Tony Krause figures there is a hole in the net of legal services in North Texas. That’s where he sees his group helping.
Krause is partnering with prominent lawyers and civic leaders across North Texas to fill that gap via the recently formed North Texas Civil Rights Project, of which he is interim director. The intent is to provide free legal help for victims of civil rights abuses.
“The need is there,” Krause said. “We just need to get more community involvement.”
The North Texas chapter is the newest addition to the 30-year-old Texas Civil Rights Project. TCRP director James Harrington said the new branch is long overdue.
“We have done many cases in the North Texas area over the years. So obviously there is great need,” he said in an e-mail.
With more than 200 volunteer lawyers and six statewide branches, TCRP provides free legal services and defends low-income victims. While each branch is responsible for raising its own money, the Austin headquarters offers guidance and some legal resources.
North Texas branch legal staffer Mandy Price is already overseeing a lawsuit against North Hills Hospital in North Richland Hills, for allegedly violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to provide interpreters for hearing-impaired patients.
That case is part of a statewide campaign of about 30 disability-rights lawsuits being waged by TCRP.
Price, who also serves on the TCRP board, said that what makes NTCRP different from similar organizations working in North Texas is her group’s commitment to taking on all civil rights violations, regardless of the specific issue or minority group involved.
“Our goal is to be a go-to source where people with various civil rights claims can get coordinated help,” she said. “Our main goal is to simplify the process” and let people know where help is available.
On Wednesdays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., volunteers staff a hotline (972-333-9200) to answer questions from the public. Krause said his group has already begun to document possible police abuses and to address other civil rights infringements.