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. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.