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OC Legal Clinic 1 Year Celebration
The Orange County Legal Clinic was established in October 2018 after a gap in legal clinics being offered. Members from Chicanxs Unidxs and Resilience Orange County had been working with youth as young as 12 years old who were facing felonies, youth who were being denied special education services, youth who were being suspended and expelled from schools, young adults trying to find a second chance at life, adults trying to get off gang injuctions and gang databases. The need to create a space where community members could be linked or could get help was obvious and they reached out to Youth Justice Coalition from Los Angeles to train them. They host monthly clinics every second Saturday of the month throughout Orange County. Creating space for community members that is least restrictive and easily accessible has led to clinics being held in parks, apartment courtyards and private homes.
The clinic is celebrating its victories in the past year with a BBQ and a legal clinic in Santa Ana. Here are some of the stories.
- A 13 year old youth from Santa Ana was linked to the mental health services he desperately needed. The school police charged him with two sets of felonies at age 12 and 13. The Juvenile Court system and OC Public Defenders office diverted the charges once the youth was linked appropriately. His expulsion from the district was stopped.
- A 12 year old girl was helped getting back home after running away and being afraid to contact police.
- A man in his 30s received a sentence of 4 years from facing 100 years.
- A woman in her 50s was linked and her record was expunged, she faced housing and employment exclusion for many years.
- A family with a 5 year old son was able to get the mold in their apartment removed.
The OC Legal Clinic was developed with the purpose of reconciling grassroots organizing with legal advocacy, thus, establishing grass-roots community centered lawyering that goes beyond representing an individual in court. The belief that it is essential in ensuring fair and justice advocacy for the community. The legal clinic aims to link people to existing programs that help with immigration cases, special education advocacy, protection of students rights, tenants rights, expungements, petitions for removal from gang injunctions/gang databases, court room support, sealing of juvenile records, participatory defense/assistance with open cases. The clinic does not want to reinvent services/programs and relies on community resources/services already in place. The clinic refers out to attorneys when needing representation and assist community members with understanding the systemic process and completing steps towards their case without providing legal advice. The clinic understands that knowledge exists in community members and the more that is learned the more avenues towards justice is created.
OC Legal Clinic collaborates with:
Community Legal Aid So Cal
Elder Law and Disabilities Rights Center
Learning Rights Law Center
UCI Law School
Attorney Sean Garcia-Leis
Carrazco Law Group
Youth Justice Coalition
The clinic is in need of support from attorneys, law students, and any volunteers that are eager to help with cases. In addition, the development of an internship for interns/ volunteers has been developed.
Chicanxs Unidxs is a grassroots organization based out of Santa Ana that promotes cultural and political empowerment by addressing different social justice issues. For years they have been in the forefront fighting gang injunctions and the criminalization of communities of color.
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