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Hope From The Heartland/Robot Lawyer

Ralph talks to Pulitzer Prize winning reporter, Art Cullen, about his hometown, Storm Lake, Iowa and how its ethnically diverse community thrives despite being located in Rep. Steve King’s ultra-conservative district.  And 21-year old Joshua Browder tells us how you can save a lot of money using his robot lawyer.

Art Cullen is half the ownership and 25% of the news staff of the Storm Lake Times, located in Storm Lake, Iowa and which he founded with his brother, John. Mr. Cullen is the winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. He won that for his editorials taking on corporate agribusiness for fouling the state’s water and despoiling its soil. His book about that is entitled “Storm Lake: A Chronicle of Change, Resilience, and Hope From a Heartland Newspaper.”

“There’s no conflict between Mexicans and Anglos in Storm Lake (Iowa). They are supporting our Catholic school system and our church. They are tremendous hard workers. The Laotians and Mexicans have no problems with each other. The Hondurans and Guatemalans have no problem with each other. The Samoans and the Burmese have no problems with each other. The problems are all introduced by people like Donald Trump and our congressman, Steve King. And they create fear. You go thirty miles any direction from Storm Lake, and they think Storm Lake is some sort of crime-infested hellhole. And if you actually come to Storm Lake, you see Mexican bakeries, dress shops, and happy people playing in the lake.” Art Cullen, author of “Storm Lake: A Chronicle of Change, Resilience, and Hope From a Heartland Newspaper”

Joshua Browder  is a 22 year-old software engineer and the creator and founder of DONOTPAY,  an app in the form of a chatbot that helps guide you through many legal thickets without having to pay a lawyer. So far, it has helped people repeal more than 16 million dollars in fines. Originally from England, Mr. Browder has now set up shop in Silicon Valley as he works to expand his robot lawyer into other areas of the legal system.

“When I started driving at the age of eighteen, I was a really terrible driver, and I began to accumulate all of these parking tickets.  And although some of them were legitimate, it became obvious that a lot of these tickets were being issued not to punish people for doing something wrong, but to raise money for the local government. And so I started getting out of all of these tickets myself, and as a software engineer, I thought “Why not get my friends out of it to too by making an app?’ And although I just created it for a few family and friends…  this made me realize the new idea of access to justice through software is bigger than just a few parking fines, and I should help people fight corporations and governments across the board to get their rights.” Joshua Browder, creator of the DONOTPAY app.


  1. Terry Obrien says:

    Do not pay Rent until
    the Billionaires Banksters are in jail.

  2. Joshua’s app is for the economy at large is s win\win because the money recovered will them go into real goods, rather than fraud and incompetence. Nevertheless, the small claims system needs reform starting with stopping the limitation on the frequency your need to use it.

  3. KC says:

    Great show. Disappointed Browder created DoNotPay only for IPhones. They are overpriced, force you to buy proprietary crap, and trap you in their Apple world of Itunes, Istore, etc. Get this great app on Android, please!

  4. Martha Marshall says:

    listened to the podcast and I am so pleased to hear what you are doing. Fantastic. I loved your promise to keep it free. Justice for all !!

  5. Kenneth Paderewski says:


    The way to make “readers” out of “non-readers” is to ban handheld electronic devices in school classrooms. Online access replaced by in-class experience reading a newspaper such as one of those talked about in this discussion
    can build the skill to communicate verbally; to look at the person in front of you listening to what you say about what you have read, thought about, and feel – that might even lead to another useful social skill: DEBATE. The goal is to distinguish between students who can think about issues passionately and those with an incapacity for remorse and empathy. Gratitude for a newspaper can help it thrive.

    • Mark Hodges says:

      Good post, Kenneth. What stood out for me about your comment is that Debate needs to be taught in school, which it is in high schools last I checked, but at the lower levels too. Even in elementary school, say grades 4 or 5. However, what needs to be taught is civilized debate and one based on issues and not mudslinging, which is something our politicians do every election cycle. Would be nice to have schools teach debate by way of analyzing presidential (or other) debates, critically so, so that in the future we might just have more respectable debates in electoral politics. But this is America, which renders my vision to wishful thinking.

  6. Mark Hodges says:

    I have to say I was thoroughly impressed with Joshua Browder. Anyone who comes on to RNRH and stuns Ralph (in a good way) is always someone we should keep an eye on (in a good way). I love it when I hear Ralph encourage people like Browder but also goes further and sincerely offers support. This youngster is on the ball and he’s not even out of college yet. I just hope this kid doesn’t get lured into the corporate world after college via lots of money and thereby abandons his good works, because with such little opportunity for young people (and everyone frankly) the seduction of a meaningful career is out there for people as smart as him.

  7. Thomas M says:

    I don’t own a smartphone and don’t want one. Help me too !!!!
    I need this on my computer.

  8. nts says:

    What is considered ‘ethnically diverse’? I see 10 diverse individuals in the photos above in addition to the three who are the reason for the ‘ethnically diverse’ label. Sorry but reality doesn’t work that way.

  9. Erica Etelson says:

    Is there a transcript of this episode?