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updated: 6/29/2014 4:21 PM

Kane County Bar Association, volunteers help with legal advice

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Hiring an attorney can be expensive.

And the only way you can get a free, public defender is if you are indigent and facing criminal charges.

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Paying a lawyer then is probably the least of your problems.

The Kane County Bar Association has programs that can act as a starting point for people trying to navigate the legal system.

One is the monthly "Ask A Lawyer Day," which next occurs from 9 a.m. to noon, July 12.

Held the second Saturday of every month, residents can call (630) 762-1900 to consult with a volunteer attorney about a variety of topics, from real estate and criminal law to child custody and traffic matters, Do not leave a message because the attorneys can't access the association's voice mail.

The program began years ago as part of the bar association's 150th anniversary and was so popular it has continued ever since.

Another program is called "Lawyer in the Lobby."

Offered to people who are acting as their own attorneys for civil cases at the Third Street Courthouse in Geneva, bar association volunteers are available 9 to 11 a.m. each Friday. No appointments are needed, but consultations are limited to 15 minutes per person.

Jan Wade, bar association executive director, said the program began three years ago. She noted people in small claims court or facing foreclosure often act as their own attorneys and often miss filing deadlines, thus prompting continuances.

"It delays things and frustrates everyone. So (volunteers) wanted to provide a little help and a little guidance," Wade said.

Overall, about 10 to 15 people per week are served through the program, which will continue indefinitely.

"It's not funded at all. It's strictly volunteer," Wade said. "It's a service that we provide."

For more information on the programs, visit kanecountybar.org.

Condolences: Geneva city and police employees are mourning the loss of Cathy Baldwin, a police records specialist, who died unexpectedly June 20.

When she did not arrive for work, police called her and eventually checked her home in Cortland, where her body was found.

DeKalb County Coroner Dennis Miller said an autopsy was performed and he awaits toxicology results.

"It's still under investigation. The cause of death is pending at this time," Miller said.

Geneva Police Chief Steve Mexin said the department was "shocked and deeply saddened" and in a "state of disbelief."

"Cathy has been our friend and a valued police department employee for a long time," Mexin said. "She will definitely be missed by us all. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family."

Baldwin, 53, began her career with Geneva in 1981 as a part-time parking control enforcement officer. She became a full-time employee in 1984. Her assignment changed to a community service officer in 1988, and in 1999 she became a records specialist.

hhitzeman@dailyherald.com

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