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Demand rises for legal help for poor as funding declines

A mortar attack in Afghanistan and years of airborne jumps left former Army Sgt. Joaquin Tasis with lingering shoulder, back and knee pain, plus frequent memory loss and anxiety.

Even though the military discharged him because of his permanent injuries and he is unemployable, the red tape of the federal government repeatedly denied him disability payments.

Tasis, who could not afford a lawyer, turned to Legal Services of Greater Miami for help. After a year of legal wrangling, he prevailed and now receives about $1,000 a month to help support his wife and four children.

“If it wasn’t for them, I don’t think I could have done it,’’ he said. “The truth is, I don’t think I could have handled the paperwork.”

There may be fewer success stories like Tasis’ in 2012 as organizations that represent the poor in civil court matters experience a dramatic cut in federal and state funding even as demand for services is rising. Story here.

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