Tyre Nichols

Tyre Nichols

A human being. A Black man. A son. A father. A friend. A skateboarder. An amateur photographer. A victim of police brutality murdered at only 29 years old. We say again, a HUMAN BEING.

We say his name to give him the respect and dignity he deserved; two things the Memphis police officers that murdered him in early January withheld from him. The violent assault on Mr. Nichols is nothing new. The reality for many Black people is that they have come to expect violence at the hands of police officers because of a culture of aggressive policing that has existed since the initiation of the police force.

We empathize with the grief of Mr. Nichols’s family and the entire Black community. We stand with those who demand real change and protest a system that does not provide justice for all. We dream of a community that is strengthened by the uplifting of ALL its citizens.

In the weeks ahead, we will take a closer look at the relationship between the Black community and the police, institutionalized racism, and our organization’s efforts to advocate for clients.

Advocacy Center Welcomes Federal Court Decision to End Title 42

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy welcomes the decision of US District Judge Emmet Sullivan to strike down the controversial Title 42 immigration policy, a public health law that was manipulated to expel vulnerable asylum seekers at our border.  Judge Sullivan ruled the law was “arbitrary and capricious” and faulted the US government  for “its decision to ignore the harm that could be caused” by issuing the policy.  He reluctantly granted the Biden administration’s request for a stay; the ruling will be on hold until midnight December 21st.

On December 27, 2022, the US Supreme Court granted the motion of states including (but not limited to) Texas and Louisiana to stay Judge Sullivan’s vacatur of Title 42 until a full Supreme Court hearing on the policy can take place.  The hearing is expected to occur in February or March and a final decision is unlikely to be issued until June.

Immigrant Justice Program Director, Sharon Dove commented on the ruling saying, “We firmly believe that it is necessary to lift Title 42 to ensure safe, legal entry to migrants who qualify for asylum.  Allowing this false public health measure to remain in place did not resolve the ongoing crisis at the border and we urge the Biden administration to protect those who need it the most.  We advocate for policies to ensure fair and humane treatment of asylum seekers and pledge to continue our internal efforts to assist asylum seekers in our community.”

After Title 42 is lifted, those seeking asylum in the U.S. will still face an uphill battle. As of January 2022, wait times for an asylum hearing averaged five years.  We must continue to advocate for fair and humane asylum policies, as well as sufficient staffing, resources, and coordination with organizations working with asylum seekers on both sides of the border.  These efforts will ensure due process and the equitable treatment of all people seeking protection.

Skadden Fellow Joins our Veterans Legal Services Unit

Nevah Jones joined the Advocacy Center as a Skadden Fellow in our Veterans Legal Services Unit in September.  In addition to serving as an attorney for low-income veterans in need of service-related payments and benefits from VA, Nevah will expand our existing medical-legal partnership to include legal training for clinicians providing care to veterans.

Nevah will focus on educating clinicians about what is legally necessary to craft a medical opinion in support of a veteran’s VA claims, as veterans have a higher burden of proof when submitting medical documentation for service-related disability benefits.  She will advocate to address potential systemic issues in the initial stages of medical assessment that may result in payment or benefit denials for those to whom it is lawfully due. In addition, Nevah will also work with clinicians to identify health care barriers for veterans living with racial trauma stemming from military service.  Racial discrimination within the military contributes to mental health conditions that may result in less than honorable discharge characterizations.  Veterans who seek to upgrade their discharge characterization to access treatment or service-related benefits need credible medical evidence of their race-based trauma.

As a 20-year veteran of the Air Force, Nevah feels a unique connection to this work:

“In the military, I saw injured servicemembers pressured to ‘soldier on’ instead of seeking the medical care that they needed. Those same individuals were then disciplined and discharged when their untreated ailments made it difficult to do their jobs. I regret that I could not do more for my airmen then. It is because of them that I am singularly focused on getting veterans access to necessary health care and benefits today.”

Read Nevah’s full bio

If you are a clinician or attorney interested in learning more about these educational and legal efforts, please contact Nevah.

Settlement Reached in NC Medicaid Terminations Case

A settlement was reached on October 14, 2022, subject to court approval, in Franklin v. Kinsley, formerly known as Hawkins v. Cohen.  The federal class action lawsuit was filed in 2017 by Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and the National Health Law Program on behalf of Medicaid beneficiaries in North Carolina.  In the lawsuit, the Advocacy Center and National Health Law Program alleged that the North Carolina Medicaid agency, along with county Departments of Social Services (DSS), were terminating and reducing Medicaid benefits without considering eligibility under all Medicaid categories.  It was alleged that this was done without providing timely and adequate written notice, in violation of federal Medicaid statute and the U.S. Constitution.  In the settlement agreement, the North Carolina Medicaid agency agreed to extensive and very detailed changes to its procedures, forms, and notices for redetermining Medicaid eligibility for the 2.8 million North Carolinians currently enrolled in Medicaid.

The settlement comes at a crucial time as the COVID-19 public health emergency is widely expected to end in January 2023.  While the public health emergency is in effect, Medicaid beneficiaries are protected from termination or reduction of their health care coverage. If the public health emergency ends in January, eligibility reviews that can trigger reductions or terminations of Medicaid will begin in February.  The protections provided to beneficiaries under this settlement will be critical during that process.

“I want to thank state Medicaid officials for working collaboratively with us over many months to reach this agreement, which provides comprehensive and very timely protections for so many low-income and medically needy North Carolinians,” said Doug Sea, Senior Attorney, the Advocacy Center, who led this litigation for Plaintiffs.

Among the many protections for NC Medicaid beneficiaries detailed in the settlement agreement are the following:

  • Not have their Medicaid stopped or reduced because the county DSS has not timely redetermined their eligibility;
  • To have their eligibility be considered under all categories before their Medicaid is stopped or reduced;
  • To have their claim of disability considered prior to termination or reduction of their Medicaid benefits;
  • To have their Medicaid continue without them doing anything if DSS has enough information from other sources to show that they are still eligible;
  • To ask for and receive assistance from DSS in obtaining any information needed to redetermine their eligibility;
  • To be able to reach their county DSS promptly by telephone;
  • To receive a written notice before their Medicaid is reduced or terminated that clearly and specifically states why this action will be taken;
  • To have their case reopened if they provide the information needed by DSS after their benefits are stopped.

“This agreement provides a national model that we hope other states will follow, especially as they prepare for the end of the Public Health Emergency,” said Jane Perkins, Legal Director of the National Health Law Program, who co-counseled the case with the Advocacy Center. “Once the PHE ends, state Medicaid agencies will be making massive redeterminations of Medicaid eligibility for millions of people who had coverage during the duration of the PHE. Millions of people could improperly lose their insurance coverage if this is not done right. Robust eligibility and redetermination protections, like those just agreed to in North Carolina, will go a long way in ensuring that eligible people do not lose access to care.”

Before the agreement can be approved, the court must hold a fairness hearing to allow class members to object. That hearing is scheduled for January 13, 2023 at 11:00am at the federal courthouse in New Bern, North Carolina.

If Medicaid beneficiaries in North Carolina have any questions about their rights, they may contact the attorneys at Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy.  They may call toll-free at 1-800-936-4971. They can also send the lawyers an email at Hawkinsinfo@charlottelegaladvocacy.org.

About Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy provides those in need with information, advice, and advocacy in consumer protection, home preservation, health care access and public benefits, immigration, tax assistance, and more. Our mission is to pursue justice for those in need. Our vision is to build a just community, where all people are treated fairly and have access to legal representation to meet their basic human needs of safety, economic security, and stability. Learn more: charlottelegaladvocacy.org.

About National Health Law Program

 The National Health Law Program, founded in 1969, protects and advances health rights of low-income and underserved individuals and families. We advocate, educate and litigate at the federal and state levels to advance health and civil rights in the U.S. www.healthlaw.org

Legal Documents

Settlement Agreement

Settlement Agreement Regarding Attorneys Fees

Attorney Timesheet Summary

Notice to Class regarding Attorney’s Fees Settlement

Notice of Rights Under Settlement Agreement

Free Legal Clinic: Saturday, August 20th

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy will be hosting a legal clinic at Devonshire Elementary, 6500 Barrington Drive, on Saturday, August 20th from 12-3pm. Free legal assistance (by appointment only) and advice will be available in the following service areas:

  • Immigration relief
  • Landlord-tenant law education
  • Veterans: Character of discharge, discharge upgrades, VA applications, and more
  • Expunctions
  • Credit reports
  • Education on Medicaid health plans and services
  • Healthcare Powers of Attorney
  • Finding and applying for health insurance
  • Tips to understand the processes for public benefits (Social Security, Medicaid, Food and Nutrition Services (FNS)), Work First Family Assistance (WFFA)

Appointments are available on a first come, first serve basis.

Advocacy Center Statement on Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Decision

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy is aware of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. While this decision and the ultimate overturning of Roe v. Wade does not directly impact our work, it will impact the clients that we fight for every day.

The Advocacy Center will continue to advocate for our clients to ensure they have access to quality, affordable healthcare and will increase awareness of North Carolina’s recent expansion of Medicaid postpartum coverage. We will continue to support Medicaid expansion in North Carolina and utilize our advocates to increase access to healthcare coverage for the most vulnerable populations.

Our mission is to pursue justice for those in need and we stand with those that experience healthcare injustices.

Juneteenth is a day of celebration!

We have come so far, yet we have so far to go.

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”

On June 19, 1865, the enslaved men, women, and children of Galveston finally received word of their freedom in the last state of the Confederacy with institutionalized slavery.  The announcement was met with celebration, a celebration that is now commemorated as Juneteenth, or Freedom Day.

It took two years for Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation to reach the enslaved people of East Texas.

It took 156 years for Juneteenth to be recognized as a Federal holiday in the United States.

It will take even longer for true freedom to reach Black men, women, and children in our country.  We see this in our work at Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy as we fight for equal justice under the law for our clients.  The majority of these clients are people of color disproportionately impacted by poverty, facing systemic and economic barriers to equity and opportunity.

We recognize the critical role our organization plays in building a more just community. Doing so requires taking a hard look at our practices and making sure that everything we do lives up to our standard of justice.  In the face of systemic racism, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy stands with the Black community and its allies across the country in the movement to make change.

But today is a day of celebration.  Juneteenth is an opportunity to remember the progress our country has made, the work that is left to be done, and envision a future where we all prioritize racial justice and equity.

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy will close our office to observe Juneteenth.  We observe this day to show support for our Black neighbors, colleagues and clients who deserve to be treated equally as human beings.  Staff is encouraged to spend the day volunteering, reflecting on the true meaning of the holiday, or participating in community-led celebrations.

Celebrate Juneteenth with us: 

Educate yourself: Spend the day learning about Juneteenth’s history, including how Black families felt after being emancipated.

Participate in local Juneteenth events:  Find an event near you with these local guides: 23 Juneteenth celebrations in Charlotte area in 2022 and Juneteenth Charlotte 2022.  

Reflect: While slavery ended in 1865, the racist system it built persists today. Use June 19 as a day to reflect on critical issues that perpetuate discrimination against Black people in America and throughout the world. 

Place a sign in your front yard: Raise awareness and show your support for Juneteenth by decorating a sign for your front yard or door. This is a great way to help educate younger kids in your neighborhood who may not know about the holiday. 

Celebrate with a cookout: Gather your friends and family together to celebrate freedom. 

Keep the spirit of this special day alive by continuing to fight for justice for ALL!