[From time to time I will publish some of the real life stories from our work in the city offered up by those who are doing the hard, day-to-day work.
What follows is a description of one of the cases that our public interest law firm here at Central Dallas Ministries recently closed successfully. I think you will find it horrific, disturbing and inspiring, all at the same time.
Because I know and love our legal staff, I bristle when people offer negative characterizations of lawyers!
Ken Koonce is Neela's lawyer and he provides this report. Larry]
Neela had left a nightmare.
During 20 years of marriage, her husband had beaten her, thrown things, shot at her, and been routinely verbally abusive. After her husband’s last beating, at the end of which he almost drowned her, she had finally gotten out.
As was often the case, there had been no warning.
He had just grabbed her, hit her a few times, thrown her in a bathtub with running water, and held her under. Her son had to pull his father off of his mother. Finally convinced that if she stayed he would eventually kill her, she got her son in the car and left.
Having left a nightmare, however, she wound up in a bad dream.
After leaving the shelter, she found a job and got a Section 8 apartment.
She somehow managed to save enough to pay a lawyer about $2,000 to get started on the divorce. But the retainer was soon exhausted, and the lawyer would not work further on the case without more money. It seemed they had barely started the process, and she already owed another $2,500. She just didn’t have it.
So she and the kids lived in Section 8 housing on her $8 an hour job while her abusive husband sat comfortably in the family home they had rebuilt from the ground up on the piece of rural property they owned, and nothing was being done to change the situation.
Then Neela came to the LAW Center at Central Dallas Ministries.
It took time.
Her husband did everything possible to delay the case, and circumstances – including the untimely death of a judge - seemed to conspire with him to do so.
Eventually, however, the case was tried, and after seeing hospital records, pictures, and evidence of her husband’s conviction for assault, the Court gave Neela sole custody of the children, child support, and 75% of the community property. The sale of the home and property generated a nice nest egg for Neela and her children.
Having summoned the courage to leave a nightmare, Neela’s bad dream is now over, too.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
8 hours ago