For countless numbers of low-income Americans, the COVID-19 crisis is causing significant and unanticipated legal consequences, including unlawful evictions, lost wages and benefits, and other legal issues. Launching today is a first-of-its-kind, nationwide Disaster Relief Pro Bono Portal to help connect those individuals to pro bono legal assistance.
The portal was jointly developed by the Disaster Legal Services Program of the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division, which operates through a memorandum of understanding between the ABA YLD and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and and Paladin, a legal technology company whose platform enables law firms, legal departments and other organizations to staff, manage and track their pro bono work.
One of the top challenges faced by law firms as they shifted to a remote workforce has been the ability to access case-related information. The accessibility of documents, in particular, has presented issues for law firms. This has become especially pressing in recent weeks as federal and state courts have begun to, out of necessity, mandate the e-filing of digital documents for most legal matters.
As law firms establish processes to create digital documents, they then need to be able to store them online in a location that is easily accessible by all firm employees. That’s where cloud-based document management software created with law firms in mind comes in.
Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, who previously delayed the state’s July bar exam to Sept. 9 and 10, said travel and public gatherings constraints due to the COVID-19 pandemic would likely limit the number of people could take the exam. “Seating capacity for the September examination is likely to be limited,” the court said.
In response, the judge has approved a “comprehensive and streamlined program designed to provide temporary authorization for qualified law graduates to engage in the limited practice of law,” the court announced in an email Tuesday.
“Practice orders promulgated by the Appellate Division departments will allow all covered candidates employed in New York to work under the supervision of a qualified attorney in good standing who has been admitted to practice law in New York for at least three years,” the email said. “Temporary authorization will be available to all first-time takers of the bar examination, including both J.D. and LL.M. candidates, irrespective of their graduation year.”
As the COVID-19 death toll at nursing homes climbs to nearly 12,000, the nursing home industry is pushing states to provide immunity from lawsuits to the owners and employees of the nation’s 15,600 nursing homes.
So far at least six states have provided explicit immunity from coronavirus lawsuits for nursing homes, and six more have granted some form of immunity to health care providers, which legal experts say could likely be interpreted to include nursing homes.
Patient advocates worry that nursing homes accused of extreme neglect could avoid liability.
“I can’t even believe this is a topic of discussion,” said Anny Figueroa, whose 55-year-old mother was a resident at Andover Subacute & Rehab Center in New Jersey, where law enforcement discovered 17 bodies in a makeshift morgue this month. The nursing home is under investigation by the state attorney general
Almost 70 percent of the nation’s more than 15,000 nursing homes are run by for-profit companies, and 57 percent are operated by chain companies, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines as organizations that own two or more long-term care facilities. The rest are owned by nonprofit organizations. The federal government has eased some nursing home regulations during the Trump administration, but most oversight of the industry is conducted by the states.
The 33,500 farms in New York comprise 23 percent of the state’s total land area. On these farms, workers, most of whom are immigrants and many of whom are undocumented, continue to labor without protective equipment and live in crowded trailers. Here, farmworkers have been deemed essential workers, but their health and protection have not.
Farm owners are following the New York Department of Health’s protocol that states essential workers are expected to return to work after “isolating for at least 7 days after illness onset (i.e. symptoms first appeared) and have not had a fever for at least 72 hours, without the use of fever reducing medications.” These standards differ substantially from the two week quarantine the rest of the country has been instructed to take whether or not they exhibit symptoms.
Farmworkers, most of whom work without documentation or are H2-A visa holders, are not eligible for unemployment benefits or direct cash assistance from the recently passed stimulus package. Of the farmworkers interviewed in an Adelphi University report about farms in Hudson Valley region, 92 percent were neither legal residents nor citizens — 71 percent were undocumented and 21 percent, guestworkers.
Imagine your phone buzzing with an alert: Someone who passed you at the grocery store has tested positive for COVID-19. Based on location data transmitted through a smart phone app, authorities believe the stranger exposed you to the coronavirus. You might be infected.
The alert directs you to self-quarantine for 14 days to prevent further spread of the deadly disease. In the app, a map of color-coded dots displays the population of your home town. You notice the dot associated with you, previously green, has turned to yellow — now everyone else with the app knows you could be dangerous.
Whether the scenario sounds Orwellian or absolutely necessary could depend on your answer to a rhetorical question Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently posed during a live Snapchat interview.
“Do you give up a little liberty to get a little protection?” he said.
Volunteers who monitor courts across the country say they are getting little access to online-only proceedings.
He said hearings are not being posted on a wide online platform, like YouTube, because the court could not prevent people from recording them or rebroadcasting them on their own–restrictions judges often impose during regular times, in New York and across the country.
At the same time, going to the courthouse to watch proceedings on a monitor would arguably put observers in violation of the statewide “stay home” order, and of course, at risk of contracting the virus.
The IRS is committed to helping you get your Economic Impact Payment as soon as possible. The payments, also referred to by some as stimulus payments, are automatic for most taxpayers. No further action is needed by taxpayers who filed tax returns in 2018 and 2019 and most seniors and retirees.
If you are eligible, use our guide to figure out which IRS tool you should use to get your payment.
To celebrate the 220th anniversary of its founding, the Library of Congress today announced the release of the LOC Collections app, the premiere mobile app that puts the national library’s digital collections in the hands of users everywhere.
In addition to providing an easy, accessible way to search and explore the Library’s growing digital collections, LOC Collections allows users to curate personal galleries of items in the Library’s collections for their own reference and for sharing with others. Items currently featured on the app include audio recordings, books, videos, manuscripts, maps, newspapers, notated music, periodicals, photos, prints, and drawings.
“The Library of Congress collection can now fit in your pocket,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “The Library started 220 years ago with 740 books and 3 maps. Today, that collection has grown to make us the largest library in the world and a storehouse of our national history. It’s been our goal to throw open our treasure chest and help every American connect to the Library of Congress. The LOC Collections app is a uniquely personal, easy new way to explore the nation’s library.”