San Juan County legal fair to provide free advice
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It is the ninth year for the annual free legal fair
FARMINGTON — Area residents will have a chance to seek free legal advice as the Eleventh Judicial District Court and volunteer attorneys are participating in a legal fair in Aztec.
The San Juan County Free Legal Fair is scheduled from noon to 5 p.m. on Sept. 27 in the Aztec District Court building at 103 S. Oliver Dr.
The ninth-annual event is organized by the New Mexico Volunteer Attorney Program and the Pro Bono Committee for the 11th Judicial District Court.
Operations of the courthouse except the clerk's office shut down for the afternoon to allow the 24 to 30 volunteer attorneys to discuss a variety of legal questions at places set up across the courthouse, Chief District Judge Karen Townsend said.
The average attendance during the previous five years was about 179 people, and 244 people attended the 2018 fair, according to figures provided to The Daily Times.
The success of the free legal fair has led the San Juan County Bar Association to be recognized with the American Bar Association's Harrison Tweed Award in 2014 for the association's pro bono work for low-income clients, according to The Daily Times archives.
The 11th Judicial District Court Pro Bono Committee was recognized in 2015 as the Pro Bono Committee of the Year by the NM Volunteer Attorney Program, a program of New Mexico Legal Aid.
Some of the attorneys are from around San Juan County while others travel from Albuquerque to provide advice in legal fields not offered in the area, according to Judicial Specialist Supervisor Tamara Reichel.
Volunteer attorneys at the fair will be able to provide legal advice for a large number of case types, including guardianship, child support, criminal, debt, name change, tribal law, unemployment, bankruptcy and probate/will/trust/health directive.
Divorce and custody/visitation were the top two case types handled by attorneys last year.
"It's a great program, you can come in and get some free legal advice," Townsend said.
There will be on-site interpreters for people who speak the Navajo or Spanish languages.
Those attending the event are asked to bring all the paperwork associated with the case and prepare ahead of time the questions they plan to ask.
The event also helps low-income clients, as a majority of the clients are living in poverty, according to figures from the 11th Judicial District Court.
Some cases could possibly be resolved during the course of the legal fair.
It is possible for an entire divorce case to be processed if an agreement is reached and all paperwork is signed as notaries and judges will be available to process the case, Townsend said.
Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at email@example.com.
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