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Peter H. Johnstone Legal Fair and Mediation Day Provides A Day of Support for Low-Income New Mexicans

In Albuquerque, the 2nd Judicial District Court hosted a significant event on April 13th—the Peter H. Johnstone Legal Fair and Mediation Day. After a pandemic-induced hiatus, this annual gathering returned with a mission to provide crucial assistance to low-income individuals facing legal challenges, specifically related to family law.

Historically, this event only provided mediations for family law cases. This year’s event broadened its scope by adding the option to have a free consultation with private attorneys. The day commenced with a CLE for volunteer attorneys, featuring insights from Meredith Johnstone, daughter of Peter H. Johnstone, along with Bella Zayani, Statewide Pro Bono Coordinator for the Volunteer Attorney Program, and Aja Brooks, Executive Assistant to the US Attorney for the District of New Mexico. Their presentation highlighted the event’s commitment to community service and the importance of access to justice.

As the clock struck 9:00 am, the courthouse doors opened to a stream of individuals seeking guidance and support. Attorneys and volunteers stood ready to lend their expertise, while three respected judges of the Family Court —Jane C. Levy, Debra Ramirez, and Gerard J. Lavelle—graced the event with their presence. Judge Lavelle’s canine companions provided a comforting presence, offering emotional support to attendees and attorneys throughout the day.

This event was impactful to those who attended. They were able to receive advice from volunteer attorneys, resolve their cases through mediation, and file pleadings because the clerk’s office was open. Eight participants found resolution through mediation, while an additional 69 individuals received vital consultations, shedding light on their legal challenges. These numbers underscore the event’s significance in bridging gaps and fostering access to justice for all.

Behind the scenes, the spirit of compassion was evident. Four local law firms, Armstrong, Roth, Whitley, Johnstone Family Law; Ashton, Horton, Mullins Family Law; Atkinson & Kelsey Family Law; and Terry & deGraauw Family Law, generously provided snacks and meals. Their support ensured that volunteers remained fueled for the day, further highlighting the power of the community in making such events possible.

The Peter H. Johnstone Legal Fair and Mediation Day had once again proven to be a beacon of hope, uniting communities and championing justice for all. In an era marked by uncertainty, events like these serve as a reminder of the power of community and compassion to effect positive change.

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