During the 2014 spring quarter, Kate Falkenstien ’15, and Jordan Rice ’15, successfully mediated a religious accommodation case arising under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and a state Religious Freedom Protection Act.
The case involved a public school employee’s right to wear an unshorn beard in accordance with his Muslim faith. Partnering with lawyers from the Department of Justice, Kate and Jordan drafted and filed the complaint in federal court, coordinated discovery, wrote a mediation brief, and negotiated the settlement before a Magistrate Judge. The judge praised the students for the quality of their work on behalf of their client. ◊
Last Spring, clinic students Nikki Marquez ’15 and Kara McBride ’15 worked with an Immigrants’ Rights Clinic client who had spent over 10 years seeking permanent status in the U.S. after escaping extreme conditions in her homeland. Read on for Nikki and Kara’s account of the experience.
Kara McBride and Nikki Marquez at work on their client’s case.
As we began our client work, we were shocked at the volume of binders that came with her file. As her new advocates, we joined a line of attorneys who had gone before us to seek relief for our client. She had tried several different possibilities without success: it seemed at times as though there were no options left. She has been through an unimaginable struggle to get where she is today. This journey has included fleeing political persecution and violence in her home country, severe domestic abuse in her new country and, at times, an unforgiving criminal justice system.
Despite her many years living in this country and over a decade seeking relief from the immigration system, she is still hopeful for a permanent life in the United States with her children. After fleeing a horrifying past in her home country, our client and her children are thriving here but this life is still lacking a sense of security, due to her immigration status.
Through our legal research and advocacy, we provided our already informed client with knowledge to better understand the challenges of her case; what had happened in the past; and the potential paths to relief. We were humbled by our client’s resilience and positivity and are deeply grateful for the experiences we shared, both personally and professionally. While there are still challenging legal arguments ahead, we are deeply excited to have found a potential strategy for her to obtain a “green” card. By the end of the Spring quarter, we had begun this process for our client by drafting a declaration with her. We cannot believe more firmly in our client or her case. ◊
This past winter, Julesgaard Intellectual Property and Innovation Clinic students developed “Hacking the Patent System: A Guide to Alternative Patent Licensing for Innovators.” Marta Belcher ’15 and John Casey ’15, in collaboration with our clients Electronic Frontier Foundation, Engine Advocacy, and the Open Invention Network, researched, drafted and coordinated the guide, which is designed to help startups and innovators understand and consider using non-traditional approaches to patent licensing.
The goal of the U.S. patent system is to incentivize innovation, but there is growing public concern that the way the current system operates sometimes does more to hinder innovation than to promote it. “Hacking the Patent System” lays out three approaches to patent licenses that innovators can use to reduce the negative impact of the patent system on innovation: defensive patent aggregators, patent pledges, and Google’s License on Transfer Agreement. The guide identifies specific entities and licenses making use of each approach and explains the pros and cons associated with each. This May, our clients officially launched the guide, which will serve as a valuable tool for startups and tech companies as they learn about and consider using these alternative patent licensing structures.
In addition to all their great advice and contract work, all Organization and Transactions Clinic students executed comprehensive corporate governance reviews this past spring quarter. These engagements involve reviewing the client’s existing governance documents and practices, preparing a detailed advice deliverable, drafting an extensive suite of bylaws, board committee charters, and other documents, and making a formal presentation to the the board of directors and CEO.
Lincoln Lo and Cecilia Oyediran rehearse a governance presentation that they later delivered to a client’s board of directors.
Mari Guttman ’15 and Mansi Kothari ’15 worked with the board of a well-known farmers’ market and sustainable agriculture organization in San Francisco. Lincoln Lo ’15 and Cecilia Oyediran ’15 represented a San Francisco nonprofit that enables individuals with physical or developmental disabilities to participate in outdoor adventures. Denise Ballesteros ’15 and Alex Pacheco ’15 advised an agricultural education organization based near Davis, while Cameron Ormsby ’15 and Kaleisha Stuart ’15 worked with a North Bay organization that provides consulting and other services to nonprofits. ◊
Students in the Julesgaard Intellectual Property and Innovation Clinic co-authored with the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) an amicus brief weighing in as amici on one of the most important U.S. Supreme Court cases in recent history addressing patents, Alice Corporation Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank International (CLS Bank). CCIA and its member companies in the computer, Internet, information technology, and telecommunications industries are significantly affected by the patent system: while they rely on patents to protect their inventions, their ability to innovate is often hindered by overly broad patents—particularly software patents.
The primary question raised in CLS Bank was whether a scheme for mitigating risk in financial transactions through the use of a third party intermediary was patentable when (and because) a computer was used as the third party. In winter 2014, clinic students Michael Chen ’14 and Rachel Yu ’14 co-authored an amicus brief with CCIA urging the Court to protect innovators from harmful, overbroad patents. The brief argued that software not tied to particular hardware was unpatentable because it represents an “abstract idea” that is ineligible for patent protection and because it constitutes impermissible “functional claiming.” The brief expressed particular concern that providing protection for the types of patents at issue would enable patent-owners to preempt all ways of implementing an idea, regardless of whether the patent-owner had actually invented them. To help determine which software patents were eligible for protection, the brief proposed a “specific hardware test.”
Several weeks ago, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in CLS Bank, finding the patents at issue invalid because the patents were directed to abstract ideas. The Court held that adding a requirement in the patent that the abstract idea should be implemented on a computer or adding other conventional, well-known steps to the patent did not transform the abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention. ◊
Jeff Fisher arguing for petitioner in Fourth Amendment cell phone case (Art Lien)
In a landmark ruling today, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision requiring police to obtain warrants in order to search cell phones of those arrested. Earlier this year, the Court granted the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic’s petition for certiorari in Riley v. California, the lead case subject to today’s ruling. Students Julia Reese ’13, Ben Chagnon ’14, and Seth Lloyd ’14 drafted the petition. Seth and Ben continued working on the merits briefing, along with Tess Reed ’15, Alec Schierenbeck ’15, and Kristin Saetveit ’15. The Clinic also collaborated and strategized on the case with the Juelsgaard Intellectual Property and Innovation Clinic. Professor Jeff Fisher, director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, argued the case in April. Congratulations to all!
More coverage: New York Times, SCOTUS blog. See previous post. ◊
Ryan Nelson presents at City Council hearing in May 2014.
For more than a year, the Religious Liberty Clinic has represented a small church in Southern California facing a zoning challenge to its homeless ministry. This work took on an exhilarating dimension this quarter. In early May, clinic students Janice Mau ’14, Ryan Nelson ’15, Tom Wakefield ’15, and Paul Harold ’14 (advanced) presented at a City Council hearing. Days later, the clinic filed a federal civil rights lawsuit with motion for preliminary injunction, and then sought a temporary restraining order (which the court granted). The students will not see the case resolved before the quarter ends. But after many long nights and weekends, and under the steady supervision of staff attorney Jared Haynie, they can be proud of their service to the church and its efforts to serve the poor. ◊
Jeff Middleton, Stacy Villalobos and Matthew Verdin outside USCIS
Immigrants’ Rights Clinic students Stacy Villalobos ’15, Jeffrey Middleton ‘15, and Matthew Verdin ’15 drafted sections of the soon to be filed Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals brief in Rodriguez v. Holder. The Clinic represents a class of hundreds of immigrant detainees who have been imprisoned for more than six months. Litigation leading up to this appeal has established the right of detainees to a bond hearing before a neutral decision maker. The appeal hopes to ensure additional due process protections at these bond hearings, including a consideration of alternatives to detention—such as conditions of supervision or electronic monitoring—and the length the immigrant has already been detained as well as the length of anticipated detention. The appeal also hopes to establish a redetermination of bond every six months an immigrant is detained. ◊
JIPIC and O&T Clinic student collaborators. From left: Rachel Kimball Wilcox (JIPIC); Denise Ballesteros (O&T); Yale Fu (JIPIC); Jaryn Fields (JIPIC); Kaleisha Stuart (O&T)
In a unique joint engagement with the Juelsgaard Intellectual Property and Innovation Clinic (“JIPIC”), Organizations and Transactions Clinic students Kaleisha Stuart ’15 and Denise Ballesteros ’15 worked with JIPIC students Jaryn Fields ‘15, Rachel Kimball Wilcox ‘15, and Yale Fu ‘15 to provide contract and IP advice to a national nonprofit focused on teacher development. ◊