February 15, 2009
University of Wisconsin - Consumer Law Clinic Victory
Professor Marsha Mansfield, the Director of the Economic Justice Institute at the University of Wisconsin Law School recently shared the following victory with the clinical law community:
"I am very proud to share the news of a great victory by our Consumer Law Clinic at the U.W. Law School. Yesterday a circuit court judge approved a settlement in a class action against Tremont Financial, LLC, an internet payday lender. This case started in 2007 and was capably handled by our Consumer Clinic students, directed first by Steve Meili and then his successor Sarah Orr. The state of Wisconsin joined the action to enforce the Wisconsin Consumer Act. The class is 134 members and, as part of the settlement, Tremont has ceased lending operations in Wisconsin and has agreed to write off any outstanding amounts owed (principal and fees), file satisfactions of any judgments obtained in collecting these sums, contact any consumer reporting agency to which it reported negative information and request deletion of that information. In addition, Tremont will pay damages to the named plaintiff and the class, attorneys fees and costs. This is a significant victory in a state where pay day loans are all too common."
January 26, 2009
Law Clinic Victories at Washington-St. Louis
Professor Annette R. Appell, Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs at Washington-St. Louis, shares news of recent victories:
Washington University’s Civil Justice Clinic recently helped one of our clients toward a significant victory. Charity Sue Carey had served about a decade of her 30 year sentence for killing her cruelly abusive husband when, at the renewed request of fall 2008 semester clinic students and faculty, outgoing Governor Matt Blunt commuted her sentence. Since 2005, the Clinic worked to bring to light the extreme physical and sexual violence Ms. Carey suffered at the hands of her husband and the excessiveness of her thirty year sentence for his murder. Initially, the governor’s office was pessimistic about the merit of clinic’s renewed request for commutation, but during the winter break, Governor Blunt’s office called seeking more information about Ms. Carey and her case. Civil Justice Clinic Managing attorney Brendan Roediger and law student Tom Smith sprung into action. And their holiday work paid off. Two days before the Governor’s term ran, Brendan and Ms. Carey received the incredible news that her sentence had been commuted from thirty years to ten years, making her eligible for release in April of this year. This means that it may not be much longer before she is reunited with her son.
Numerous faculty, staff, and students worked tirelessly on Ms. Carey’s behalf over the years, including: Professors Brendan Roediger, Adele Morrison, Kathy Goldwasser, Kim Norwood, Jane Aiken, C.J. Larkin, and Steve Gunn; Clinical Administrative Coordinator Katie Herr; and students Tom Smith, Erin Nave, Emily Vance, Anne Siarnacki, Colin O’Brien, Michelle Weltman, Sarah Kuehnel, Claudine Chastain, Tonya Oliver, Sarah Schneider, James Beal, Meredith Schnug, Laura Bernatowicz, Christallyn McCloud, Anna Scheible, Catherine Guy, Nnamdi Ezeife, and Pamela Dixon. More information is available here.
The Civil Justice Clinic won another victory on behalf of adult and child domestic violence survivors, this time from the judicial branch. Here, the court determined that petitioners for a child order of protection may not be charged for guardian ad litem fees or other necessary costs of litigation or for the appellate court docketing fee if they choose to appeal. The appellate decision vindicated the clinic’s arguments presented by Professors Katherine Goldwasser, Brendan Roediger, and clinic student Ann Bindu Thomas. Professors Kim Norwood and C.J. Larkin also worked on the case over the years. During the oral argument, Judge Mooney of the Eastern District described the students’ appellate brief as a great example for other attorneys. More information is available here.
January 22, 2009
UW's Innocence Project Northwest Receives Gift and Grant
More good news from the University of Washington. Director of the Clinical Law Program Deborah Maranville writes:
First, an unsolicited gift from the $281,000 RiverStyx Foundation will fund a staff position and symposium for the clinic, investigative costs for cases, and more over the next two years. This gift funds the clinic’s first fellow. The gift also has founded the Integrity of Justice Project, a public policy and education effort. The IJP will work to foster a collaborative partnership among prosecutors, law enforcement, defense lawyers, the courts, and others to identify best practices and procedures that can improve the accuracy of determinations of guilt or innocence. It is co-sponsored by the IPNW Clinic and the Center for Justice in Spokane.
In addition, the IPNW Clinic partnered with the Washington State Patrol (WSP) Crime Lab Division and received more than $250,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice. The grant is part of $4.5 million the DOJ allocated to defray the costs associated with reviewing cases where DNA testing and evidence may prove innocence. In Washington state, when a court orders post-conviction DNA testing, it is done by the WSP Crime Lab. The grant funds will be used to hire a forensic scientist to compensate for additional workload stemming from post-conviction DNA cases, pay for outsourcing of tests not currently done by the WSP Crime Lab (e.g., mtDNA and Y-STR tests), and hire a paralegal to work with the IPNW Clinic. The paralegal will assist the IPNW Clinic’s identification, analysis, and investigation of state inmates’ significant claims of actual innocence in cases involving murder, non-negligent homicides, and forcible rape where DNA evidence has the potential to exonerate the inmate.
January 14, 2009
Northwestern's Supreme Court Clinic Victory in Chambers v. United States
Congratulations go out to Northwestern Law School on yesterday's important Supreme Court ruling:
On January 13, 2009, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of a Northwestern University Supreme Court Clinic Case, Chambers v. United States, wherein the question presented was whether failing to report to jail was tantamount to an escape and, thus, a violent felony for purposes of the Armed Career Criminal Act sentencing enhancements. In the unanimous decision the Supreme Court reversed the Seventh Circuit, cleared up a 10 to 2 circuit split on this issue, and rejected the government's position that an "aversion to penal custody" should always be treated as if it were an escape.
Under the supervision of Clinical Professor Sarah Schrup, students in Northwestern’s Supreme Court Clinic participated in this case from the beginning. Some of the Clinic’s very first students in the 2006-2007 school year worked on the cert petition and then students in later classes assisted with the merits briefing. The Supreme Court Clinic also held a moot last fall for Rob Hochman, the Sidley partner and Clinic guest instructor who argued the case.
Congratulations to the faculty and students in the Supreme Court Clinic for their significant contributions to this case!
December 30, 2008
FDIC Agrees to Extend Unlimited Protection to IOLTA Accounts
Last month the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation extended its unlimited protection of non-interest-bearing accounts under the Temporary Liquid Guarantee Program to include Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts. As a result, clients’ funds deposited in IOLTA are fully insured regardless of the amount. The decision was applauded by the ABA, which joined the House Financial Services Committee, the Senate Banking Committee, more than 20 U.S. senators and other organizations representing lawyers nationwide in persuading the FDIC to include IOLTA in the expanded insurance program. "Had the FDIC failed to expand full coverage for IOLTA, lawyers would have had to consider abandoning IOLTA for fully insured non interest bearing accounts or moving IOLTA funds from community banks to the larger ‘too big to fail’ banks," noted ABA President H. Thomas Wells in a recent statement praising the FDIC’s actions. "Abandoning IOLTA would have been catastrophic for IOLTA programs in all 50 states, which provide funding for legal aid for the poor." Interest on IOLTA accounts are the second largest source of funding for legal services to low-income Americans.
December 25, 2008
Victory for University of Washington's Innocence Project Northwest
University of Washington Law School Associate Dean Lisa Kelly has announced:
"A wonderful story ran in the Seattle Times yesterday and on the front page of the Seattle PI today about IPNW’s successful effort to secure the release of James S. Anderson who has spent five years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Now, only the snow is keeping him from his family in Los Angeles. Jackie McMurtrie and former students, Boris Reznikov and Christopher R. Carney, worked tirelessly to prove that James S. Anderson was in Los Angeles when the armed robbery for which he was convicted took place. Congratulations for the truly heroic work that the IPNW clinic does. I am sure that this is the best gift that James Anderson will ever receive."
The Seattle Times story UW Law Student Uncovers Evidence That Frees Man Convicted of Tacoma Robbery is available here. -jl
December 04, 2008
Colorado Law Receives $5M Endowment to Bolster Experiential Education
The endowment, donated by the Schaden Family Fund, will enhance Colorado Law's clinical programs, externships, appellate and moot-court competitions, and voluntary pro bono work. It will enable the hiring of a senior professor to oversee the school's experiential education programs, and allow more students to participate.
"The Schadens' gift allows us to strengthen our program, and acknowledges the importance of experiential education," said Colorado Law associate professor and director of clinical programs Deborah Cantrell.
Colorado Law has been a leader in hands-on legal education since the school was one of the nation's first to establish its legal aid and defender clinic 60 years ago. Today, students can get academic credit working on cases in one of Colorado Law's nine clinics, in areas ranging from civil and criminal cases to entrepreneurial law to American Indian law. In addition to helping students connect theory with practice, Colorado Law's clinics provide free legal services for underserved clients who could otherwise not afford assistance.
Another aspect of Colorado Law experiential education is externships, in which 70 students now participate, at government agencies, corporate legal offices, nonprofits or private law firms. Students also gain experience in moot court competitions --Colorado Law's teams are among the best among U.S. law schools, with one team winning a national championship last year, and another placing second in the nation's most prestigious competition. In November, the Colorado Law team won the regional finals in the National Moot Court competition and will soon compete in the national championship in New York.
"In addition to giving greater coherence to our entire curriculum, from the theoretical to the practical, Colorado Law's Experiential Learning Program involves our students in the community -- instilling the legal profession's ideal of service to society, and meeting the needs of underserved people," said Dean Getches.
"I believe that experiential education is essential," said Richard F. Schaden. "This concept gives lawyers in training an opportunity to deal with real people with real problems."
The endowment will help Colorado Law forge links between these programs and classroom curriculum. "Suppose a student chooses to take my Family Law clinic, because they're really interested in family law," Cantrell said. "There may be a trial or moot-court competition related to it -- but they don't hear about it, because there's no central location where they can find these sorts of resources. This gift will enable these connections to be made."
The $5 million endowment is the largest of several recent Colorado Law gifts involving the Schadens. Richard Schaden provided substantial support for the Wolf Law Building, and another 2007 gift enabled the law school to double student moot-court participation. Richard F. Schaden, of Boulder County, is an aeronautical engineer, businessman, restaurateur, highly recognized trial lawyer, and founding partner of the aviation and public-interest law firm Schaden, Katzman, Lampert and McClune. His son Rick E. Schaden of Denver, graduated magna cum laude from the University of Colorado at Denver in 1987, and is founder, chairman, and (with his father) majority shareholder of Quiznos, building the company since 1991 to more than 5,000 franchises worldwide. Both Schadens are founding partners of Consumer Capital Partners, a nationally recognized private investment, concept development, strategic advisory, and causal marketing firm that is actively developing new restaurant and retail concepts including Smashburger, its latest.
A video news release on Colorado Law legal clinics is available here. -jl
November 18, 2008
CLINICIANS AT INDIANA-BLOOMINGTON GRANTED VOTING RIGHTS
Congratulations go out to the clinical law profs at Indiana Law-Bloomington on the recent faculty decision to grant clinicians voting rights. Professor Amy Applegate delivered the good news:
I am so pleased to let everyone know that our tenured and tenure track colleagues significantly expanded voting rights here at the Indiana University School of Law -- Bloomington. Yesterday evening, they approved voting rights for full-time clinical faculty and lecturers (both with and without long-term contracts) for all issues except personnel issues, which are covered by existing University and Law School policies. (Clinical faculty already had the vote on the appointment and promotion of clinical and lecturer faculty.)
Bottom line: Thirteen (13) clinical and lecturer faculty members now have voting rights. There are approximately 35 tenured and tenure track faculty members, so this is a major expansion of the voting faculty.
My colleagues and I are very grateful to David Santacroce and CSALE, because it was the CSALE data and analyses of that data, that really turned the tide for us. The data were persuasive to the committee that was examining the voting rights issue over the past 2 academic years, and then to the tenured and tenure track faculty, that it was time to seriously tackle the issue of voting rights. I am also proud to say that once we established the trend in voting rights, faculty discussion moved from external factors (that we were not competitive, and recruitment and retention issues) to internal factors, especially collegiality, egalitarianism, and "the right thing to do."
This is a wonderful day for my colleagues and me, and the faculty's action is consistent with the law school's significant expansion over the past five years of our clinics, and clinical and externship programs.
I wanted to share this wonderful news with my friends in the clinical community. I also wanted to urge clinical faculty who do not have voting rights to use the CSALE data with their non-clinical colleagues. -jl
September 23, 2008
St. Louis University Law Groups Organize Largest Naturalization Ceremony in St. Louis History
The Saint Louis University School of Law made history on Friday, September 19, 2008, when 1,000 new citizens were sworn in at the new Chaifetz Arena on campus. Clinic students and members of the Public Interest Law Group organized the event. Prof. John Ammann, Clinic Director and Faculty Adviser for the Public Interest Law Group, reports:
Third year student Meggie Biesenthal welcomed the new citizens in a speech before a crowd of several thousand family and friends, and the keynote speech was delivered by Assistant Professor Amany Ragab Hacking, herself a naturalized citizen and member of our Clinic Faculty.
While our Clinic has joined with others to sue the federal government in the past for delaying citizenship for our clients, this is an example of how Clinics can help work to alleviate the delays in the citizenship process through partnerships with the agencies we often see on the opposite side of a lawsuit.
Photos of the event are posted on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch web page. -jl
Tax Court - University of Idaho Tax Clinic Victorious in § 6015 Petition
Congratulations go out to the University of Idaho Tax Clinic for their recent victory in Tax Court:
The United States Tax Court decision granted full relief to a client after a trial conducted by student Casey Carter in Las Vegas last October (Tax Court Docket No. 023720-05, T.C. Summ. 2008-121, September 16, 2008). The case involved a doctrine commonly known as innocent spouse relief, an area of tax law in which full relief is typically difficult to obtain at trial.
Additionally, student Chelsea Kidney, with outstanding trial preparation assistance from Tayah Renfro, conducted an excellent trial in United States Tax Court in Boise last week (Tax Court Docket No. 020851-07S, bench opinion, September 10, 2008). The result was partial relief for the client, in a case that Prof. Stewart felt would be very difficult to win.
University of Idaho law students currently enrolled in the tax clinic are preparing several cases set for trial next month in Spokane and Las Vegas. -jl
September 20, 2008
Tax Court - CDP Constitutional Appointments Clause Challenge Progresses
Cardozo Professor Carlton Smith reports progress in a Tax Court case where he filed a motion and supporting memorandum on behalf of a client denied OIC relief by IRS Appeals. Prof. Smith based his motion:
"On the IRS' admitted failure to appoint CDP hearing officers at Appeals pursuant the the requirements of the Appointments Clause of the Constitution (Art. II, sec.2, cl. 2). All other ALJs in non-tax departments of the Executive Branch are appointed, and I did not see why CDP hearing officers were exempt from the Constitution's mandate."
Last week Prof. Smith informed tax clinicians that his case was awaiting rulings on cross motions for summary judgment separate from the constitutional motion and the case at that time was under the jurisdiction of Special Trial Judge Dean. However, on Thursday the motion was restyled to remand the case to Appeals and it was ordered that cross motions for summary judgment be held in abeyance with jurisdiction reassigned to Chief Trial Judge Colvin.
The IRS was ordered to file a response to Prof. Smith's motion by October 31. In support of his motion, Prof. Smith includes:
"Supreme Court cases, such as Freytag v. Commissioner, 501 U.S. 868 (1991) (holding that Tax Court Special Trial Judges had to be appointed), and a DOJ Office of Legal Counsel memorandum from April 2007 (2007 OLC LEXIS) setting out the DOJ's position on which government employees need to be appointed."
Further, Prof. Smith advises tax clinicians:
"Any of you who are representing petitioners in the Tax Court who are contesting CDP notices of determination and are facing the abuse of discretion review standard should consider raising the Appointments Clause issue yourselves in your case. The issue is a nonjurisdictional one, according to the Supreme Court in Freytag, so if you do not raise it in your case before a decision becomes final, you can not raise it later."
Prof. Smith welcomes any amicus briefs (for or against). Tax Court practice requires the filing of a motion for leave to file an amicus brief before the due date of the parties' briefs and a copy of the proposed amicus brief must accompany the motion for leave to file. In this case, any such motion and amicus brief must be filed by October 31. -jl Download Memo_of_law_-_Appointments_Clause.doc
August 04, 2005
Clinic at Cardozo secures release of innocent man
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported August 3rd that through the legal work of the Innocence Project - a Clinical program at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, Thomas Doswell was released from prison after spending nearly 18 years behind bars for a rape he didn't commit.
Despite his conviction, Doswell had steadfast asserted his innocence, however, until Doswell sent a letter to the Innocence Project, he could not get court permission to test the semen specimens taken after the rape. Although the prosecutors initially argued that Doswell was not eligible for the testing, the Innocence Project moved for and received permision to get the seman sample DNA tested. The test results exonerated Doswell. The Allegheny County district attorney, who concedes the forensic tests prove police got the wrong man, moved to dismiss the charges against Doswell.
For Doswell's full story please go to http://www.innocenceproject.org/case/display_profile.php?id=163
July 16, 2005
University of Wisconsin Reports Consumer Clinic Victory
From a recent University of Wisconsin press release: A multi-state prescription drug class action in which the UW Law School’s Consumer Law Litigation Clinic represented Wisconsin consumers has been settled for $30.7 million. The suit was filed on behalf of consumers who purchased the drug Hytrin, which doctors prescribe to treat hypertension and enlarged prostates. Most of the persons who use it are senior citizens. Abbott Laboratories manufactures the name brand drug, while Geneva Pharmaceuticals manufactures its generic version, called Terazosin.
July 07, 2005
Toronto Law Clinic Victorious in Canadian Supreme Court
Noah Novogrodsky, the Director of the International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Toronto, shared this news of a recent clinic victory with the law clinic listserve: The International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law was instrumental in securing the recent unanimous decision from the Canadian Supreme Court in the case of Citizenship & Immigration Canada v. Mugesera. The case involved the deportability of a Rwandan alleged to have incited genocide.
The IHRC's submission urged the Supreme Court of Canada to consider case law from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and other sources of international customary law. IHRC argued that the Federal Court of Appeal had failed to apply international legal standards applicable to crimes against humanity and the offense of incitement to genocide. The Court also issued a scathing opinion addressing respondent's claim that "an extensive Jewish conspiracy was hatched to ensure . . . that the respondent Mugesera and his family would be deported."
June 16, 2005
Law Clinic Aids in Decision Overturning Death Penalty
Boalt Hall's Death Penalty Clinic played a leading role in Monday's Supreme Court decision overturning the conviction and death sentence of Thomas Miller-El for a 1985 murder. As amicus, writing on behalf of judges and former prosecutors, the clinic argued that the prosecution in Miller-El's trial had systematically discriminated against prospective jurors who were African-American.
Says Prof. Elisabeth Semel, (pictured below (left) with student Sarah Ray (middle) and Prof. Charles Wiesselberg (right)),the case will have "a system wide impact" in more sharply defining the Supreme Court's thinking about the issue of potential racial discrimination in jury selection. The clinic's high impact amicus brief was developed by the students, professors, and the Washington D.C. law firm Sidley Austin Brown & Wood. Get the full story on the clinic's website.
June 12, 2005
News on Hofstra Housing Clinic's Rent-Increase Lawsuit
According to Newsday, Hofstra's Housing Rights Law Clinic just won a partial victory in a suit filed on behalf of tenants in rent-controlled apartments. The suit alleged that rent increases that were imposed in June, 2003, should be invalidated because the Board failed to provide a specific rationale justifying those increases.
The Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court has awarded the tenant group a partial victory against the Nassau County Rent Guidelines Board, ordering the Board to give a rationale for rent increases imposed in 2003-04. However, the court did not overturn the increases. To learn more, you can read the the Newsday story or check out Hofstra's clinics.
June 10, 2005
Stanford Clinic Successfully Settles Student Suit
The Stanford Youth and Education Law Clinic has just settled a closely watched civil rights lawsuit filed on behalf of wrongfully expelled minority students. The lawsuit, Smith v. Berkeley Unified School District, was a federal class action filed by African American and Latino students after they were wrongfully expelled from Berkeley High School. The students alleged that they were denied their constitutional right to a formal hearing before being excluded from school for various disciplinary reasons.
As part of the settlement in the case, the Berkeley School District has committed to respect the constitutional rights of students, and to reduce the disproportionate impact of its policies on students of color. Once the district court approves the consent decree, the affected students will be reinstated to school and will receive tutoring and other services to compensate for the time they were wrongfully excluded.
The law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop and San Francisco-based Legal Services for Children joined Prof. Bill Koski and Stanford Law School's Youth and Education Law Clinic in championing the rights of the Berkeley students.
June 08, 2005
Supreme Court Win for Stanford Clinic
The Stanford Supreme Court Litigation Clinic logged another victory, this time on behalf of disabled persons. Directed by Prof. Pamela Karlan, and Goldstein & Howe partners Thomas Goldstein and Amy Howe, the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic assigns teams of law students to draft petitions for certiorari and amicus briefs; prepare advocates in clinic-related cases for oral argument; and provide advice to other attorneys appearing before the Court.
The clinic's recent victory in Spector v. Norwegian Cruise Line is the program's third merits victory this term. Watch for other Supreme Court opinions and arguments in which the Stanford Supreme Court Litigation Clinic played a role. In particular, keep an eye on Gonzales v. Crosby, a habeas corpus case argued in April 2005, and Tum v. Barbour Foods, a Fair Labor Standards Act case that will be argued in the October term.
June 07, 2005
Suffolk Clinic Attorneys Honored as "Human Heroes"
Suffolk Prof. William Berman and clinic graduate Jared Olanoff, JD '04 are Human Heroes to the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA). Berman and Olanoff were honored with the MSPCA's "Human Hero Award" for their representation of public housing residents fighting to keep companion pets in their homes.
“The new pet policy contained an exception for people with disabilities,” explained Berman, “and a number of our clients were disabled people who relied on their pets to help them. Yet the Housing Authority rejected our clients’ claims under this exception.” So, the Suffolk Housing and Consumer Protection Clinic took on the pet owners' cases. But, the clinic didn't take on the work alone. Instead, the clinic worked with local organizations and with the Chesterfield Smith Community Service Fellows in the Boston-based law firm of Holland & Knight.
From the perspective of clinic student Jared Olanoff, the "pet cases" were what made his law school experience so special. Olanoff began working on the cases during the summer after his first year in law school, when he interned at Suffolk's Legal Services office in Chelsea. Through the Housing and Consumer Protection Clinic, Olanoff continued working on the cases as they developed. Says Olanoff, "this enabled me to develop both as a person and a lawyer. I went to bat for people whose homes were on the line, and I discovered a disturbing trend of discrimination against people with disabilities." Prof. Berman adds, "Jared has gone far beyond the call of duty with these cases primarily because he cares about the people he's serving. He cares about protecting their rights, correcting an injustice, and restoring some dignity to their lives."
June 05, 2005
U.S. Supreme Court Win for Prof. David Goldberger and his Civil Clinic Students
On May 31, 2005, the United States Supreme Court handed prisoners a victory by upholding Section 3 of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). The case, Cutter v. Wilkinson, is also a victory for Prof. David Goldberger and students in the Civil Clinic at Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law. The picture on the left shows Prof. Goldberger with Clinic students: left to right) 3L Kelly Ryan, Prof. Goldberger's assistant Jenn Urban '03, 3L Amy Purwin, 3L Jason Small, 3L Chris Reis, 3L Anne Juterbock, 3L Matt McNeil, 3L Jaime Klausner and 3L Amanda Runyon. Moritz's webpage features more information about the case.
June 04, 2005
Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic Serves as Amicus in Important 9th Circuit Case
The Ninth Circuit has just issued an important en banc immigration law opinion in a case in which Prof. Deborah Ankar and the Women Refugees Project of the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic filed an amicus brief. In that case, Thomas v. Gonzales, the Ninth Circuit held that "family membership may constitute membership in a "particular social group," and thus confer refugee status on a family member who has been persecuted or who has a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of that familial relationship." Get more information about Harvard's Women Refugees Project or read what the Los Angeles Times has to say about the decision.