Our Civic Engagement Specialist is here to help you! Schedule a one-on-one appointment today for help with finding the resources you need to answer your government and legal questions.
Jenny Garmon is the Library’s Civic Engagement Specialist. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut as well as Ohio State University, where she earned her M.A. in Public Policy and Management, and Emporia State University, where she earned her Master in Library Science. In addition to her military service, Jenny is a former federal employee recognized for her award-winning work with teams as an analyst, branch chief, and adviser. Her primary areas of focus for the Library are coordinating media literacy and news literacy resources and events, connecting Kansas Citians with civic tools, coordinating tax preparation information, and voter education and registration. Jenny works with Kansas City’s legal and government communities to connect patrons with information and resources.
KC Tap In Center
The Kansas City Public Library is partnering with several justice involved organizations to provide a Tap In Center at our Lucile H. Bluford Branch. The KC Tap In Center is designed to be a safe space for individuals in Jackson County (Missouri) who need assistance resolving warrants.
At the KC Tap In Center, individuals can check for outstanding warrants, meet with an attorney about their criminal case, learn their case status and court date information, apply for a public defender, connect with local services, enroll in a program to receive court reminders, and get assistance navigating the court process. We will also have a Community Connections Room reserved.St. Louis County Library’s Tap In Center, brings together the Kansas City Public Library, the Kansas City Public Defender’s Office, the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law and their Clear My Record Project, and the Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Additional information about community partners, collateral consequences of a criminal conviction, and expungement can be found on this resource list.
“Expungement is Missouri’s way of ‘clearing a conviction.’ When you get an expungement, the court orders your conviction be hidden from public view. You may apply for expungement by filing an application in the court where you were found guilty. If the court orders an offense to be expunged, you no longer need to disclose it in most circumstances.” Clear My Record Project at UMKC School of Law*
Review the Missouri Expungement Information Session (December 16, 2022): you’ll hear from Judge Janette Rodecap of the 16th Circuit Court and Clear My Record Project team members. You’ll find resources mentioned in the webinar here:
- Resource List
- Clear My Record Project - Missouri Felony Expungement Eligibility flowchart
- Clear My Record Project - Missouri Misdemeanor Expungement Eligibility flowchart
- Clear My Record Project - Pro Se Expungement Forms Packet
- Clear My Record MO Project - UMKC Expungement Clinic
Check out these FAQs about expungement, including:
- Updates on changes in Missouri law related to expungement
- Common Offense Eligibility Lookup List
- How the expungement process works
*Disclaimer: The Clear My Record Project and the UMKC Expungement Clinic have provided this information as a service to the general public. Use of this information does not in any manner constitute an attorney-client relationship between the Project/Clinic and the user. While the information provided is about the law, it is not intended as legal advice or as a substitute for the particularized advice of your own counsel. Anyone seeking specific legal advice or assistance should retain an attorney.
Library staff can not provide legal advice at the Library, but we can share information about available resources.
If you require legal representation, please consider these resources curated by Findlaw.
The Self-Help Clinic is available remotely. If you need to speak with one of our volunteer attorneys, please fill-out the online application below to schedule a video conference call. If you have questions or if you need help with research services please call us at 816.235.2271 or email us.
406 West 34th Street, Suite 420 | Kansas City, MO 64111 | Ph: 816.470.9933
Areas of Law: Discrimination, Election and Voting, Freedom Speech, Freedom of Religion, Immigration Rights, LGBT Rights, Privacy, Police Practices, Jail and Prison Conditions, and other issues of fair treatment by government.
Good to Know: The ACLU does not usually assist in the following types of cases: criminal defense or post-conviction appeals, divorce or child custody disputes, property disputes, tax problems, workers compensation issues, consumer complaints, landlord-tenant disputes, building code issues and complaints about lawyers or judges. For assistance, fill out an intake form.
1125 Grand Boulevard, #1900 | Kansas City, MO 64106 | Tel: 816.474.6750
Areas of Law: Public Benefits, Domestic Violence, Family Law, Housing, Economic Development, Aids Legal Assistance, Consumer, Immigration, Migrant Workers, Municipal Court Defense
Good to Know: LAWMo provides free legal aid through direct representation and various legal clinics to those who qualify based on income. The office will not respond to email requests for assistance. Call to learn more.
P.O. Box 4563 | Overland Park, KS 66204 | Tel: 913.378.1540
Area of Law: Debt/Credit/Bankruptcy, Disability, Education, Employment, Family & Juvenile, Foreclosure, Immigration & Naturalization, Life Planning, Public Benefits, Child protection, Civil protection orders: Initial proceeding, Civil protection orders: Contempt/Enforcement, Elder abuse
Good to Know: Attorneys may represent persons involved in or referred by another SAFEHOME program in civil legal matters, including protection orders, divorce and paternity. Call to learn more.
2220 Central Avenue | Kansas City, KS 66102 | Tel: 913.621.1504
Area of Law: Domestic Violence, Immigration, and Naturalization
Good to Know: This organization provides low cost legal representation to refugee and immigrant populations in the following Kansas counties Douglas, Johnson, and Wyandotte.
515 Avenida Cesar E. Chavez | Kansas City, MO 64108 | Tel: 816.994.2300
Areas of Law: Immigration, Deportation/Removal Proceedings
Good to Know: The Clinic provides free or discounted fees for legal services to qualifying individuals in immigration removal proceedings based on income levels. Depending on eligibility, some services may require a nominal fee.
Additional ways to search for legal representation include the following:
- Avvo has ratings, reviews, and disciplinary records for lawyers in every state.
- Search Martindale’s directory for law firms and lawyers using location or area of practice.
- Find your lawyer with the FindLaw Lawyers Directory, where you can find profiles of local lawyers and law firms.
- The Missouri Bar provides LawyerSearch to help you find a lawyer currently accepting new clients. Not all Missouri lawyers are listed in LawyerSearch - only those who have indicated that they would like to be included. You can search by areas of practice or location (city or county).
- The Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association provides a search tool for you to find licensed attorneys in the area who have specialized knowledge and expertise. Participants must be lawyers licensed and in good standing.
Do you need help as a tenant?
JUSTICE IN THE HALLS (TENANT LEGAL HELP CLINIC) – The clinic provides pro bono legal advice for low-income tenants facing eviction in Jackson County at the Kansas City Courthouse. The clinics are held Thursday afternoon from 12:45 until 3:00 pm on the 7th floor of the Courthouse. Services include advice for tenants with eviction related issues, help in answering eviction proceedings as well as offering referral and resource information.
Kansas City has all of its tenant resources here. Including KCMO’s Tenant Advocates:
The City also has a form you can fill out to document harassment.
You can also contact the hotline for the United Way of Greater Kansas City for help with rent, utilities and food by calling 211. You can also use United Way’s resource directory to find help.
- Legal FAQ for Renters in Kansas
- Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance (KERA) According to the LJWorld as of 7/30, millions in rental and utility assistance are still available through KERA.
- My Resource Connection, Johnson County, KS
- Kansas Eviction Prevention Program (KEPP)
If you have questions as a tenant, KC Tenants established a hotline 816.533.5435. They invite you to call with any questions, concerns, or incident reports. If their grassroots leaders miss your call, they will get back to you within 24 hours. Please let them know if you need more urgent assistance.
Online Resources for Landlord/Tenant Questions
If you have questions about words in your lease or in landlord-tenant communications, Missouri Legal Services created a Glossary of Commonly Used Missouri Landlord-Tenant Housing Terms (revised June 2013).
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are working together to help homeowners and renters during the coronavirus pandemic.
Learn more about:
Gale Legal Forms - Landlord-Tenant Forms – Search for the Landlord-Tenant forms inside Gale’s resource for Legal Forms.
Healthy Homes Rental Inspection Program for Kansas City, Missouri
The Healthy Homes Rental Inspection Program provides regulations for minimum health and safety standards in rental housing in Kansas City, Mo. There are several ways to file a complaint with the Health Department. You may call the City’s Action Center (3-1-1), call the Healthy Homes Rental Inspection Program (816.513.6347), or walk-in to the Program located at 2400 Troost Ave, Suite 3600 to file a complaint.
Heartland Center for Jobs and Freedom
- My basic rights as a Missouri tenant
- My landlord is suing me
- My home doesn’t have heat or is otherwise unsafe or unlivable
- How can I protect myself?
- I want my deposit back
- Helpful forms for tenants (NOTE: These forms are not nor are they intended to be legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.)
KC Tenants created this Incident Report as a safe place to report incidents related to housing / homelessness / COVID19. If you or someone you know is in crisis, facing harassment from a landlord, or if you just have a question about your rights, please submit your story and basic information to this form. Please indicate if you need more urgent assistance.
If you have a health issue in your home and you have already called Healthy Homes and the issue wasn’t resolved, KC Tenants can look into it after reviewing the incident report.
Each of these issues has its own pages with more information:
- Foreclosure of A Rental Unit
- Guide to Home Ownership for People with Disabilities
- Landlord-Tenant Duties and Rights
- Repair and Deduct
- Repairs to a Rental Unit
- Sale of the Unit You Rent
- Security Deposits
These self-help guides are for use in the Western Missouri service area only: They were updated in February 2020.
- Tenant Booklet - A Guide to Rent and Possession
- Answer to Landlord’s Complaint with Instructions (Rent and Possession) “If a tenant owes rent, the landlord can file a rent and possession case at any time without notice other than the summons.”
- Answer with Counterclaim and Affirmative Defenses (Rent and Possession) Affirmative defenses are “reasons why the tenant doesn’t owe the money other than the tenant has paid in full…”
- Answer without Counterclaim or Affirmative Defenses (Rent and Possession)
- Judgment for Defendant (Tenant) Form
- Small Claims Guide and Return of Security Deposit Petition
For definitions of legal terms:
- Wex, a free legal dictionary and encyclopedia sponsored and hosted by the Legal Information Institute
- The Law Dictionary, featuring Black’s Law Dictionary Free Online Legal Dictionary 2nd Ed.
To help you get started in legal research
- NOLO Legal Research provides definitions and can help you understand whether you should research statutes, case law, court cases, or local ordinances.
- If you need help working in Westlaw, please consider using Westlaw’s training and support website.
Supreme Court opinions since 1760 browsable by year and U.S. Reports volume number, searchable by party name, case title, citation, full text and docket number. FindLaw maintains an archive of Supreme Court opinion summaries from September 2000 to the present.
You can use Gale Legal Forms to access thousands of downloadable legal forms from both Missouri and Kansas, including state, federal, business, real estate and personal forms. This resource also includes a legal dictionary.
The 16th Judicial Circuit, located in Jackson County, Missouri is part of the state court system. There are 45 circuits in Missouri. The circuit court is a court of general jurisdiction so, unless it is a municipal matter, most cases are filed with this court. Those include criminal, civil, probate, juvenile and small claims matters. The website contains court-approved forms and details about representing yourself in a family law case (translations available in Bosnian, French, Russian, Spanish, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese).
The Kansas City Municipal Division of the 16th Judicial Circuit Court of Missouri has exclusive original jurisdiction over City ordinance violation cases. The Kansas City Municipal Court is the largest municipal court in Missouri. They process more than 200,000 cases each year including:
- Traffic violations (i.e. speeding, driving under the influence, and parking tickets)
- General ordinance violations (i.e. trespass, assault, disorderly conduct)
- Building code and nuisance violations (i.e. insufficient property maintenance, weeds, trash)
- Animal health and public safety violations (i.e. no animal license, animal abuse/neglect, animal attacks)
You'll find a wide variety of guides from the Missouri Bar:
- Business Law Resource Guide
- Careers in Law
- Client Resource Guide
- Consumers and the Law Resource Guide
- Dispute Resolution Alternatives: What You Need to Know
- Domestic Violence Resources
- Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Health Care Directive
- Eminent Domain
- Family Law Resource Guide - Also handling your case in Family Court (produced by Office of State Courts Administrator)
- Law and the Courts Resource Guide
- Mass Disaster Victims’ Guide
- Missouri small claims court handbook (Small claims court is a division of the circuit court presided over by an appointed judge. Small claims court was established to help people handle cases involving money ($5,000 or less, not including costs) by themselves and without a lawyer.)
- Probate Law Resource Guide
- Senior Citizens Handbook Booklet on laws and programs affecting senior citizens including new Medicaid laws in Missouri.
- Steps You Can Take to Avoid Foreclosure
- Turning 18 in Missouri
CaseNet provides access to the Missouri state courts automated case management system. You can use CaseNet to research case records including docket entries, parties, judgments and charges in public court.
Missouri Legal Answers is a statewide virtual legal advice clinic. This program is provided through the assistance of the American Bar Association and is free. Qualifying users post their civil legal questions. Missouri pro bono attorney volunteers, who are authorized to provide pro bono assistance in Missouri, log in to the website, select questions to answer, and provide legal information and advice. Users are then emailed when their question receives a response.
You can use Westlaw to research case law, statutes, and regulations, as well as legal analysis in law reviews, treatises, and law journals.
If you need help working in Westlaw, please consider using Westlaw’s training and support website.
Reference Librarians are here to help you access information, resources, and legal materials. We can connect you with information and resources, but we cannot practice law, provide legal advice, do legal research for you, create communications accounts for you, or fill out forms for you.
Please consider contacting a lawyer before attempting self-help. A separate document with information about legal representation in Kansas City is available.
- Help you develop a research strategy for your question; who to contact, where to look for information, how to refine your question and/or terms, how to locate items
- Help you locate forms that may be applicable to your situation
- Show you how to use our catalog and databases for your research
- Help you find books, articles and primary legal sources (case laws, for example) that are pertinent to your question
- Help you locate items when you have a citation
- Reserve a time for you to use the Central Library’s Westlaw terminal, where you can research state and federal case law with analysis, statutes, and regulations; and access forms, journal articles, encyclopedias, select treatises and KeyCite.
- Create an email account for you (but we can help you explore different options)
- Advise you which form(s) you need (we can suggest forms that might be helpful, but we can’t tell you which one is the “right” one for you)
- Fill out forms for you (we can coach you through instructions included with a form, but we cannot type for you or tell you how to fill out the form beyond the instruction included with a form)
- Send completed forms to anyone on your behalf
- Advise you on how to handle a legal situation or interpret the law for you
- Tell you which laws or cases are applicable to your case
- Read definitions, cases, or statutes to you over the phone
- Do legal research for you
- Tell you what you need to do to accomplish your legal goal