As the war in Afghanistan winds down, more and more veterans are returning home and seeking to re-enter the lives they left behind. They will join the ranks of the over 140,000 veterans estimated to live in Orange County. To meet the legal needs of this growing population, the Public Law Center has created a new outreach effort to military veterans, including those who are homeless.


Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow, Antoinette Balta, has been assigned to lead PLC's new veterans project, Operation Veterans Re-Entry, a program dedicated to providing Orange County veterans and their families with free legal assistance to facilitate their re-entry into civilian life.

Antoinette Naddour Balta


Legal issues for veterans range from family law, landlord-tenant disputes, consumer fraud, military and veterans benefits, healthcare, expungement of criminal records, discharge upgrades, child support, military sexual trauma, guardianships and conservatorships. Together with our staff, pro bono attorneys from the community provide an incredibly valuable service to these clients. In the past six months, over 150 veterans have received free legal assistance. Examples of cases include stopping the illegal eviction of a veteran from his home, stopping the wrongful garnishment of a veteran's bank account by a government entity, assisting veterans with their VA benefits and gaining the return of a veteran's personal belongings that were wrongfully withheld by a landlord. This included the return of his Green Beret! 

Operation Veterans Re-Entry honors the legacy of Captain Matthew Patrick Manoukian, United States Marine Corps, 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, who was killed in combat August 10, 2012 in Sangin District, Afghanistan. Captain Manoukian, an Orange County native, had been accepted to law school and planned to begin law studies after returning from Afghanistan. He wanted to enter public service as a public defender. Both of Matthew's parents are Judges: Socrates Peter Manoukian is a Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge, and Patricia Bamattre-Manoukian is an Associate Justice on the California Court of Appeal in San Jose and a former Orange County Deputy DA and former Orange County Municipal Court Judge.


PLC's Operation Veterans Re-entry works with a wide array of veterans groups including the Orange County Department of Veterans Services, Working Wardrobes, Veterans First, the American GI Forum of the United States Rudy Escalante Chapter, Elite SDVOB Network of Orange County, Disabled Veterans of America, and Volunteers of America. As their experience confirms, the need is great. The unemployment rate for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is over 10 percent - three full percentage points above the national average. Relatively minor legal problems can be major obstacles to employment, personal health and family relationships. Once legal problems are resolved, veterans become more employable and significantly more likely to become productive members of society.


Shockingly, homelessness is an epidemic affecting veterans and their families from all eras. Estimates indicate there are between 1,500 and 3,000 homeless veterans in Orange County. Further, it is estimated that nearly 10,000 veteran households are at significant risk of homelessness and half of veterans who are experiencing homelessness have legal issues. Resolution of those issues can place an at risk veteran on a path towards stable housing and a better life.


If you are interested in assisting one of our veteran clients, particularly a homeless or at-risk of being homeless veteran, with his or her legal issues, please contact Antoinette Balta at 714-541-1010 x291

PLC's Success in 2012

PLC is pleased to report that 2012 was a banner year for volunteerism!  A record 1,305 attorneys, law students, paralegals, and others donated 36,314 hours to help provide access to justice for Orange County's low-income residents.  The value of this volunteerism is over $11.2 million dollars!  PLC greatly appreciates the continuing support of our volunteers and looks forward to growing the PLC pro bono team throughout 2013.

Thank You to Our Year-End Donors



PLC's Access to Justice Campaign, held from November through March successfully raised over $100,000 to help fund PLC's operations.  These unrestricted donations allow us to continue to provide high quality services to both our low-income clients and our many lawyer and law student volunteers. To those who contributed to the campaign, we extend our heartfelt thanks.  


Thank You to these PLC Donors 


Be a Visible Supporter at the  
Volunteers for Justice 2013  
Dinner and Auction

Volunteers For Justice

PLC's annual Volunteers for Justice Dinner 2013 will be held June 17th at the Irvine Hyatt Regency. Get involved and show your support for access to justice. PLC staff and volunteers work with some of the most vulnerable, low income people in Orange County, including homeless individuals and families, military veterans, cancer and AIDS patients, immigrants and those in fear for their lives, and victims trafficked for sex or labor.


Become a visible sponsor or underwriter for this event that provides critical operating support for the work of the Public Law Center.

Learn more here.


To provide a Silent Auction item, email April Schaley  


Questions? Contact Jan McKay  


Thank you to last year's Sponsors, Underwriters, and Advertisers  


Save the Date!

Loyola Bridge to Practice Fellow Helping Low-Income Consumers 

This spring, Erin Fitzgerald has joined PLC's Consumer Department as a Loyola Law School of Los Angeles Bridge to Practice Fellow.  After graduation, Loyola will pay graduates up to $15/hour for 200 hours to work at a non-profit or government agency.  PLC has been fortunate to host a few of these fellows over the past couple of years who provide much needed support to legal services programs like PLC at a time when budgets are tight and demand for services is up.
Erin Fitzgerald

Erin is working with PLC's Consumer Department this spring.  She has taken on a project involving scammers who convince elderly Vietnamese individuals to file tax returns to claim a tax credit to which they actually may not be entitled.  She is assisting individual clients and helping to develop a broad strategy to educate the community to prevent future scams.  She is also assisting with Bankruptcy clinics, Federal Pro Se clinics and the Consumer Department's regular case work, including student loans, debt collection defense and auto fraud.
PLC is happy to be a beneficiary of Loyola's Bridge to Practice Fellowship Program and is lucky to have found Erin to work with us this spring!

Latham Attorneys Secure Immigration Relief For Victim of Human Trafficking and Her Family


Thanks to Sarah Diamond, Shadi Ghaffarzadeh, and Jon Anderson of Latham & Watkins' Orange County Office, a victim of human trafficking now resides safely in the United States and is in the process of reuniting with her husband and five children.


In 2009, Anchalee, a Thai national, left her family to travel to Saudi Arabia to work for a family as a nanny. This was not an easy decision for Anchalee, but she and her family desperately needed income. When Anchalee arrived in Saudi Arabia, the family confiscated her passport, would not pay her previously agreed upon wages, and threatened to have her arrested if she tried to leave. Anchalee was now alone in a foreign country, thousands of miles away from her family, and a victim of domestic servitude.


The Saudi family brought Anchalee to Orange County to care for their children while they were on vacation. It was during this trip that Anchalee was able to escape her traffickers, miraculously finding a good Samaritan whose actions led to Anchalee being referred to PLC for legal assistance.


PLC referred this case to Sarah, Shadi, and Jon, who successfully petitioned the U.S. Government for a T visa for Anchalee and derivative applications for Anchalee's husband and five children. Anchalee now resides legally in the U.S. and is awaiting reunification with her family, whom she has not seen for more than three years.   


PLC provides legal services to victims of human trafficking through our collaborative work with the  Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force. For more information on human trafficking, visit Polaris Project. To provide pro bono assistance to victims of human trafficking and other serious crimes, contact PLC Lead Attorney Monica Ashiku. 


Make a donation to the Public Law Center to insure that low income families and those who have nowhere else to turn get a fair shake in our sometimes confusing and complex legal system.  As a nonprofit law firm that depends upon the generosity of donors and volunteers, your gift enables us to 
provide hope, access and justice
Join The Public Law Center's Legal Eagles Team For AIDS Walk May 4th

The Orange County AIDS Walk will be held May 4 at Disney Land.  The Public Law Center invites you to walk with us!  The funds we raise will support our Aids Legal Assistance Project (ALAP).  Go to the OC Aids Walk page and look for the Public Law Center's Legal Eagles Team.  Sign up to walk or if you cannot be there, make a general donation to our team.  All donations made through our team directly benefit the Public Law Center.  Join us!  And thank you!


Leslie Lindren, Senior Lead Attorney and project manager for
 AIDS Legal Assistance Program

Thank you for making a difference.


Ken Babcock
Executive Director & General Counsel
Public Law Center

Also In This Issue
PLC's Success in 2012
Volunteers for Justice Dinner 2013
Loyola Bridge to Practice Fellow Helping Low-Income Consumers
Latham and Watkins Attorneys Secure Immigration Relief
Join Legal Eagles Team For AIDS Walk May 4th
Operation Veterans Re-Entry Honors Captain Matthew Patrick Manoukian

Operation Veterans Re-Entry is dedicated to a veteran who likely would not have needed any of the legal services this program offers. He more likely would have been volunteering to provide the services. Captain Matthew Patrick Manoukian, United States Marine Corps, 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, was killed in combat August 10, 2012 in Sangin District, Afghanistan.


Captain Manoukian deployed twice to Iraq (2007-2009) where he worked to open schools, establish local police forces and judicial systems, and train the Iraqi Border Security Forces. Captain Manoukian deployed twice to Afghanistan (2010-2012) where he worked to stabilize the villages, train and develop local police forces, open schools and courts and establish the rule of law.



While Captain Manoukian received many medals and commendations including two Purple Hearts and two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, he was very humble and he never spoke of these awards. Captain Manoukian and his outstanding teams worked tirelessly and with great dedication to help the people of Iraq and Afghanistan attain peace, justice and freedom.


Captain Manoukian had been accepted to law school and planned to begin law studies after returning from Afghanistan. That re-entry plan was never executed due to his tragic death. Inspired by family members committed to the law and public service, Captain Manoukian planned to also enter public service as a public defender.   Both his parents are judges - his father, Socrates Peter Manoukian, a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge, and his mother, Patricia Bamattre-Manoukian, a state appellate court justice and former Orange County Deputy D.A. and former Orange County Municipal Court Judge. Captain Manoukian also had strong ties to Orange County - he was born in Orange and was residing in Seal Beach at the time of his last deployment.


Captain Manoukian was a champion for those in his command and for all the dedicated members of the military. We know had Captain Manoukian's death not deprived him of the opportunity to pursue a legal career, he would have been a champion of justice for clients like PLC's. Captain Manoukian was honored posthumously by the California Judicial Council in December 2012 with the Stanley Mosk Defender of Justice Award. We here in Orange County honor him by providing the kind of assistance and support for veterans that we know he would have been proud to provide himself.

To learn more about Captain Manoukian go to:




Special thanks to the Federal Bar Association-Orange County and the OCBA's Commercial Law & Bankruptcy Section

Since the Public Law Center opened the Federal Pro Se Clinic in the Santa Ana Division's District Court Clerk's Office last June, the Federal Bar Association - Orange County has been a huge supporter.  The FBA-OC has promoted the clinic to its members and encouraged them to volunteer.   Recently, the FBA supported the Clinic through its members running in the Huntington Beach Surf City Half Marathon.  

Runner Andrea Bird of Manatt Phelps & Phillips generated the most support, and overall the FBA raised $4000 for the Clinic.
PLC Lead Attorney, Leigh Ferrin, also ran in the marathon.

Thank you for all your support!

To volunteer at the Federal Pro Se Clinic contact Elizabeth Gonzalez 


The Clinic is opened on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon and 1:30 - 3:30 p.m.


Andrea Bird and Ken Babcock
Andrea Bird and Ken Babcock
Leigh Ferrin crossing the finish line!

We are also grateful for the gifts received from the OCBA's Commercial Law & Bankruptcy Section and the Orange County Bar Foundation. As part of their holiday celebrations both groups asked their members to support the Bankruptcy Clinic. Through this effort, $4,000 was collected and donated to PLC. Thank you all for your holiday spirit and your support for this clinic, held Wednesdays, 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. and Fridays, 9 a.m. - 11 a.m. To volunteer at the clinic contact:


Leigh Ferrin at





Public Law Center
     601 Civic Center Drive West, Santa Ana, CA 92701