Student Government (SG) has revamped its legal services this semester to offer more help to students who need legal consultation or someone to defend them in a parking ticket appeal.
The legal aid service, which provides students a free consultation session with a Tampa Bay attorney, has been expanded from a once-monthly event to one that takes place three times a month.
Daniel Christopher, solicitor general for SG, said the event was expanded to the first, second and third Friday of every month to give students quicker access to local attorneys.
“We saw with a lot of students that they have very time sensitive issues: they need advice ASAP,” Daniel said. “So we bumped it up now to three times a month.”
SG is also attempting to extend its parking appeals services to reach more students.
If a student receives a ticket he thinks he was given unjustly, Daniel said he can schedule to meet with him one-on-one to discuss his case and go over specific parking guidelines.
“The laws are straightforward, but there are rules and guidelines that only pertain in certain situations, or there are certain exceptions,” Daniel said. “It’s kind of helpful to have someone who is looking through those guidelines on a regular basis and is able to decipher those little things that can make or break a case.”
When looking to make an appeal, students generally have three options: submit a written appeal to USF Parking and Transportation Services, give a five minute oral argument in person or have Daniel represent them in an oral appeal.
Daniel said regardless of whether students want to defend themselves in the appeals process, they should meet with him beforehand to go over their case.
“If they feel more comfortable representing themselves and adding more of their personal story to it, then I can still help them build their case,” he said.
Daniel can also help students appeal SG statutes and budgetary issues before the SG Supreme Court.
“If a student feels there is some unjust part of a statute or the rules of an election, they can do the same thing they do for parking appeals: come get a consultation from me and then take the case to the Supreme Court,” he said.
Alex Johnson, SG attorney general, also offers legal services. Students who schedule an appointment with Johnson and bring a state-issued ID and their student ID can get forms notarized free of charge.
In addition to his notary services, Johnson said he also educates students on the legalities surrounding notary publics.
“A lot of times, people who are notary publics will not practice integrity,” Johnson said. “They’ll just charge you their own rate, whereas the law says clearly they can only charge you so much.”
This semester, Daniel said SG will focus on promoting legal services to students.
“The number of students that I’ve had so far has been pretty low,” Daniel said. “I think if a lot of students knew there is a place where you can get consultation on parking ticket appeals, that number would increase dramatically.”
Both Johnson’s and Christopher’s services are advertised on the SG Web page, sg.usf.edu, where students can find their office hours and contact information.
Students can also schedule appointments for parking appeals consultations and legal aid on the SG website via a Google Document.