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Hammond legal aid clinic relocates

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The legal aid clinic for the city of Hammond has moved just one mile away from its old home into a new space donated by law firm Rubino Ruman Crosmer Smith Sersic & Polen in Dyer.

The clinic moved between Christmas and New Year's.

Lawyers who do work for the city or are on contract with the city are required to give hours to the clinic. The firm had lawyers who could be called on to help, which is how the idea came up for them to donate the space near their Hammond office, rent-free.

While the clinic had been housed in City Hall until the move, there was some controversy when city councilmen voted 5-4 to do away with the city's health department starting in 2008 because there was duplication of services that were offered by Lake County's health department.

They argued if they were voting to shut down the city's health department, why not the city's legal aid, which is also offered to the area by Indiana Legal Services? If this were to pass, the clinic would no longer be a part of the city and therefore need to vacate City Hall. Instead, they were able to move before it came to that.

"Philosophically, if you think a city shouldn't offer this service, we can agree to disagree," said Kris Costa Sakelaris, clinic director. But as far as the argument of a duplication of services, she said that "the need is greater" than the combined services available from the city's legal aid clinic and Indiana Legal Services.

The city's legal aid clinic will continue to be funded by the mayor's discretionary funds from gaming and not taxes, which, Costa Sakelaris said, was another misconception about the clinic, considering the state and the current hot issue of property taxes.

Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. started the clinic when he took office in January 2004. It was even an idea he mentioned as part of his 10-point plan during his campaign, Costa Sakelaris said. While at Notre Dame Law School, McDermott was involved in the school's legal aid clinic and has since continued his passion for providing legal services to the indigent.

The clinic has three lawyers including the director, a paralegal who is also an interpreter, and a few students in externships through Valparaiso University School of Law and Calumet College.

"In four years, almost 1,000 people have come through the door. I would say we were able to help 60 to 70 percent of those people," Costa Sakelaris said.

Client matters range from landlord-tenant issues to living wills for the elderly to custodial parents not receiving child support.

The new address for the legal aid clinic is 5261 Hohman Ave., Hammond, 46320. The clinic can still be reached at (219) 853-6611.
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  1. Uh oh, someone is really going to get their panti ... uh, um ... I mean get upset now: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/mar/31/arkansas-passes-indiana-style-religious-freedom-bill

  2. Bryan, stop insulting the Swedes by comparing them to the American oligarchs. Otherwise your point is well taken.

  3. Sociologist of religion Peter Berger once said that the US is a “nation of Indians ruled by Swedes.” He meant an irreligious elite ruling a religious people, as that Sweden is the world’s least religious country and India the most religious. The idea is that American social elites tend to be much less religious than just about everyone else in the country. If this is true, it helps explain the controversy raking Indiana over Hollywood, San Fran, NYC, academia and downtown Indy hot coals. Nevermind logic, nevermind it is just the 1993 fed bill did, forget the Founders, abandon of historic dedication to religious liberty. The Swedes rule. You cannot argue with elitists. They have the power, they will use the power, sit down and shut up or feel the power. I know firsthand, having been dealt blows from the elite's high and mighty hands often as a mere religious plebe.

  4. I need helping gaining custody of my 5 and 1 year old from my alcoholic girlfriend. This should be an easy case for any lawyer to win... I've just never had the courage to take her that far. She has a record of public intox and other things. She has no job and no where to live othe than with me. But after 5 years of trying to help her with her bad habit, she has put our kids in danger by driving after drinking with them... She got detained yesterday and the police chief released my kids to me from the police station. I live paycheck to paycheck and Im under alot of stress dealing with this situation. Can anyone please help?

  5. The more a state tries to force people to associate, who don't like each other and simply want to lead separate lives, the more that state invalidates itself....... This conflict has shown clearly that the advocates of "tolerance" are themselves intolerant, the advocates of "diversity" intend to inflict themselves on an unwilling majority by force if necessary, until that people complies and relents and allows itself to be made homogenous with the politically correct preferences of the diversity-lobbies. Let's clearly understand, this is force versus force and democracy has nothing to do with this. Democracy is a false god in the first place, even if it is a valid ideal for politics, but it is becoming ever more just an empty slogan that just suckers a bunch of cattle into paying their taxes and volunteering for stupid wars.

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