The Arizona Modest Means Project
The purpose of the Arizona Modest Means Project is to provide low-cost legal assistance to people who cannot afford the expertise of attorneys at the standard rates, but who cannot qualify for free legal services due to income qualification or other restrictions. I have been volunteering as a Pro Bono Attorney through the Modest Means Project, which is operated by the State Bar of Arizona and the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education, for about five years. In that capacity, I offer Pro Bono Legal services to military Veterans in Criminal Defense cases ranging from DUI’s to Assaults, Drug Possession, Probation Violations, and more. I also practice and lend assistance to Veterans and other persons needing an attorney in Family Law cases dealing with Divorce, Child Custody Modifications, Child Support Modifications, and Child Protective Services (CPS) cases. In most of these cases, the former spouse pays top-dollar to some “junkyard dog” attorney who then Petitions the Court to modify the parenting time, child custody arrangements, and/or child support payments that have been in place and working well for years… simply because the ex-spouse knows that the other parent cannot afford to hire an attorney. Then I show up and take ‘em to school. Sometimes… it’s the little things in life.
Maricopa County Veterans StandDown
I have been volunteering every year, for at least the past ten years, at the Maricopa County Veterans StandDown, which is supported by the Arizona Housing Coalition and the Arizona Veterans Alliance. Arizona hosts one of the largest events of this kind in the country, serving military veterans and their families who are experiencing or who are at risk of homelessness. A shockingly sizeable amount of veterans are homeless in Arizona, essentially related to failures to appear in court, past criminal convictions, inability to pay court-ordered fines, and/or suspension of Arizona driving privileges. During the Veterans StandDown, every year, I volunteer as a Pro Bono Attorney representing Veterans in criminal court matters, in the Maricopa County Superior Court, the Phoenix Municipal Court, the Gilbert Municipal Court, the Tempe City Court, the Scottsdale City Court, the Glendale City Court, and the Mesa Municipal Court. I also represent Veterans who are not in compliance with their probation terms in the Maricopa County Superior Court and/or Municipal courts, and facilitate in quashing any outstanding criminal warrants.
At the Arizona Veterans StandDown, I handle criminal cases for Veterans who may be able to satisfy outstanding court fines and fees by performing a community service work project. Veterans with active arrest warrants on felony and misdemeanor criminal cases will have those warrants exonerated in exchange for completing a few hours of community service while at the StandDown. Representatives from the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division are also present. I advise and help Veterans regarding any requirements for reinstatement of their driving privileges and other MVD issues. It’s the one day out of the year that the volunteering Judges and Prosecutors are in an “extremely good mood and forgiving temperament.” Every legal professional who volunteers their time and participates at the StandDown has one goal in mind; to help get these Veterans back on their feet. These are people who have served our country, and they deserve to be given a second chance with the tools to succeed. Our goal is to reach them before they hit rock bottom.
As a Veteran of the U.S. Army, it is often a rewarding experience for me to see a fellow soldier who comes to the event with perhaps a suspended license (which prevents them securing appropriate employment). They complete a few hours of community restitution and then leave with a valid license. This allows them to better provide for themselves and their families. In the 2017 event, over 2,100 Veterans were served, connecting them with critical support services to help them gain and maintain housing stability and to satisfy court matters. You can learn more about the Arizona Veterans StandDown by watching this video or reading this article from ABC 15.
Maricopa County Veterans Court
Watch this video to learn about the organization.
- Phoenix Municipal Veterans Court
- Arizona Disabled American Veterans (DAV)
- Wounded Warrior Project
- Veterans Airlift Command
- American Aviation Historical Society (AAHS)
- Canyon State Air
- Night Stalker Association
- Debbie Lee Foundation
- Phoenix VA Hospital
- Sky Kids - Arizona
- American Bar Association