Legal Aid of Manasota Offers Help and Hope

When much is at stake, Legal Aid of Manasota fights for those in need.
News Story (Florida)

Tony D’Souza
Sarasota Magazine
September 1, 2015

Tags: Access to Justice, Funding: State & Local

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Aid of Manasota (FL)


With his lender, Fannie Mae, threatening foreclosure and no money for a lawyer to help renegotiate terms, Tevere turned to Legal Aid of Manasota and volunteer attorney David Morrill.

“Without Legal Aid, we would have been thrown out,” Tevere says. “Every lawyer wants a $1,500 or $2,000 retainer just to look at your case. In 2013, I made $25,000.”

Unlike in criminal cases, Americans do not have a constitutional right to a lawyer in civil court. Yet the stakes for unrepresented individuals can be frighteningly high. They can lose their homes and custody of their children, or suffer the devastating financial consequences of a one-sided divorce settlement or an illness that leaves them unable to work. According to 2015’s “The Justice Gap,” a report by The American Lawyer, in foreclosure and eviction cases, landlords and lenders generally have legal counsel while low-income borrowers and tenants almost never do, and summary evictions are the result.

But in those instances when the borrower or tenant does have counsel, the report notes, “Cases usually settle…[the] settlement often gives the tenant more time. A settlement also won’t leave an eviction judgment on the tenant’s record, which can harm credit, and prevent qualifying for public housing.”