Retired Judge Gordon Miller is one of our 415 attorneys and has been a valued volunteer with LCLV for over six years. I asked him to write some thoughts on Justice and what we do for our clients...here is what he had to say:
"Lowcountry Legal Volunteers is a special, important and much needed local community asset for the essential legal services that it provides to citizens in their fundamental personal matters. Most likely, it stands alone for what it does for our community, its citizens and the courts.
We live in a society that is governed by the rule of law - the glue that keeps a free society living and functioning safely and properly as a whole. Our laws establish certain rights and responsibilities, not only for the government but also for individuals and families. And, among the functions of our law is to resolve disputes, ensure safety, and offer permanency.
Our laws, court rules, and litigation procedures are complicated and challenging. Folks without a lawyer cannot possibly protect themselves. Most of the time they never accurately know their rights and duties, nor successfully get through a court process on their own. As a result, they are shut out of a way that affects basic rights and they do not get the justice that others who have lawyers get. For the unrepresented, the rights and protections provided by law are frequently rendered meaningless.
Lowcountry Legal Volunteers handles various sorts of family law matters - the types of family matters that seem to be increasing these days. For instance, a husband and wife have been separated for a few months or years and they have minor children. They have no desire or intention to get back together. They may now be living with others and may even now have other children by other relationships. The children living with one parent are not getting child support from the other parent and the parents are constantly fighting over matters of custody and visitation. Who gets the children on important holidays? Who pays for health care services? How are matters such as education, religion, and doctors decided? Who is to pay for the counseling a child is receiving? What can be done when one parent abuses alcohol or street drugs or has a serious criminal record? It can go on and on.
These kinds of cases cry out for a resolution, especially for the best interest on the children. And they deserve a resolution. It is possible that there will be no finality. There is no divorce so the parties can move on. The marriage continues but not in actuality or in fact. The children may not be getting proper child support. There is stress, anxiety, turmoil and uncertainty.
Lowcountry Legal Volunteers strives to help people get finality, permanency and safety on very fundamental and vital matters that the rest of us enjoy.
Lowcountry Legal Volunteers also seeks to assist the courts in reaching timely and appropriate orders. Judges make decisions on the information, evidence and law presented to them. A well presented case assures the right result. The legally untrained may have a better case but they do not know how to present it properly or how to meet the various rules of evidence including rules on authenticity and admissibility. Remember the old cliché' "what goes in affects what comes out"?
We should also recall how Lowcountry does its work. While it does have some paid staff, a large portion of the work is done by volunteers. As a result the funds that it receives and uses goes a great deal further through the use of non-paid workers, many of whom are seasoned lawyers. Its volunteers believe in giving back in a way that benefits others.
Let no one say that legal services are not as important to our community and individuals as are other types of charity such as medical, hospital, mental health, addiction, etc. services. All are critical for people. All must be provided in an good and caring American community. And justice, one of the essential ideals of our nation, is no less important to individuals' well being who are desperate for help.
I believe that the counties we serve in the area are improved through the work of Lowcountry Legal Volunteers."