Courtroom Advocacy Project

FOR TENANTS & CONSUMERS: 

As of March 7, 2022, district courts in the State of Maryland are now open and hearing all cases. You can check the status of your case on Maryland Judiciary Case Search: http://casesearch.courts.state.md.us/casesearch/

District Court Clerk’s Office contact information:

  • Baltimore City District Court Clerk (Fayette Street): 410-878-8900
  • Towson District Court Clerk: 410-512-2000
  • Essex District Court Clerk: 410-512-2300
  • Catonsville District Court Clerk: 410-512-2500

Consumers who have received a debt collection lawsuit in Baltimore City or Prince George’s County or need general advice regarding a consumer debt can reach a Consumer Protection Project attorney by calling 443-703-3053.

Tenants who have received a Failure to Pay Rent complaint in Baltimore City or Baltimore County or need general advice regarding a landlord/tenant matter can reach PBRC’s Tenant Assistance Hotline by calling 443-703-3053.

ABOUT CAP

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The Courtroom Advocacy Project (CAP) is an innovative pro bono program providing day-of-court, limited scope representation to consumers and tenants. CAP represents consumers and tenants in Baltimore City and consumers in Prince George’s County District Courts. In 2021, CAP expanded its tenant representation program to Baltimore County. CAP Courthouse Clinics are staffed by PBRC volunteer and staff attorneys trained in consumer and landlord/tenant law. In addition to day-of-court clinics, CAP represents tenants in more complex cases through its Extended Representation Program. The Extended Representation Program pairs income-eligible tenants with a volunteer or staff attorney for representation in Escrow, Tenant Holding Over, and Breach of Lease proceedings.

Tenant Volunteer Lawyer of the Day Program (TVLD)

Approximately 150,000 Failure to Pay Rent complaints are filed every year in Baltimore City. Tenants appearing in Rent Court are almost always unrepresented, unfamiliar with court procedures, unaware of their rights as renters, and not prepared to assert valid defenses to a complaint. Some of these defenses may include a lack of licensure by the landlord, the rent amount claimed due and owing is incorrect, or serious threats to life, health, and safety exist on the property.

PBRC’s Tenant Volunteer Lawyer of the Day Program (TVLD), is designed to protect tenants’ rights through same-day advocacy and legal representation in Rent Court.  PBRC operated its first limited-scope pro bono clinic in Baltimore City Rent Court in March 2017. Since then, TVLD volunteer attorneys have provided limited-scope representation to over 1,900 tenants in eviction cases. In September 2021, the TVLD program expanded to Baltimore County, providing same-day advocacy and legal representation to tenants in District Court.

VIDEO: Attorney Volunteer Barry Bach on his experience volunteering with the Tenant Volunteer Lawyer of the Day Program

 

PBRC Tenant Volunteer Lawyer of the Day clinics

Baltimore City District Court

  • 501 E. Fayette Street, Courtroom 2
    • Monday and Tuesday 8:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Wednesday and Thursday 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Baltimore County District Courts

  • Towson District Court:
    • Friday 8:30 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Essex District Court:
    • Monday 8:30 AM - 12:00 PM

The TVLD Program is supported by a grant award from the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) Access to Justice Department. 

In 2018, PBRC piloted its Rent Court Extended Representation Program where income-eligible tenants are paired with a volunteer or staff attorney for representation in Escrow, Tenant Holding Over, and Breach of Lease proceedings. Since then, over 200 tenants have received pro bono representation in these extended representation matters. PBRC’s Extended Representation Program operates in both Baltimore City and Baltimore County.

Additionally, in partnership with Public Justice Center (PJC) and Homeless Persons Representation Project (HPRP), TVLD coordinates referrals for tenants with other housing matters, including those tenants currently residing in subsidized housing.

The Rent Court Extended Program is supported by a grant award from Maryland Legal Services Corporation (MLSC). 

VIDEO: Attorney Volunteer Cory Zajdel on his experience volunteering with the Consumer Protection Project

Consumer Protection Project (CPP)

Tens of thousands of Marylanders are sued each year under “affidavit,” a process by which a creditor can secure a money judgment in district court by filing an affidavit with documents to support their debt collection claim. Debt lawsuits filed under affidavit include hospital bills, auto loans, bail bonds, credit cards, and purchased debt. If debt collection lawsuits are not settled or disputed, consumers are subject to a money judgment and may be garnished to satisfy the debt. In contested cases, the consumer must go to trial  against the creditor’s attorney. The collateral consequences of a money judgment—even for a small amount—can be devastating.

In 2012, PBRC’s Consumer Protection Project (CPP) operated its first limited-scope pro bono clinic in Baltimore City District Court and Prince George’s County District Court in Upper Marlboro. Since then, CPP volunteer attorneys have provided limited-scope, day-of-court representation to over 3,900 clients at CPP Clinics.

PBRC’s Consumer Protection Project Clinics

Baltimore City Fayette Street District Court:

  • Wednesday at 8:30 AM

Prince George’s County Virtual Docket:

  • Thursday and Friday 8:45 AM

CPP is operated in partnership with Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS) and is supported by a grant award from the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) Access to Justice Department.

HOW TO VOLUNTEER

Each volunteer opportunity has a relevant training to prepare you for the work. Take a training to get started!

Consumer Protection Project (CPP) Clinics

  • Baltimore City: Wednesdays, 8:45 am - 12:00 pm
  • Prince George's County: 1st three Thursdays & Fridays of the month, 8:45 am - 12:00 pm

Courtroom Advocacy Project (CAP) Hotline

Remote Tenant and Consumer Assistance:

  • Monday - Friday, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm; 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Tenant Volunteer Lawyer of the Day (TVLD) Program Clinics

  • Baltimore City:
    • Mondays & Tuesdays, 8:30 am - 11:30 am
    • Wednesdays & Thursdays, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
  • Baltimore County:
    • Mondays, 8:30 am - 12:00 pm at Essex District Court
    • Fridays, 8:30 am - 12:00 pm at Towson District Court

Rent Escrow Low Bono Representation for Tenants

Attorneys who volunteer at (2) TVLD clinics are eligible for low bono (paid) case placements at a rate of $50.00 per/hour (10 hr/max). Tenants participating in this program are screened for habitability defenses and income eligibility at the TVLD Clinic (50% of Maryland Median Income). Rent escrow hearings are held on afternoon dockets in Baltimore City District Court (Civil Division – 501 E. Fayette Street). Contact Melissa Chiasera at mchiasera@probonomd.org for more information.

CONTACT THE CAP TEAM

Melissa Chiasera, Esq.
TVLD Managing Attorney
443-703-5200 | Email Melissa

Katherine "Katie" S. Davis, Esq.
Director
443-703-3049 | Email Katie

Sylvia Davenport, Esq.
Staff Attorney
443-410-4678 | Email Sylvia

Susan Lerch, Esq.
CPP Managing Attorney
443-703-3059 | Email Susan

Arlita LeSene
Paralegal
443-791-8446 | Email Arlita

Akeria "Kira" Lumpkins
Senior Paralegal
443-703-3047 | Email Kira

Jennifer Mercer, Esq.
Staff Attorney
443-776-4138 | Email Jennifer

Robert Mitchell, Esq.
Staff Attorney
443-308-5227 | Email Robert

Amber Nestico, Esq.
Staff Attorney
443-776-4139 | Email Amber

Tyler Pollock
Paralegal
443-218-8625 | Email Tyler

Kaynat "Ky" Qureshi
Paralegal
443-703-3064 | Email Ky

Tracy Tanner
Paralegal
443-279-1643 | Email Tracy

Liza Woods
Data Entry Specialist
443-977-6721 | Email Liza