Christine Ladner

The Project:

A former prosecutor, Christine has long had a passion for assisting the most vulnerable through challenging legal proceedings. Human trafficking survivors have many needs and come from a variety of referral sources. Christine focused on outreach with community partners, collaborating with governmental agencies, advocacy groups and other nongovernmental organizations for client referrals. She provided civil legal services to survivors of sex and labor trafficking. She assisted survivors with pursuing temporary or long-term legal status, family law related matters, protective orders, expungements, public benefits and advocacy throughout criminal proceedings. 

Christine provided civil legal services to survivors of all forms of human trafficking within 40 counties in western Missouri, as well as to agricultural workers identified as victims of labor trafficking in any of Missouri’s 114 counties. Christine and Merideth Hogan were both fellows hosted by Legal Aid of Western Missouri (LAWMO) in Kansas City, Missouri which has a robust Migrant Farmworker Unit. 

The Kansas City metro area spans Kansas and Missouri. Christine has extensive experience in Kansas assisting survivors of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation. Prior to her fellowship, Christine was a career prosecutor in Wichita, Topeka and Salina, Kansas and in the Kansas Attorney General’s Office in the Criminal Litigation Division. Her cases focused on sex offenses, child abuse, the civil commitment of sexually violent predators and human trafficking. She has tried over 170 felony jury trials to verdict, always with the goal of helping the most vulnerable seek justice. She developed an interest in human trafficking, particularly sex trafficking, when she tried the first aggravated human trafficking case in a Kansas district court in Wichita in 2008. State v. Williams, 299 Kan. 911, 329 P.3d 400 (2014). She was Chair of the Kansas Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Advisory Board from 2010 to 2013 where she worked on legislative issues related to Kansas human trafficking laws. The fellowship was a perfect segue for her to continue to serve trafficking survivors. 

The Project

Merideth helped identify survivors of human trafficking throughout Missouri in order to provide them legal assistance and connect them to available services. Merideth assisted survivors of human trafficking in obtaining temporary or long-term legal status, public benefits, victim representation in criminal matters, and in seeking reparations through civil processes. Additionally, she assisted survivors in identifying their long-term recovery goals and connected them with service providers in the community to achieve those goals. In order to build community relations to support survivors, Merideth conducted educational outreach programs. 

Since childhood, Merideth has known she wanted a career dedicated to helping those most in need. When she learned how pervasive human trafficking is, she felt drawn to work with survivors. Over the last several years, Merideth has worked to build her connections with attorneys who work with survivors and to educate herself on the laws and multifaceted issues survivors face. Her passion for these people and this area of the law makes her an effective advocate. 

The Project

Justice AmeriCorps will serve immigrant children who have crossed the U.S. border without a parent or a guardian as they nagivate complex immigration court proceedings. Through collaborative outreach, weekly appearances at juvenile dockets and client intakes, immigrant children will be screened and identified for immigration relief. As part of my service, I will provide direct representation to immigrant children, will participate in community education, direct pro bono assistance, and make necessary referrals for additional services.

The Inspiration