The 5th Judicial District Local Pro Bono Committee will hold its sixth annual Roswell Legal Fair on Friday, from 1-5 p.m., at the Roswell Adult Center, 807 N. Missouri Ave. The Chaves Committee met with Appellate Court Judge Mike Vigil for a planning session on Monday.
The purpose of the legal fair is to provide access to legal consultations for those who normally cannot afford an attorney. Usually a preliminary consultation with a lawyer costs between $100 to $150; however, the members of the Pro Bono Committee will discuss issues of law during the fair with members of the public free of charge.
Judge Steven L. Bell said the fair dates back to a September 2006 ruling where the Supreme Court ordered that each judicial district make law accessible to the people who could not normally afford to hire an attorney. The Legal Fair is sponsored by the Chaves County Bar Association.
“We have scheduled the fair at Roswell Adult Center because we hope it to be more user friendly and more accessible than the courthouse,” said Bell.
He pointed out that if a person does not have the money to hire an attorney then the individual can have a real problem. “Most of our population can’t afford even a brief consultation.”
The legal fair is set up to discuss all matters of civil law. The consultation will include — but not be limited to — divorce, child support, wills and powers of attorney, health care directives, guardianships, public benefits, employment law, credit problems, landlord-tenant relations and consumer law.
He noted that the fair cannot assist with anything pertaining to criminal law. “We have the public defenders for criminal cases.”
Bell expects between 12 to 15 attorneys to be present. Paralegals from various Roswell law firms will do triage to match the people who attend to local attorneys for consultation. Consultations last up to 30 minutes.
Bell recommends that those who wish to consult with an attorney bring any important documents with them. He also said that accurate records are often key in a court of law.
The legal fair will have bilingual attorneys available for consultation.
He also complimented the work of his two co-chairmen, Dustin Hunter and Jared Kallunki, in putting the program together.
“In the past, we have had between 75 to 100 clients come to the fair,” Bell said. This year he hopes with the new location they will be able to help more.
The fair is run on a first-come, first-serve basis, so participants should come early and bring everything they need to get the full benefit of these services.