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MMLS Proposed 2025 PAI Plan

Mid-Missouri Legal Services (MMLS) delivers legal services to eleven (11) counties in central Missouri. Due to unique challenges of serving a primarily rural area, MMLS has developed a plan to use volunteers in a variety of ways to expand the reach and effectiveness of the program. MMLS takes into consideration the input from segments of the client community, private attorneys, and bar associations in the development of its annual Private Attorney Involvement (PAI) Plan. Any responses to MMLS’s Proposed 2024 Private Attorney Involvement Plan can be submitted to dunhamk@mmls.org.”  You can view the 2024 MMLS PAI Plan at this link:  MMLS Proposed 2024 PAI Plan

 

 You can make a donation to MMLS at mid-missouri-legal-services-corporation-6/.  MMLS provides free legal assistance and legal information to low-income mid-Missourians and domestic and sexual violence survivors who would otherwise not be able to afford an attorney or access courts on their own. Access to legal services makes a difference in the safety, health, and financial security of families in our communities. But a recent study showed that low-income Americans go without any or sufficient legal services for 92% of their civil legal problems. Legal Services Corporation. (2022, April). The justice gap: The unmet civil legal needs of low-income Americanshttps://justicegap.lsc.gov/the-report/.  Your support in any amount you can give is greatly appreciated and can help us close the justice gap.

Applications for student loan debt relief are no longer being accepted because of lawsuits challenging the debt cancellation program. Up-to-date information about the status of the program is available from the U.S. Department of Education:

Debt Relief | Application | Federal Student Aid.

The Department of Education announced the debt cancellation program in August 2022, and applications became available in October 2022. The National Consumer Law Center provides eligibility information about the program at the following link: One-Time Student Debt Cancellation in 2022-2023 – Student Loan Borrowers Assistance (studentloanborrowerassistance.org).

Student loan payments and interest for eligible federal student loans have been paused in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pause was scheduled to be lifted, with payments to resume, on December 31, 2022. In response to the litigation about student debt cancellation, the pause has been extended until the lawsuits regarding student debt cancellation are resolved or the U.S. Department of Education is able to go forward with debt cancellation despite the dispute.

More information about the status of the payment pause can be found at the following link: COVID-19 Emergency Relief and Federal Student Aid | Federal Student Aid. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers advice and information for people preparing to resume loan payments after the pause: Student loans | Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (consumerfinance.gov)

Changes in the Missouri Expungement Law

Significant changes to Missouri law have made more people eligible to have a criminal record closed. The legislature has expanded the types of offenses eligible for expungement and shortened the “waiting period” before a person may ask a court to close records.

In Missouri, expungement results in closing arrest and conviction records, rather than erasing or destroying the records.  Most drug offenses became eligible for expungement in 2018. Misdemeanor and felony stealing charges, often charged in shoplifting cases, were made eligible for expungement in August 2019.

The most serious crimes, such as Class A felonies, dangerous felonies and offenses requiring registration as a sex offender, remain ineligible for expungement.

While Missouri law formerly required a waiting period of seven years to expunge a felony and three years to expunge a misdemeanor, those waiting periods were shortened in August 2021 to three years and one year, respectively. The waiting period starts once all court obligations, such as probation and fines, are satisfied.

To seek expungement, a petitioner must have avoided any additional convictions during the applicable waiting period before filing a petition. In addition, someone seeking expungement must have no pending criminal charges.

Eligibility for expungement must be determined on a case-by-case basis. Anyone interested in expungement may benefit from seeking advice from an attorney. Expungement petitions must be filed in the county where the case was charged or prosecuted. Mid-Missouri Legal Services represents low-income clients seeking expungement in 11 counties in Central Missouri.

More information about expungement is available from the Missouri Bar: https://missourilawyershelp.org/legal-topics/understanding-missouris-new-expungement-law/

No petition required for most ‘Amendment 3’ marijuana expungements

Missouri voters approved “Amendment 3” in the recent election to legalize recreational marijuana. The amendment to Article XIV of the Missouri Constitution takes effect on December 8, 2022. The amendment legalizes possession and use of marijuana for those 21 and older and establishes a licensing scheme for legal production and sale.

The new law requires the courts to expunge eligible marijuana offenses without requiring a petition. Under the constitutional amendment, Missouri’s circuit courts must order expungement of all misdemeanor marijuana offenses in cases where the person has completed any sentence by the court by no later than June 8, 2023. Missouri courts must order expungement of all eligible felony marijuana offenses, where the sentence is complete, by no later than December 8, 2023.

Offenses that involve distribution to a minor, offenses involving violence, and offenses for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana are excluded.

People who are currently incarcerated on marijuana offenses can petition for expungement. The amendment provides that no fees can be charged for those petitions and requires the public defender’s office to create a form people can use to ask for expungement without representation from an attorney.

Mid-Missouri Legal Services provides representation to eligible people seeking expungement. While MMLS is not able to represent people who are currently incarcerated, MMLS can provide advice about the automatic expungement process under Amendment 3. Expungements under the new law may make it easier for people to seek expungement of other offenses on their records.             

COVID-19 Updates

To view Missouri court and other resource updates, click on the following link:  Covid-19.  You can view the latest develops concerning Covid-19 by viewing the U.S. Government Covid-19 site located at:  USA.Gov.  If you click on the links above you will be leaving this website.

 

 

 

TIPS TO AVOID CONTRACTOR SCAMS AFTER NATURAL DISASTERS

After a natural disaster, such as the storms and tornadoes that hit Jefferson City this week, community members will come together to help their neighbors with clean-up, re-building, and financial and emotional support. Unfortunately, some people try to take advantage of consumers and homeowners who are anxious to repair their damaged homes. Missouri consumers and homeowners affected by the recent storms and tornadoes need to be on the alert and protect themselves from scams perpetrated by storm-chasers who target survivors of natural disasters.

If you are approached by a company or contractor offering to sell you products or services, take time to ask questions and assess whether the company is a reputable, legitimate business.

Be skeptical – if an offer sounds too good to true, it probably is.

MMLS offers the following tips on warning signs and steps you can take to protect yourself.

Avoid contractors who:

  • Use high-pressure tactics such as offering a “now or never” deal or asking consumers to sign documents immediately;
  • Demand cash up front for the entire amount;
  • Refuse to give an estimate of the job;
  • Are unable to produce local references; or
  • Ask you to obtain the building permit.

 

The following tips can help you prevent a scam

  • Get recommendations for a contractor from friends, relatives, co-workers, or insurance agent.
  • Check for any complaints with the Better Business Bureau, Home Builder Association, or Attorney General’s Office.
  • Get at least two estimates in writing that itemize the work to be done and separate supplies and labor.
  • Get everything in writing.
  • Do not sign a contract quickly without reviewing it carefully. Include an estimated start and end date, the contractor’s obligation to obtain the necessary permits, and any warranties covering materials and workmanship.
  • Ask to see a copy of the contractor’s general liability and worker’s compensation insurance and make sure any subcontractors have liability coverage, preferably under the general contractor’s coverage.  You can ask a friend, relative, or attorney to review the contract. Make sure you have a copy of the signed contract.
  • Get the phone number and street address for the company. If it only gives you a cell phone or post office box, it may be trying to avoid being found.
  • Ask to see the contractor’s business license. A business providing services in Jefferson City and Cole County must have a business license.
  • Ask for and check references from former customers.
  • Never pay in cash. Do not pay full price for services you have yet to receive.
  • Make full payment only when the terms of your agreement have been met.
  • Take a picture of the contractor’s vehicle and license plate number.

Elderly persons and people with disabilities may be targeted by scammers who lie about the extent of damage to parts of the home that the homeowner may not be able to physically access. If you cannot see the damage for yourself, ask for pictures; work with your insurance agent, friends or family to find reputable contractors; and get multiple bids.

Financial exploitation of a person who is elderly or has a disability is a criminal offense. Financial exploitation includes taking money and promising to perform a particular job that the offender does not intend to perform or knows will not be performed. You can report financial exploitation to the police or the county prosecuting attorney. Collecting and documenting as much information as you can about the identity, operations, and location of the person(s) taking your money will help the authorities find and charge the perpetrator.

Reporting Scams

Even when a person is careful, they can fall victim to a scam. If you have been a victim of a fraudulent company, report it to the police or the Missouri Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline. It is not your fault. Reporting the scam can help authorities investigate and stop fraudulent contractors.

Missouri Attorney General Consumer Hotline 800-392-8222 or online https://ago.mo.gov/civil-division/consumer/consumer-complaints

Other Resources

Mid-Missouri Legal Services www.mmls.org

National Consumer Law Center – Disaster Relief & Consumer Protection https://www.nclc.org/issues/disaster-relief-consumer-protections.html

Attorney General’s Office – Natural Disasters www.ago.mo.gov/civil- division/consumer/consumer-alerts/natural-disasters

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’ Toll-free 24-hour Elder Abuse/Neglect Hotline: 1-800-392-0210

Legal Services Corporation (LSC) Honors a Local Attorney for Pro Bono Service

“Irene Karns, a pro bono attorney for Mid-Missouri Legal Services and a member of the Boone County Bar Association, recently was selected by the Legal Services Corporation of Washington, D.C. to receive a LSC Pro Bono Award. Irene was honored at a Pro Bono Awards Reception on Thursday, January 17, 2019 at Stinson Leonard Street LLP in St. Louis.

Ms. Karns is a retired public defender who has volunteered in MMLS’s Uncontested Divorce Clinic (UDC) for seven years. She has assisted more than 80 clients at the MMLS Columbia office since the Clinic’s inception. The UDC was created by Columbia attorney Brian Taylor, and Ms. Karns has been instrumental in expanding and staffing the Clinic. The UDC is one of the most successful family law clinics in the country, with 90% of participating litigants successfully obtaining their decrees.”

Presenters were from left to right: John Levi, Esq., Chicago, Illinois, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Legal Services Corporation Irene Karns, Esq., Columbia, MO Victor Maddock of Louisville KY, Member of the Board of Directors of the Legal Services Corporation Jim Sandman of Washington, D.C., Executive Director of the Legal Services Corporation.

Expert says prompt responses key to maintaining Medicaid benefits

COLUMBIA, MO – A mid-Missouri lawyer on Friday said you should seek help right away if you don’t understand any of the forms you receive concerning Medicaid benefits.

Ed Kolkebeck handles Medicaid and Affordable Care Act questions for Mid-Missouri Legal Services, which provides free legal help to those in need. He said most of his clients simply need help understanding what the Department of Social Services is asking for. Common documentation for Medicaid and other social-aid programs include income verification and various asset documents, so he said you should have those on hand. Kolkebeck said most Medicaid-related forms come in the mail, so you should check yours regularly. He said there often is only a limited time to reply and deadlines are fairly strict. If you move, he said you should give your new address to any social service agencies you work with right away.

If you have any questions regarding Medicaid or other paperwork, Kolkebeck said there are several agencies that can help you. He said his organization handles a variety of civil law issues including landlord-tenant law and family law in addition to Medicaid access. He also suggested using Cover Missouri’s help locator, which maps social-service agencies near your zip code.

Kolkebeck said if you’re not sure whether you qualify for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program or similar programs, go ahead and apply. According to MO HealthNet, some services are available to a family of 4 making up to $94,000 a year. You can apply online as well as sending in a paper application.

13KRCG, by Garrett Bergquist, 13KRCG Reprinted from Friday, March 1, 2019 article:  https://krcgtv.com/news/local/expert-says-prompt-responses-key-to-maintaining-medicaid-benefits

11th Annual Chipping in for Charity Golf Tournament to be held on Monday, October 9th

The 11th annual Chipping in for Charity golf tournament organized by the Community Involvement Committee  of the Boone County Bar Association is scheduled for next Monday, October 9, 2017 (Columbus Day – a court holiday) at AL Gustin Golf Course, 18 East Stadium Boulevard in Columbia. Net proceeds from the tournament will be donated to Mid-Missouri Legal Services. We plan to use the funds for our Veterans Law Project.

The tournament is a four-person scramble format, open to both lawyers and non-lawyers. There are various sponsorship opportunities available (some include your team(s) in the tournament!) The entry fee is $125/person and $500/team, which includes green fees, range privileges, cart, lunch, beverages (beer, soda, water), post-tournament reception at Truman’s Bar & Grill, etc.

Please note, while the registration deadline technically has passed, additional individual/team signups and sponsorship are still being accepted! Click here for the sponsor information letter, a listing of the sponsorship opportunities, and the registration flyer to sign up your team and sponsorship.

Contact Sander Sowers at 875-1991 or sowers@learwerts.com to sign-up, donate, participate, and arrange sponsorships.

The Committee and MMLS would like to thank the following sponsors that have already stepped up for this year’s tournament:

Ace Sponsor
Lear Werts LLP

Eagle Sponsors
Midwest Litigation Services
The Bar Plan
Allen & Nelson, P.C.
Missouri Bar Young Lawyers Section Council
Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center

Birdie Sponsor
GilsbarPro

Hospitality Sponsor
Truman’s Bar & Grill

The golf tournament has raised $95,091.77 for charity since its inception thanks to the many donors, participants, and sponsors. The Committee is excited to be in a position to eclipse the $100,000.00 mark this year!

MMLS Executive Director Speaks On Importance of Meeting Veterans’ Legal Needs at Congressional Briefing

On March 10th, Mid-Missouri Legal Services’ own Executive Director, Susan Lutton, discussed how MMLS helps veterans and military families as part of a panel of experts on veteran issues at a congressional briefing in Washington, D.C. The briefing was co-hosted by Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Patty Murray (D-WA).

Through a unique partnership with the local VA hospital in Columbia, MMLS is able to provide a walk-in clinic for veterans and their families to provide assistance and resources for various legal issues. During her discussion, Ms. Lutton explained how the project provides a much needed and important service – and importance of the legal aid programs – to veterans.

9th Annual Chipping in for Charity Golf Tournament – October 12th

The 9th annual Chipping in for Charity golf tournament is scheduled for Monday, October, 12, 2015 (Columbus Day – a court holiday). This year’s tournament will be held at Columbia Country Club, 2210 Country Club Drive. Net proceeds from the tournament will be donated to Mid-Missouri Legal Services Corporation. The tournament is a four-person scramble format, open to both lawyers and non-lawyers.

The entry fee is $125/person and $500/team, which includes green fees, range privileges, cart, lunch, beverages (beer, soda, water), etc. Prizes will be awarded to winning teams and for various on-course games and contests. There will also be hole-in-one prizes. The registration deadline for the tournament is Monday, September 28th.

To make the tournament a success and raise as much money as possible, sponsorships and prize donations for the tournament are needed. Please contact Sander Sowers at 875-1991 or sowers@learwerts.com to sign up, donate, participate, and arrange sponsorships. You may also download the registration flyer here. here. The golf tournament has raised more than $68,000.00 for charity since its inception thanks to the many donors, participants, and sponsors.

MMLS receives donation of $8,388 from Chipping in for Charity Golf Tournament

Mid-Missouri Legal Services was surprised and delighted to receive a check for $8,388.60 from the BCBA Young Lawyers Committee, even though the annual Chipping in for Charity Golf Tournament was rained out in October.   With an inch and a half of rain falling between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. that day, and 8 inches during the prior 10 days, we assumed that the tournament would be completely doomed for 2014!   But, of course, the YLC wouldn’t let a little rain get in the way and made it possible for golfers to play on fair weather days instead.

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Annual Chipping In For Charity Golf Tournament is October 13th

The 8th annual Chipping in for Charity golf tournament is scheduled for Monday, October, 13, 2014 (Columbus Day – a court holiday). This year’s tournament will again be held at The Club at Old Hawthorne, 6221 E. Hwy. WW. Net proceeds from the tournament will be donated to Mid-Missouri Legal Services Corporation. The tournament is a four-person scramble format, open to both lawyers and non-lawyers.

The entry fee is $125/person and $500/team, which includes green fees, range privileges, cart, lunch, beverages, etc. Prizes will be awarded to winning teams and for various on-course games and contests. There will also be hole-in-one prizes. The registration deadline for the tournament is Monday, September 29th.

To make the tournament a success and raise as much money as possible, sponsorships and prize donations for the tournament are needed. Please contact Sander Sowers at 875-1991 or sowers@learwerts.com to sign up, donate, participate, and arrange sponsorships. The registration form is available by clicking here.

Last year’s golf tournament raised more than $11,600 for Mid-Missouri Legal Services Corporation thanks to the many donors, participants, and sponsors.

MMLS.org is Live!

Mid-Missouri Legal Services is proud to announce the launch of its Web site, providing information on applying for services, volunteering, and our mission to increase access to justice for low-income Missourians. We would like to offer a special thanks to the Young Lawyers Committee of the Boone County Bar Associate for their generous fund-raising and donations used in creating the website.

We are also expanding our Judicare program to cover more clients and areas of law and are seeking attorneys to assist these clients. MMLS provides Judicare attorneys with a reduced fee for this representation. As always, we welcome those attorneys willing to provide pro bono representation. Click here for more information about volunteer and Judicare opportunities!

Columbia Office

Jefferson City Office