October 1, 2021 Letters
In the last issue of The Florida Bar News, I was disheartened to see a letter published with untruthful comments about our agency.
Although I appreciate the fact that the News has taken responsibility for erroneously publishing the letter and removing the online version, I am still quite disappointed that the facts were not confirmed before it went to print. My first thought was that this letter would not have been printed had “Legal Aid” been replaced with the name of any private law firm in this state. I would hope that the News is not the place for attorneys to defame others in our profession; it is meant to be a place where we can exchange ideas, provide information, and share opinions.
I write this letter not as a point-by-point rebuttal to Mr. Kamensky’s letter. A very quick review of the public court record shows that he was not truthful. Unfortunately, he is an aggrieved opposing party who was provided the largest legal forum in our state to make false allegations.
Disgruntled opposing parties are nothing new; however, this letter called into question the very premise of legal aid, which is unconscionable. Studies show that up to 70% of low-income households experienced at least one civil legal issue in the last year and yet only 20% of them had access to legal aid. Due to a lack of resources we are forced to make difficult decisions every day as to which clients will receive help. This is contrary to the implication that our agency would seek to deprive Florida attorneys of paying clients. There is no logical rationale for doing so.
Legal aid programs are historically underfunded, and Florida is one of only two states in the country that provides zero state funding. As a small legal aid program, we depend on the generous time and resources of our local bar to support our program and to help meet the needs of our community. For the past 30 years we have built relationships with local attorneys and the judiciary, and we would not jeopardize this support and goodwill.
I hope that those reading this letter will consider not what was said about Legal Aid of Manasota, but about the damage that could be caused with such a misinformation campaign.
If you have any questions about how legal aid works, the services we provide, or the qualifications for our services, then I encourage you to reach out to me or to your local legal aid program. I assure you that educating the private bar about the positive impact we have in our communities and the importance of access to justice is a fundamental goal for us all.
Legal Aid of Manasota, CEO
(Editor’s Note: The Florida Bar News erred in printing a letter to the editor from Jarrold Kamensky of Sarasota in the September edition that questioned some of the policies of Legal Aid of Manasota. While Mr. Kamensky is a lawyer admitted in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, his admission in Florida is limited to serving as general counsel of a local company, and therefore he is not a member in good standing of The Florida Bar. Thus, running his letter violated our policy that the News’ letters section is reserved for members of The Florida Bar. I take personal responsibility for this mistake and have reviewed our procedures to make sure this error is not repeated. — Mark Killian)
Joanne Fanizza’s July letter has advocated court packing of the Supreme Court of the United States and has criticized Blaise Trettis’ excellent June letter that opposed packing SCOTUS and urged the Bar to also oppose packing in keeping with the Bar’s activities and declarations in support of judicial independence.
Ms. Fanizza’s letter appears to present an unrealistic narrative that packing SCOTUS would be beneficial. But in my opinion, packing SCOTUS would be a disaster since the progressives’ court packing agenda is to destroy the vital constitutional function of SCOTUS and establish an overwhelming left-oriented partisanship generating an increasing number of social and political rulings and opinions not based on the constitution or solid legal precedent.
Glen Arm, MD