James Haley, a GBLS Board member who also served as Senior Volunteer at Cambridge and Somerville Legal Services (CASLS), GBLS’ Cambridge office, died December 23, 2010 at his home in Cambridge. He was an exceptional person who overcame many years of great adversity, and his contributions to GBLS and CASLS are greatly appreciated.
Mr. Haley was imprisoned 34 years for a crime he did not commit. After the efforts of many who worked on his case, he was finally released in 2008. He emerged seemingly with no bitterness and with an attitude that can only be described as saint-like.
He first came to CASLS as a client when he was denied housing based upon the criminal record from his wrongful conviction. Attorney Deb Filler’s advocacy led the Cambridge Housing Authority (CHA) to overturn the denial of eligibility, and Mr. Haley was offered a public housing apartment.
In addition, Attorney Filler assisted him to secure other needed benefits such as MassHealth, food stamps, and referrals for computer and job training programs. Mr. Haley was grateful for our assistance and gave back many times over.
As a volunteer receptionist, James worked very hard. He always treated each caller with respect and patience. He often asked CASLS attorneys for advice to pass along so callers would get to the right resources quickly. He also organized a drive to get books for prisoners.
As a Board member, James was very involved in the GBLS Board Client Caucus Committee and lobbied for legal services funding. He was awarded a national scholarship to attend the National Legal Aid and Defender Conference in Atlanta, Georgia last November 2010
He is remembered as someone who was dedicated to GBLS and our clients. He is missed by many.
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