Clinical and Pro Bono Programs

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Category: Clinical Spotlight (page 1 of 20)

A Deep Commitment to Helping Immigrants

Via Harvard Law Today

By Katie Noah Gibson

Source: Wikimedia Commons

While the Trump administration’s family separation practices have marked a shift in U.S. immigration policy, the issues surrounding immigration are not new. Many HLS alumni and students are engaged in legal and advocacy work related to immigration, including the situations of refugees and asylum seekers. For some of these lawyers, this interest predates their time at HLS, but has dovetailed with their coursework and hands-on learning during their time as law students.

“I taught English as a second language to refugee students before coming to law school,” says Emma Rekart ’17, now a staff attorney at the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, which works with detainees at four centers in Washington State. “That’s what got me interested in immigration work.”

Rekart and her colleagues help screen recent immigrants who have been detained and are seeking a hearing, either representing them directly or referring them to other attorneys. They give legal orientation presentations and “know your rights” trainings to aid clients in understanding the U.S. legal system. Their work, recently, has included some clients who have been separated from their children under the new policies.

“Our organization now has a bond fund, because there’s been so much interest in this issue,” Rekart explains. “Some of our clients are released on bond, but some will remain detained for the whole of their cases.”

Reuniting families often means one thing on paper and another in reality. Rekart represented one mother who had come to the U.S. with her young son, from whom she was separated at the border. The mother was denied release on bond, and her child was placed with his father, whom he had not previously met. Although the child is being cared for by family members, he is still separated from his mother, whose case may linger for months.

“You either have too much time to prepare a case like this or no time at all,” Rekart says, noting that detained and non-detained clients’ cases often move at quite different speeds. The likelihood of a client being released on bond can also depend on the presiding judge, making it difficult to predict the outcomes even of cases that are quite similar.

As a law student, Rekart worked with the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program (HIRC). She also participated in the school’s crimmigration work, which explores the intersection of criminal and immigration law. This program has sparked or helped strengthen an interest in immigration issues for many students, including Josephine Herman ’20, who spent this summer working as an intern with the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) in the San Antonio area.

“I wanted to do something client-focused this summer,” explains Herman, who worked with survivors of gender-based violence in Guatemala before coming to HLS. “I have family connections to immigrants from Central America, and I wanted to work with people facing these issues.” Herman’s work with HIRC in Cambridge led to a connection with RAICES, where she worked with detainees being held in Karnes City, Texas. Many of Herman’s clients were fleeing gang violence or domestic abuse in Central America.

“I represented a couple of clients directly in their hearings with immigration judges,” Herman says. “If they weren’t granted asylum, we would help them petition for reinterview or reinformation.”

The center’s population included (at various times) recently arrived mothers with their minor children, adult women traveling alone, and men traveling with their children. Herman helped her clients navigate the asylum process, answering questions and helping them prepare for credible fear interviews. She worked with fellow law students, attorneys offering their pro bono services and a rotating cast of volunteers, who pitched in to help with paperwork and other projects.

“Everyone I met treated their clients with such respect,” Herman says of her time with RAICES. “It’s exhausting, necessary work, and there’s so much need. I appreciated the commitment of people who were there day in and day out.”

Rekart agrees. “There’s a long list of attorneys who are willing to help,” she says.

Emmett Clinic Files Amicus Briefs in Cases Challenging EPA Science Advisory Board Directive

Via the Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic

This summer, the Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic has filed amicus briefs in two cases challenging former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s directive to exclude scientists who hold EPA research grants from serving on the agency’s science advisory committees.  The Clinic’s briefs, filed on behalf of former senior agency officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations, explain that the directive will undermine EPA’s ability to make scientifically-sound decisions and serves no countervailing beneficial purpose.

. . .

In an unprecedented and legally suspect move, former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on October 31, 2017, issued a directive that barred scientists who receive EPA research grants from serving on any of the agency’s advisory committees.

Multiple lawsuits have been filed to challenge this directive, including one in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by Physicians for Social Responsibility along with two other organizations and three individual scientists and another in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by the Natural Resources Defense Council.  In these lawsuits, the plaintiffs argue—among other things—that the directive violates the uniform federal ethics rules, the Federal Advisory Committee Act, and the statutes that establish specific science advisory committees.

The Clinic filed amicus briefs in both of these cases.  The briefs explain that the effect of the directive will be to undermine EPA’s ability to base its decisions on the best available science.

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Ninth Circuit Rules Cross-Border Killing Violated the Victim’s Fourth Amendment Rights

Via the Cyberlaw Clinic

The Ninth Circuit issued an important decision last week in Rodriguez v. Swartz, allowing a Mexican mother to sue a United States government official over a cross-border shooting. The Court held that the defendant — Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz — violated the Fourth Amendment rights of 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez when Swartz shot and killed Rodriguez. The shooting took place while Rodriguez was in Nogales, Mexico and Swartz was on the US side of the border.  The Cyberlaw Clinic and attorney Mahesha Subbaraman of Subbaraman PLLC submitted an amicus brief in the case on behalf of civil liberties advocacy organization, Restore the Fourth.  Although the case did not directly concern cyber- or tech-related issues, the court’s reasoning may have long-term implications with respect to government activities in a wide range of contexts where actions occur on US soil but have extraterritorial effects.

Clarissa Lehne ’18 and Paulina Arnold ’18 worked in the Crimmigration Clinic on a brief to assist a lawful permanent resident facing deportation for a minor crime. The brief helped win the man his release, and the victory has important implications for other immigrants, says Lehne. Learn more about the project and clinical education at Harvard Law School: http://hvrdlaw.me/EGeE30lgcyU

 

Via Harvard Law School’s Facebook

Clinical Education at HLS: Four Experiences

Via Harvard Law Today 

Credit: Dana Smith

With 29 clinics in a wide range of fields of law and policy, students develop skills in an experiential program that constantly adapts to their interests, as well as to new approaches and areas of the law.  “Our clinics have a particular power because students aren’t mere interns or simply second-chairing cases—we are grooming them for leadership in the world,” says Clinical Professor Daniel Nagin, vice dean for experiential and clinical education and faculty director of the WilmerHale Legal Services Center.

Over 1,000 students enrolled in clinics this past year, either at one of 18 in-house clinics supervised by clinical faculty or through 11 externship clinics, including one that is focused on the role of state attorneys general, which, in an era rife with debate over states’ rights, is in huge demand. Some 700 students engaged in pro bono work through one of the 11 in-house Student Practice Organizations, which assist clients from Cambridge to the Mississippi Delta.

The HLS clinical program is one of the largest providers of free legal services in New England. In Boston and Cambridge alone, 3,556 clients were served in 2016, and hundreds more were represented in other parts of the state and country, and internationally.

“The level of expertise of the faculty and staff, the incredible students, and the phenomenal resources of the law school allow us to be a nimble program that can respond to the needs of clients and, more broadly, to the rule of law in the world,” says Lisa Dealy, assistant dean for Clinical and Pro Bono Programs.

For a glimpse of the clinics today, here are accounts of four projects connected to pressing legal and social issues: environmental protection, gentrification of low-income neighborhoods, immigrants’ rights, and prisoners’ rights in an age of mass incarceration.

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HIRC Director Receives NGO Lawyer of the Year Joint Award

The Federal Bar Association awarded the NGO Lawyer of the Year Joint Award to HIRC’s founder and director Professor Deborah Anker in May. She was honored along with Karen Musalo, Director of the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at Hastings College of Law. Congratulations to Professor Anker on her accomplishment!

Clinical Program Staff Presented with Harvard Law School’s Dean’s Award of Excellence

Three members of the clinical program received the 2018-2018 Harvard Law School Dean’s Award for Excellence. The award honors staff members who exemplify the spirit of excellence in the Harvard Law School community through leadership, collaboration, commitment, and innovation. Among those awarded were:

Maggie Bay, curriculum planning and enrollment manager, Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs;

Kira Hessekiel, project coordinator of Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic; and

Patricio Rossi, clinical instructor within the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau.

Congratulations to Maggie, Kira, and Patricio!

Cyberlaw Clinic Supports Pakistani NGO in Shaping New Data Protections Bill

Via the Cyberlaw Clinic

This month, Pakistan’s Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication released a draft Personal Data Protection Bill for public comment. The bill has a wide scope, encompassing at a basic level the commercial usage of data from which an individual is identifiable, and creates a key role for user consent. While not without areas for possible improvement, the bill represents a positive step for Pakistan’s internet-connected populace. With support from Cyberlaw Clinic, the Digital Rights Foundation (DRF), a Pakistani NGO that works in support of human rights and democratic processes online, submitted a policy brief to the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication while the initial drafting of the bill was underway. DRF founder Nighat Dad said, “Working with the Harvard Cyberlaw Clinic was a unique experience, both personally and professionally… I believe that such platforms add indispensable value to the global advocacy endeavours and tremendously help in successful attempts at making the internet more inclusive and approachable.”

The Clinic provided DRF with a high-level comparative analysis of data privacy regulations in jurisdictions around the globe, including the European Union and the United States as well as Argentina, Morocco, and South Korea. The regimes analyzed were selected to represent a range of perspectives, having both commonalities and contrasts with Pakistan, and DRF attorneys consulted the research in shaping their recommendations, a number of which were incorporated in to the bill’s present form. Clinic students Audrey Adu-Appiah and Sheeva Nesva, both Harvard Law School Class of 2018, working under the supervision of Clinical Instructor and Acting Assistant Director Jessica Fjeld, authored the report.

This bill is particularly important in the sense that it may be seen as a shift in momentum from Pakistan’s most recent efforts to regulate cyberspace. In 2016, Pakistan enacted the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, which was widely criticized for the broad powers it granted the government to censor content determined to be “illegal,” and for harsh penalties it imposed.

DRF is already at work on its submission for the public comment period, and the Clinic joins them in commending the Ministry for opening up the bill for comment, and hoping that engagement with various stakeholders and civil society at large results in an even more effective piece of legislation.

Stacking the Docket for Boston Workers

Via On Labor

By Catherine Ordoñez

A coalition of legal organizations in Boston, including Greater Boston Legal Services(“GBLS”), Justice at Work, the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (“HLAB”), and Volunteer Lawyers Project, in collaboration with community groups in Boston, is bringing justice to victims of wage theft in Boston Municipal Court (“BMC”) Central’s small claims court. The coalition has engineered an approximation of a specialized court for wage theft there by strategically stacking the court’s docket with wage theft cases on second and fourth Fridays of the month. The goal is to quickly vindicate workers’ rights to wages owed, to increase the literacy of small claims court clerk magistrates in Massachusetts wage law, and ultimately to make the court a better-tapped resource for victims of wage theft. Staff attorneys Joey Michalakes of GBLS and Maggie Gribben of Justice at Work shared some insight on the project.

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HRP Awards Four Post-Graduate Fellowships in Human Rights for the 2018-2019 Year

Via the International Human Rights Program

The Human Rights Program is pleased to announce its cohort of post-graduate fellowships in human rights. This year, Conor Hartnett, JD’18, and Alejandra Elguero Altner, LLM’17, have been awarded the Henigson Human Rights Fellowship and Jenny B. Domino, LLM’18, and Anna Khalfaoui, LLM’17, have been awarded the Satter Human Rights Fellowship.

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New Clinic Reports Call on NATO Members, Sweden to Join Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty

Via the International Human Rights Clinic

As preparations for a US-North Korea summit highlight the ongoing threat posed by nuclear weapons, proponents of nuclear disarmament should increase their support for the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Momentum has been building. In May alone, three more countries ratified the treaty, bringing the total to 10; another 48 have signed. In addition, several countries have initiated national processes that represent an important step toward coming on board.

In this context, the Clinic is releasing two papers demonstrating why it is legally possible for even allies of nuclear armed states to join the TPN.

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Cassie Chambers’ (JD ’15) work led to the passage of Jeanette’s Law in Kentucky

While in law school Cassie Chambers devoted herself to clinical work at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau.  In 2016, after a clerkship year, she received a Skadden Fellowship to work on domestic violence issues in Kentucky.  There she discovered that her divorce client, who was a survivor of domestic violence, was required to pay for a divorce attorney for her incarcerated spouse.   Cassie worked to change that.

Read more. 

Carol Flores of CJI receives Shatter the Ceiling Award

Amy Soto, Administrative Director of CJI, with Carol Flores

Last month the Harvard Women’s Law Association presented the annual Shatter the Ceiling Award to Carol Flores, Administrative Coordinator of the Criminal Justice Institute (CJI).  In presenting the award the students noted that Carol contributes to the success of a program that makes a big impact on many students as well as criminal defendants.  “Her dedication and love for her job really shows.”  Congratulations, Carol!

Former Clinic Students Present Harvard Law Review Student Notes

Via the Cyberlaw Clinic

Of the four students whose work is represented in the Harvard Law Review’s April 2018 “Developments in the Law” issue, three are former students in the Cyberlaw Clinic and all have taken classes with our staff. The issue of the Law Review focuses on challenges posed by the vast amount of personal information that individuals now store digitally and with third party technology companies. The student authors, Audrey Adu-Appiah, Chloe Goodwin, Vinitra Rangan, and Ariel Teshuva, presented on their work to a packed room on Thursday, April 18, at the Law School, followed by a conversation moderated by Chris Bavitz.

Adu-Appiah presented on her Note, “The Video Privacy Protection Act as a Model Intellectual Privacy Statute,” arguing that while the VPPA is often seen as niche legislation and has been somewhat compromised by recent amendments, as originally passed it could be a strong model for a more general intellectual privacy regime which would apply to written materials as well as audio-visual ones.

Summarizing her Note, “Cooperation or Resistance? The Role of Tech Companies in Government Surveillance,” Goodwin argued that the two narratives that dominate discussion of tech companies’ involvement in government surveillance — that they are either doormats or bulwarks, depending on your perspective — is a vast oversimplification. Goodwin calls for new regulation that will align these companies’ incentives with those of their users.

Teshuva presented on a related topic to Goodwin’s, but focused particularly on the issue of standing to challenge legitimate surveillance of foreign individuals that sweeps up the communication of people located in the U.S., which would otherwise require a warrant from law enforcement. Her Note, “Standing, Surveillance, and Technology Companies,” points out that the present state of the law makes it extremely difficult for individuals to gain standing to challenge these practices, and vests the protection of their interests largely in the tech companies whose platforms they are using.

In what she described as a “hard right turn,” Rangan looked at how trusts and estates law is being impacted by these same developments. In her Note “What is an ‘Electronic Will’?” she argued that state legislatures need to parse the various types of electronic wills in order to instruct probate courts on how to properly evaluate this evidence of testators’ intent.

Following the students’ presentations, Professor Bavitz led an engaging discussion, highlighting issues such as the role of individuals in effecting change that drew connections between all four of the Notes presented.

Making Change: A Harvard Law School clinic helps the homeless earn a living

Via Harvard Law Today

Making Change: A Harvard Law School clinic helps the homeless earn a living (video)

 

CHLPI to present at Second annual “Food Is Medicine” symposium in Indianapolis

Via Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation

Meals on Wheels of Central Indiana will hold the second annual “Food Is Medicine” state symposium Thursday, April 12  in Indianapolis. The symposium will take an in-depth look at how medically tailored food plays a essential role in outcome-driven, cost-effective health care models.

Medically tailored food is prepared under the direction of a physician to individuals who are chronically ill with the individual patient’s specific nutritional needs in mind.

The symposium, which is in its second year, stems from Meals on Wheels’ involvement in the Food Is Medicine Coalition, a national association of medically tailored food and nutrition service providers. Meals on Wheels  joined the coalition in 2015 as part of an effort to strengthen its services to critically and chronically ill individuals.

“By partnering with medical providers, community organizations, and chronic disease experts to ensure low-income Hoosiers with critical and chronic diseases have access to medically tailored meals and more customized nutritional plans, we have the potential to positively impact their overall health while lowering health care costs,” said Barb Morris, CEO of Meals on Wheels of Central Indiana.

According to a study by The New England Journal of Medicine, food insecurity is one of the top ten causes for costly hospital readmissions. With a food intervention upon discharge, studies show this number can be reduced to as low as eight percent.  The problem is further exacerbated when patients are discharged from the hospital and return home to a bare pantry.

The symposium will bring together leaders representing health care organizations, state and local policymakers, elder care experts, academic and statewide advocacy groups.

Presenters:           

 

Understanding Victim Assistance and Environmental Remediation under the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Via the International Human Rights Clinic

By Bonnie Docherty

The humanitarian impact of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) depends on both its comprehensive ban on nuclear weapons and its obligations to assist victims and remediate the environment affected by use and testing. The former aims to prevent future harm, while the latter addresses harm that has already occurred.

The Clinic is releasing new papers on victim assistance and environmental remediation in order to increase awareness of these elements of the treaty. The short publications provide an overview of the provisions in the TPNW and guidance from other humanitarian disarmament treaties as to how they might be implemented.

The TPNW’s so-called “positive obligations” establish a framework of shared state responsibility for helping victims and cleaning the contaminated environment

During last year’s treaty negotiations at the United Nations, the Clinic worked closely with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which received the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. A team from the Clinic, along with advocates from Article 36, Mines Action Canada, and Pace University, played a leading role in ensuring that the treaty included the positive obligations.

HIRC files amicus brief on latest travel ban

Via the Harvard Immigration & Refugee Clinical Program

On March 30th, HIRC filed an amicus brief challenging President Trump’s latest immigration order. The brief argues that the travel ban violates federal immigration statutes and that this latest version, like its predecessors, is not based on any exigent situation involving diplomacy or military affairs. It replaces individualized determinations of risk with blanket prohibitions and thus reinstates a discriminatory system that Congress eliminated in 1965.

Dozens of immigration scholars from across the country signed on to the amicus brief, which was written in collaboration with Fatma Marouf (HLS ’02).

Read the brief here.

In Clinic Case, Jury Finds Former Bolivian President Responsible for Extrajudicial Killings of Indigenous People; Awards $10 Million in Damages

Via International Human Rights Clinic

April 3, 2018 – In a landmark decision today, a federal jury found the former president of Bolivia and his minister of defense responsible for extrajudicial killings carried out by the Bolivian military in September and October 2003. The decision comes after a ten-year legal battle spearheaded by family members of eight people killed in what is known in Bolivia as the “Gas War.” It marked the first time in U.S. history a former head of state has sat before his accusers in a U.S. human rights trial. The jury awarded a total of $10 million in compensatory damages to the plaintiffs.

Both the former Bolivian president, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, and his former defense minister, José Carlos Sánchez Berzaín, have lived in the United States since they fled Bolivia following the massacre known as “Black October.”  During that period, more than 50 people were killed and hundreds were injured. In Bolivia, in 2011, former military commanders and government officials who acted under Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín’s authority were convicted for their roles in the killings. Both Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín were indicted in the same case, but could not be tried in abstentia under Bolivian law.

The lawsuit originated in the International Human Rights Clinic, and dozens of students have worked on the case since 2006.

“After many years of fighting for justice for our family members and the people of Bolivia, we celebrate this historic victory,” said Teófilo Baltazar Cerro, a plaintiff and member of the indigenous Aymara community of Bolivia, who were victims of the defendants’ decision to use massive military force against the population. “Fifteen years after they fled justice, we have finally held Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín to account for the massacre they unleashed against our people.”

In Mamani v. Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín, the families of eight Bolivians who were killed filed suit against Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín in 2007. Today’s verdict affirms the plaintiffs’ claims that the two defendants were legally responsible for the extrajudicial killings and made decisions to deploy military forces in civilian communities in order to violently quash opposition to their policies.

“To me, it was the biggest honor of my life to work with the plaintiffs and learn from them in their struggle for justice,” said Thomas Becker ’08, who brought the idea for the lawsuit to IHRC after spending time in Bolivia and learning about the massacre there. “It’s an extraordinary privilege to witness this and be a small part of this.”

The three-week trial included the testimony of 29 witnesses from across Bolivia who recounted their experiences of the 2003 killings. Twenty-three appeared in person. Eight plaintiffs testified about the deaths of their family members, including: Etelvina Ramos Mamani and Eloy Rojas Mamani, whose eight-year-old daughter Marlene was killed in front of her mother when a single shot was fired through the window; Teófilo Baltazar Cerro, whose pregnant wife Teodosia was killed after a bullet was fired through the wall of a house; Felicidad Rosa Huanca Quispe, whose 69-year-old father Raul was shot and killed along a roadside; and Gonzalo Mamani Aguilar, whose father Arturo was shot and killed while tending his crops.

One witness, a former soldier in the Bolivian military, testified about being ordered to shoot at “anything that moves” in a civilian community, while another recounted witnessing a military officer kill a soldier for refusing to follow orders to shoot at unarmed civilians. Witnesses recounted how tanks rolled through in the streets and soldiers shot for hours on end. Others testified about how the president and minister of defense committed to a military option instead of pursuing dialogue with community leaders to reach a peaceful resolution.

In 2016, a U.S. appeals court held that the plaintiffs could proceed with their claims under the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA), which authorizes suits for monetary damages in U.S. federal court for extrajudicial killings. Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín then sought and were denied a review by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2017, and the case moved forward in U.S. District Court. After a review of the evidence gathered by both sides, District Court Judge James I. Cohn ruled on February 14 that the plaintiffs had presented sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.

“There are just no words for what the plaintiffs have done over the past ten years to seek justice for their lost loved ones as well as many others who were killed in Bolivia,” said Tyler Giannini, Co-Director of Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic. “Today the jury gave the plaintiffs a huge victory, and showed that the former president and his defense minister are not above the law.”

“When I heard the verdict, I almost couldn’t believe it,” added Susan Farbstein, Co-Director of Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic. “The only thing I could think of was: We didn’t let down the plaintiffs, we didn’t disappoint them, we did our jobs.”

The plaintiffs and their litigation team.

The plaintiffs and their litigation team.

As co-counsel, the International Human Rights Clinic has been involved in all phases of the litigation from the outset, including researching and drafting for the complaint and various motions and briefs, assisting with oral arguments, and undertaking more than a dozen investigative missions to Bolivia since 2007. Over the past year, during the discovery phase, students traveled to Bolivia numerous times, and assisted with document review, interrogatories, and the depositions of plaintiffs, witnesses and experts; more than a half dozen students worked on every facet of the case during the three weeks of trial.

“It was fascinating to work under the legal team and have complete faith in their talent and ability to manage such a complex case,” said Amy Volz ’18, who traveled to Bolivia on four fact-finding trips. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

After the jury announced its verdict, the defendants made a motion asking the judge to overturn the jury’s finding of liability against both defendants. Both parties will submit briefing on this issue in the coming weeks.

“We’re not one to leave halfway through the fight,” said Baltazar Cerro. “We will struggle until the last moment.”

In addition to the Clinic, a team of lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights and the law firms of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, Schonbrun, Seplow, Harris & Hoffman, LLP, and Akerman LLP are representing the family members. Lawyers from the Center for Law, Justice and Society (Dejusticia) are cooperating attorneys.

Crimmigration Clinic Wins Case at the Board of Immigration Appeals

Via Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program

Working under the direction of HIRC’s Managing Attorney Phil Torrey, Crimmigration Clinic students Clarissa Lehne ’18 and Mike Ewart ’18 successfully argued before the Board of Immigration Appeals that their client’s conviction should not result in his detention and deportation.

“It was incredibly rewarding to see a tangible result of the work that we put in at the clinic,” said Lehne.  Echoing her sentiment, Ewart further noted that “so much of law school is theoretical, the opportunity to apply the knowledge we learned in Phil’s Crimmigration class to an actual case was invaluable—and easier said than done.”

The client is a longtime lawful permanent resident who was convicted under a statute that criminalizes a broad range of conduct, including relatively minor conduct.  The Department of Homeland Security argued on appeal at the Board that the immigration judge’s initial determination that the conviction did not trigger removal was wrong.  The Crimmigration Clinic’s response brief demonstrated why the conviction did not categorically match a ground of removal in the immigration statute.

“For me this case underscores the importance of access to counsel in the immigration context (where there is no equivalent to the public defender system). Here, our client had a winning argument, but it was one that would have been extremely difficult to make without legal training and the resources we had at our disposal,” noted Ewart.

After the Board terminated the client’s removal proceedings he was released from immigration detention so that he could be reunited with his family.

Humanitarian Disarmament: The Way Ahead

Via Harvard Law Today

Experts gather to reflect on a growing movement to end the international proliferation of inhumane and indiscriminate weapons

Humanitarian Disarmament: The Way Ahead 1

Credit: Heratch Ekmekjian
In early March, international experts gathered for “Humanitarian Disarmament: The Way Ahead,” the inaugural conference of the Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative (ACCPI) at Harvard Law School.

Earlier this month, about two dozen international experts gathered for “Humanitarian Disarmament: The Way Ahead,” the inaugural conference of the Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative (ACCPI) at Harvard Law School.

Drawing on their own involvement in creating international law, conference participants reflected on the development of the humanitarian disarmament movement, which strives to end civilian suffering caused by inhumane and indiscriminate weapons, and discussed where the movement should go from here. Humanitarian disarmament is a key focus of the ACCPI, which formally launched under the leadership of Associate Director Bonnie Docherty ’01 on March 5.

“I was thrilled to have the key players in humanitarian disarmament on campus, and the energy they brought was inspiring,” said Docherty. “It was the perfect way to kick off the ACCPI.”

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Mid Semester 2018 in the Judicial Process in Trial Courts Clinic

By Hon. John C. Cratsley (Ret.)

Twenty-seven HLS students, the largest group ever enrolled in the Judicial Process in Trial Courts Clinic and Class, are well into their work with judges throughout the Massachusetts trial courts. Their judicial internships include the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Superior Court, various Divisions of the Boston Municipal Court, and the Newton District Court. Three LLM students are participating including one judge from Korea. Student placements are nicely balanced between the federal court, the Superior Court, and a variety of community courts throughout the neighborhoods of Boston.

Student observations about their experiences during the semester reinforce the value of direct exposure to the realities of our judicial system. A sample of their reflection papers describe different but equally valuable insights:

“…, I can already tell that this clinic will be an invaluable experience for an aspiring litigator. The opportunity to experience firsthand a trial judge’s decision-making adds a practical dimension to something which had been, for the most part, purely academic.”

“A good lawyer clearly has to treat folks with respect and maintain those relationships on a daily basis. You never know when you’ll need them.”

“Attending the hearing was very enlightening but also very sad. Witnessing a real defendant receive a sentence with her family sitting behind her puts into perspective how many lives are impacted by the judicial system every day.”

“Only one defense attorney was a person of color. The disparity made me extremely uncomfortable – here I was witnessing a body of white people locking up black folks. This was the exact dynamic I had studied in college and worked on in various internships addressing criminal justice reform. It was hard to observe in real life.”

“Essentially I got to see what it is like being chastised by a judge who is extremely unhappy with counsel’s conduct. I’ll certainly keep that lesson in mind and carefully read judicial orders when I am practicing.”

“My judge exemplified many of the features extolled in the Excellent Judges reading. The sentence was not a “mathematical” or “logical” application of the guidelines, it was based on his practice with recidivism, his experience of the human character, and his knowledge.”

Whether gaining insight into judicial reasoning, learning lessons for future practice, or observing justice issues in real time, every student in this clinic is broadening their understanding of the judicial process in trial courts.

Cravath Fellows pursue law projects around the world

Via Harvard Law Today

During Winter Term, students traveled to nine countries to do clinical work and research

Headshot of student

Credit: Lorin Granger

Niku Jafarnia ’19 spent Winter Term in Amman, Jordan, undertaking an independent clinical with the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP). Her commitment to working with refugees and asylum seekers began in college, when she drew on her Iranian heritage and her fluency in Farsi as an intake volunteer. A semester abroad, and later a Fulbright grant, took her to Turkey, where she lived in a city with a large Iranian and Afghan LGBTI refugee community. “I started teaching them English classes and tried to support them along their journey. I essentially chose to come to law school to be a better advocate for these communities.”

At HLS, Jafarnia became deeply involved in work arising from the executive orders banning travelers from Muslim countries from entering the U.S., gathering a group of classmates to protest at Logan Airport, returning the next week to assist affected travelers and working with the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic on its amicus briefs to the 9th Circuit and the Supreme Court. Her Winter Term clinical in Jordan afforded her an opportunity to explore the full effects of the ban, well before the people affected try to enter the U.S. For the two years before the ban, “the U.S. was taking in significantly more refugees than any other place in the world. At the end of the day, even though many more spots have opened up in other countries, it’s just not enough to make up for the decrease in U.S. spots,” she explains.

Working at IRAP allowed her to refine the client intake skills she has been building through the chance to interview clients during her time there. Additionally, drawing on her earlier experience in Turkey, she researched and drafted a memo describing the ways in which the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has failed to meet its own standards. IRAP also set up meetings for its interns with a wide range of important actors, from UNHCR and UNICEF to smaller NGOs working on the ground. “It was an amazing opportunity to get an in-depth look as to what issues refugees are facing daily—from a basic, housing-and-needs level, to a policy level in Jordan.”

Traveling to Jordan gave Jafarnia a chance to address these issues from a new comparative lens. “Each country presents a unique set of challenges for refugees”; she notes; Jordan hosts a significant number of refugees, but does not offer employment for them, and is almost entirely landlocked, which makes it more difficult for refugees to leave.

“My hope for the future is to start my own organization, giving refugees legal assistance but also empowering refugees with legal backgrounds to be doing this work themselves,” she explains. “I think countries have to work significantly harder at giving refugees work opportunities. Once you let people in, they need to be given the opportunity to create a life for themselves. There’s an image of people who have been displaced as burdens on the system, when in fact they’re not given the opportunity to be self-sustaining.” Her Winter Term work in Jordan has confirmed for her that this is a change that has to happen very soon.

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A celebration of immigration

Via Harvard Gazette

With DACA in place for now, day’s events focus on protecting students, and on the artistry that other cultures bestow

Jason Corral and Cindy Zapata of the Immigration and Refugee Clinic advised students of their legal rights during "A Day of Hope of Resistance," part of a series of events exploring questions about the termination of DACA and TPS, deportations, and the current state of immigration policy.

Jason Corral and Cindy Zapata of the Immigration and Refugee Clinic advised students of their legal rights during “A Day of Hope of Resistance,” part of a series of events exploring questions about the termination of DACA and TPS, deportations, and the current state of immigration policy.
Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Life for undocumented immigrants is full of risks. Any encounter with law-enforcement officials — on the sidewalk, while they are driving, or in their homes in the middle of the night — can lead to arrest and possible deportation.

But in all such cases, undocumented immigrants have rights. They have the right to remain silent, to refuse to consent to a search, and to decline to open the front door unless officials have a warrant.

At a workshop on immigrants’ rights held Monday morning at the Memorial Church, attorneys Jason Corral and Cindy Zapata of the Harvard Immigration & Refugee Clinical Program shared legal advice on how to deal with the more aggressive enforcement of immigration laws under the Trump administration. Corral has provided legal services to at least 60 undocumented students studying at Harvard.

“In this new day and age, any evidence you can provide, you can end up in removal proceedings,” said Corral.

The event was part of the DACA Seminar, a series of daylong events on campus to highlight, among other things, the future of the federal program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era initiative that protects young immigrants from deportation.

Nearly 800,000 young immigrants have benefited from the program, but last September the Trump administration announced its end and set March 5 as a deadline for Congress to come up with a solution for those under its protections. But the deadline lost much of its meaning when the Supreme Court said that it would not rule on the administration’s plan to end the program. Federal district judges in New York and California had blocked the move to end DACA.

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One win against weapons could fuel another

Via Harvard Gazette

Successful campaign banning landmines could provide blueprint against nuclear arms, panel says

During "From Landmines to Nuclear Weapons," a panel featuring Steve Goose (from left) and Beatrice Fihn and moderated by Bonnie Docherty of the Law School addressed the origins and evolution of humanitarian disarmament while reflecting on their roles negotiating treaties that ban landmines, cluster munitions, and nuclear weapons.

During “From Landmines to Nuclear Weapons,” a panel featuring Steve Goose (from left) and Beatrice Fihn and moderated by Bonnie Docherty of the Law School addressed the origins and evolution of humanitarian disarmament while reflecting on their roles negotiating treaties that ban landmines, cluster munitions, and nuclear weapons.
Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

When the movement began in 1992, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines was considered quixotic, its proponents unrealistically idealistic, its efforts doomed to fail. Twenty-five years and one Nobel Peace Prize later, more than 180 countries have signed its 1997 treaty, agreeing not only to avoid using the weapons but to help remove them from areas where they have been abandoned and remain a danger to life, limbs, and livelihoods.

Nuclear weapons, now a reality of our modern world, could go the same way, say the activists behind the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. Indeed, humanitarian rights activists say, they must. On Monday at Harvard Law School’s Austin Hall, the anti-nuclear campaign’s executive director, Beatrice Fihn, joined Steve Goose, co-founder of the landmines-ban group and executive director of Human Rights Watch’s arms division, to discuss the origin and evolution of the mine campaign, and how the tactics of the first can be applied to the next.

“Everybody said it was impossible to do,” said Goose, looking back at the long road to the 1997 landmine treaty. “After we finally did it, people said, ‘Oh, that wasn’t that hard. It was a one-off. Circumstances allowed that to happen.’” They also, he reported, said its success could not be replicated.

Monday’s discussion was designed to prove that false. Indeed, this first public event of Humanitarian Disarmament: The Way Ahead (moderated by Bonnie Docherty, associate director of Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection at Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic) started off by outlining the similarities — and the successes — of other recent campaigns.

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Bonnie Docherty Launches Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative

Via International Human Rights Clinic

Bonnie Docherty, Associate Director of Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection, talking with colleagues.

The International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) is thrilled to announce the launch of the Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative (ACCPI), which aims to reduce the harm caused by armed conflict through targeted advocacy, leadership development, and the generation of innovative solutions.

The ACCPI will be led by Bonnie Docherty, Lecturer on Law and Associate Director of Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection, who is an internationally renowned leader in the field of humanitarian disarmament. Docherty has worked at the heart of almost every major civil society campaign to ban inhumane and indiscriminate weapons, or curtail their use to minimize the impacts on civilians. She was a critical player in the 2008 cluster munitions ban, as well as the nuclear weapons ban, adopted in July of last year.

“Today’s armed conflicts are causing countless civilian casualties, destroying infrastructure and the environment, and driving people from their homes,” said Docherty, who also works as a Senior Researcher in the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch. “This initiative represents a unique opportunity to provide focused support to the movement dealing with these issues, as well as to students interested in making a career in the field.”

Since she arrived at the Clinic in 2005, Docherty has put clinical students at the heart of her advocacy, supervising them on everything from field research in Lebanon to lobbying at the UN. Under her leadership, and through her mentorship, students have gone on to work as field researchersadvocates in peace negotiations, and policy analysts, actively working to protect civilians from the effects of armed conflict.

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Concern over a DACA deadline

Via Harvard Law Today

At an HLS event, Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic directors will discuss legal strategies for fighting back on DACA deadline

Concern over a DACA deadline

Credit: Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
HGSE Professor Roberto Gonzales is one of the organizers of the DACA seminar at Harvard, a series of events exploring questions about the termination of DACA and TPS, deportations, and the current state of immigration policy.

Between 60 and 80 undocumented students are studying at Harvard, and though they’re a small fraction of the student body, some could have their lives eventually turned upside down.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had pegged March 5 as the end date for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which legally shields young immigrant students from deportation. It has been unclear what the government would do after the deadline passes. However, the Supreme Court said on Monday that it would not rule on the administration plan to end the program. Since federal district judges in New York and California previously issued injunctions against its quick end, the March 5 date likely is now too soon for a program phase-out. Still, the students’ worries remain.

To draw attention to the students’ quandary, three Harvard professors and a Ph.D. student in African and African American studies launched the DACA Seminar, a series of events on campus aimed at sparking conversations about the future of DACA and immigration policy and reform, while working to understand the students’ options.

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Emmett Clinic Drafts Amicus Brief Explaining Dicamba Harms

Via Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic

The Emmett Clinic filed an amicus brief in a 9th Circuit case challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of Monsanto’s XtendiMax—a new formulation of the highly-volatile and toxic herbicide dicamba.  EPA conditionally approved the product in 2016, based in part on Monsanto’s assurances that its formulation was less volatile than previous dicamba formulations.  Environmental and farming organizations challenged this decision in court.

Monsanto developed this new herbicide in response to increasing resistance to glyphosate (Roundup) in weeds.  Although dicamba is normally lethal to broadleaf crops such as soybeans and cotton, Monsanto genetically engineered varieties of these crops to be resistant to dicamba.  During the application process, commenters warned EPA that dicamba is very volatile and therefore has a tendency to drift, risking harm to other farmers’ fields or native vegetation.  As the Clinic’s brief explains, EPA’s approval of the herbicide resulted in widespread harm throughout the South and Midwest in 2017: at least 3.6 million acres of soybeans in 24 states were damaged by dicamba drift.  Farmers who want to plant soybeans feel that they have lost their freedom of choice: either they plant Monsanto’s resistant seeds or risk having their crops killed by drift from a neighboring farmer’s field.  EPA should not place farmers in this untenable position.

The Emmett Clinic filed this brief on behalf of several farmer support organizations: Family Farm Defenders, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, Iowa Organic Association, Kansas Rural Center, Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing, Inc., Organic Farmers Association, and Save Our Crops Coalition.  Clinic student Heather Romero (JD ’19) and Deputy Director Shaun Goho wrote the brief.

Emmett Clinic Files Brief Supporting Chlorpyrifos Ban

Via Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic

The Emmett Clinic filed an amicus brief  in a 9th Circuit case challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to ban agricultural uses of the organophosphate chlorpyrifos.  In 2016, EPA had proposed to remove all food tolerances for chlorpyrifos under the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act—an action that would have prohibited all use of the pesticide on food crops.  Last year, however, Scott Pruitt reversed course and decided not to ban the pesticide, citing scientific uncertainty.  A coalition of environmental and farmworkers’ organizations have challenged this reversal in court.  The Clinic, representing the Alliance of Nurses for Health Environments, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Public Health Association, Migrant Clinicians Network, Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of PSR, submitted an amicus brief in support of this challenge.

The brief explains that a significant body of research from both epidemiological and animal studies has demonstrated that children are vulnerable to long-lasting neurological harm from exposure to chlorpyrifos during pregnancy, even at levels far below the current tolerances permitted by EPA.  In particular, the studies show that chlorpyrifos can alter the very structure of the brain, as well as leading to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other behavioral problems.  In light of the large and robust research data demonstrating these harms, EPA cannot reasonably cite scientific uncertainty as a basis for failing to take action.

Clinic student Ryan Petty (JD ’19) wrote the brief under the supervision of Deputy Director Shaun Goho.

Clinic Releases Report on How to Address Climate Change in the Farm Bill

Via Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic

The Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic has released its new report, “Opportunities to Address Climate Change in the Farm Bill”, which summarizes the Clinic’s proposals for how to address climate change in the Farm Bill, both during the current authorization process and in the future.  The report provides recommendations for both climate mitigation strategies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increase carbon sequestration from agriculture, and climate adaptation strategies to increase the resiliency of farms to the impacts of a changing climate.  The report’s specific recommendations are 1) incorporate resilience measures into crop insurance and conservation compliance to better manage on-farm climate risks under Titles II and XI; 2) ensure the best available science and research—including the outcome of pilot programs—are incorporated into Farm Bill programs; and 3) advance manure management collection and storage methods, as well as biogas development under Title IX to mitigate GHG contributions from livestock.

The paper was authored by Clinic students Sara Dewey, JD’17, Liz Hanson, HKS’18, Claire Horan, JD’18, Deputy Director Shaun Goho, and Director Wendy Jacobs.

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