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Chief Judge DiFiore sends pro bono help to Texas to aid Hurricane Harvey victims

September 6, 2017 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Chief Judge Janet DiFiore. Eagle photo by Rob Abruzzese
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Chief Judge Janet DiFiore announced the creation of a task force on Wednesday that will send pro bono legal help to Texas in order to lend assistance to those dealing with Hurricane Harvey victims.

The so-called New York State Task Force on Legal Assistance Related to Hurricane Harvey is a group that will be headed by John S. Kiernan, president of the NYC Bar Association; and Sharon Katz, special counsel for pro bono at David Polk & Wardwell LLP. They will lead a group that includes 17 members and participants.

“On behalf of the New York Courts and the New York State Task Force on Legal Assistance Related to Hurricane Harvey, our hearts go out to the hurricane victims,” DiFiore said in a statement.

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“I wish to express my gratitude to Co-chairs John Kiernan and Sharon Katz and the Task Force members — who bring a wealth of recovery disaster expertise acquired after 9-11 and Hurricane Sandy — for their dedication and support in linking Harvey victims to much-needed legal aid and assisting the Houston-area courts in resuming normal operations,” DiFiore said.

The Texas Supreme Court recently issued an emergency order that temporarily allows for out-of-state lawyers to provide assistance to clients in need of legal aid.

The task force will work with local New York attorneys who are willing to help to be legal volunteers to address the needs of those affected by the hurricane. It is expected that many people will need aid in filing for home insurance claims, FEMA benefits and other mortgage matters.

It is expected that technical assistance related to restoration of records, telecommunications and information systems will also require assistance.

“I want to thank Chief Judge DiFiore for the opportunity to play a stewardship role in carrying out the vital responsibilities of this emergency task force,” said Sharon Katz. “I look forward to working with John Kiernan and the Task Force members to coordinate efforts to aid hurricane victims in obtaining urgently needed legal assistance and provide Houston-area court officials with technical support, as needed.”


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