Volunteer Of the Month, February 2010- Sam Lockner
Recently, one of Sam’s clients was informed by county staff that he had to appear at a review hearing, even though the client had already chosen to waive his appearance and not attend. Sam was not afforded adequate notice of the county’s position and wasn’t able to help his client prepare for appearing in person at court. This led to an upsetting experience for the client, who had only been to court one time before that day. As a result, the client felt distrust for the court process, and Sam’s ability to counsel his client was undermined. Sam raised his concern to the judge that the client’s decision not to appear was circumvented by the county without giving his attorney a chance to object or speak to his client. The judge agreed that there should be a better protocol developed for determining whether a child will (or must) attend a hearing and how notice is provided to all parties. CLC is working with the county to develop a specific protocol that will work for all parties. Thanks to Sam’s bold advocacy, an important issue was brought to the forefront, and CLC will be able to more effectively advocate for its clients. Sam has been a volunteer with CLC since 2006, and has represented three clients.
Sam says, “I have found representing children in the foster care system to be one of the most rewarding aspects of my practice. The resiliency of these children is amazing and being able to give them a voice in deciding their future is really rewarding.”