Congrats to Stanford Law students Kristen Bell (’13) and Angela McCray (’14) who made the Community Law Clinic’s first court appearance of the quarter! They appeared on behalf of a low-income tenant in an eviction case and filed a Motion to Quash the summons on the basis of a fatal defect in the complaint. In so doing, Angela and Kristen also noted for the court that the plaintiff landlord is a corporation and was appearing unrepresented, in violation of California law. That latter point was the most important to the judge, who has ordered the plaintiff to retain counsel and instructed that the tenant is under no obligation to file any responsive pleading until it does so. Angela and Kristen are prepared to re-file their Motion to Quash, and to negotiate in this new posture on behalf of their client.
Students, faculty and staff of the Organizations and Transactions Clinic completed a wonderfully successful quarter this past Fall. Here are some highlights of their accomplishments:
Corporate Governance Advice and Documents
Alan Drosdick (’13) and Janice Mau (’14) provided comprehensive corporate governance advice and materials for a leading Bay Area food system educator and operator of farmers’ markets. Alan and Janice spoke with the CEO and CFO on multiple occasions and met with the governance committee of the board to present the team’s recommendations.
Jeannie Poland (’13) and Lisa Valenti-Jordan (’14) prepared governance recommendations and a suite of bylaws, committee charter, policy, and management documents for a San Francisco-based college success program. The team worked closely with the client’s executives and presented their findings and advice to the board’s executive committee.
Cesar De La Vega (’14) and David Moore (’13) represented a large and long-established Bay Area social enterprise committed to fighting poverty. The team reviewed and revamped the organization’s extensive governance documents, met on several occasions with the CEO and CFO, and made a formal presentation at a public meeting of the full board of directors.
Program Design/Operations Advice and Contracts
Jeannie Poland (’13) and Janice Mau (’14) developed equipment lease and catering service documents for a San Francisco business incubator. The project included a site visit, multiple meetings and calls with the management team, in-depth analysis of business considerations, and preparation of new contracts. Jeannie and Janice also prepared template contract and term sheet documents for a newly-formed San Francisco child services organization for use when entering into collaborations with governmental agencies and other nonprofits.
David Moore (’13) and Lisa Valenti-Jordan (’14) prepared loan, security, and guarantee documents for a statewide nonprofit to use in its agricultural lending program. The project entailed client meetings, review of existing credit documents, design and drafting of new contracts, and creation of a tool for use by the client in complying with covenants in its own funding agreements. The team also revamped volunteer program documents for a large Bay Area shelter organization, a project involving site visits and a complete rework of the materials.
Alan Drosdick (’13) and Cesar De La Vega (’14) prepared license and sublease agreements relating to shared use of farm and food preparation facilities at a Solano County agricultural education organization. Alan and Cesar also worked with a Santa Cruz County community development organization to develop documents for a new commercial kitchen business incubator program. The team toured the site, worked with the CEO as well as a technical consultant, helped develop key business terms for the program, and drafted contract documents.
In addition to these team projects, each student worked independently with a client. Alan advised a San Francisco immigration legal services organization about a license agreement for distribution of educational materials. For that same client, Janice prepared contract, education, and communication documents relating to independent contractor arrangements. Lisa advised a large Bay Area food bank about publicity of volunteer activities, a project involving preparation of an advice memorandum and a new volunteer agreement. Cesar drafted mutual non-disclosure and employee confidentiality and assignment invention agreements for a San Francisco girls empowerment nonprofit. Jeannie drafted an independent contractor agreement and inbound contract review tool for a Santa Cruz County organic farming research organization. David provided advice about fiscal sponsorship arrangements to a Sonoma County food system organization, and developed new contract and compliance documents for the client.
The Organizations & Transactions Clinic is directed by Professor Jay Mitchell, who works alongside clinic staff attorney Michelle Sonu. Alexandra Thrall provides wonderful paralegal support.
In a 7-2 decision yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the clinic’s client, Fane Lozman, in Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach. Lozman owned a floating home that the city in Florida where it was moored seized, contending it was a “vessel” and thus subject to – and, for various reasons, in violation of – maritime law requirements. The Supreme Court held, however, that a non-motorized floating home is not a vessel under federal admiralty law and reversed the lower court’s decision. In the process of issuing this ruling, the Court also followed the clinic’s recommendations in establishing generally applicable criteria that will determine whether other kinds of floating structures constitute vessels — everything from floating restaurants and hotels to floating swimming platforms to decommissioned war ships. The case will thus be a touchstone of maritime law for years to come. Supreme Court Litigation Clinic students, Matthew Waring (’13), Cathleen Hamel (’13), Will Havemann (’13), and Denise Drake (’13) worked extensively on the case under the supervision of co-directors Pam Karlan, Jeff Fisher and lecturer, Kevin Russell. Jeff Fisher presented oral argument Joanne Newman also provided outstanding support. See coverage in the New York Times.
Students, faculty and staff of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic received wonderful news recently that their client “K” was granted legal status under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). A VAWA petition is a form of immigration relief that allows non citizens married to abusive United States citizens to leave their abusers and still maintain legal status. A male victim of spousal abuse, K was in danger of being deported to Afghanistan because his abusive wife withdrew his green card application and he was charged with being in the U.S. unlawfully.
Meredith Johnson (‘12) and Julia Rabinovich (‘12) worked with K to prepare his application, conducting extensive client meetings, interviewing witnesses, researching legal options, and engaging in detailed fact development. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services approved K’s application on December 11, 2012. Meredith and Julia were supervised by Clinic Director Professor Jayashri Srikantiah and Anna Welch, former Cooley Godward Kronish Clinical Teaching Fellow.
Community Law Clinic students have earned some important victories for their clients this quarter as highlighted below. Congratulations to all involved!
Ravi Doshi (’13) and Melissa Hughes (’13) conducted a bench trial in November where they represented a woman in an unpaid wage claim. Their client had been hired to care for an elderly woman, and perform housekeeping chores in the family home. When a significant dispute arose over the amount of pay agreed upon, the client left the job. When she returned for her wages, she didn’t receive them. The client had represented herself at an administrative hearing and prevailed, but the employer took the opportunity for a trial de novo in Superior Court. Ravi and Melissa did two direct examinations, cross examined the defendant employer, and delivered opening statement and closing argument. They responded to the judge’s many questions and concerns, and out-performed the opposing counsel by miles! The client was awarded everything demanded in the complaint—wages and applicable penalties. Ravi and Melissa are presently working on post-trial issue of attorney fees. Clinical teaching fellow Nisha Vyas supervised this case.
Sarah Cunningham (’13) and Jessica Greenlick Snyder (’13) represented a woman who had worked in a floral shop and who had significant unpaid wages. The client had filed her own wage claim, and Sarah and Jessie represented her at the administrative hearing. The case presented many challenges, including an unrepresented defendant whose presentation at the hearing was erratic and internally inconsistent. The students answered the hearing examiner’s many questions about their calculations of wages owing, addressed his concerns about the liability of a potential co-defendant, took their client through direct examination, and cross-examined the defendant, including a textbook impeachment by prior inconsistent statement (a verified complaint in a different civil matter that the students investigation had uncovered). The client was awarded all of her wages and applicable penalties. Collection in this case will be a challenge, given the numerous outstanding liabilities of the defendant, but Jessie and Sarah are in it for the long haul! Clinic director Juliet Brodie supervised this case.
In another wage case, Sarah Cunningham (’13) and Jessica Greenlick Snyder (’13) represented a woman who had worked at a gas station and, like Melissa and Ravi’s client, had prevailed on her own at the administrative level and was now facing the employer’s de novo case in Superior Court. The students served a notice of deposition on the defendant corporation, and, having done the research, proceeded to explain to the individual director that he could not represent the corporation in court and that the corporation was required to have counsel. The case settled on very favorable terms for the client; Sarah and Jessie have just delivered the sizable check to their client. Juliet Brodie also supervised this case.
Jessica Snyder (’13) represented a woman in an unlawful detainer (eviction) case. The client’s apartment manager served her with a notice to pay rent or quit within three days. She provided the management with a money order for the amount due, but the staff returned it to her, saying they couldn’t accept it due to noise complaints. The management filed an eviction suit against her. Jessica assisted the client with completing an answer and served discovery requests. This resulted in a quick negotiation with the landlord’s attorney, who voluntarily dismissed the case.
Students have also represented clients in Social Security Disability administrative hearings this quarter, under the supervision of clinical supervisor Lisa Douglass.
Lauren Navarro (‘13) represented a San Jose man who lives in subsidized mental health supportive housing due to his bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder. Lauren’s client was denied benefits at a prior hearing in 2011, where he was very ably represented by Kristin Wickler (‘13), who also worked to develop the evidentiary record. The Social Security Appeals Council vacated that decision on appeal and remanded for a new hearing before the same judge. Lauren presented lengthy testimony of her client about his symptoms and mental health history, cross examined an expert witness and presented argument to the judge. She also submitted newly detailed declarations she had prepared from physicians and other witnesses, and submitted a thorough trial brief outlining the basis for disability. We are currently awaiting a decision.
Jessica Snyder represented an East Palo Alto woman who has been disabled since she fell down a flight of stairs at work a few years ago. She suffers from chronic pain and depression. At the administrative hearing the judge adopted the argument Jessica put forth in her brief, and awarded the client ongoing disability benefits including almost two years of retroactive benefits, based on statements Jessica had secured from the treating physicians.
We also received good news on some of our Social Security Disability hearings from Spring Quarter. Elizabeth Dooley (‘13) secured benefits for her 57 year old client who suffers from an anxiety disorder, depression and cognitive limitations after overcoming a long history of opiate addiction and suffering a head injury. The client had been homeless for several years when we began representing him and recently moved into subsidized housing that was conditional on applying for and receiving disability benefits. Elizabeth interviewed witnesses, secured an independent neuropsychological evaluation for the client, and engaged in a lengthy colloquy with the judge at the hearing, answering detailed questions about the medical evidence. She also submitted declarations, a trial brief and post-hearing reports in response to the judge’s questions. In the end, the judge granted ongoing disability benefits including several months of retroactive benefits. The client will be able to maintain stable housing as a result of this decision.
Jonathon Margolick (‘13) secured benefits for a local man who has been living in non-profit subsidized housing after years of homelessness due to his mental health symptoms. Jon conducted interviews with the client about sensitive issues, including a traumatic childhood, history of alcohol abuse, and mental health symptoms. He also prepared declarations from the client’s former psychiatrist and his case manager and submitted a hearing brief. At the hearing, Jon presented the compelling testimony of the client. The judge’s decision included over two years of back benefits and Medi-Cal coverage which will enable him to access comprehensive treatment of his mental health and medical conditions as well as prescription medications.
Amanda Broulliette (‘13) represented a single mother at an administrative hearing appealing the cessation of her Social Security Disability benefits. The client was cut off benefits last year because Social Security determined she was no longer disabled by her mental illness. She went to a hearing, where the judge also determined that she was no longer disabled. She appealed that decision and the Social Security Appeals Council remanded for a new hearing because the recording from the first hearing had been destroyed. The clinic took on representation of the client for this new hearing before the same judge that had denied her the first time. Amanda secured additional statements from the client’s treating mental health providers, worked with the client to prepare her testimony, and submitted a terrific trial brief. At the hearing, Amanda also cross examined two expert witnesses and presented argument. This time, the judge issued a written decision finding that there was no medical improvement and disability benefits should be continued.
On September 25, the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic at Stanford Law School, together with the Global Justice Clinic at NYU Law School, released a joint report focusing on the severe impacts of U.S. sponsored drone attacks on primarily civilian targets within Pakistan.
The 182-page report, entitled Living Under Drones: Death, Injury, and Trauma to Civilians From US Drone Practices in Pakistan is the result of nine months of intensive research conducted by clinic students and instructors at both universities. The team of clinicians (including current and former Stanford students Adelina Acuña (’12), Mohammad M. Ali (’13), Anjali Deshmukh (’13), Jennifer Gibson (’12), Dimitri Phillips (’13), Wendy Salkin (’13), and Omar Shakir (’13)) interviewed 70 victims from the region most affected by the attacks, as well as 70 medical professionals, humanitarian workers, authorities and analysts, and reviewed thousands of pages of documentation in its preparation of this report. Since its release, Living Under Drones has received wide media coverage in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, the Huffington Post, among others. Such coverage has fostered broader debate on US drone practices in Pakistan and beyond.
By documenting the effects of strikes – including “double taps” that have struck first responders – the report not only quantifies the terrible impacts in human and institutional terms, but also questions the efficacy and morality of U.S. policy. The report further notes that the ongoing practice serves to inflame anti-American sentiment in Pakistan, undermines Pakistani democracy and is creating a dangerous international legal and practical precedents in dealing with security threats. The report recommends “that the US conduct a fundamental re-evaluation of current targeted killing practices, taking into account all available evidence, the concerns of various stakeholders, and the short and long-term costs and benefits.” It emphasizes that the U.S. policy makers and the American public “cannot continue to ignore evidence of the civilian harm and counterproductive impacts of US targeted killings and drone strikes in Pakistan.”
Students, faculty and staff in the Organizations and Transactions Clinic finished up a terrific spring quarter representing client organizations in communities throughout Northern California. In the course of their work, students conducted client site visits, met with company leaders, and presented their recommendations and findings to board members and management teams, among many other endeavors. Read on for details of student projects this quarter:
Brian Hoffman (’13) and Susanna Kim (’12) prepared a grant agreement for use by the nonprofit arm of a Bay Area design firm in connection with its launch of an international microgrant program. The team also provided comprehensive corporate governance advice and documents to a large Bay Area food bank, an engagement involving meetings and calls with the CFO and members of its Board of Directors. Finally, Brian and Susanna carried out a comprehensive legal risk assessment for a San Francisco child abuse prevention organization. The project included substantial diligence work, preparation of a suite of documents, and meetings with the CEO and other members of its management team.
Lindsey Barnhart (’13) and Lale Uner (’13) provided governance advice and documents for a San Francisco-based international open access publisher and presented their recommendations to the CEO, CFO and chair of the Board. The team also created template sponsorship, services and non-disclosure agreements for the client. For a Bay Area food bank, Lindsey and Lale prepared contract documents regarding disaster response activities and several media releases. Finally, the team provided advice to another Bay Area food bank regarding its website and brand protection policies, a project which included several meetings with the client’s communications, IT and contract compliance executives.
Stefanie Shih (‘13) and Paul Montemayor (’13) provided governance advice and materials for a Silicon Valley mental health organization and met with the full Board of Directors and senior management team on two occasions. They also created model farm lease documents, a media release, and a services agreement for a state-wide organization that assists California farmers. Stefanie and Paul worked on an analysis of structuring options and implementation considerations for portfolio companies of a Bay Area venture philanthropy organization, an engagement which included commenting on an outside management consultant’s report, creating a standalone presentation, and participating in a webinar.
Jonathan Smith (‘13) and Emily Speak (’13) represented a San Francisco organization on a rework of materials for its commercial kitchen and business incubator programs. The project included several meetings with the client’s management team, and design and drafting of new contracts and related operational documents. For another leading San Francisco nonprofit, the team developed a set of governance and contract documents for a national consortium of immigration rights organizations. Finally, Jonathan and Emily worked with a consulting firm to provide governance advice and materials for a Bay Area conservation organization as it spins out from its current fiscal sponsor.
Nicholas Crews (‘13) and Meredith Williams (’13) created an intercompany services agreement and provided related governance advice to a San Benito County child services organization. The project included on-site diligence, review of financial statements and other materials, and multiple discussions with the chair of the Board. They also provided governance advice and materials for a San Francisco family resource center and met with the CEO to discuss the project. In addition, working with the general counsel of a national charter school organization, Nick and Meredith developed a credit agreement, grant agreement and related documents for a school start-up lending program.
Stacy Kourlis (‘13) and Jordan Wappler (’13) drafted complex lease and facility-use agreements, and developed beginning farmer program terms and land-access contracts, for a leading Northern California agricultural education organization. The project involved a site visit and multiple calls with the CEO, program leaders, and members of the Board. The team also met on several occasions with the CEO and program lead of a large Bay Area operator of farmers’ markets and provided advice and contract documents for its farm audit program. Finally, the team provided corporate governance advice and materials for a San Francisco child services organization and met with the Board to present their findings.
Students, faculty and staff in the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic are ending the Spring quarter with great success at trial in two separate cases heard within the past few weeks in San Francisco Immigration Court.
Ben Good (‘13) and Alan Drosdick (‘13) represented Ms. T, a longtime lawful permanent resident (“green card” holder) of the United States originally from Taiwan facing deportation because of minor petty theft convictions. Ms. T has lived in the United States for nearly three decades and has raised two U.S. citizen children here. She is also a leader in her community having received numerous awards and other accolades for her work with children. This quarter, building off the work of former IRC students Marcus Perkins (‘12) and Adrian Garcia (‘12), Ben and Alan worked tirelessly to defend Ms. T at her deportation trial before the San Francisco Immigration Court. They prepared an extensive pre-hearing filing, which included declarations from their client and witnesses and other documentary evidence; they worked countless hours in preparing their client and witnesses to testify in Court (including preparing their direct and cross examinations); and they prepared opening and closing arguments to present to the judge. Last week, after a lengthy trial before the San Francisco Immigration Court, the judge granted Ms. T’s request to allow her to keep her green card and remain in the United States indefinitely. In granting Ms. T’s request, the judge applauded Ben, Alan, Marcus, and Adrian for their work before the Court.
Nayna Gupta (‘13) and Julian Simcock (‘13) represented Mr. J, a longtime lawful permanent resident (“green card” holder) of the United States with citizenship in Jordan. Mr. J faced removal proceedings for two minor criminal convictions one of which took place over two decades ago and the other nearly ten years ago. As a Palestinian refugee, Mr. J has made the U.S. his home and works tirelessly to provide for his wife and their U.S. citizen children. This quarter, building off the work of Chris Skelton (‘13), Nayna and Julian spent countless hours preparing for Mr. J’s trial before the San Francisco Immigration Court. They prepared an extensive pre-hearing filing (including a pre-hearing brief) documenting their clients strong family, community and work ties; they prepared their client and witnesses to testify in Court (including preparing their direct and cross examinations); and they prepared opening and closing arguments to present to the judge. This week, after a lengthy trial before the San Francisco Immigration Court, the judge granted Mr. J’s request to allow him to keep his green card and remain in the United States with his family. The judge applauded Nayna and Julian for their excellent work in representing Mr. J.
Immigrants’ Rights Clinic students, Marisa Diaz (‘13) and Ying Wang (‘13) recently completed a significant advocacy project in collaboration with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center and Silicon Valley De-Bug to develop a presentation for the San Mateo County Commission on the Status of Women on the issue of probation officers reporting youth to immigration authorities. In order to research the harm that reporting youth to immigration authorities causes to youth and families, Marisa and Ying met with juvenile defense attorneys, community organizations, and immigration attorneys. Marisa and Ying synthesized their research and developed a presentation to ask the Commission to help stop the practice. Marisa delivered the presentation on May 22, 2012, and the Commission was so moved by the presentation that it agreed to hold a public hearing on the issue.
Marisa and Ying were supervised by Clinic Director Jayashri Srikantiah, Alison Kamhi, Clinical Teaching Fellow, and Anna Welch, Cooley Godward Kronish Clinical Teaching Fellow. Allie Thrall provided excellent legal assistance on the project.
Students, faculty and staff in the Community Law Clinic have enjoyed a string of successes this quarter resulting in significant economic relief for clients. Read on for highlights of their wonderful work.
Katharine McFarland (’12) and Julia Cherlow (’12) represented a client seeking payment and penalties available under the Labor Code for her employer’s failure to provide her with legally required meal breaks. The client had represented herself in an administrative hearing and won, but the employer appealed for a trial de novo in Santa Clara County Superior Court. Katharine and Julia served discovery requests upon the defendant employer. When the employer and its counsel failed to respond to these discovery requests, Katharine and Julia filed a Motion to Compel, which was granted. Facing the clinic’s litigation, the employer agreed to pay the amount that was awarded to our client in the administrative hearing.
Adam Kretz (’13) represented a San Carlos restaurant worker whose final wages went entirely unpaid. The restaurant owner, clearly exploiting what he thought was Adam’s client’s vulnerability as an immigrant, simply bullied the worker and refused to pay. Adam took the case, and sent the owner a letter demanding payroll records and inviting negotiation. The owner quickly came to the table and agreed to pay the wages plus some of the applicable penalties.
Ravi Doshi (’13) represented a Peninsula secretary whose former employer, a real estate agent, did not pay final wages for several weeks despite her plain demand and availability for payment. The worker eventually filed her own administrative wage claim, and prevailed when the boss did not attend the hearing. He eventually paid the wages, but not the statutory penalty, which had been ordered by the agency. When the boss received the order from the agency, he pursued his right to a de novo bench trial in Superior Court. The clinic was retained to represent the worker at that stage. Ravi quickly mastered the file, and the statutory scheme that permits accelerated discovery in this de novo context. Recognizing the leverage it would give his client, Ravi noticed the boss’ deposition. After claiming he needed to postpone the deposition to hire his own lawyer, the boss stopped returning Ravi’s calls, including the one informing him that the deposition was still legally noticed, and would go forward, exposing the deponent to fees if he failed to attend. The court reporter set up in the clinic conference room, Ravi placed one more call to the boss, who picked up his phone. After telling Ravi an absolute lie – that he’d spoken to Ravi’s supervising attorney who had agreed to “waive the deposition” – the boss caved, and agreed to pay the entirety of the outstanding penalty, as well as the court reporter’s fee for attending the deposition.
Melissa Hughes (’13) and Gavriel Jacobs (’13) met with residents of Hotel de Zink: Women’s Shelter on April 26. The community- and Stanford- student run shelter for unhoused women in the Palo Alto area launched this January. Melissa and Gav delivered a presentation about the Community Law Clinic’s practice areas and work with the community, and answered questions regarding legal resources assisting low-income individuals in the Peninsula.
Shira Levine (’12) represented a tenant in an eviction proceeding. The tenant lives on a very limited income and has multiple disabilities. After the April rent became due, she received two notices to pay rent from the landlord, but the two notices demanded differing amounts. The tenant tried to pay, but the landlord wouldn’t accept the amount she offered and filed the lawsuit. Shira filed a motion to quash the service of the summons and complaint because of receipt of two notices to pay rent with differing amounts gave rise to a legal deficiency. Prior to the hearing on the motion, the landlord dismissed the case, and issued a new, legally correct, notice to pay rent. The client was in a position to pay the full amount within the demand period, preventing a fresh eviction case and preserving her housing.
Melissa Hughes (’13) represented a tenant in an eviction proceeding. The tenant is a participant in the Section 8 Housing Voucher Choice program, a federal housing subsidy program in which a participating tenant pays a portion of her rent and the remainder is paid by a local agency referred to as the housing authority. Melissa’s client’s portion of the rent increased by $19. In April, she paid her old rental amount by check and paid the additional $19 by money order. Her landlord claimed that it did not receive the money order, and issued a three-day notice to pay rent or quit. She mailed another $19 money order to the property management company. The landlord returned it and filed a complaint in Superior Court for possession of the unit, the $19, and another $700 in attorney fees and costs. Melissa identified defects in the three-day notice to pay rent or quit and advocated to opposing counsel on behalf of her client, pointing out that her client repeatedly tried to give the landlord the money and showing him evidence of the landlord’s retaliatory motives in bringing the action. The opposing counsel dismissed the case.
Professor Juliet Brodie directs the Community Law Clinic. Danielle Jones and Lisa Douglass serve as Staff Attorneys, and Nisha Vyas is a Clinical Teaching Fellow. Lupe Buenrostro and Adelina Arroyo provide excellent administrative support.