District Heights TV show provides free legal advice -- Gazette.Net


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Sonia Staples, 36, of District Heights once spent her Sunday nights watching cartoons on Fox or Nickelodeon with her family. Now, she flips to District Heights TV to catch the latest episode of “Chat with a Lawyer,” a new show featuring local lawyers who share legal advice free of charge.

After attending the filming of an upcoming episode about drafting wills, Staples said she is taking steps to grant her husband power of attorney, a privilege that is not automatically given through marriage.

“I’m at the stage where I have my children, I have my home and I’m trying to make sure my kids are being taken care of,” Staples said.

For Walakewon Blegay, the host of “Chat with a Lawyer,” testimonials like Staples’s motivate her to produce the show.

“The most rewarding part is hearing someone that’s seen it and said ‘That’s really helpful,’” Blegay said. “As we build the name of the show, we want to see those who are benefitting. That’s the purpose.”

“Chat with a Lawyer,” which airs several times a day on DHTV, features interviews with prominent lawyers, many of whom are from Prince George’s County. Mount Rainier TV also is broadcasting the show and Blegay said she is reaching out to other municipalities to air the show on their networks as well.

Blegay, a 29-year-old labor lawyer from Forestville, said she was inspired to create the show after meeting several county residents who did not know a lawyer or were afraid they could not afford legal assistance.

“Many residents, regardless of their economic background, make decisions without contacting lawyers and it’s detrimental to their lives,” Blegay said.

Since their first filming May 18, Blegay and DHTV producer Gerome Williams have produced five episodes focusing on wills, family law, foreclosure, discrimination and personal injury.

Blegay said it can be difficult for people to find a lawyer they can trust if they are not connected to organizations like churches, where some members might be lawyers. A television show can “broadcast the practice and expertise” of lawyers so viewers can see who they might want to represent them in court, Blegay said.

“We’re making sure the city of District Heights residents know we have experts who are ready to help them and give real advice,” Blegay said.

Kasey Edwards, a bankruptcy and tax attorney who has a law practice in Landover, said the show is important for county residents because it gives them access to legal advice from the comfort of their home.

“It brings into your house a lot of the information people need on a whole variety of issues,” Edwards said. “Access to that information for free is invaluable.”

Williams said his goal is to pitch the show to Prince George’s County Community Television after they complete the 10th episode in September.

“The greatest value is providing helpful information,” Blegay said. “The bigger the group we can provide this information to, the more we can help.”

kpetersen@gazette.net