In the News

Monterey County Superior Court attorney receives state award of merit

Wednesday April 08, 2009
By The Salinas Californian

Monterey County Superior Court attorney receives state award of merit

The Legal Aid Association of California and the Access to Justice Commission announced this week that Monterey County Superior Court attorney and Watsonville Mayor Pro Tem Luis Alejo has won its 2009 Award of Merit.

Alejo was recognized "for his exemplary work in improving access to justice as a member of the California Court system at the Monterey County Superior Court Self-Help Center." 

Since 2007, Alejo has worked as staff attorney for the Monterey County Superior Court, providing free legal assistance to thousands of persons who cannot afford legal representation at the Monterey Courthouse in cases of family, civil and small claims cases. 

He has worked extensively to expand services and provide access to the courts to residents of 
Monterey County and beyond, and his staff has doubled since he started. 

Prior to working for the court, Alejo worked for four years as a legal aid attorney for California Rural Legal Assistance in Watsonville and Santa Cruz, where he represented thousands of poor residents in education, employment, housing, public benefits and civil rights cases. 

Alejo was born and raised in 
Watsonville and graduated from UC Berkeley, UC Davis School of Law and Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. Alejo's grandparents were former migrant farmworkers who became highly involved in the United Farm Workers Union with Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta when the union first came to Watsonville in 1970. He was elected to the Watsonville City Council on Nov. 4 and was selected March 20 to serve as Mayor Pro Tem.

The Legal Aid Association of California is the statewide membership organization of legal services programs, acting on behalf of its membership to provide a unified voice for legal services and supporting the legal services community through advocacy, training, and statewide coordination. 

Each year, the LAAC invites members of the legal services community to nominate colleagues for the Awards of Merit, and we are honored to choose from among an outstanding applicant pool to recognize those who have made special contributions to their field.

The 2009 LAAC Awards of Merit will be presented at the "Connecting the Dots" Annual Legal Services Stakeholders Meeting on Wednesday, June 10 in 
Los Angeles at the California Endowment Center.

Other 2009 LAAC Awards Of Merit Recipients:
Paralegal/Community Worker: Martha Valles, Legal Services of 
Northern California
Client: Greg Curatolo, AIDS Legal Referral Panel
Volunteer: Timothy Wright, Legal Aid Society of 
San Mateo
Board: Charles Siegal, 
Disability Rights Legal Center
Support Staff: Esmeralda Izarra, Centro Legal de la Raza
Attorney: Gideon Anders, National Housing Law Project
LAAC / Access to 
Justice Commission Joint Court Based Award: Antonia Bowles, Santa Clara County Superior Court