Author: pricelessmisc

RALEIGH—The North Carolina Bar Association announced May 19 that Johnnie C. Larrie, the head of our consumer practice group and Economic Justice Initiative, is this year’s recipient of the Deborah Greenblatt Outstanding Legal Services Attorney Award. Read the announcement.

Johnnie will receive the award June 17, during the Bar Association’s Annual Meeting, which will be held virtually this year. Learn more about the Annual Meeting.

The Greenblatt Award honors legal aid lawyers who make exemplary contributions to the provision of legal assistance to North Carolinians living in poverty. The award is one of the Bar Association’s annual Pro Bono Awards, which are given to lawyers, law students, law firms and other groups for public-interest legal work. Learn more about the Pro Bono Awards.

The late Deborah Greenblatt was the executive director of Disability Rights North Carolina for more than two decades before her death from cancer in 2005. She was an inspirational leader in the legal aid and disability rights communities. Learn more about Deborah Greenblatt.

To learn more about Johnnie Larrie’s career as one of North Carolina’s leading consumer-rights lawyers, read the award nomination submitted by her Legal Aid colleagues.

Nomination of Johnnie C. Larrie
for the
Deborah Greenblatt Outstanding Legal Services Attorney Award 

In her roles with Legal Aid, Johnnie manages the statewide consumer practice group responsible for fostering litigation, general advocacy strategies, and practices that enhance positive legal, economic, and social outcomes for North Carolina consumers. Additionally, she manages a highly skilled unit of paralegals and attorneys who provide consumer case management, supervisory assistance, and technical resource support to field offices responsible for providing legal representation to vulnerable populations. Established in 1991, The Deborah Greenblatt Outstanding Legal Services Attorney Award, formerly known as the Outstanding Legal Services Attorney Award, is presented to an attorney who provides exemplary legal service through an agency or other non-profit entity that serves low-income communities.

Johnnie is an experienced consumer defense attorney with over 25 years of legal experience. Her entire professional life has been dedicated to advancing law and policy initiatives that promote public education, health, and economic development causes for socially vulnerable populations. She currently serves as the consumer practice group manager for Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC). In addition, she is the Senior Managing Attorney of our Economic Justice Initiative. In both roles she oversees and manages LANC’s statewide consumer work.

Prior to working at LANC, Johnnie worked as general counsel to Community Reinvestment Association of North Carolina regarding its fair lending and fair housing work; general counsel to North Carolina Community Development Initiative in support of its community economic development work; and she served as a public policy analyst with the North Carolina Institute of Minority Economic Development. All these advocacy roles fueled her passion to advocate for economically disadvantaged clients and pushed her forward to develop the skills she needed to be a champion for those who were most vulnerable.

Johnnie is a dynamic, passionate, and dedicated Legal Aid attorney. She began her career at LANC in 2004 as the Managing Attorney of the Fayetteville Office, where she served until 2008. In addition to managing a full-time staff regarding their general substantive legal work, she was hired to use her experience and training to advocate on behalf of consumer clients who had become caught in the aftermath challenges of Hurricane Floyd. Many of those clients were still facing a plethora of consumer challenges, of which one of the most pressing was mortgage foreclosure. Too many people were losing their homes and on the precipice of crippling economic instability. She, along with Hazel Mack, the Mortgage Foreclosure Project (MFP) director, helped to develop and implement MFP, which began in Eastern North Carolina and later spread statewide. When Johnnie joined LANC, the mortgage foreclosure crisis that hit the state and nation had been developing for years. In dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd, the MFP team saw the developing foreclosure crisis in NC grow at alarming rates. By 2008, the housing crisis intensified, and Johnnie’s skills were needed full-time as part of the MFP team. Johnnie, along with other members the MFP team, made significant contributions in identifying innovative legal strategies to assist low-income homeowners save their homes. They worked together with attorneys from across the state to defend homeowners facing foreclosure, by developing a loss mitigation/loan modification program, building a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy practice to help homeowners restructure their debts and regain control over their financial futures, and expanding litigation strategies to fight mortgage foreclosures in court and save homes. Incorporating Johnnie’s impassioned approach to consumer representation, the team pursued untested legal theories and broke new ground in the application of NC foreclosure law.

Johnnie’s passion, tenacity, experience, and leadership in advocating for consumers made her a natural fit to be selected to manage the MFP following Hazel Mack’s retirement in 2016. The MFP was recently renamed the Economic Justice Initiative (EJI), as the demand for expanded consumer defense representation necessitated enhanced advocacy beyond mortgage foreclosure work. As the Senior Managing Attorney of EJI, Johnnie leads an elite and highly skilled unit of attorneys and paralegals who provide consumer case management, supervisory assistance, and technical resource support to LANC’s field offices. The EJI team provides research and co-counseling support to local office legal staff with zealous defense of foreclosure and consumer cases; facilitates statewide and regional foreclosure and consumer defense trainings; develops collaborative advocacy frameworks with partnering government and nonprofit agencies to provide consumers with broad access channels for addressing mortgage creditor concerns and threats of foreclosure; provides financial education and program outreach to the client community at-large; and a host of other activities to support low-income consumers.

Although Johnnie has been an excellent leader who has performed remarkable work, she particularly exhibited superb leadership skills when she guided LANC and consumer clients through the rapid changes that affected consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 unexpectedly shocked our nation and millions of people experienced economic instability. Between January 2020 and May 2020, there were approximately 54,000 pre-foreclosure filings in North Carolina. Numerous LANC clients experienced financial burdens, and many were at risk of facing foreclosure. Johnnie swiftly acted by examining relevant laws including the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to support homeowners during the pandemic. She also dedicated a tremendous amount of time preparing and distributing educational resources including memoranda, presentations, and email alerts to guide attorneys through laws and agency rules that impacted consumers in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Johnnie spearheaded detailed, written guidance on areas such as foreclosure moratoria and loss mitigation options including mortgage forbearance and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. Furthermore, she participated in virtual trainings about COVID-19 impacts on foreclosure, bankruptcy, and other consumer issues. Based upon Johnnie’s splendid work during the pandemic, many LANC clients were able to utilize protections to help them maintain homeownership. By the end of 2020, the number of pre-foreclosure filings exceeded 100,000. The preparatory measures Johnnie employed in response to COVID-19 will be invaluable to the comprehensive advocacy strategies required to go forward with ensuring protections for individuals and families to obtain and maintain economic stability.

Throughout her LANC career, Johnnie made an exemplary contribution to the provision of legal assistance to help meet the needs of low-income consumers in North Carolina. She strongly advocates for consumer rights and she is truly a relentless trailblazer whose leadership and consumer advocacy has protected thousands of consumers in North Carolina.

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Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in order to ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers to economic opportunity. Learn more at Follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

Media Contact 

Sean Driscoll, Director of Public Relations, 919-856-2132,

Author: pricelessmisc

DURHAM—The Durham Eviction Diversion Program is launching a campaign today to raise $100,000 in rental assistance for our neighbors in need. The nationwide eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to expire June 30, leaving potentially tens of thousands of people in Durham County vulnerable to housing insecurity and eviction. While the moratorium has provided people with protection during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has not absolved them from owing past due rent.

To prevent a potential tidal wave of evictions following the expiration of the moratorium, the Durham Eviction Diversion Program will distribute rental assistance to tenants struggling to pay their rent. The program encourages those who are able to do so to donate to the fund to help our neighbors facing homelessness. The fund will support those who have been denied rental assistance from government-based programs or who have rental debt exceeding that paid by government-based programs. The fund will provide area residents with up to $3,000 in rental assistance.

Already, individuals and civic groups have started to generously contribute to the program’s new rental assistance fund. Most recently, the Rotary Club of Durham contributed $5,000 towards the fund. As Todd Taylor of the Rotary Club has explained, “by assisting tenants with the resources to help pay landlords rent owed, we help relieve the stress, worry, tension, and pressure on tenants and their families. By making sure the landlords get some fair compensation from the tenants, we hope to build on the goodwill between the landlords and tenants. The community at large wins because we avoid putting a family on the street, the landlord can pay property taxes and power bills and the ripple effect builds as those in our community go to lunch and shop locally. The Rotary Club of Durham is glad to be part of this effort and encourages others to join in and continue to make Durham truly a wonderful caring and sharing community.”

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Durham Eviction Diversion Program has provided free legal services to more than 1,000 families and individuals. The program’s 10 advocates boast a significant success rate at keeping families in their homes, helping them avoid eviction, or enabling people to more easily pursue new housing options.

Durham Eviction Diversion Program clients consistently attest to the importance of free legal help. As explained by a former client, “The Durham Eviction Diversion Program saved me from being evicted…Had it not been for Legal Aid, I would be homeless.” As program director Peter Gilbert has emphasized, “everyone deserves a safe and secure place to call home.”

Those who wish to donate to the fund can do so by visiting Legal Aid of North Carolina’s online donation form at and selecting “Durham Rental Assistance Fund” from the “Donation Designation” menu. For questions about the fund or about making a donation, please contact Community Resource Coordinator, Dr. Alexis Clark (

For those who donate at the $100 level, you’ll receive a Legal Aid of North Carolina t-shirt. Wear your pride for the Eviction Diversion Program on your sleeve. For those who donate at the $250 level, we’ll send you a book by one of the acclaimed authors in our 2021 lecture series. Learn more about housing and the law. For those who donate at the $500 level, you’ll be invited to attend court with one of our housing advocates. Bear witness to the difference that having legal representation makes in the lives of our clients. For those who donate at the $1,000 level, you’ll receive all of the aforementioned items and opportunities as well as an invitation to have coffee with our program director, Peter Gilbert.

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The Durham Eviction Diversion Program is a partnership of Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Durham office, Duke Law’s Civil Justice Clinic and the Durham County Department of Social Services. The program provides free legal services and tenant education to Durham County residents to reduce evictions and increase housing stability. Learn more at

Media contact

Alexis Clark, Community Resource Coordinator, Durham Eviction Diversion Program, 919-597-8820,

Author: pricelessmisc

← Back to Consumer Issues

WINSTON-SALEM—Forsyth County residents with a suspended or revoked driver’s license have until May 21 to register for a free license-restoration program.

To register:

  • Call Legal Aid of North Carolina’s toll-free helpline at 1-866-219-5262
  • As soon as you hear the automated greeting, dial 2659
  • The helpline is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • May 21 is the last day to register. Space is limited, so act fast!

Legal Aid staff will screen callers to ensure they are eligible for a license restoration. Eligible callers will be asked to attend a future event—date to be determined—where they will complete the restoration process.

The event is sponsored by Drive Forward NC, a partnership of Kilpatrick Townsend, Truist Bank and Legal Aid of North Carolina.

Author: pricelessmisc

← Back to Housing

DURHAM—Environmental justice advocate, MacArthur “Genius” Fellow and author of Waste: One woman’s fight against America’s Dirty Secret, Catherine Coleman Flowers will give a free virtual lecture about housing and environmental injustice May 20 from 12-1 p.m.

The lecture is hosted by the Durham Eviction Diversion Program, a partnership of Legal Aid of North Carolina and Duke Law’s Civil Justice Clinic; and the Nicholas School of Environmental Science at Duke University.

The lecture is the second in a series launched in February by the Durham Eviction Diversion Program to support the new Durham Rental Assistance Fund, which provides badly needed rental assistance to low-income tenants in Durham County, a hotspot for North Carolina’s eviction crisis.

To attend the Flowers lecture

  • On Zoom: Use the form below or click here to register. (You do not need a Zoom account to register or attend.)
  • On Facebook: Visit our Facebook page at 12 p.m. on May 20 to watch the live broadcast.

To give to the Durham Rental Assistance fund

  • Go to our online donation form
  • Select “Durham Rental Assistance Fund” in the “Donation Designation” drop-down menu
  • Complete and submit the donation form

To learn more about the Durham Eviction Diversion Program’s lecture series, contact Community Resource Coordinator Dr. Alexis Clark.


Author: pricelessmisc

Dear friends and colleagues, 

On April 20, 2021, the jury reached a guilty verdict, on all counts, in the Derek Chauvin case. Legal Aid of North Carolina supports this decision.

Regardless of your personal thoughts concerning this case and its outcome, it is undeniable that the death of George Floyd has been an extremely impactful event for our country. As we consider next steps as a nation, we encourage everyone to remember the humanity of those around you. Social justice, equity, and, most importantly, humanity must be at the core of everything that we do if we are ever to eradicate the systemic racism that still exists in our nation. 

While this verdict is a relief for many, this is not the end. There is still much work to be done as numerous Black and Brown victims of unjust police killings have not received justice. We view this verdict with hope, as a step in the right direction on the moral arc of the universe. We must continue to support one another and join together in peaceful solidarity as we progress towards true justice and equality for all people, not only on matters of police reform, but on matters of housing, education, employment, and the simple essentials necessary for meaningful participation in all that our nation has to offer. 

As we individually process this outcome, we encourage everyone to continue to take care of their mental health and remember that we are stronger together. 


Legal Aid of North Carolina

Author: pricelessmisc

← Back to Consumer Issues

RALEIGH—If someone claiming to be an employee of Legal Aid of North Carolina asks you to send them your financial information by email—don’t do it! A real Legal Aid employee will never ask you to send financial info by email.

Here are some things you can do to make sure you are talking with a real Legal Aid employee:

  • Call them through our phone system: How do you know if the phone number someone gave you is a real Legal Aid number? Visit our Offices page to find the real phone numbers for all of our offices. If a person really works for Legal Aid, you can reach them though their office’s phone system.
  • Ask them to email you from a Legal Aid address: All Legal Aid employees have an email address that ends in “” Look closely! Scammers often use email addresses that look like real addresses but are slightly different. For example, “” looks like it’s from us, but the extra “e” in the address means it’s from someone else.
  • Ask for a business card. All Legal Aid employees have business cards with their name, phone number, email address and the Legal Aid logo.

Still not sure? Call or email our director of public relations, Sean Driscoll, at 919-856-2132 or to verify if someone really is a Legal Aid employee.

Visit the Protecting Consumers section of the N.C. Department of Justice website to learn how to protect yourself from fraud and scams, and how you can file an official complaint with the department. 

Author: pricelessmisc

← Back to Fair Housing

RALEIGH—Legal Aid of North Carolina announced today that it has settled a housing discrimination complaint against Cypress Grove Apartments, a multifamily housing complex located in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Legal Aid’s Fair Housing Project filed the complaint on behalf of a 64-year-old tenant whose rental application was improperly denied because of Cypress Grove’s criminal history policy. The complaint alleged that Cypress Grove, based on its criminal history policy, illegally rejected the tenant’s rental application because of a 34-year-old felony assault conviction, in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA). Cypress Grove denied the allegations and asserted that its actions were not in violation of the FHA.

As a result of the conciliation agreement signed by the parties and approved by the North Carolina Human Relations Commission on November 12, 2020, Cypress Grove has adopted and implemented a new criminal history policy, substantially based on 2016 guidance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Jeffrey Dillman, co-director of the Fair Housing Project, noted that policies that reject all applicants with a criminal history can violate fair housing laws, stating “Cypress Grove Apartments is to be commended for adopting its new criminal history policy, which will review applicants’ individual situations rather than automatically rejecting all applicants with a criminal history.”

Legal Aid of North Carolina’s involvement in this litigation was made possible in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Housing Initiatives Program.

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Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Fair Housing Project works to eliminate housing discrimination and to ensure equal housing opportunity for all people through education, outreach, public policy initiatives, advocacy and enforcement. To learn more, visit

Media contact

Helen Hobson, Public Relations Associate, Legal Aid of North Carolina,

Author: pricelessmisc

RALEIGH—Our hearts are very saddened at the tragic events that occurred in Atlanta on March 16, 2021. On this day, eight people were killed, six of whom were women of Asian descent. At the core of Legal Aid’s values are humanity, respect and justice. Therefore, we stand firmly against any acts of hatred, racism and discrimination directed towards members of any community. While the motives behind this incident are still under investigation, these killings come on the heels of an increase in violence against members of the Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.

As a law firm, we fight for the civil rights of every client whom we serve, regardless of their background; and we work diligently to address the greater issue of systemic racism and discrimination in all forms. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant increase in documented violence against members of the AAPI community. Grassroots activist group Stop AAPI Hate revealed that nearly 3,800 incidents have been reported since the pandemic started. This is a significant increase in comparison to the 2,600 incidents reported from the year before. This must stop. We recognize that this is a time of great uncertainty, anger and fear for many. We encourage everyone to use these emotions to fuel efforts which move us closer to a reality where discrimination and systemic racism no longer exist. 

We join in solidarity with the AAPI community and members of all marginalized communities in the fight against hate. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those who lost their lives; and, during this time of grief, we encourage everyone to take care of their mental health and seek professional counseling assistance if needed. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, help is available to you. Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for assistance. 

We are stronger together, and we will continue to roll up our sleeves and do the work necessary to both dismantle racism and bigotry and promote equity and social justice in our communities.

Clayton Morgan
Chair, Board of Directors

Author: pricelessmisc

← Back to Fair Housing

Rocky Mount—Congratulations to the Community Economic Development (CED) team in our Wilson office, which was honored by OIC Rocky Mount at its recent Vision Award ceremony for the team’s work on racial justice and health equity in Rocky Mount.

OIC recognized the team for its contribution to the “Transforming Rocky Mount” cohort, a group comprised of Legal Aid attorneys, the NC Association of Community Development Corporations, OIC’s federally qualified health clinic, and the Steering Committee of the Community Academy, a grassroots group.

Our CED team addressed racial housing segregation, which the cohort had identified as a social determinant of health, by helping Rocky Mount residents address inequitable housing policies and change the way patients are treated at the OIC clinic.

Members of Legal Aid’s CED team in Wilson include Yolanda Taylor, managing attorney of our Wilson office; Alecia Amoo, CED and housing attorney; Jocelyn Bolton-Wilson, CED and housing attorney; and outreach paralegal India Silver.

Special thanks to David Sobie, a paralegal and data expert in our Winston-Salem office, who works with the IT team from the City of Rocky Mount and OIC to overlap our client data with OIC’s patient data.

Author: pricelessmisc

← Back to Fair Housing

RALEIGH—In a unanimous opinion published today (see below for link), the state Supreme Court overthrew the eviction of one of our clients, ruling that the local housing authority violated her lease agreement by failing to sufficiently explain why it evicted her.

While the ruling represents a victory for our client, it also strengthens the rights of all public housing tenants in North Carolina, making this a statewide win for housing justice worth celebrating.

Please join us in congratulating the Legal Aid attorneys who worked on this case and our co-counsel, Robinson Bradshaw attorneys Erik Zimmerman and Ethan White, for their advocacy.

The Legal Aid attorneys who worked on this case, which originated in our Raleigh office in 2018 but went on to involve advocates throughout our firm, are Celia Pistolis, the head of our appellate practice group; Andrew Cogdell, former head of our housing practice group, who retired in 2020; Darren Chester, a staff attorney in our Central Intake Unit; D.J. Dore, a supervising attorney in our Durham office; and Tommy Holderness, a supervising attorney in our Charlotte office’s housing unit.

We also thank partners Disability Rights NC, the NC Justice Center, NC Housing Coalition, NC Coalition to End Homelessness and the NC Coalition Against Domestic Violence, all of which submitted a joint amicus brief.

Read the opinion.