Daniel Pasciuti, Assistant Professor at Georgia State University, worked with the Public Justice Center (PJC) of Maryland in developing a profile of one of the largest eviction courts in the United States, Baltimore City. ASA asked Pasciuti about that work:
What is the mission of the Public Justice Center of Maryland? The PJC uses legal advocacy tools to pursue social justice, economic and race equity, and fundamental human rights for people who are struggling to provide for their basic needs. The PJC is a civil legal aid office that provides advice and representation to low-income clients, advocates before legislatures and government agencies, and collaborates with community and advocacy organizations.
Can you describe the project? We spent a year observing and surveying "Rent Court" in Baltimore City, collecting nearly 300 surveys as well as court records and other information on lead licensing, etc to develop a complete profile of one of the largest eviction courts in the United States. Baltimore City Rent Court processes over 150,000 cases for eviction each year, or an average of 1.25 cases for every 1 renting household in the City, and makes up over half of all cases processed by the District Court of Maryland. Ultimately, this work laid the groundwork for the 7,000 Families Campaign of Maryland which brought together a coalition of groups which sought significant legal reforms from the State of Maryland for the more than 7,000 household evictions carried out in Baltimore City each year.
How did you connect with Public Justice Center of Maryland? I was put into contact with them by the Abel Foundation. I had just finished a grant with the Foundation and PJC was beginning their project on evictions in Baltimore City.
What sociological knowledge and/or skills did you use? I initially joined the project to help develop the survey instrument and methodology for use in Court. Ultimately, I remained on the project throughout its progression and led a small research team to code and analyze the results.
How long were you involved? One year.