Clinical Spotlight: Emily Leung

Emily Leung, Albert M. Sacks Clinical & Advocacy Fellow, Harvard Immigration & Refugee Clinic

I have been working with the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic since the fall of 2010. I have practiced immigration law since I finished law school and feel very fortunate that I found an area of the law that I find incredibly interesting and fulfilling. I am an immigrant myself and can relate to some of our clients’ experiences. At the clinic, I supervise students on cases of asylum seekers and other immigrants pursuing humanitarian relief and also work with our Clinical Director, Professor Deborah Anker, on an immigration policy course.

My favorite part of the job is working with our amazing clients and students. Our clients are a true inspiration and hearing their stories and being able to help them is a humbling experience. Our students are also very bright and dedicated and for many of them, working in the clinic is their first time developing a deep connection to a client. I really enjoy helping students cultivate their skills and client relationships over the course of the semester.

In terms of notable projects, I am very excited about an alternative spring break trip that my colleague, Phil Torrey and I have organized. We are taking a group of HLS students to work with the humanitarian group No More Deaths in the Arizona desert. No More Deaths works to end the suffering and deaths of migrants on the U.S./Mexico border through civil initiative. I also really enjoy the immigration policy course because we invite notable advocates, practitioners and scholars to speak about immigration, social change and their important work.

Outside of work, I enjoy cooking, reading, skiing (in the winter), hiking (in the summer), and spending time with family and friends.

A Warm Welcome to Betsy Gwin

Besty Gwin, Attorney and DAV Charitable Service Trust Fellow in the Veterans Legal Clinic

The Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs would like to offer a warm welcome to  Betsy Gwin, a new Attorney and DAV Charitable Service Trust Fellow with the Veterans Law Clinic. Previously, Ms. Gwin was a Staff Attorney in the Child and Family Law Division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services. Ms. Gwin received her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 2011. While in law school, Ms. Gwin was Editor-in-Chief of the Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law and Policy and worked as a research assistant in the Federal Legislation and Administrative Law Clinic. Ms. Gwin completed internships during law school at the Legal Aid Society of D.C., the Poverty and Race Research Action Coalition, and the American Bar Association’s Center on Children and the Law. Prior to law school, Ms. Gwin served as an AmeriCorps Paralegal at Cambridge and Somerville Legal Services, where her work focused primarily on disability benefits advocacy. Ms. Gwin previously volunteered as a grant-writer to raise funds for children of fallen soldiers in Massachusetts and assisted patients at a veterans’ treatment program in Syracuse, NY. She graduated in 2006 with a B.A. in Anthropology summa cum laude from Syracuse University, where she completed her Honors Thesis on veteran culture.

Clinical Fellows and Students Collaborate on PATHS Report

Kristen Gurley ’15

By Kristen Gurley J.D. ‘15

The Harvard Law School Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation (CHLPI) recently released an insightful and action-oriented report on the landscape of type 2 diabetes in New Jersey. The report, entitled the 2014 New Jersey State Report: Providing Access to Healthy Solutions (PATHS)An Analysis of New Jersey’s Opportunities to Enhance Prevention and Management of Type 2 Diabetes, serves as a resource for diabetes advocates and offers detailed policy recommendations for the prevention and management of the disease.

The report was a product of CHLPI’s PATHS project, which aims to strengthen federal, state, and local efforts to improve the type 2 diabetes landscape through strategic law and policy reform initiatives. The PATHS project, funded by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation through its Together on Diabetes initiative, consists of state-level analyses in New Jersey and North Carolina, as well as federal-level recommendations and state best practices. It is the first product of a five year grant process, written over the course of eighteen months under the supervision of Clinical Fellows Amy Katzen of the Health Law and Policy Clinic (HLPC) and Allison Condra of the Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC), the two divisions of CHLPI.

Fourteen students worked with staff to conduct extensive research and more than fifty interviews with policymakers, government agencies, and non-profit organizations that are playing a role in the state’s diabetes response. Their detailed findings highlight the extent of the type 2 diabetes epidemic in New Jersey and provide actionable recommendations for diabetes advocates.

Report co-authors Allison Condra (left) and Amy Katzen (right) with New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney at the New Jersey Diabetes Leadership Forum on March 27, 2014

“A frightening fact is that New Jersey ranks third in the nation for obesity among low-income children ages two to five, predisposing them to a future diabetes diagnosis. Nearly three-quarters of a million New Jersey adults are currently living with the disease,” said Allison Condra. “Our recommendations should serve as a resource for diabetes advocates within the state who are already working to take action.”

The PATHS report first details the impact of type 2 diabetes in New Jersey, and includes a profile of the state’s demographics, economy, political structure, and existing institutional capacity to address diabetes. Following this assessment, the report identifies existing policies that impact diabetes through the state’s food system and health care system. The report provides numerous detailed recommendations, including: making fruits and vegetables affordable and accessible to people in many low-income communities; helping New Jersey children gain access to healthy foods at school; making communities conducive to healthy, active living; providing access to the Diabetes Prevention Program; ensuring access to diabetes self-management education, medical nutrition therapy, and diabetes equipment and supplies; and enhancing care coordination for Medicaid/Family Care enrollees. Amy Katzen, explained, “by ensuring that all New Jerseyans living with type 2 diabetes have the tools, skills, and knowledge to manage their disease, we can prevent many of the most severe complications, keeping New Jersey healthier, happier, and more productive.”

To promote the PATHS report findings, CHLPI clinicians and students traveled to Trenton, New Jersey, to release the report at the New Jersey Diabetes Leadership Forum, on March 27, 2014. As Taylor Bates, ‘15 noted, “Ever since I started working on it, the PATHS NJ project has impressed me again and again with its thorough research on diabetes in New Jersey and the innovative solutions it offers. This event showed me that the community understands this problem and has the power to solve it. New Jersey has a chance to apply well-researched solutions to its growing diabetes epidemic, and based on what I saw at this event we’ll see a lot of progress in the coming years.”

The report was very well received by state legislators, agency policymakers, and community leaders. New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney addressed the Forum attendees, describing his personal experience with diabetes and telling the audience, “I’m in your corner.”

“New Jersey has a very high prevalence of diabetes, with approximately 700,000 people living with the disease,” said Robert Greenwald, Director of CHLPI and Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, in addressing participants of the New Jersey Diabetes Leadership Forum. “This number is expected to double by 2025, and it is essential that advocates, legislators, and government agencies come together and take action now. Our hope is that the report will support these efforts and provide a resource to those that are already doing great work to address the prevention and care management needs of people living with or at risk for diabetes in the state.”

Read the full report here.

Clinic Students Witness Life in Prison

By Hila Solomon J.D. ’14

Every week, the students in Judge Cratsley’s Judicial Processes in Community Courts Clinic venture out to different courts in Massachusetts to observe judicial proceedings first-hand and to aid our judges with research and writing projects. While most of us observe primarily criminal proceedings, it is rare that we see how convicted criminals lives are affected post-conviction. We hear people’s stories and are allowed personal peeks into their lives during their trials, but rarely do we have a chance to understand what, in fact, happens to them after they leave the courtrooms.

This past Monday, however, we were fortunate enough to get a rare glimpse into the lives of inmates. Judge Cratsley organized a tour of the Middlesex County House of Correction in Billerica, which was led by the House of Correction’s (“HOC”) legal counsel and assistant superintendent. The majority of the tour was spent on understanding the procedural aspects of a prisoner’s experience. We learned about how prisoners are processed from the moment they are brought into the jail, how the jail administrators determine which cell each prisoner will inhabit—primarily through one’s classification, or how serious an offender one is—how the days are spent, and the rehabilitation programs available to the prisoners. The HOC’s legal counsel pointed out numerous legal considerations that affect the prisoners’ daily lives. For example, after a Massachusetts judge toured the jails and deemed double occupancy cells to be borderline unconstitutional, the HOC shifted its rules, allowing only one prisoner per cell from thereon.

Yet, even more interesting than learning about the procedures safeguarding the rights of the prisoners was witnessing their existence within the HOC. We, as a society, put people behind bars and barbed-wire-fences and often forget that they are there. But at the entrance of the HOC, a small play area with a colorful rug and child-sized tables and chairs reminds you—there are people in here; these people have lives outside of these walls. The visit brought the faces of these prisoners to light, at least in my eyes. The first cell we peeped into (the prisoner was not inside), contained a picture of a young, smiling, elementary-aged girl and The Holy Bible. The next cell we strolled past had a small picture with the image of Jesus on it. By the third stall, I felt as if it was wrong to continue to peep in; these are, after all, the prisoners’ homes, as temporary, or bleak, or unreal as they may seem.

Hila Solomon ’14

Visiting the HOC helped me connect the work I have been doing over the semester to the realities that will persist long after my time in the clinic has ended. I recommend that every law student, regardless of an interest in criminal law, make an effort to tour a HOC or prison at some point. Such visits help connect theory to reality, and put practical considerations before us in the midst of an education that is usually highly based in theory. Tomorrow when I go to court, I will understand the weight of the juries’ verdicts, the judges’ opinions, and the lawyers’ work—it is in the protection of our society, but also in the lives of our prisoners.

HLAB Students Win a Quarter of a Million Dollars

L-R: Stephanie Goldenhersh, HLAB Clinical Instructor, Carolina Kupferman (2L)

By: Carolina Kupferman (2L)

My legs were shaking under me as I stood up in front of the judge to give my opening statement. My speech in front of me, an assortment of possible objections jotted down on post-it notes, and a 3-inch binder of documents I scoured for days were my only available weapons.

After just a few weeks at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau I had my first trial. I had only three weeks of Evidence class under my belt, plus one motion hearing I argued in front of a judge. Yet, here I stood, the “first chair” in a  divorce case that included issues ranging from financial assets to child custody, visitation, and support. My case involved a woman whose husband had physically and psychologically abused her for the past two decades. He had threatened to kill her, repeatedly slammed her head into a car, stalked her, frequently punched her, and more. They had moved together into his mother’s large Newton home that was going to one day be theirs, and his name had gone on the home along with his mother’s. The day after she moved out of the home to escape the abuse, he moved thousands of dollars from their joint bank account; weeks later he transferred the home into a trust in solely his mother’s name. My client barely had an income, and had to take care of two children, one with disabilities.

In the weeks prior to trial, I worked closely with my client, hearing the story as she told it, as she had lived it. Listening to her carefully describe each and every attack against her, each slandering term he screamed at her, I saw her strength. I saw how she had given up everything to make a better life for her children, and how her husband was trying to take it all from her. We practiced questioning her and tried to prepare her for how cross-examination would feel.

After she went home, my trial team—which included my 3L co-counsel and my clinical instructor—stayed at the office until the early hours of the morning for days in a row looking through documents, searching for inconsistencies, conceptualizing the financial fraud, and picturing every instance of abuse.

On the day of trial, we argued that the house and bank account were marital assets and our client deserved 50% of the equity in the house and the 401K, and the money removed from their bank account. I remember the trial as a whirlwind, and found it particularly amusing to sit in class afterwards on lectures of black-letter evidence law that I had learned through my baptism by fire.

Months later, we received the judgment. As I read through each paragraph, I could not believe the words on the page. My client obtained 60% of her ex-husband’s 401K from the time of their marriage, 50% of the money taken from the joint bank account, a favorable custody/visitation/support arrangement and 50% of the significant equity in the house. I cannot describe how wonderful it felt to read the judgment and then show the result to my client.

It is often very difficult to be a student-attorney. When everyone else has finished class and can relax, you are still thinking about your cases and your clients. The burden rests on your shoulders, and if you mess up, it is someone’s actual life at risk. Now, the husband’s attorney has filed a Notice of Appeal. HLAB has been retained to defend the judgment through the appellate process.

Sometimes you wish you did not have that responsibility, but when you see the positive results you can bring about, the change you can bring to someone’s life, it makes it all worthwhile. All the work. All the stress. All the crazy hours. All the practice and preparation. It was all worth it.

Clinical Spotlight: Shaun Goho

Shaun Goho, Lecturer on Law and Senior Clinical Instructor, Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic

Shaun Goho
Lecturer on Law and
Senior Clinical Instructor
Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic

I have been working with the clinic since the summer of 2008. It’s hard to believe that it has already been close to six years.

In terms of substantive environmental issues, I am particularly interested in the regulation of shale gas and shale oil extraction as well as the promotion of renewable energy. From a procedural perspective, I am interested in citizen enforcement of environmental laws and the doctrines that govern access to the courts. I also have an interest in environmental history.

In the clinic, we have done a number of projects over the last few years in connection with shale gas and shale oil extraction. I mention an ongoing project below. Previous projects have included an investigation of the authority of municipalities to regulate, limit, or ban oil and gas extraction within their borders and the preparation of a guide for landowners who are negotiating with oil and gas company that wants a lease to drill on their land. As for renewable energy, we have been litigating for several years over the ability of renewable energy contractors to contract for, supervise, and perform the non-electrical portions of solar photovoltaic (PV) installations in Massachusetts. Last year, we also wrote a white paper suggesting ways to eliminate the current uncertainty over the scope of the property tax exemption for solar PV projects in the Commonwealth.

I have also worked with students on a number of amicus briefs over the last couple of years, including ones in cases involving the regulation water pollution from active logging roads under the Clean Water Act, the deregulation of Roundup-Ready Alfalfa by the Department of Agriculture, and the regulation of hazardous air pollution from power plants under the Clean Air Act. Most recently, we filed an amicus brief in the winter term on behalf of Calpine Corporation in the U.S. Supreme Court greenhouse gas permitting case, UARG v. EPA.

We are finishing up a paper with recommendations for ways that state agencies can improve their processes for responding to complaints about water contamination associated with oil and gas development. In another project, we are attempting to identify best practices for state and federal programs that promote conservation easements, either through providing tax breaks or through direct monetary grants. In a third project, we are examining the legal authority to create microgrids under Massachusetts public utility law.

Outside of work, I like to run, hike, read, go to movies and concerts, and hang out with my family.

Clinical Students Contribute Hundreds of Hours to Massachusetts Judicial System

Hon. Judge John C. Cratsley (Ret.), Lecturer on Law and Director of the Judicial Process in Community Courts Clinic

By Hon. Judge John C. Cratsley (Ret.) Lecturer on Law and Director of the Judicial Process in Community Courts Clinic

Already this semester, students in the Judicial Process in Community Courts Clinic have provided hundreds of hours of research and drafting assistance to judges in the state and federal courts. Budgetary limitations, particularly in the state courts, have reduced the number of full-time law clerks to the point where law student help is invaluable.

The Community Courts Clinic places students with judges for an internship experience combined with classroom discussion of issues judges face each day including sentencing, judicial ethics, the jury, court management and alternative dispute resolution. Students gain the unique opportunity to work alongside a judge, experience firsthand the inner workings of the court system, and see how issues of modern-day society unfold in the courts on a daily basis.

Alysa Harder (3L)

Alysa Harder is a 3L student interning with the Suffolk County Superior Court. “I’ve had the opportunity to work on challenging research and writing assignments that matter, and to observe and discuss a wide variety of fascinating high-stakes court proceedings, civil and criminal. This internship has put so much of what I’ve learned in law school into context, and has been both very practical and very intellectually satisfying.”

Dayme Sanchez (2L)

Dayme Sanchez, a 2L student, is interning with Judge Bonnie MacLeod in the same Superior Court. She says that through her internship she has seen what it is like to actually be in a courtroom and present a legal argument before a judge and jury. Dayme describes Judge MacLeod as her role model. “Her mentorship has assisted me tremendously in learning the ins-and-outs of the trial court” she says. “It has prepared me for my future goal of becoming a trial litigator.”

Students have also made significant contributions to the community courts, including the Boston Municipal Court and the Quincy District Court. Their work in criminal cases has covered the field, including motions to suppress based on claims of improper identification procedures, improper traffic stops, and violations of the Miranda rules. Students have also worked on motions to dismiss criminal charges and motions seeking discovery of the identity of confidential informants.

All this law student legal research and writing would be unavailable to their judges in the present financial circumstances of the Massachusetts courts. So in addition to the value of the student-judge conversations and the courtroom observations inherent in judicial internships, the Community Courts Clinic is meeting an immediate need of our local judges.

To learn more about the Judicial Process in Community Courts Clinic visit the program website.

HIRC at GBLS Defends Rights of Local Immigrants

Via The Harvard Immigration & Refugee Clinic Blog

John Willshire-Carrera and Nancy Kelly, Co-Managing Directors of HIRC at GBLS, with their students and colleagues, continue their work on behalf of asylees and immigrants. Rooted in Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS), the largest legal services program in New England, the Clinic works “from the bottom up,” representing individuals and communities, as well as advocating for law reform on a broader scale. Over the years, the Clinic has responded to numerous important events, including backlash against immigrant communities in the aftermath of 9/11, TPS registrations, the 2007 New Bedford factory raid, and the DACA registration initiative started in 2012. Through this work, HIRC at GBLS strives to teach students how to provide high-quality legal services to individual clients while seeking to change the climate in which cases are adjudicated and targeting issues for broader law reform efforts.

HIRC at GBLS has represented clients in asylum, withholding and CAT cases, and cases involving other forms of relief at all levels – the Asylum Office, the Immigration Courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the Circuit Courts. These cases have often raised cutting-edge issues in asylum protection, including domestic violence and other gender-based harm, and harm inflicted based on sexual orientation or gender identity, as a basis for asylum, and the appropriate standard to be applied in evaluating asylum claims brought by children, including unaccompanied minors. Most recently, the Clinic is representing a number of children fleeing gang-related violence in Central America and indigenous individuals whose claims arise from the genocidal civil war in Guatemala.

Continue reading about the cases presented by HIRC at GBLS here.

Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation Releases 2014 PATHS Report

Via Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation

Harvard Law School’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation convened more than 60 representatives from state government, nonprofit social service organizations, foundations and diabetes advocacy groups in Trenton, New Jersey, on March 27 to release its report titled, “An Analysis of New Jersey’s Opportunities to Enhance Prevention and Management of Type 2 Diabetes.”

The report, the center’s first focused on diabetes as part of its Providing Access to Health Solutions (PATHS) initiative, provides a comprehensive summary of the type 2 diabetes landscape in the state, including an overview and discussion of the policies that impact type 2 diabetes and policy recommendations to help reduce the prevalence and consequences of the disease.

To view the press release, click here.
To view the full report, executive summary and policy-by-policy fact sheets, click here.

HIRC co-writes Amicus Brief on Gang-Based Asylum Case

Via Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic Blog

The case of Jose Fuentes-Colocho highlights the complexities of cases involving youth fleeing gang violence. Fuentes-Colocho sought refuge from El Salvador as a teenager after being repeatedly persecuted by Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). MS-13 is no longer just a street gang; it is now the organized insurgency which destabilizes El Salvador’s political scene. It controls municipalities and government officials must negotiate with gang members. Due to his outspoken opposition to MS-13 as leader of a local organization, Jose was beaten unconscious on several occasions and was forced to watch MS-13 members rape his female friends.

Deborah Anker, Nancy Kelly, John Willshire-Carrera, and L. Rachel Lerman (Partner at Akin Gump LLP) recently wrote an amicus brief arguing that MS-13 is a political entity and that Jose Fuentes-Colocho’s opposition to MS-13 constitutes political opinion. Professor Anker believes Jose’s political opinion is a central reason why he was targeted for gang violence. “This is an important case because most of the cases have been argued under the social group ground, which hasn’t been successful,” Anker remarks. “I think political opinion is the way to go in cases like this.” Despite Fuentes-Colocho’s credible testimony, the Immigration Judge expressed that Jose could not ‘explain’ how his opposition to MS-13 was indeed political in nature. The Judge concluded that he was a victim of mere ‘random acts of violence’. HIRC is hoping the decision will be overturned. The case is currently pending in the Ninth Circuit.