MVLP had a busy second quarter!  Read inside for details about our activities, a client spotlight, our upcoming Annual CLE Seminar and a list of counties where we have open cases.

Client Spotlight:  
Sasha Gets a Baby Girl.
(As told to MVLP's staff)

Sasha Carter* loves children and has a house full – four of her own and two of her sister’s – who mostly like to stay with their cousins since their mother works night shifts at the poultry plant.  Sasha’s life is full, and she’s quick to tell you she is blessed.  The only thing missing from her life is a little girl – the six children growing up in her house are all rough-and-tumble boys! Living in a small, rural town, Sasha is aware of the events and circumstances that transpire outside her front door. 

One life whose path she recently crossed is a mentally unstable young woman who is prone to addictions and is, more often than not, homeless. When the young woman was rumored to be pregnant, Sasha knew it was time to step forward with her own brand of caring and intervention.  She made the young woman her special project and did all she could to help – securing food, shelter and regular medical treatment. 

With Sasha’s help, the woman’s body and mind responded and soon she gave birth to a healthy baby girl. But, after the delivery, the young woman was confronted with two important concerns:  she knew she could not give her baby the life she wanted her to have, and she could not turn to the little girl’s father for help.  As her despair grew, she turned to Sasha for advice.  In her mind, Sasha debated what should be done – but knew all along that her mind was made up.  She offered to adopt the baby girl, and the child’s mother gratefully agreed. 

Sasha searched for the legal help she needed for the adoption until she found MVLP.  For MVLP’s assistance, she qualified in every regard.  Today, Sasha’s life really is complete; she has a little girl to help her keep the six boys in line.  She also reports she has a new “big” boy – since she now includes the MVLP attorney who helped her and her happy family. 

With your support, we can help even more clients, like Sasha, give children healthy, happy homes.  Make a donation to MVLP today.  

*The name of the client has been changed to protect her privacy.  

Still Need CLE? Register for MVLP's Annual CLE on 
Friday, July 25

We will hold our Annual CLE Seminar at the Mississippi Bar Center in Jackson on Friday, July 25, six (6) days before the CLE deadline.  The seminar will feature presentations on e-discovery, bankruptcy, employment law, chancery practice and polygraph and will include an ethics hour.  Attorneys who attend can receive up to six hours of CLE, including one ethics hour.  The registration fee will be $100 for MVLP volunteers and $150 for non-volunteers. The registration brochure of the event is available here. The registration deadline is July 18.  Contact us with questions at or 601-960-9577.   

Attorneys Who Accepted MVLP Cases in March, April & May 

 We extend a VERY SPECIAL THANK YOU to the attorneys who accepted cases in March, April and May of this year: 

Brandi Ajpacaja
Amanda Green Alexander
Kristen Blanchard
Laci Bonner*
Meredith Brasfield
Dana Bumgardner
Ashley Cole
Susan Culpepper
John Dollarhide
Melanie Dobbs*
Will Dukes
La'Verne Edney
Steven Eckert
Jeremy England
Alyssa Farrell
Tanisha Gates
Elizabeth Hyde*
Gwendolyn Jimison
Greta Kemp
Natasha Magee-Woods
Larry McCarty
Christi McCoy
J. Randall Patterson*
Robert Parrott*
Seth Shannon*
Stacey Sims
Randolph Smith
Ken Turner
Michael Wilson
Randolph Wood

*Attorneys who accepted more than one case

Don't see your name on the list?  See below for information about our open cases and contact us to learn more. 

Calling All Attorneys:  We Need You to Take a Case!

There are 43 cases currently open at MVLP.  We have cases open in the following counties: Adams, Amite, Bolivar, Chickasaw, Clay, Coahoma, Copiah, Forrest, Franklin, George, Harrison, Humphreys, Lawrence, Lincoln, Madison, Marion, Monroe, Oktibbeha, Pearl River, Pike, Scott, Sunflower, Tate, Tippah, Warren, Washington, Webster, and Yazoo.  As a reminder, MVLP's staff collects all documents necessary to file cases and we will even draft the initial pleadings before we refer the cases to attorneys.  We try to make representing our clients as simple as possible for the attorneys who volunteer with us.  If you are a new attorney, we will provide form pleadings, client questions and other documents and forms that you will need to assist the clients.  We will also provide you with our Pro Bono Attorney Guide To view descriptions of these cases, click here.  Contact Tiffany Graves at with questions.

A Look Back at our Second Quarter Events
We had a very busy second quarter!  We led four legal clinics (Biloxi, Oxford, Jackson and Hernando), ran and walked in the Jackson Young Lawyers Association's 2014 Legal Beagle 5K Run/Walk, hosted the inaugural "How to Hang Your Shingle and Start Your Own Law Firm" CLE Seminar and held a two-day "Calls for a Cause" event at our office.  Thank you to the attorneys who assisted at the legal clinics, participated in the Legal Beagle, attended our CLEs, and helped us assess the files of prospective clients at our April "Calls for Cause" event.  See below for pictures from the various events.  Also, mark your calendars for the rescheduled CABA Golf Tournament.  It will be held on Monday, July 28, 2014.  The April tornadoes forced the rescheduling of the event.

"How to Hang Your Shingle and Start Your Own Firm" CLE Seminar 
May 23, 2014

Expungement Legal Clinic at the MetroCenter Mall in Jackson 
March 29, 2014

     Presentation of Proceeds from the 2014 Legal Beagle 5K Run/Walk
March 28, 2014

Expungement Legal Clinic at the University of Mississippi School of Law in Oxford
March 21, 2014

Family Law Legal Clinic in Biloxi
March 18, 2014

2014 Jackson Young Lawyers Association's Legal Beagle 5K Run/Walk 
March 4, 2014

How to Ask Strategic Questions of Your Clients

from Strategic Questioning:  An Experiment in Communication of the Second Kind by Fran Peavey
  1. Ask focus questions:  Identify your client's situation and the key facts necessary for an understanding of the specific situation, i.e., "What is the issue you see here?" "What are you most concerned about in this situation/your life/your community?"
  2. Ask observation questions:  Determine what your client sees and the information he has regarding the situation.  Avoid referring to the situation as a "problem". Ask questions like "What did you see, hear, know, find, etc.?"
  3. Ask feeling questions: These questions are concerned with emotions, health and sensations.  "How does it feel when you think or talk about this situation?"
  4. Ask visioning questions: Identify the client's hopes, ideals, dreams, values, wishes, vision for his future.
  5. Ask change questions:  These questions allow you to help the client get from the present situation toward a more ideal situation, i.e., "What will it take to…", "How can we get you to…"
  6. Consider the alternatives:  Help the client try to imagine more than two alternatives, i.e., "What are alternative ways to accomplish your goals?", "What are all of the ways you can think of to make things better?"
  7. Take a personal inventory:  Ask questions that will help you identify your client's interests, potential contribution and support he will need to act, i.e., "What will it take to..."?, "Where do you fit in to making things better?".
  8. Ask personal action questions:  These questions get down to the specifics of what to do and how and when to do it so that the actual plan can begin to emerge, i.e., "What should we do first?"
Above all, listen to your client.  In your first meeting with your client, accept what you don't know and try to learn as much as you can about his situation. Practice silence and, when you don't know what to say, don't say anything -- JUST LISTEN!  
Listening empowers clients and improves advocacy.  

Recent Mississippi Family Law Cases

The following decisions were recently handed down by the Mississippi Court of Appeals or the Mississippi Supreme Court.  In an effort to keep our volunteers current on Mississippi family law, we are sharing cases with you and hope that you will review at your convenience.  The topics of the cases and links to the full opinions are provided below.
MARCH 2014

KEYES v. KEYES, NO. 2013-CA-00059-COA – Divorce: Irreconcilable differences - Child custody - Section 93-5-24(5) - Joint custody - Parties' consent
LOTT v. ALEXANDER, NO. 2013-CA-00104-COA – Grandparent visitation:  Section 93-16-3 - Rights of great grandparents
IN RE ESTATE OF LEWIS, NO. 2012-CA-01623-COA – Guardianship:  Finality of judgment – Jurisdiction
IN RE ESTATE OF LANGSTON, NO. 2012-CA-01799-COA – Wills & Estates: Undue influence by spouse - Warranty deed - Certificate of deposit - Domestic abuse testimony - M.R.E. 701
BEARD v. BERRYMAN, NO. 2013-CA-00176-COA – Adoption:  Albright factors - Section 93-17-8(1)(c) - Post-trial conduct - Guardian ad litem’s recommendations
HALL v. HALL, NO. 2012-CA-02008-COA – Child Custody:  Modification of custody - Material change in circumstances
COOK v. COOK, NO. 2012-CA-01186-COA – Modification of Alimony:  Periodic alimony - Material change in circumstances
WHITE v. WHITE, NO. 2012-CA-01083-COA – Wills & Estates:  Quitclaim deeds - Doctrine of res judicata
APRIL 2014
ROBERTS v. ROBERTS, NO. 2012-CA-01523-COA – Divorce:  Adultery - Equitable distribution - Periodic alimony - Contempt
BURNHAM v. BURNHAM, NO. 2012-CA-01218-COA – Divorce:  Irreconcilable differences – Child support - Section 43-19-101 - Division of marital property - Ferguson factors - Supersedeas bond - M.R.A.P. 8(a)
ROSSER v. MORRIS, NO. 2012-CA-00585-COA – Child custody - Best interest of child - Albright factors - Material change in circumstances
SPRIGGS v. BUECHLER, NO. 2012-CA-01180-COA -- Divorce: Adultery - Exclusion of records - Permanent alimony – Retaining jurisdiction - Expert testimony - M.R.E. 702 - Educational expenses
HUSETH v. HUSETH, NO. 2012-CA-01576-SCT – Divorce:  Irreconcilable differences – Domestic relations - Separate maintenance - Income - Child support – Child custody - Attorney's fees - M.R.C.P. 11(b)
MATLOCK v. MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, NO. 2009-CP-01869-COA – Child Support Contempt - Change in birth certificate
HERSEY v. GRATTON, NO. 2013-CA-00169-COA – Child custody: Jurisdiction - Section 93-27-201 - Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act - Guardian ad litem
DARNELL v. DARNELL, NO. 2012-CA-01503-SCT -- Divorce: - Child custody - Hearsay - M.R.E. 801(c) - Tender years' exception - M.R.E. 803(25) - M.R.E. 105 - Expert testimony - M.R.E. 703 -Recommendations of guardian ad litem 

MAY 2014
AINSWORTH v. AINSWORTH, NO. 2013-CA-00148-COA – Divorce: Irreconcilable differences - Division of marital estate - Ferguson factors - Child support - Extracurricular activities of children
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