Clinical and Pro Bono Programs

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Category: Clinical Spotlight (page 3 of 17)

Update on the 2018 Triennial 1201 Rule-Making

Via Cyberlaw Clinic

The Copyright Office has once again opened its triennial rulemaking proceedings for exemptions to the anti-circumvention clauses of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”). This will be the seventh iteration of the rulemaking proceedings for the Copyright Office since Congress enacted 17 U.S.C. § 1201 in 1998 to reinforce copyright protection against an envisioned increase in piracy due to technological advancement. The anti-circumvention law prohibits the use of technology to bypass technology protection measures (“TPM”) that copyright owners implement, such as encryption tools that prevent consumers from copying movies or songs off a disk or simple password systems for website content or software “locking” mechanisms that prevent copying. Unfortunately, the broad reach of 17 U.S.C. § 1201 also jeopardized many otherwise non-infringing and publicly-beneficial activities that may require circumventing TPMs.

St Jude Medical pacemaker in hand

An artificial pacemaker (serial number 1723182) from St. Jude Medical, with electrode. By Steven Fruitsmaak, via Wikimedia Commons.

In an effort to rescue circumvention for lawful purposes, Congress identified certain classes of permanent exemptions to the anti-circumvention law, allowing, for example, reverse engineering research and security testing to be valid reasons for circumventing technological protections measures. In addition to the permanent exemptions, Congress also created the triennial rulemaking mechanism which creates 3-year temporary exemptions as a catch-all to prevent the anti-circumvention law from prohibiting lawful practices.

For the upcoming 2018 rulemaking proceedings, the Cyberlaw Clinic has submitted an anti-circumvention exemption request on behalf of the Software Preservation Network (“SPN”) and a renewal request on behalf of a coalition of medical device patients and researchers (“Medical Device Coalition”) for the Copyright Office’s seventh triennial rulemaking proceedings for anti-circumvention exemptions under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”). SPN seeks an exemption for libraries and archival institutions to circumvent technology protection mechanisms for the preservation of software for future research or usage. The Medical Device Coalition seeks a renewal for an exemption that the Cyberlaw Clinic successfully helped to secure in the 2015 rulemaking proceedings, which permits patients and security researchers to circumvent technological measures in medical devices to access output data. The SPN petition and medical device renewal request join 22 other new exemption petitions and 38 other exemption renewal requests submitted for the 2018 rulemaking proceedings.

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FLPC Releases Food Recovery in the District of Columbia: A Legal Guide

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic

Today, the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) releases Food Recovery in the District of Columbia: A Legal Guide. This guide addresses common legal questions that businesses, schools, and nonprofits often have about food donation in the District. It was commissioned by the DC Food Recovery Working Group, a group created to support food recovery efforts in Washington D.C. and the surrounding area.

This guide explains both federal and D.C. laws and regulations that impact food recovery, including:

  • tax incentives for food donation
  • liability protection for food donors
  • date labeling requirements for food packaging
  • food safety guidance for food donation
  • donation by K-12 schools.

By helping businesses, schools, and food recovery organizations to better understand and navigate these laws, this guide aims to encourage the growth of food donation and food recovery in Washington D.C.

Read Food Recovery in the District of Columbia: A Legal Guide.

Massachusetts Considers Digital Right to Repair

By Alex Noonan J.D. ’19

Via Cyberlaw Clinic

On September 26, 2017, the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure heard testimony on proposed digital “right to repair” bills H.143 and S.96. The two proposed bills would require manufacturers of digital devices to provide diagnostic, repair, and service information to independent technicians and owners of devices, information that is currently only available to technicians selected and authorized by the manufacturers. The bills would further require manufacturers allow independent technicians and owners to purchase replacement parts and service tools at a reasonable price. The bills by their terms relieve manufacturers of the obligation to reveal any trade secret; however, they do not address the practicality of providing service manuals and diagnostic information without exposing trade secrets, particularly for manufacturers who rely heavily on trade secret protection.

Massachusetts has tackled right to repair before. In 2012, Massachusetts became the first state to pass right to repair legislation for motor vehicles. Rather than face future legislation from other states, auto manufacturers agreed to make the Massachusetts law their national standard.

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Helping low-income clients navigate the IRS

Tax Clinic students fight for clients’ rights, file potentially precedent-setting appeals

Via Harvard Law Today

The client worked at a minimum wage retail job earning $13,000 a year and was the family’s sole breadwinner. Because she and her aging mother had agreed to foster a relative’s child whose parents had been incarcerated, she filed a federal tax return claiming the earned income tax credit and advanced child tax credit, both of which are designed to benefit low-income households.

Then an IRS audit ruled her ineligible for those benefits – which would have brought an additional $5,000 into the household – saying the child’s foster care status did not qualify her as a dependent for purposes of these credits. But thanks to tenacious legal research and petition-filing by a Harvard Law School student working in the Tax Clinic of the Legal Services Center at HLS, the IRS ruling was overturned and the client received much needed additional income.

Leveling the playing field

Low-income clients come to Harvard’s Tax Clinic because they need an advocate to fight for their legal rights – rights that are meaningless if clients lack access to a lawyer to stand up for them.

Tax debt and the liens which the IRS files can prevent clients from getting jobs, while fixing tax problems allows them to reenter the job market and has a positive impact on their credit ratings.

Tax Clinic clients are military veterans, immigrants, or survivors of domestic violence. They find themselves under audit or in Tax Court because they have been victimized by scoundrel fly-by-night tax preparers who submit faulty returns on their behalf. Or they have survived abusive domestic relationships only to discover that spouses kept them in the dark about nefarious, unreported financial dealings that have potentially devastating tax consequences. Still others are vets who fail to file tax returns after losing jobs or businesses because they suffer from service-related post-traumatic stress disorder.

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IHRC’s partner in negotiations of Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty wins Nobel Peace Prize

Via Harvard Law Today

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), with which Harvard’s International Human Rights Clinic collaborated during the negotiations of a nuclear weapons ban treaty, received the Nobel Peace Prize today. The honor reflects international recognition of the humanitarian approach to disarmament, a movement that strives to minimize civilian suffering from inhumane weapons.

Members of the Harvard team (second to right), including Bonnie Docherty, Anna Crowe, and Lan Mei ’17, in a negotiating session of the new treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

Credit: Ralf Schlesener
Members of the Harvard team (second to right), including Bonnie Docherty, Anna Crowe, and Lan Mei ’17, in a negotiating session of the new treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

Over the past decade, ICAN has changed the course of nuclear disarmament by shifting the focus from national security to the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences these weapons cause.  Their work and the invaluable advocacy of survivors of nuclear weapons used in conflict and testing helped lead to an international ban on the weapons this summer.

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Clinic’s Partner in Negotiations of Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Via International Human Rights Clinic

The “positive obligations” advocacy team, including IHRC students and supervisors, moments after adoption of the nuclear weapon ban treaty on July 7, 2017.

We are thrilled to announce that the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), with which we collaborated during the negotiations of a nuclear weapon ban treaty, received the Nobel Peace Prize today. The honor reflects international recognition of the humanitarian approach to disarmament, a movement that strives to minimize civilian suffering from inhumane weapons.

Over the past decade, ICAN has changed the course of nuclear disarmament by shifting the focus from national security to the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences these weapons cause.  Their work and the invaluable advocacy of survivors of nuclear weapons use in conflict and testing helped lead to an international ban on the weapons this summer.

The International Human Rights Clinic joined ICAN and UK-based disarmament organization Article 36 in the efforts for the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  Supervisors Bonnie Docherty and Anna Crowe, along with a team of four students, provided legal support to the campaign during the treaty negotiations at the United Nations in New York.  They also advocated successfully for the inclusion of obligations to assist victims and remediate the environment harmed.

More than 120 countries adopted the treaty in July. Fifty-three have signed the treaty since it opened for signature last month. In so doing, those countries have committed to abiding by the object and purpose of the instrument.

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Helping Low-Income Clients Navigate the IRS

Via Federal Tax Clinic

Professor Keith Fogg, right, who heads the Tax Clinic, with Fellow Audrey Patten

Professor Keith Fogg, right, who heads the Tax Clinic, with Fellow Audrey Patten

Tax Clinic students and faculty fight for clients’ rights, file potentially precedent-setting appeals.

The client worked at a minimum wage retail job earning $13,000 a year and was the family’s sole breadwinner. Because she and her aging mother had agreed to foster a relative’s child whose parents had been incarcerated, she filed a federal tax return claiming the earned income tax credit and advanced child tax credit, both of which are designed to benefit low-income households.

Then an IRS audit ruled her ineligible for those benefits – which would have brought an additional $5,000 into the household – saying the child’s foster care status did not qualify her as a dependent for purposes of these credits. But thanks to tenacious legal research and petition-filing by a Harvard Law School student working in the Tax Clinic of the Legal Services Center at HLS, the IRS ruling was overturned and the client received much needed additional income.

Leveling the playing field

Low-income clients come to Harvard’s Tax Clinic because they need an advocate to fight for their legal rights – rights that are meaningless if clients lack access to a lawyer to stand up for them.

Tax debt and the liens which the IRS files can prevent clients from getting jobs, while fixing tax problems allows them to reenter the job market and has a positive impact on their credit ratings.

Tax Clinic clients are military veterans, immigrants, or survivors of domestic violence. They find themselves under audit or in Tax Court because they have been victimized by scoundrel fly-by-night tax preparers who submit faulty returns on their behalf. Or they have survived abusive domestic relationships only to discover that spouses kept them in the dark about nefarious, unreported financial dealings that have potentially devastating tax consequences. Still others are vets who fail to file tax returns after losing jobs or businesses because they suffer from service-related post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Clinic Files Amicus Brief on Behalf of Members of Congress in Support of Access to Law

Via Cyberlaw Clinic

image of a courthouseOn September 25, 2017, the Cyberlaw Clinic and local counsel Catherine Gellis filed an amicus brief on behalf of members of Congress Zoe Lofgren (D-CA 19th District) and Darrell Issa (R-CA 49th District) in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The brief supports defendant-appellant Public.Resource.org (Public Resource) in the case American Society of Testing Engineers (ASTM) et. al. v. Public.Resource.org, Case No. 17-7035 (D.C. Cir.). The appeal — a consolidation of two district court cases, both filed by standard developing organizations (SDOs) — addresses the copyrightability of the law and standards incorporated therein. The crux of the case is whether the text of applicable law may be shared freely by non-profit organizations like Public Resource. 

When model codes and standards become part of federal, state, or local regulations, the text is often not reproduced in the location where the law is published. Rather, citizens interested in reading the content of enacted statutes and regs must access the incorporated materials via the SDOs’ publication channels. These may come with high access fees or remain incompatible with online accessibility tools for the disabled. Public Resource acquired copies of a number of standards and codes, made them public, and was sued for copyright and trademark infringement by the SDOs.

The Clinic previously filed amicus briefs on behalf of legal scholars in support of Public Resource in both cases brought in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.  The district court ruled in favor of both sets of plaintiffs-appellees, the “ASTM Plaintiffs”—ASTMNational Fire Protection Association, Inc. (NFPA), and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)—and the “AERA Plaintiffs”—American Education Resource Association (AERA), American Psychological Association (APA), and the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME), finding copyright and trademark infringement in the publication on Public Resource’s website of model codes and standards incorporated into law.

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Lawyers Discuss CIA Torture Lawsuit

Via Harvard Crimson

Two members of the legal team that settled a lawsuit earlier this year against the psychologists who designed and implemented a Central Intelligence Agency torture program spoke Friday afternoon at the Law School about their work on the landmark case.

Paul L. Hoffman—a civil and human rights lawyer and lecturer at the Law School—and criminal defense lawyer Lawrence S. Lustberg played major roles on the American Civil Liberties Union’s litigation team in Salim v. Mitchell, filed on behalf of three former CIA detainees. The case accused two psychologists, James E. Mitchell and John B. Jessen, of designing “cruel, inhuman” interrogation techniques that were used against detainees Suleiman A. Salim, Mohamed A. Ben Soud, and Gul Rahman in secret CIA prisons.

The case, which was settled in August, is one of the most high-profile attempts to date to hold the U.S. government accountable for using techniques considered to be torture in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

“Numerous detainees have filed lawsuits challenging torture by the US government. Mr. Salim, Mr. Ben Soud were the first ones to ever have their case get this far, get to the eve of trial, get to a settlement,” Lustberg said. “Nobody had ever entered into a settlement with a CIA operative before in the history of the nation.”

More broadly, Lustberg said, the case illustrated the tension in public interest litigation between a client’s best interest and a litigation team’s cause.

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The Harvard Legal Aid Bureau: Fight Trump’s Threat to Defund the Legal Services Corporation

Via Harvard Legal Aid Bureau

Weeks into office, Donald Trump took aim at the 40-year-old Legal Services Corporation (LSC), the single largest funder of civil legal aid, serving two million low-income people nationwide who can’t afford legal representation. His proposal? Destroy LSC’s entire budget —$503 million—every penny of which currently goes toward providing access to justice in our country’s courts. This decision affects us directly: Massachusetts receives $5.1 million in LSC funding and more than 757,235 of the Commonwealth’s residents are eligible for civil legal aid support.

While neither Appropriations Committee has adopted such a drastic measure, the House bill cuts the LSC’s budget by about 25%, and the Senate bill maintains the current funding level. Our message? No cuts; not now, not ever. Civil legal aid is already overburdened and underfunded. Without lawyers to help low-income people enforce their rights, those rights become meaningless, empty promises. These funding threats attack our justice system. We won’t stand for it; you shouldn’t either.

Photo of the building of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau located on Everett Street

Credit: Brooks Kraft
Harvard Legal Aid Bureau

We, the student attorneys, staff, and faculty of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (HLAB), know that if the White House demolishes LSC, it takes our nation’s prized promise down with it: equal justice under law. If Congress slashes the agency’s funding, it’ll destroy a legal aid lifeline millions of low-income Americans rely on, and exacerbate longstanding inequities that low-income communities of color face in our judicial system. The dignity of low-income people—children, veterans, seniors, people with disabilities, and domestic violence victims—is at stake in courtrooms across our country, and right here in the Commonwealth.

Though HLAB itself doesn’t receive LSC funding, as the second largest provider of civil legal aid in the Greater Boston Area, we know the LSC’s value, and how critical civil legal aid is to providing people with tools to protect their families, homes, health, and livelihoods. Every day we are forced to turn away potential clients, many of whom we refer to LSC-funded organizations, such as the Volunteer Lawyers Project, because we lack the capacity to serve them. But even with the LSC, we can’t meet the current overwhelming need for legal services in our community, from Dorchester to East Boston to Jamaica Plain. There’s already not enough LSC funding to go around—even small cuts would devastate access to justice.

If acted upon, Trump’s proposed cuts to LSC’s full budget will hit all 50 states, hard, and its aftershocks will leave many of our neighbors without the representation they so desperately need and deserve. Defunding LSC means that more domestic violence victims will face their abusers in court alone. It means more tenants who face hefty, arbitrary rent hikes from Boston gentrification projects will be evicted from their homes or continue to endure dangerously sub-standard housing conditions, especially when facing well-resourced landlord attorneys. And that’s only a handful of the consequences we stand to face.

Money shouldn’t determine one’s right to have parenting time, to be free from an abuser, or to stay in one’s home or in this country. The LSC and civil legal aid organizations like ours help level the playing field by providing legal assistance and representation, clinics, pro bono and court-based services, and access to information, language resources, and forms. It fulfills our nation’s bedrock promise of justice for all, not just for the few who can afford it.

When legal services are under attack, what will we do? Stand up and fight back. What can you do? Call your representative. Attend town halls, marches, meetings at City Life Vida Urbana, a tenant rights organization fighting evictions in Boston. Write an op-ed or letter to the editor in your local paper. Donate to a legal services organization. The Harvard Legal Aid Bureau will stand with you, alongside the millions of Americans who deserve the right to counsel. Access to justice is worth fighting for.

Successfully Protecting Housing Rights of Sexual Assault and Domestic Abuse Survivors

Via Legal Services Center

photo of apartment buildings

Getting out of a lease to leave an unsafe home

Attorneys and students in LSC’s Housing Justice for Survivors Project are working on multiple fronts to protect the rights of survivors of sexual assault and physically abusive relationships to ensure that they have safe, affordable housing. Sometimes that means helping tenants break a lease to relocate quickly. In other cases, it means fighting to help them hold onto an apartment the survivor formerly shared with an abuser.

Their efforts are leading to favorable rulings in the courts and greater understanding of state laws that protect survivors from being re-victimized.
Most recently, their work filing an amicus brief in one case has helped lead to a major court ruling in the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. That ruling ensures that even if a survivor’s name is not on a lease, even if she/he is labelled an “unauthorized occupant” by the landlord, or even if she/he is accused of fraud for living in the apartment without being on the lease, she/he still may have a valid claim to the apartment and that claim should be heard at trial.

Survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking often have to leave their homes with little notice or planning in order to avoid harm by a perpetrator who knows where they live. Clients of LSC have had to leave their homes because their perpetrator lived upstairs, because they were getting ready to file criminal charges and feared retribution, because their abuser threatened their safety in and around their homes, or because their rapist worked around the corner from where they live.

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LSC Reaches Out to Homeless and At-Risk Vets at Stand Down 2017

Via Legal Services Center

Group photo of the Legal Services Center staff

Members of the Veterans Clinic at LSC with volunteers from Veterans Legal Services as well as the MA Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Francisco Urena

A team of lawyers from LSC’s Veterans Clinic joined staff and volunteer lawyers from Veterans Legal Services  to offer legal advice at  the 2017 Greater Boston Stand Down on September 8 at City Hall Plaza. More than 100 Veterans who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness came to the legal services tent as part of the day’s events.

Stand Downs take place across the country and bring together community providers and Veterans in one place to make it easier for Veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless to access services such as employment assistance, housing assistance, medical care, wellness programs, legal support, and prevention services.

The event in Boston was organized by the New England Center and Home for Veterans.

LSC has participated in the Greater Boston Stand Down for several years, and a number of veterans who attend the event each year ultimately become LSC clients to receive in-depth legal representation on issues such as VA and disability benefits, SNAP and other public benefits, tax controversies, or issues concerning housing law, family law, estate planning, and consumer law.

Guidance to undocumented/DACAmented members of the Harvard University community

Via Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program

University President Drew Faust recently sent a letter to President Trump urging him to continue the DACA Program and to vigorously defend it in federal courts. In her letter President Faust writes: “At Harvard and other institutions of higher education across the country, DACA has made it possible for talented and motivated students to pursue their education and explore meaningful ways of contributing to our communities and economy.”

The University will continue to advocate for the continuance of DACA and will continue to support DACA and undocumented students with resources needed to thrive in their academic endeavors at Harvard and beyond. In that context, the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic at Harvard Law School extends the following guidance to individuals concerned about DACA status.

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Welcoming Kendra Albert and Kicking Off the 2017-18 Academic Year!

Via Cyberlaw Clinic

With September just around the corner, we here in the Cyberlaw Clinic are eager to get the fall semester underway. And, we are especially excited to announce that the start of the new term comes with a new addition to our practice and teaching team in the form of the one and only Kendra Albert! Kendra is a familiar face around Harvard Law School and the Berkman Klein Center, having worked at Berkman before attending law school at HLS. Kendra was a student in the Cyberlaw Clinic during the spring term of their third year, back in 2016. Kendra spent a year in private practice at Zeitgeist Law in San Francisco from 2016-17 before rejoining us as a Clinical Instructional Fellow this week.  We are delighted to have Kendra on board and anticipate that they will contribute to a wide variety of our projects involving privacy, copyright, and related issues.

Portrait photo of Kendra Albert, Clinical Instructional Fellow, Cyberlaw Clinic

Kendra Albert, Clinical Instructional Fellow, Cyberlaw Clinic

Kendra’s arrival comes in the midst of some additional staff changes at the Clinic. We are delighted to report that Jessica Fjeld has assumed the role of Acting Assistant Director of the Clinic and has been appointed a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School. In that capacity, Jess will co-teach the Cyberlaw Clinic Seminar along with Clinical Professor Chris Bavitz this fall. Vivek Krishnamurthy will take on the role of Clinic Attorney, splitting his time between Clinic projects concerning technology and human rights and Berkman Klein Center research initiatives (primarily from his new homebase on the west coast).

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FLPC Welcomes New Team Member Katie Sandson

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic

Portrait photo of Katie Sandson, Clinical Fellow, Food Law and Policy Clinic

Katie Sandson, Clinical Fellow, Food Law and Policy Clinic

The Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) is happy to welcome Katie Sandson to the team as a Clinical Fellow!

Katie first became involved with the Food Law and Policy Clinic as a student in the Food Law and Policy Seminar in the fall of 2015. During law school, she spent three semesters with FLPC as a clinical student, focusing primarily on state and federal food waste and food recovery initiatives, as well as the clinic’s work in Navajo Nation. As a law student, Katie also participated in the Employment Law Clinic and the Tenant Advocacy Project, worked as a research assistant on the Access to Justice Lab’s Intimate Partner Violence Triage Study, and was a member of the Senior Board of the Harvard Journal of Law & Gender.

Katie received her B.A. in English Literature from Washington University in St. Louis and her J.D. from Harvard Law School, cum laude, in 2017.

FLPC Welcomes New Team Member Nicole Negowetti

Via Food Law & Policy Clinic

Portrait photo of Nicole Negowetti, Clinical Instructor

Nicole Negowetti, Clinical Instructor

The Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) is happy to welcome Nicole Negowetti, who joins as a Clinical Instructor.

Prior to joining FLPC, Nicole was Policy Director of the Good Food Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on creating a sustainable, healthy, and humane food system by supporting transformative plant-based and cultured food technology companies.  Nicole also served as an Associate Professor of Law at the Valparaiso University School of Law from 2011- 2016.  As a law professor, her teaching and research focused on food law and policy, agricultural law, and sustainability. Nicole serves on the Food & Drug Law Journal Editorial Advisory Board and is a founding member of the Academy of Food Law & Policy. She is also a co-founder of the Northwest Indiana Food Council, whose mission is to build a just, sustainable, and thriving locally-oriented food system.

Nicole graduated magna cum laude from the University of New Hampshire Law School and earned a master’s degree in Peace and Development Studies from the University of Limerick, Ireland. Following graduation from law school, Nicole clerked for the Honorable Carol Ann Conboy of the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

Moving Day in Boston: What Are Tenants’ Rights?

Via Housing Law Clinic

With the single biggest residential moving day in Greater Boston coming up on September 1, renters moving out of one place and signing a lease on a new one need to know their rights as tenants. One way to do that is to check out the newly updated book Legal Tactics: Private Housing, an easy-to-understand, comprehensive handbook on Massachusetts tenants’ rights for lay audiences.

Portrait photo of Julia Devanthery, Clinical Instructor, Housing Law Clinic

Julia Devanthery, Clinical Instructor, Housing Law Clinic

The book focuses on private rental housing and answers questions on everything from security deposits and last month’s rent to rent and utilities, repairs, evictions, housing discrimination, lead poisoning, mobile homes, and tenants in foreclosed properties.

It is available for free online or you can purchase a hard copy online or by calling   Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education at 1-800-966-6253 .

Portrait photo of Maureen McDonagh, Lecturer on Law, Housing Law Clinic

Maureen McDonagh, Lecturer on Law, Housing Law Clinic

More than forty sample forms, letters, and checklists provide tenants and their advocates with the tools needed to prevent problems, gain protections, and communicate effectively with landlords, boards of health, and courts. A one-stop reference, this book also provides the legal information tenants need through footnotes, an expanded phone directory, and actual text of key laws.

“This book empowers unrepresented people and arms non-lawyer advocates as they take on powerful opponents and navigate a challenging legal system,” says Julia Devanthery, one of the lawyers at LSC who represents low income clients on housing issues.

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In Crimmigration Clinic victory, Supreme Judicial Court rules state law enforcement lacks ‘detainer’ authority

Via Harvard Law Today

Credit: Emmanuel Huybrechts via Wikimedia Commons

Credit: Emmanuel Huybrechts via Wikimedia Commons

Last week, in a victory for the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program’s Crimmigration Clinic, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts issued a significant ruling on the question of whether Massachusetts police can detain and arrest someone for a U.S. immigration violation.

The court ruled in the case of Lunn v. Commonwealth that the Commonwealth’s law enforcement officers do not have the authority to arrest and detain an individual solely pursuant to a Detainer–a request from federal immigration authorities that a person placed under arrest by local authorities be further detained if Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) believes the person may be deportable. The court arrived at the ruling based on the fact that there is no state statutory law or common law authorizing such an arrest.

In March, HIRC’s Crimmigration Clinic filed an amicus brief in Lunn v. Commonwealththat discussed the lack of legislative authorization for Massachusetts law enforcement officers and courts to arrest and detain an individual solely pursuant to an ICE Detainer. Specifically, the brief analyzed other civil arrest and detention authority under Massachusetts law and noted that procedural protections in those instances are absent when someone is held pursuant to an ICE detainer.

Crimmigration Clinic Supervisor and Lecturer on Law Phil Torrey, who is also HIRC’s managing attorney, and supervising attorney for the Harvard Immigration Project, filed the brief with Mark C. Fleming ’97, a partner at WilmerHale and vice-chair of the firm’s appellate and Supreme Court litigation practice.

Following the court’s decision, Torrey said, “In this landmark decision, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has recognized what advocates have been saying for years — there is no legal authority for Massachusetts law enforcement officer to detain someone solely pursuant to an ICE detainer. It is unlawful.”

Five HLS students helped write the brief: Tess Hellgren ’18, Emma Rekart ’17, Madelyn Finucane ’19, Harleen Gambhir ’19, and Alexander Milvae ’19. Hellgren and Rekart described the case and the brief, from which parts of the decision were drawn, on the HLS Clinical and Pro Bono Programs blog.

The decision, is the first ruling by a state’s high court on the question of whether state or local authorities can detain individuals based solely on a request by federal immigration authorities.

For additional coverage, visit

The New York Times: Court Officers Can’t Hold People Solely Under ICE Detainers, Massachusetts Justices Rule

WBUR“Mass. High Court Rules Local Authorities Can’t Detain People Solely On ICE Detainers”

It’s Time For Congress To Join The Fight Against Food Waste

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic

Originally published on huffingtonpost.com on July 26, 2017. Written by Emily Broad Leib, Assistant Clinical Professor of Law, Director of the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic, Deputy Director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation.

Low angled view of the U.S. Capitol East Facade Front in Washington, DC.

This week, I am excited to join a group of advocates and chefs from Food Policy Action, the National Resource Defense CouncilReFed, and the James Beard Foundation in Washington, D.C. to put food waste on the plates of Congress.

In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency and United States Department of Agriculture announced a national goal to halve food waste by 2030, but these agencies and Congress have not yet adopted policies to help us meet this ambitious goal. We are now approaching a critical opportunity to implement such policy change: the U.S. Farm Bill, expected to pass in 2018. This legislation shapes our food and agriculture system, covering everything from rural broadband to food assistance programs—yet the last Farm Bill, enacted in 2014, didn’t put a single dollar towards food waste reduction efforts.

Along with other food waste advocates, we have been working tirelessly to change that. Food waste is a drain on our economy and our environment, and reducing this waste has demonstrated triple bottom-line results: sending healthy, wholesome food to those in need, reducing the negative environmental impacts of food waste, and creating jobs and economic activity. These are the types of solutions our communities and our businesses want to see from Congress.

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Banning the Bomb: Reflections on the UN Negotiations for the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty

Via International Human Rights Clinic

photo of two students at UN

Carina Bentata Gryting and Alice Osman in the UN General Assembly Hall where the negotiations opened in March 2017.

By Carina Bentata Gryting JD ’18, Molly Doggett JD ’17, Lan Mei JD ’17, and Alice Osman LLM ’17

Signing up for the International Human Rights Clinic in spring 2017, we could not have imagined that it would lead us to the United Nations and global negotiations to ban nuclear weapons. With Bonnie Docherty and Anna Crowe as our clinical supervisors, we worked alongside London-based organization Article 36 as well as the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the civil society coalition at the conference. We had the unique opportunity to not only witness, but also actually participate in, norm-building at the international level.

It was at times difficult to explain to those not involved in the negotiations why the ban treaty was an important or even a sensible cause. Many people questioned the impact of a treaty being boycotted by the nuclear-armed states and their allies. For those of us participating in the negotiations, however, the purpose behind the treaty was complex but clear.

Nuclear weapons should no longer be the only weapon of mass destruction not prohibited by international law. A categorical ban on nuclear weapons would increase the stigma surrounding the weapons and ramp up pressure on nuclear states to work towards eliminating their arsenals. Moreover, a strong humanitarian motivation drove the treaty. Prior conferences on the impact of nuclear weapons had led many countries to declare the catastrophic effect of nuclear weapons incompatible with any legal or practical purpose. Countries like the Marshall Islands, Algeria, and Kazakhstan suffered from years of testing and their populations have experienced decades-long harm. Victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, known as Hibakusha, along with their children and grandchildren, still deal with the health and environmental consequences of atomic bombs today. Survivors of this use and testing offered compelling testimony for why nuclear weapons should be banned.

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LSC’s Project on Predatory Student Lending and Public Citizen Sue to Stop Education Department’s Illegal Regulatory Delay

Via Legal Services Center

The U.S. Department of Education broke the law when it announced a delay of a rule designed to protect students defrauded by predatory for-profit colleges and career training programs, two borrowers said in a lawsuit filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The borrowers are represented by Public Citizen and the Project on Predatory Student Lending of the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School.

The lawsuit was brought by Meaghan Bauer and Stephano Del Rose, former students of the for-profit New England Institute of Art (NEIA) in Brookline, Mass. They allege that NEIA, which is owned by Education Management Corporation (EDMC), engaged in unfair and deceptive practices against them and other students that left them with a useless education, few job prospects and a mountain of debt. The students intend to bring suit against the school for its conduct in court, on behalf of a class. They also have asserted a federal right to have the Education Department cancel loans that the students obtained to attend the school based on the school’s unlawful conduct. The lawsuit seeks to invalidate the Department’s delay of the rule, and would allow the rule to take effect for all borrowers.

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Fueling Our Work to Reduce Food Waste: A Workshop in Maryland

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic 

Once you start working on food waste issues, you start to see it everywhere—from your bleary-eyed 7 a.m. breakfast at your hotel’s buffet to the conference spread of delicious, healthy salads and wraps. Where is all this leftover food going to go? You wonder, recalling the logistical barriers you’ve been researching for weeks. How can we keep it from going to waste?

Food Law and Policy Clinic

At Recovering Food in the Chesapeake Region: Policies, Resources and Innovations, a day-long conference we co-hosted with our partners at Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future(CLF) in Silver Spring, Maryland, we clearly had some dedicated advocates in the audience. I say this not just because they asked thoughtful, in-depth questions about food waste reduction and recycling policies, nor because they presented their own clear and effective strategies and success stories of getting food waste policies off the ground. I say this because our 40-some attendees completely cleared the buffet table at the end of the day. Not a single cookie or vegan BLT wrap was left.

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Veterans Legal Clinic Files Class Action Against Massachusetts Treasury on Behalf of Veterans with Bad-Paper Discharges

Via Veterans Legal Clinic

Jeffrey Machado, one of the lead plaintiffs, while serving in Afghanistan.

Jeffrey Machado, one of the lead plaintiffs, while serving in Afghanistan.

On June 29, the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School filed a class action lawsuit in Massachusetts Superior Court on behalf of Army combat veteran Jeffrey Machado and an estimated 4,000 veterans from Massachusetts who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, or elsewhere since 9/11 but are considered to be undeserving of the state’s $1000 Welcome Home Bonus given to servicemembers when they are honorably discharged from the military.

The lead plaintiffs in this suit are two former Soldiers from Massachusetts who deployed to Afghanistan, honorably completed their enlistments, re-enlisted so that they could continue serving their country, and then later left the military with a bad-paper discharge assigned to their final enlistment periods.  Both are diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) related to their deployments and experienced family and health issues that contributed to the conduct that led to the bad-paper discharges.

The Massachusetts Legislature created the Welcome Home Bonus in 2005, continuing a long tradition of providing benefits to returning servicemembers from Massachusetts. However, the Massachusetts State Treasury, which is charged with administering the Bonus program, recently decided that the two veteran plaintiffs were not eligible for the Welcome Home Bonus because their final enlistment periods ended with bad-paper discharges, despite the fact that their prior enlistments during which they had deployed had ended with honorable discharges.

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Addressing Human and Environmental Impacts of Nuclear Weapons in New Ban Treaty

Via International Human Rights Clinic

Bonnie Docherty, associate director at the Clinic, delivering statement to countries negotiating nuclear weapon ban treaty at the UN in New York. Photo courtesy of ICAN.

Bonnie Docherty, associate director at the Clinic, delivering statement to countries negotiating nuclear weapon ban treaty at the UN in New York. Photo courtesy of ICAN.

Member states of the UN General Assembly are currently engaged in historic negotiations of a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. At this point, nuclear weapons are the only weapons of mass destruction not subject to a categorical prohibition in international law. A team from the International Human Rights Clinic, which is participating in the negotiations in New York, has joined the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) in urging countries to adopt a strong treaty that is focused on preventing and remediating the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapon use and testing.

Prohibitions on the use, production, transfer, and stockpiling of nuclear weapons are necessary but insufficient components of the new treaty. In order to address the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons effectively, states parties must also adopt positive obligations to provide assistance to victims in their territory and to remediate environmental contamination caused by nuclear weapon use and testing. In partnership with London-based NGO Article 36, our clinical team has released papers arguing for the inclusion of victim assistance and environmental remediation treaty provisions.

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CHLPI’s Associate Director Speaks to Healio.com on the Senate Health Care Bill

Via Health Law and Policy Clinic

CHLPI’s Associate Director, Caitlin McCormick-Brault, was interviewed by healio.com for a June 22, 2017 story on the newly released Senate version of the health care bill meant to replace the Affordable Care Act. The article, Senate health care bill takes slower approach to House bill, expert concerns persist, looks at the key differences between the Senate and House health care bills.

Excerpt from the article:

“‘Despite calling itself the “Better Care” Act, the Senate bill would actually be worse for patients, particularly vulnerable patients such as older Americans, patients with chronic illnesses, and those enrolled in Medicaid,’ Caitlin McCormick-Brault, associate director, Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law, said in a statement to Healio.com. ‘The Senate bill makes even deeper cuts to Medicaid that the House’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) does, although they phase them in over the next several years to delay the pain until after the next election cycle.’

According to McCormick-Brault, the Senate bill would result in patients facing higher insurance costs with less robust benefits and higher cost-sharing requirements. She advises physicians that the bill would make patients, particularly those under Medicaid, less likely to seek treatment or follow doctors’ orders when additional care is needed.

‘Doctors who see Medicaid patients will be significantly impacted as many of their patients will lose insurance altogether,’ she said.”

Read Senate health care bill takes slower approach to House bill, expert concerns persist at healio.com.

Webinar on the “Blueprint for a National Food Strategy” Available Online

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic

On June 15, 2017, Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School held a webinar to explore the recently released Blueprint for a National Food Strategy. FLPC’s Emily Broad Leib and Emma Clippinger, and Vermont Law School’s Laurie Beyranevand hosted the webinar, which explained the research and findings in the report in more detail, and provided an opportunity to start a dialogue about making the idea of a national food strategy into a reality.

Court Orders Department of Education to Consider Student Loan Relief Application, Calling Request for Further Delay “Frivolous and in Bad Faith”

Via Project on Predatory Student Lending

HLS’s Project on Predatory Student Lending argued that the Department of Education did not consider the arguments or evidence presented by their client before rejecting her claim.

On June 9th, the United States District Court for the Central District of California issued an Order  that directs the Department of Education to rule on the loan relief application of a former Corinthian student that has been pending for over two years.  To date, the Department of Education has not ruled on thousands of applications for loan relief submitted by borrowers whose federal student loans were originated by private banks under the Federal Family Education Loan Program.

The Plaintiff, Sarah Dieffenbacher, filed her first application for loan relief in March 2015. Her loans went into default while her application was still pending.  In late 2016, Sarah received a notice that her wages would be garnished. She works as a home health care phlebotomist to support herself and her four children. She objected to the wage garnishment because the terms of her loan and federal law both provide that Corinthian’s fraudulent actions render her loans unenforceable. She asked the Department to hold the hearing on her objections to which she was entitled.

After the Department of Education overruled her objection, citing the fact that her file included a signed loan contract, and ordered the garnishment to go forward, Sarah filed a lawsuit against the Department in March.  Represented by the Project on Predatory Student Lending of the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, she argued that the Department did not consider the arguments or evidence she presented before rejecting her claim. As the Court noted, her application was supported by 254 pages of exhibits, which included a sworn statement from Sarah as well as records from the Attorney General of California regarding documented misconduct on the part of Everest and its parent company.  The Department also did not provide Sarah with the requested hearing before issuing a summary denial.

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Neither Facially Legitimate Nor Bona Fide–Why the Very Text of the Travel Ban Shows It’s Unconstitutional

Via International Human Rights Clinic

This article was first published on Just Security.

International Human Rights ClinicAs the litigation over the travel ban moves to the Supreme Court, the most important passage in the Fourth Circuit’s en banc opinion may be a tangential footnote finding “yet another marker” of illegitimate purpose in the text of the Executive Order. Both the first version of the Executive Order (of January 27) and the second version (of March 6) include language that any informed observer would recognize as evidence that the purpose of the travel ban is to gratify and further incite hostility against Muslims.Advocates seeking to persuade doubting Justices should not be distracted by the voluminous debates about whether candidate Trump’s statements count against the constitutionality of President Trump’s actions.  For Justices inclined to interpret narrowly the standard of review in immigration cases, the explicit statement of purpose in the first EO, and the residual markers in section 11 of the revised EO, should provide the starting point.

In the first EO, the final paragraph of section 1 explained the EO’s purpose as follows:

In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles.  The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law.  In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.

As the Fourth Circuit noted, “Numerous amici explain that invoking the specter of ‘honor killings’ is a well-known tactic for stigmatizing and demeaning Islam and painting this religion, and its men, as violent and barbaric.”  The thinly coded incitement throughout this purpose paragraph is perhaps best explained in Aziz Huq’s amicus brief for Muslim Rights, Professional and Public Health Organizations.

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FLPC Director Emily Broad Leib, along with Vermont Law Professor Laurie Beyranevand, Make the Case for a National Strategy in Georgetown’s Food & Drug Law Journal

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic

In the most recent issue of Georgetown’s Food and Drug Law Journal, HFLPC’s Director Emily Broad Leib and Laurie Beyranevand, the Senior Faculty Fellow for Food Law and Policy at the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) at Vermont Law School, lay out their arguments for a comprehensive, national food strategy.  Food encompasses such a wide spectrum of issues—touching public and environmental health, immigration and labor, trade, and safety, among others—and is regulated by dozens of government agencies and a web of laws and regulations. This complexity requires a more efficient and effective approach than the status quo in order to improve our food system outcomes related to the environment, health, safety, and access.

The Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic and Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School have been working together to draft a Blueprint for a National Food Policy Strategy, and released a report with that very title in March of 2017. In it, they make the case that we can and should commit to a national food strategy that addresses and prioritizes food-related issues, and which sets goals that take into account food’s unique cross-section of interests and challenges.

The FDLJ article follows up on the report with an analysis about how such a strategy would tackle some of the hot-button issues at the heart of the most recent presidential campaign, such as reducing regulatory inefficiency, promoting economic development, and incorporating stakeholders’ perspectives—especially those from rural communities—who feel that policymakers in Washington are out of touch with their challenges. The ideal national strategy, they write, should be transparent, accountable, durable, and resilient. The authors argue that the strategy should be created or endorsed by the US government, but concede that if this administration won’t create one, a People’s Food Strategy, similar to the one created in Canada, would be a welcome start. However, they argue that ultimately such a strategy will need government buy-in or endorsement in order to be successful.

The full article is available online here.

Negotiating Climate Change: The Perils of “America First”

Via Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program

By Clinical Professor of Law Robert C. Bordone

Clinical Professor Robert Bordone Thaddeus R. Beal Clinical Professor of Law, Harvard Law School Director, Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program

Robert Bordone
Thaddeus R. Beal Clinical Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
Director, Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program

Much ink has been spent lamenting President Trump’s decision to withdraw from The Paris Agreement. Political leaders, scientists, environmental policy experts, and even U.S. companies have condemned Trump’s move. More than just promoting ecological and humanitarian disaster, President Trump’s decision hurts the United States from a diplomatic and negotiation perspective.

Though certainly oversimplifying, in broad strokes we might argue that there are two divergent approaches to how to think about negotiation on the international stage. The first approach assumes that building trust, promoting positive relationships and partnering with allies consistently over the long term is worthwhile and even essential to achieving one’s foreign policy goals. This approach means that you stand with your allies, trade across issues, and honor commitments made by your predecessors on behalf of your country. This approach characterized (in large part) the foreign policy approach of former President Obama’s administration.

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