Utah Navajo Health System, Inc. is teaming up with DNA Legal Services to provide free legal consultation at the Montezuma Creek Clinic on March 27 and May 22.
“This is an opportunity to provide free legal care to people who can’t afford it,” explained UNHS CEO Michael Jensen. “Our goal is to provide a space where this can happen. When the new Montezuma Creek Clinic opens we might be able to provide that space on a monthly basis.”
DNA Legal Services celebrated its 50th Anniversary last year. According to the DNA website, “DNA is an acronym for the Navajo phrase Dinébe’iiná Náhiiłna be Agha’diit’ahii which means “attorneys who work for the economic revitalization of The People”. DNA People’s Legal Services is a 6-office, nonprofit law firm in the Southwestern United States that provides free civil legal services to low-income people who otherwise could not afford to hire an attorney. We provide legal assistance, advice and representation in U.S. and tribal courts, promote tribal sovereignty, and offer community education programs that promote greater understanding of the law. Since 1967, DNA’s services have helped people living in poverty use existing policies and laws to protect their property and assets, stay safe from physical, mental and financial abuse, avoid exploitation and safeguard their civil rights.”
Heather Hoechst, Medical and Legal Partnership Attorney for DNA, confirmed last week that DNA attorneys and Tribal Court Advocates will be in Montezuma Creek on March 27 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Hoechst said anyone with a legal question, regarding almost any legal matter, will be seen on a first come, first served basis.
“They will first talk to our support staff to make sure they are eligible for our services. They will then have the opportunity to speak with an attorney regarding their legal questions,” Hoechst explained. “We can then determine whether they just need legal advice, whether we can make a referral or whether we can represent them in court. It’s all on a case by case basis.”
Hoechst said the attorneys are licensed to practice in the Navajo Nation, New Mexico and/or Arizona. However, there are currently no DNA attorneys licensed to practice in Utah state courts. Therefore any legal issues that require representation in the Utah courts or legal system can only receive advice and a referral to a free legal agency in Utah. She said DNA attorneys can hear almost any type of legal questions, from family and consumer law, to power of attorney, wills, advice on Social Security Disability questions and many more issues. They do not deal with criminal cases, however.
“Other than criminal, you name it. Come on in and ask. At least we can provide some direction,” Hoechst added.
Those coming to discuss a legal matter should bring any documents related to your question. You do not need to be a member of the Navajo Nation, but if your question deals with Utah State Law, it will most likely be referred to a local resource office.