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Americans get sued over medical debt. A lot. And — no surprise — many folks getting sued can’t afford lawyers. 

But for a non-lawyer to give even basic advice in a lawsuit is a crime. Such a helper could go to jail. 

Some New Yorkers are waging a legal fight to change that. A nonprofit called Upsolve wants to train people like pastors, social workers, and librarians to help others understand their rights and prepare them to represent themselves in court. In the Bronx, pastor John Udo-Okon wants to be one of those helpers. 

So Upsolve and Udo-Okon are suing New York Attorney General Letitia James for the right to do this work. If giving super-basic legal advice is a crime, they want a federal judge to rule that it shouldn’t be. 

Here’s a transcript of the episode

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KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.


This story can be republished for free (details).

By Dan Weissmann
Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit news service covering health issues. It is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.