The Cobern Law Firm

Attorneys and Counselors

SAFE-T Receives Grant to Help Battered Women Receive Legal Defense

By Amber Cullen - Tribune Staff Writer Friday, December 21, 2007 11:15 AM CST

Since its inception in 1995, Shelter Agencies for Families in East Texas (SAFE-T) has provided thousands of women and their children shelter and escape from abusive spouses. But according to SAFE-T Legal Program Director Tom Gresham, the biggest problem the shelter has to overcome is obtaining legal representation for their clients.

Now, thanks to a lot of hard work, the tables have turned, and the abused and battered women and children of Northeast Texas now have representation by John Mark Cobern, who was recently named SAFE-T's attorney.

"Ninety-nine clients out of 100 do not have resources to hire an attorney," said Gresham. "We asked and even begged for assistance for these ladies, but only on a couple of occasions were we able to get someone to pitch in with no fees to the client.

"I struck up a conversation with Mr. Cobern after seeing him win an especially difficult case against an attorney with many more years experience practicing law. Mr. Cobern offered to help our clients when he was able, and has been a valuable resource for SAFE-T."

For a number of years, SAFE-T Executive Director Carol Gresham has attempted to find help through grant writing to secure a two-year legal services grant by the State of Texas. SAFE-T was awarded the grant this year.

Tom Gresham said SAFE-T immediately thought of Cobern and his law offices at Rolston and Cobern for the job.

"I found Mr. Cobern to be very aggressive but not vicious, as some attorneys are in court. He has an energy that is contagious and a strong sense of right and wrong, something that unfortunately you don't see very often," Gresham continued.

"We immediately thought of John Mark Cobern as being exactly the attorney that SAFE-T wanted in the courtroom with our clients. Lucky for us and lucky for our clients, Mr. Cobern was like-minded."

Cobern will be helping the agency with protective orders and divorces for battered women.

"I have already done five cases with SAFE-T," Cobern said. "I am really excited about being able to step out there and help these women and children who need protection."

The largest problem for SAFE-T clients, according to Cobern, is the battered women who lack the funds for legal representation but need custody orders or protective orders from their spouses, which is what he is ready and willing to remedy.

According to Cobern, representing battered women and their children is something he has always enjoyed and he is proud to be the attorney representing "these remarkable people."

"This is something I have always really wanted to do, to help people that can't help themselves," Cobern said. "This really pulls at my heartstrings. SAFE-T does such a wonderful job and I am glad to help them."