with family law matters such as guardianships to enroll children in school, uncontested divorce, legal name change and emancipation may be able to find legal assistance at one of the clinics.

“We hope to see more hours of legal services donated this month to assist our needy citizens than at any time other than during large scale natural disasters,” said Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. “The unmet civil legal needs of the poor are a silent and less visible source of suffering. Unmet legal needs exacerbate the effects of poverty.”

Approximately 695,000 people in Mississippi, a fifth of the state’s population, live at or below poverty level, and about 1.3 million of the impoverished and the working poor – almost 45 percent of the state’s population – qualify for civil legal aid. Many struggle to represent themselves pro se in court without the assistance of an attorney.

Chief Justice Waller has called for civil legal clinics to be held throughout the state. Every Chancery Court district has agreed to host a free civil legal clinic this year. Local bar associations have worked with the Access to Justice Commission and the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project to organize the clinics.

Access to Justice Commission Executive Director Nicole McLaughlin said, “Civil legal aid helps people protect their livelihoods, their health and their families. We are proud that our legal community continues to support access to justice for those in need. Through the scheduled legal clinics, we will be able to assist an unprecedented amount of Mississippians with family law issues.”

Gayla Carpenter-Sanders, executive director and general counsel of the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project, said, “Pro bono work helps to bring closure to legal matters for individuals who cannot afford an attorney. MVLP is fortunate to work with attorneys across this state who dedicate countless hours to making sure we restore hope in the lives of our underserved residents.”

Civil legal clinics scheduled throughout June and later this year are designed to give people enough basic legal advice and directions so that they can handle simple legal matters on their own in Chancery Court. Attorneys at the legal clinics will help clients prepare documents, give limited legal advice and help them get ready to go to court on their own.

The kinds of matters which may be addressed may vary at the different clinics. Limitations, if any, are posted on the clinic schedule on the Mississippi Judiciary website at this link:https://courts.ms.gov/newsite2/Legal/CivilLegal.php.

Here’s the schedule for June:

• Forrest County, June 1, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Forrest County Chancery Court, 641 N. Main St, Hattiesburg;
• Lamar County, June 1, 9 a.m.-noon, Lamar County Chancery Court, 403 Main St., Purvis;
• Marion County, June 1, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Marion County Chancery Court, 250 Broad St., #2, Columbia;
• Pearl River County, June 1, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Pearl River County Chancery Court, 200 S. Main Street, Poplarville, and 917 Goodyear Boulevard, Picayune;
• Perry County, June 1, 1-3 p.m., Perry County Chancery Court, 103 S. Main St., New Augusta;
• Alcorn County, June 5, 3-6 p.m., 600 East Waldron St., Corinth;
• Scott County, June 7, 9 a.m. to noon, Scott County Courthouse, 100 E. First Street, Forest. Sponsored by the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project;
• 9th Chancery District of Humphreys, Issaquena, Sharkey, Sunflower, Warren and Washington counties, June 7, 9 a.m., Warren County Courthouse, 1009 Cherry Street, Vicksburg;
• 13th District of Covington, Jefferson Davis, Lawrence, Simpson and Smith counties, June 7, 1-5 p.m., Simpson County Courthouse, 111 West Pine Ave., Mendenhall. This clinic is limited to guardianships. Sponsored by the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project;
• 17th Chancery Court of Adams, Claiborne, Jefferson and Wilkinson counties, June 7, 1-7
p. m., Adams County Chancery Court, Natchez. This clinic is limited to guardianships and emancipations;
• 18th Chancery District of Benton, Calhoun, Lafayette, Marshall and Tippah counties, June 7 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Lafayette County Courthouse, 300 N. Lamar Boulevard, Oxford. Residents of all counties in the district may attend this clinic. Sponsored by the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project;
• Neshoba and Kemper counties, June 8, 9 a.m.-noon, Neshoba County Chancery Court, 401 East Beacon Street, Philadelphia. This legal clinic will include assistance with emancipation of minors, guardianship, irreconcilable differences divorce, name change and simple wills. Sponsored by the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project;
• George and Greene counties, June 13, 9 a.m., George County Chancery Court, 355 Cox Street, Lucedale;
• Jackson County, June 14, 9 a.m., Jackson County Chancery Court, 3104 Magnolia Street, Pascagoula;
• Attala and Carroll counties, June 15, 9 a.m.-noon, Attala County Chancery Court, 230 West Washington St., Kosciusko. This legal clinic will include assistance with emancipation of minors, guardianship, irreconcilable differences divorce, name change and simple wills. Sponsored by the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project;
• Bolivar County, June 16, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Bolivar County Courthouse, 200 South Court Street, Cleveland;
• Hancock County, June 19, 1-4 p.m., Hancock County Chancery Court, 152 Main Street, Bay St. Louis;
• Harrison County, June 19, 1-4 p.m., 730 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, Biloxi;
• Stone County residents may attend the June 19 Harrison County clinic in Biloxi, 1-4 p.m., 730 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, Biloxi;
• Choctaw and Winston counties, June 22, 9 a.m. - noon, Winston County Chancery Court, 154 South Court Avenue, Louisville. This legal clinic will include assistance with emancipation of minors, guardianship, irreconcilable differences divorce, name change and simple wills. Sponsored by the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project;
• 4th Chancery Court of Amite, Franklin, Pike and Walthall counties, June 22, 9 a.m. to 5
p. m., Pike County Chancery Court, 175 South Cherry Street, Magnolia;
• Leflore and Tallahatchie counties, June 22, 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Leflore County Chancery Court, 310 West Market Street, Greenwood (uncontested matters only);
• Itawamba County, June 22, 2-5 p.m., 201 W. Main St., Fulton;
• 14th Chancery District of Chickasaw, Clay, Lowndes, Noxubee, Oktibbeha and Webster counties, June 26, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Lowndes County Chancery Court, 515 2nd Avenue North, Columbus. This clinic is limited to uncontested matters;
• Lee County, June 27, 3-7 p.m. and Nov. 6, 3-7 p.m., 200 W. Jefferson St., Tupelo;
• Copiah County, June 28, 3-7 p.m., Copiah County Fairgrounds, 240 W. Gallman Rd., Hazlehurst;
• Rankin County, June 29, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Rankin County Chancery Courthouse, 203 Town Square, Brandon;
• 11th Chancery District of Holmes, Leake, Madison and Yazoo counties, June 29, 9:30
a. m. to 1 p.m., Madison County Chancery Court Building, Board of Supervisors Room, 146 West Center Street, Canton. This clinic is limited to emancipation, name change, irreconcilable differences divorce. Sponsored by the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project and Butler Snow LLP;
• Coahoma, Quitman and Tunica counties, June 30, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Coahoma County Courthouse, 115 First Street, Clarksdale.

People seeking legal assistance must register in advance and be screened for eligibility based on income.

Eligibility to attend a clinic is limited to people whose income is at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. For example, that would be an annual income of $24,280 or less for an individual; an annual income of $32,920 or less for a two-person household; $41,560 or less for a family of three; or $50,200 or less for a family of four, based on the 2018 federal poverty guidelines of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

For more information, contact Access to Justice Commission Executive Director Nicole McLaughlin at 601-960-9581 or nmclaughlin@msbar.org.

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