Photo of Carl Sessions

Carl Sessions

  • Hosted by Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing
  • Sponsored by Rossotti Family Foundation
  • Service location Chicago, Illinois
  • Law school Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Issue area Housing/Homelessness
  • Fellowship class year 2019
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Carl will manage the only in-court brief advice desk for pro se tenants and identify and represent tenants who have viable claims related to uninhabitable conditions or landlord retaliation to secure relief and prevent displacement.

30,000 evictions are filed in Cook County annually, yet 95% of tenants do not have an attorney. Due to the expedited nature of eviction court – and lack of in-court resources – tenants are deprived of due process and pressured to take unfavorable settlements. Unfortunately, many of these tenants have meritorious defenses related to uninhabitable living conditions, yet those defenses are rarely heard due to lack of legal aid resources.

Carl is inspired by tenants who fight for their rights, even as they face landlord retaliation or unsafe living conditions. Carl has seen the creativity of tenants who face landlords on their own, or who band together, and is motivated to use that same ingenuity in approaching the seemingly intractable problem of assembly-line justice in eviction court.

Fellowship Plans

Carl will expand the Eviction Brief Advice Desk to cover all courtrooms multiple times per week by training additional pro bono attorneys. Additionally, he will develop litigation resources to assist with bringing disrepair claims, including FOIA toolkits, model pleadings, and expert pool of certified real estate appraisers. Also, he will litigate in eviction and ancillary courts for injunctive relief and damages. Finally, he will collaborate with community organizing groups for referrals when tenants experience building-wide conditions issues.

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Host: Ohio State Legal Services Association

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Maureen Foley

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Amy Willis

Host: Georgia Law Center for the Homeless

Sponsor: Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP, The Home Depot

Andrew Chen

Host: Public Counsel

Sponsor: Anonymous