PRESTONSBURG — Sequestration is being blamed for forcing a regional legal aid service to conduct layoffs and close offices, as budgets tighten at the state and federal level.
Lance Daniels, executive director of Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky Inc. (AppalReD Legal Aid), wrote last week in a guest column for The Floyd County Times that the legal aid offered by the agency will continue on despite recent budget constraints forced by federal sequestration as well as state budget cuts.
“Right now, we basically have 20 attorneys trying to cover cases in 37 counties and hundreds of different courts,” Daniels wrote.
AppalReD Legal Aid has performed its mission to represent the poverty stricken of Appalachia through a private nonprofit law firm providing free civil legal representation in a 37-county region of Southern and Eastern Kentucky. The organization is funded through federal, state, local, and private monies.
According to their website, the firm’s general area of focus falls under the priorities of maintaining economic stability; ensuring safety, stability and health; preserving the home; and protecting populations with special vulnerabilities.
AppalReD began its course 1970 with 15 staff, including eight attorneys and three operating offices in Prestonsburg, Barbourville, and on the campus of the University of Kentucky in Lexington.
Daniels says the firm will continue to do their best to fulfill the legal needs of low-income residents of the area, but those services will likely be limited moving forward.
AppalReD had grown to as many as nine offices over the years, but the recent cuts have forced the agency to close its offices in Harlan and Pikeville.
Jack Latta can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.