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If you are in an office in a downtown building the walls are painted the dog grey and three characterizes offices and public servants all of which is next to God. There are a few heavy law books on a makeshift bookcase and there's a large desk behind which sits a loyalist. He's talking to a woman a woman whose well-worn clothes indicate that she's by no means wealthy. This woman has a profit and so I got no way to go. I got no money from my kids and me actually like to do this every week. Our Unfinished Business A series of programs tape recorded designed to acquaint you with unresolved social welfare problems produced by the Ohio
State University from the Educational Television and Radio Center and cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. The stories you're about to hear are based on actual events things that are happening in your town right now. Today's unfinished business courts are for justice. The woman we left in the office is one of thousands that are seeking legal aid. But there are many more who need inexpensive legal advice who never get it. They are the people who are the victims of the letter of the law. The people who stand defenseless in a court of law unable to defend their rights before a system they do not understand. They are the people who are victimized by certain methods in the courts. They are you don't let that one off. This is your problem. And these are stories about people like you or the man next door or the man down the street. Six months ago things were looking pretty bright for Mrs. Robinson. That's the woman we left in the office. She just rented a three room apartment in a private home and was in pretty bad shape but with six
kids she was lucky to get an apartment at all. While the rooms were in pretty bad shape we painted and fixed the place up so we could live in it. Then one day our landlord come in. Well Mrs. Robinson. Yeah you know fix this place up real nice. Thank you. Even paint of the walls I would say all right too is an eye. Yeah. How Alf. Too bad I just come down to tell you that you'll have to leave. Yeah I thought it over and well I've decided that six children are too many for this apartment the rent you could you can't do that I'm afraid you'll have to get out of me if you're one of them a lot of money fixing the place like the mother does now we pay our debts. Sorry Mrs. Robinson I can a victim at any time I want to you know I'm sorry. We didn't want to leave but the landlord wouldn't take our rent. He went to court and we were told to get out right away.
Now we got no place to go. I can't find another apartment. You spent what little extra money we had fixing the place. So I got no where to go. I got no money. And so the woman in desperation came to a legal aid agency here she received the help she needed. She was defended in court and gained an extension on her vacation time. She was also referred to an agency that could help her find another apartment in this case Mrs. Robinson was fortunate enough to live in a town that had a legal aid organization. Otherwise she might have been put out into the streets. Could it happen in your town. If you think it couldn't remember the seven and a half people out of every thousand need a lawyer's help each year but can't afford or think they can't afford a lawyer. Then there are a great number of people who need legal aid but don't know it. Take the case of Steve Brown the name of course is fictitious but the story is true. It could happen to you. Steve was a hard working young man and he had reason to be with a
wife and five kids to support. Then one day Steve had an accident. I don't know how it happened. I was working on a heavy construction job up about 10 feet. I stepped back and suddenly everybody was yelling and I was laying on the ground. Steve Stevie All right. Yeah yeah I guess so. My leg feels kind of funny though. Look you here let me help you up. We have me at a gym. I can't move my leg. I ended up in the hospital for six months. I had a back injury paralyzed my legs for a while. I was in pretty bad shape financially too. I had quite a few doctor bills before on account of my wife's being in the hospital with kids and all. And now new bills were piling up every day for a few days before I got out of the hospital.
My wife came in to visit me Steve. Good news. They're going to let you come home. Yeah but I I still can't go to work. What's the use coming home if I can't go back to work. We can't live on relief forever. The doctor said you should be able to go back to work in a couple of weeks. I sure hope so. We got a lot of payin back to do. Well that reminds me I met Molly Barrett today. She said she'd heard about our troubles. She said we should go bankrupt that we wouldn't have to pay all our debts. We're not going to go bankrupt if I can help it. My uncle had to go bankrupt once. I ruined his credit and his reputation too. He couldn't buy anything on time and when when he wanted to go into business again he couldn't get anyone to back him. He never lived down the shame of the deed. No no we're not going to go bankrupt. I'm going to pay back every penny we go. Eat.
In two weeks time I was back at work. It. Wasn't easy going either. My dad is gonna see my wages right from the start I could still take home enough to keep food on the table though and what was more important I was finally paying back my debts. I was feeling pretty good until the day the boss called me into his office. Yes well what is it. And I'm Steve Brown Mr. WILLIAMS. Oh yes brother. Well Mr. Brown I've noticed that you would use a big gun to shoot for the past three weeks. Now I don't want to pry into your private affairs but I don't mind telling you that this garnishee business makes a lot of extra work for clerical staff. Well I'm sorry about that Mr. Williams But you see I've been out of work in a hospital you know for quite a while now. You remember I was hurt on the job last night yes I remember. And I know you have problems but so of weight. We just haven't had
time to take care of this garnish your business every week. I'm sorry but if you haven't made other arrangements to pay back your debts by next week I'm afraid we'll have to terminate your service here. Well Mr. Williams what can I do. You can't but that's fine. It looked like Mr Williams final word was going to be the final word for me too. I couldn't stop the gun and cheese unless I paid off my debts and I couldn't pay off my debts unless I had a job. It was a vicious circle and they didn't seem to be any way out of it unless well unless I went bankrupt. I remembered what I'd said about going bankrupt I still felt that same way but this time I was licked and then a few days later he just told me about the legal aid society that might help. She read about it in the paper I guess. We got an appointment went over the lady that
interviewed us told us that maybe she could help us. Anyway she asked us to come back in three days. I didn't think there was much she could do but three days later we were in her office. Well Mr. Mrs. Brown I think we may have the answer to your problem. You have a what can you do. Well you said you didn't want to go bankrupt but you were willing to pay off all the debts if you could keep your job. Yeah yeah that's right. So we contacted the hospital authorities and the finance company and we've arranged to set up a trusteeship for you a trust tradition. Yes. Now instead of paying your debtors through a garnishee you pay the court and the court pays your debt. Can I still keep my job. Well that's up to you. What do you mean. Well you won't be garnisheed anymore you'll get your check from your employer just as you did before the garnish. Then you'll turn 20 percent of the check over to the court. Oh yeah I see what you. Your employer has agreed to handle the gun and she's until the trusteeship can be set up. Yes well how about that Edith. That's great stuff. Any more questions Mr.
Brown. Well yeah Mr. EDWARDS How would how would you like to come over to our place for dinner tonight. Well we don't know if Mr. Edwards ever accepted the dinner invitation but we do know that Steve Brown kept his job and got a good start on paying back his debts because of the Legal Aid Society. The story would not have ended this happily if there hadn't been a Legal Aid Society in Steve Brown's neighborhood. How would the story of ended in your neighborhood. Would Steve a been able to get free legal assistance or would he have fought the battle alone and lost. If you don't know the answer to this question maybe you should find out. Remember it could happen to you. It almost happened to a man who lived in one of the largest cities of our country. Bob Wilson was making a pretty fair wage. He was getting along well in his job and seemed to be well liked by his employer Mr. Caruthers. Bob had a lot of ambition too in his spare time. He was building a home for himself and his family. And there is where the trouble started. Bob began to
run low on funds so one day he went into Mr. Caruthers office. Mr. Carruthers y. Wilson said on son what's on your mind. Well Mr. Carruthers you know that building. Oh yes sure sure I do. How's it coming along Wilson. Not too good right now. All that's too bad anything I can do. Well you see the trouble is I I need a little extra money right now and I thought that as well I wondered if you could give me an advance say five hundred dollars. Why certainly Wilson I'm glad to do it. Where we're just one big family around here got to help each other out you know. Thanks Mr. Carruthers you don't know what this means to us. Five hundred dollars is a lot of money I know but I can pay it back. I can pay it back out of my page will be much Wilson. I'll even go you one better. What do you mean. Well I'll take responsibility for all future expenses on the whole Mr. Carruthers I couldn't ask you to do that. I know you wouldn't want charity Wilson but you're a good man I'd like to see you get ahead we'll make it
strictly a business deal isn't a steal. Yes I'll take over the expense on the house and you can give me a mortgage on your property as a sort of security that makes it a sound business deal all the way around me. Sure sure does sounds fine to me. Mr. Carruthers. Yes well I just want to say that my wife and me we we sure appreciate this. Forget it my boy where we're just one big family here just one big family. Boy I am telling you I was there for a couple of months. No more worries about money. I was going up faster and I ever thought it would. I didn't have a worry in the world till the bail lotos deal decided to act up. I was pinned under about a ton of steel and it up in the hospital for a couple of months and then all I could do was lay around the house until I got back in condition again and then on top of all that. One day I had a visit from Mr. Caruthers.
Well how are you Wilson. We certainly missed you around the shop. What do you think you'll be able to get back to work. I don't know Mr. Carruthers I could be a couple of months yet maybe longer. Well that's too bad. I'm sorry. I'm afraid I have some bad news we've had a little recession in the business so nothing too serious I'm sure I can get things back to normal if I put a little cash or to do the most good. You know what. It takes money to make money and I know that misled us. Well we talked it over and decided that there's no way out of it but to ask you to pay back the money you've borrowed Mr. Caruthers. You know I can't pay back now I can't even work. Yes and I know it was an unfortunate occurrence or your accident and all that but that's the way it goes. Tell me Mr. Caruthers what can I do. I can't get the money now. Well well I don't know what you can do but but I'm afraid I'll have to foreclose on your mark my mortgage. Remember the the security on your loans to Caruthers. You can't
take my home and furniture away from me. I built this house with my own hands. I worked almost every night for two years putting this place up board by board stone by stone. YOU CAN'T DO THIS TO ME. But Mr. Carruthers did foreclose on the mortgage. At least he tried. He filed action in court and most certainly would have won his case if the Legal Aid Society hadn't stepped in. Bob Wilson in the final extremity went to the Legal Aid Society for help. The society represented him in court and got a settlement that was satisfactory to both parties. It sure was. I got back the title to my property and gave Mr. Caruthers a promissory note for what I owed him. I went back to work and paid him off and $20 a month installments. We even got to be friends again thanks to the Legal Aid Society. Another story that ended right because fair and adequate legal aid was available. There are a lot of stories however that don't end so happily. There are a lot of people who
need legal aid who never get it. That is a situation which should never exist in a country founded on the principles of democracy fair and adequate legal aid for everyone may not be the only problem in your town. However maybe this true story. Is just about finding. George bright travelling salesman is on his way home after a hard week on the road. He's been driving quite a while. He's got a hundred miles to go before he reaches home. He's a little tired. So we decided to pull off the road. A good safe practice for weary drivers. He hasn't been resting long however. Or what do you guys want what you get or is this a stick up.
No friend we think that's nice. Get up. Has a nice camera you got here on the front seat for you know somebody. You look like you need a little exercise. How would you like to take it. I rolled up the window and locked the door and I noticed that the other guy was picking up a rock. I turned on the ignition started the motor and drove up the rock bounced off the top of my car. I could see in my mirror that the men were getting into their car. I was in no mood for a chase so I was relieved to see a small town up ahead. As soon as I hit the town a police car pulled up beside me. I pulled over to the curb and the policeman came over to the car all right wiseguy started officer we've got to act fast. Two guys just attacked me about a half mile down the road. If you hurry you might catch them. I don't know nothing about that but I do know you was doing 45 in a 35 mile look I can explain all that but later when I got to the line.
I know that's what they all say how can I get it through your head that I was being chased. You're letting two hoodlums get away. Come on buddy I've been around let's not waste any more time. Come on follow me. We're going to see the justices BUT YOU DOn't YOU DOn't KNOW WHAT I WANT. But you can tell. I couldn't say anything to convince the cop that my story was true. I figured my best chance was to explain the situation to the justice of the peace and get on my way home again. There was no chance of catching those two crooks now anyway. The justice of the peace lived in a white frame house. A little placard in the front yard said M. Franklin justice of the peace. We waited in the parlor until he was ready to receive us in his office. When we went in the cup told his story. I caught this guy doing forty five miles in a 35 mile zone and when I tried to bring him in he gives me an argument here named George Bryan. I'd like to explain my relations fully. Here's my license and
registration card. Look I don't know why you're going through all this I can explain everything you've been charged with speeding. Plead Guilty or Not Guilty I don't plead either. I was attacked by two men just outside of town. I was trying to get away from them when this policeman came along. Guilty or Not Guilty I thought you were supposed to protect the public around here. Two guys attacked me and you arrest me for doing 10 miles over the speed limit and let the real criminals go. Now Mr Bryan. If you don't plead the case will have to hold you in contempt of court contempt of court may I remind you that if you plead not guilty you know have to remain overnight so that an investigation can be conducted. That's rather an expensive proposition but I can't stay here overnight. I also remind you that the evidence against you is rather conclusive. No not guilty all right. Guilty. Let's get this over with. How much is the final $85 in cost $25 that's held rates as 30
to 50 all together. This is robbery I won't pay $25 for 10 days in jail. Ok you win. If I didn't want to get home I take the jail sentence just to keep the money out of your pocket and ignore that remark Mr. Bryant since you're obviously unaware of the expense involved in maintaining this service service. This is blackmail. I have to write out a if you please Mr. Brian no check no checks but I haven't got the cash on me you'll have to accept that you are a Mr. Brian but in our business we're dealing with travelling people didn't run the risk of getting a bad check and which would be almost impossible to collect Now what do I do and I'm not going to go to jail. We can accept security if you are what kind of security and identity bills do you have are near. I have a watch and hollering our watch will be sufficient Mr. Bright I need my watch the next time we are in our fair town you may give us the money and we'll return your valuable but I live almost a hundred miles away if you made the
cash would be happy to send your valuables to you by return mail. I must be a law against this sort of thing. I represent the law. Mr Bryan. Oh yes if the money isn't sent within thirty days the watch will become a prop. hey wait a minute you can't get away with this. Good day. Well what started out to be an enjoyable trip home turned out to be a nightmare for Mr. Bryant. Are you later in an auto accident suit. Brian lost out because they dug up his plea of guilty before the justice of the peace. Of course not all justices of the peace are like the one in the incident you just heard. But there are all too many like Mr. Franken who are unqualified for their job. Men who make a substantial living from the fees and fines they impose on the people who come before them. In a recent survey it was discovered that out of 24 states 17 had generally poor person no man who lacked the qualifications for the Office of Justice of the peace. It is your responsibility to make sure that responsible men hold these
jobs. Remember what happened to Brian is not an isolated case. It happens all the time. It could happen to you. Well by now you've plenty to be concerned about the problem of fair and that it would Legal Aid for all the problem of the justice of the Peace Corps. But that's not the whole picture. There is another problem that may exist in your town that you should know about. Let's hear about it from a fellow who just got out of jail. Yes I just got out of jail. That sounds kind of funny doesn't it. Makes you feel like a criminal. But the really funny thing is I'm not a criminal. I never broke the law at all. It all started one night when I was walking my girl home from the movies. We were walking along minding our business when some guy came up and started making a pass at my girl. I told her to run home and mean this guy got into a tussle and a cop came up the other guy ran away and I started to explain all of that what's going on here. Let me go catch that guy. He was trying to now take it easy young feller. But the idea of
stirring up a fuss in the streets. I'm not stirring up a fuss officer that guy tried to get fresh with my girl and what he says she ran home when the trouble started I thought sticking out from under your sweater and you see it tonight. Come on young feller you're going with me. No wait a moment and somehow I did have a knife in my belt. It was my hunting knife. We were going to camp out in Brewster's woods that night and I took my knife with me so I would have to go home again after my date. Anyway the next thing I knew I was in jail. I spent the night with a bunch of pretty rough characters. They told me I should plead guilty and get off light. They said if I pled not guilty there'd be a lot of messing around with trials and stuff. The next day I went into court. In the city of Edgemont versus Joseph Wright Joseph Wright come forward. Joseph Wright you were charged with disturbing the peace and carrying a concealed weapon. Do you plead guilty or not guilty. I'd like to explain you plead guilty or not guilty. There are two charges you need not enter the same plea to each but you must plead either guilty or not guilty to
the charge. But I'd like to tell my story. Guilty or Not Guilty. Guilty. I guess young man. I have read the officers account of your case and I will suspend the fine on the disturbing the peace charge. However the carrying a concealed weapon charge may be considered a felony. Do you wish to change your plea to this charge. Why I don't know I think. If so you may have a preliminary hearing in this court before being bound over to the grand jury. When would that be your honor. And let me see my calendar. That would be 10 days from today. In the meantime I'd have to stay in jail unless you can raise the bail. I'll plead guilty then I will then have to bind you over to the grand jury and set your bail at $300. Next case. Say when does this grand jury meet tomorrow. Boy are you in for a surprise. Why what do you mean by that grand jury just finished their indictments last week. They won't meet again for three months.
So that's how it happened. I spent three months in a last century jail waiting for the grand jury to meet. My mother tried to raise the bail but I was supporting her as it was and she couldn't seem to get $300 to get lost my job and wrecked my health. Pretty funny how well you haven't heard the funniest part yet when the grand jury finally did meet they dismissed my case for lack of evidence. Yeah that was real funny. That's the story of. A guy who spent three months in jail waiting for the grand jury to me. Sounds pretty farfetched. Well it isn't. It happens all the time especially in areas like Joe's hometown where the grand jury meets only three times a year. What about your hometown. Does this situation exist there. If it does you can do something about it by supporting reform legislation already about half of the states have abolished the grand jury in these states. The district
attorney presented information against the accused. What is the situation in your state. Do these abuses exist there. If they do do something about it. Because remember courts are for justice. I am Joseph Alston attorney and director of the Legal Aid Society in Columbus Ohio. The stories you have just heard are cases from cities located in various states across our nation laws vary from state to state of necessity. This message cannot apply to all situations in all states but may it serve to bring this message to your attention. The interpretation of the law is technical and requires the services of an attorney a man trained to explain the law
to read and know the law. Are created to regulate society and thereby to provide for us a better community in which to live. Responsibility weighs heavily on the shoulders of our judges. The court's greatest desire is to administer justice. But the courts must act according to the rules of procedure set up in the law. When a defendant is represented by a lawyer a lawyer by proper investigation and proper pleas can help the judge and the administration of justice and the client in an explanation of his conduct. Pay attention to papers from the courts. These might be summonses notices or the like. They are calls from the tribunals of Justice to ignore them often results
in judgments against the recipients without explanation and many times in justice. Remember the law normally provides a notice to you prior to an actual hearing on the merits of your case. Make your explanation on the first notice. You can be advised properly before a final hearing definitely affects your rights. A lawyer can help you and the Legal Aid Society if set up in your community can provide you a lawyer even if you are friendless and without funds. The US justice can be obtained for all.
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Unfinished business
Courts are for Justice - Program 12
Producing Organization
WOSU (Radio station : Columbus, Ohio)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Series Description
A series of programs designed to acquaint listeners with unresolved social welfare problems.
Social Issues
Media type
Advisor: Church, James
Host: Spencer, Les
Narrator: Holsinger, Robert
Producer: Himes, Fred
Producer: Ewing, William
Producing Organization: WOSU (Radio station : Columbus, Ohio)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 4952 (University of Maryland)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:00
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Chicago: “Unfinished business; Courts are for Justice - Program 12,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 3, 2023,
MLA: “Unfinished business; Courts are for Justice - Program 12.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 3, 2023. <>.
APA: Unfinished business; Courts are for Justice - Program 12. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from