Defense Advocate, Legal Services Host an Open House

By Angela Willeford
Au-Authm Action News

As you step off the elevator onto the Chaparral Business Center’s second floor and enter the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Defense Advocate’s Office, it is hard not to chuckle: On the floor in the doorway sits a welcome mat that reads, “Come Back with a Warrant.” To the left of this office is the Legal Services Office.

Both offices held an open house on August 14 to help make the Community aware of the services these departments provide for the Community. Both departments have the same goal, which is to ensure that Community members are represented properly and correctly in court matters. However, these offices go about meeting that goal in different ways.

The Legal Services Office handles civil cases. Kierstin Anderson, the managing attorney for legal services, elaborated on the services her office provides to the Community. “Our office provides direct representation and/or legal advice for most civil issues, such as family law, probate and consumer cases.”

Legal Services works on a case-by-case basis, and the cost of services varies. Most cases are handled pro bono (at no charge) if clients are determined to be income eligible.

Family law consists of, but is not limited to, child support cases, paternity, custody and divorce concerns. Other areas in which Legal Services handles cases include housing, estate planning and bankruptcies. For a full list, contact Legal Services at (480) 362-5670 or visit the office at 8800 E. Chaparral Road, Suite 220.

The Defense Advocate’s Office provides representation for defendants in the Community’s courtrooms. The office has four advocates, and three are licensed attorneys. Vincent Barraza, acting director of the office, stated that most of their cases involve criminal and traffic matters. An interesting fact is that the defense advocates represent juveniles in cases such as curfew violation and any other offense the court may find to be a criminal matter. The court also represents clients for probation violation, parole hearings, appeals, work-release hearings and restitution hearings.

The Defense Advocate’s office recommends that if you have been summoned to court and would like the assistance of their office, you should contact them beforehand so they can represent you to the best of their ability.

Barraza stressed the importance of how the Defense Advocate’s Office will be present during daily arraignments, which are scheduled at 3 p.m. Also, it is important that parent(s) be present during hearings involving minors so that the advocate/attorney can be allowed into the courtroom to assist the minor that is brought before the court.

If you have any questions regarding criminal or justice matters or whether the Defense Advocate’s Office can assist with representation in your case, call (480) 362-5660 or visit the office at 8800 E. Chaparral Road, Suite 220.

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Defense Advocate, Legal Services Host an Open House