LACBA Update Back Issues - May 2015

LACBA Veterans Project: Removing Barriers to Employment

Lamont Harris is exactly the kind of veteran for whom the LACBA Veterans Project was developed. He had the opportunity to become fully employed, but the tickets and warrants he accrued after his discharge from the Marine Corps were barriers to his keeping a good job.

After his discharge in 1980, Lamont began looking for a career. He bounced around from job to job, describing that time as being “overloaded—it was too much to deal with.” He described himself as “book smart but didn’t have very much practical experience.”

Eventually, he became addicted to drugs and alcohol, and was homeless for years. In May 2013, he was shot during a drive-by shooting. This, he said, “was a blessing in disguise” because after leaving the hospital, he moved to a drug-free residence forcing him to kick his addiction. He’s been clean and sober ever since.

Once he started to get his life back together, he attended a trade tech to become a plumber and got a job as a plumber’s assistant. But he still had nine outstanding tickets and warrants for his arrest, which led to revocation of his driver’s license. He worked for Roto-Rooter but couldn’t become a full-time plumber because he couldn’t drive the truck. He still owed $8,400 in fines. He was referred to LACBA’s Veterans Project at Patriotic Hall by the people at the SRO housing where he lives.

When he arrived at Patriotic Hall and heard the attorneys outline a course of action, he immediately felt hopeful. He met with Clark Brown, LACBA General Counsel, who was volunteering at the clinic that evening and helped him prepare a motion seeking dismissal of the tickets and warrants “in the interest of justice.” After a few court dates, the court did dismiss five of the tickets and assigned community service to clear one. He is working on getting the others dismissed and the fines reduced.

Lamont is grateful for the help he received at the clinic. According to Lamont, “I know for a fact that I would not have gotten these dismissed without your help. The motion was written in legal language that was necessary to get these resolved.”

He continued, “Life is good right now. Everything is on the upswing. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

For more information about LACBA Veterans Project, please contact Andrew Culberson, Director, at aculberson@lacba.org