Cortney Sweat

The Project

Cortney will assist individuals over the age of sixty when there has been fraud, misrepresentation, abuse of fiduciary duties, etc. Specifically, Cortney will address the lack of services, resources, and representation to elderly individuals in rural communities. Additionally, she will assist individuals when there has been fraud, misrepresentation, abuse of fiduciary duties, etc. for individuals over the age of 60.

Cortney has worked in public interest services since high school. She has always had an interest in helping those who need help and making sure the underrepresented have a voice as well as feel heard. Cortney builds great rapport and relationships with clients, giving them the opportunity to have a trusted advocate on their side with whom they are comfortable.

Fellowship Plans

During her Equal Justice Works Fellowship, Cortney will reach elderly adults who have been victims of crime. She will work specifically on outreach in rural communities to ensure individuals have access to legal representation and connections to the resources Indiana Legal Services, Inc. (ILSI) has to offer, as well as offering trainings to community partners on identifying when a victim is in need of ILSI’s services.

Media

Making Our Communities More Equitable

Stopping the Abuse and Exploitation of Seniors and Endangered Adults

The Project

DuPage County, Illinois, is home to nearly one million residents (as of 2017), the largest population of individuals outside of Cook County, Illinois. Of these individuals, 25 percent speak a language other than English (most commonly Spanish), and many are undocumented. 

Kimberly served as a fellow with the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services (LAS) out of their DuPage center. By expanding the services of LAS out of their Chicago headquarters, more individuals in DuPage and surrounding areas are able to more easily access legal services. Kimberly’s work focused on serving immigrant victims of crime, helping them to navigate the increasingly convoluted immigration system to achieve stability and security by remedying their immigration status. She also worked to educate the community directly, as well as other legal and social service providers, on issues affecting immigrants, conducting “Know Your Rights” and other presentations to keep the community informed and eliminate their fear of uncertainty. 

Kimberly is bilingual in Spanish and pursued a law degree in order to use her language skills in service to the [email protected] community, so that they might not be hampered by a language barrier when accessing legal services. Kimberly has dedicated her career to immigration practice and has developed a deep compassion for the immigrant community and a heart for the unique struggles they face.  

The Project

Unaccompanied immigrant children (UICs) and family units from Central America have entered the United States in unprecedented numbers in recent years. Though the vast majority of the UICs and families who entered during this influx have been released from government custody, nearly all of them must fight their cases in an adversarial system without the benefit of appointed counsel. Children and families’ ability to secure protection is directly tied to their ability to find attorneys. This project will respond to the attorney shortage in the face of the ongoing Central American refugee crisis by offering specialized representation in asylum and special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS) cases to immigrants in Indiana.

Fellowship Highlights

In the past two years, Maria has:

  • Provided full legal representation to more than 80 clients, and brief service and/or referrals to more than 40 individuals;
  • Won 16 asylum cases for UICs and families from Central America;
  • Filed 20 Special Immigrant Juvenile applications for UICs, and all these children are now only waiting for visa availability to become legal permanent residents;
  • Recruited 20 pro bono attorneys to provide representation to immigrant families from Indiana;
  • Trained judges and attorneys from Indiana about the SIJS so that in the future more immigrant children are able to benefit from this relief;
  • Provided Know Your Rights Presentations to more than 400 individuals.

What’s Next

Now that the Fellowship is complete, Maria plans to:

  • Continue to represent unaccompanied immigrant children and families seeking protection in the United States;
  • Continue to advocate for the rights of immigrants;
  • Continue to expand her experience and knowledge in other areas of law;
  • Continue to move forward with a public interest career.