Civil legal problems, such as evictions, orders for protection, debt collection, unemployment and public benefits issues have spiked in the wake of COVID-19, according to those in the legal profession.
Evictions and lease termination notices that had been suspended under the Minnesota Peacetime Emergency Declaration were lifted Friday, June 12 and Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota anticipates a surge of eviction filings and attempts on illegal evictions.
LSNM is a non-profit organization that provides legal services without charge to low-income residents in 22 northwestern Minnesota counties, including Douglas County.
With the issuance of a judicial order in late May by the Minnesota Supreme Court requiring each district court in every county and state-level appellate courts to open at least one public service counter on or no later than June 15, LSNM expects courts to get busier, and soon.
“It is clear that civil legal aid is a vital component of the public response to our current health crisis,” said LSNM Executive Director Anne Hoefgen. “LSNM is here to support and respond to the needs and concerns of low-income individuals who lack access to the justice system.”
Hoefgen added there’s no right to an attorney in non-criminal legal cases.
“These cases can have significant impacts on the health, safety and well-being of low-income families," Hoefgen said. “We want families to know that they can call us when these legal issues arise.”
LSNM said it’s prepared to help clients navigate issues and overcome the challenges that threaten their basic health and safety needs. Hoefgen wants to also make clear "it is important that people turn to reliable sources when they have questions about their rights."
If you or someone you know is in need of civil legal help, you can Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota at 1-800-450-8585, visit the website at www.lsnmlaw.org, or find it on social media. For additional civil legal information for issues related to COVID-19, visit www.LawHelpMN.org.