The Athens Access to Justice Initiative Hosts Pop Up Legal Clinic

By Siarra Z. Carr  
Georgia State University College of Law Intern

Athens Pop Up BannerOn April 21st, the Athens Access to Justice Initiative (AAJI) held its 5th Access to Justice pop-up Clinic at Living Water Christian Fellowship. The clinic is a collaboration between the Western Circuit Bar Association, the University of Georgia Law School, and the Superior Court Judges of the Western Circuit. Together, they have created the Athens Access to Justice Initiative. Their posted time for beginning the clinic was at 9:00 a.m., however, their doors were open and people were beginning to arrive as early as 8:30. The clinic provided services for matters including child support, custody, divorce, legitimization, landlord-tenant, wills, guardianship, criminal cases, car accidents, disability/social security cases, and business law, to over 60 people in the two hour time period. At the doorway where people entered, there was a table with information about pro-se resources, attorney referral lists, and pamphlets on disability law, family violence, the Clerk's Office and e-Filing. The clinic also provided some of this information in Spanish, and there were Spanish speaking attorneys present. Twenty-four attorneys showed up to volunteer, along with four judges, a state representative, six members of the Clerk's Office and judicial administrative staff, and a handful of UGA law students.

Athens Pop Up JudgesSuperior Court Judges Eric Norris and Regina Quick, Chief Magistrate Judge Patricia Barron, Municipal Court Judge Ryan Hope and Representative Deborah Gonzalez of the 117th District all welcomed the participants with a few words. Judge Norris later emphasized the importance of the community being able to see judges outside of the courtroom, since many times the only place people see a judge when they are in front of them in court. She also told a story of how one woman was able to get everything resolved in one day at one of the previous clinics through the help of an innovative lawyer. Judge Hope noted that there were attorneys present with 20-30 years of practice, and that programs like this are important for people who would not normally be able to receive that kind of access to assistance. He also mentioned how difficult it can be for individuals who do not have the means to get the help they need to go through the justice system, and that the AAJI helps level the playing field for many.

Afterwards, Judges of the Western Judicial Circuit  hosted a barbecue for the hardworking volunteers and participants who showed up to the clinic, as well as for the gracious members of the church who lent their space and resources.

The next pop-up clinic will be 9:00 a.m. Saturday May 12, 2018 at:
Pinewoods Library and Learning Center
1465 US Hwy 29N, Lot G-10
Athens, Ga

Contact AOC

Administrative Office of the Courts 244 Washington Street, SW Suite 300 Atlanta, GA  30334

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