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Mills Legal Clinic of Stanford Law School
Mills Legal Clinic of Stanford Law School

CLC Students Successfully Negotiate on Behalf of Their Client at Lengthy Mediation

Pictured here are Community Law Clinic students, Casey Raymond (’14) and Rebecca Maurer (’14) after completion of a 6-hour mediation at the San Francisco offices of ADR Services, Inc. on Monday, October 21, 2013.

Casey and Rebecca represented a man who lived with his large family in a decrepit and neglected single family home. Seeking to impose liability on the property management firm that oversaw all the maintenance in the home, the students did extensive research into the complicated legal issues that arose from a shady transaction, orchestrated by the company, of the home to an individual the family knew as their neighbor and handyman. The company’s liability was accepted by the mediator, a retired judge who praised the students’ work throughout the day, as the starting point for negotiations. A favorable settlement was reached, and the clinic’s client hopes to put the proceeds toward a home purchase.

Clinic Students Contribute to publication advocating for consultation rights of indigenous chileans

The International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic jointly with Harvard Law School, the Universidad Diego Portales, and the Universidad de Los Andes released a book this week about the consultation rights of indigenous peoples in Chile. The book critiques the Chilean government’s failure to guarantee indigenous peoples’ right to free, prior, and informed consultation, an international legal obligation Chile agreed to when it ratified International Labor Organization Convention 169 in 2008.  Professor Jim Cavallaro is a coordinating author and Stanford Law School clinic students Adelina Acuña, Alexia Romero, and Jennifer Ingram contributed as did clinic cooperating attorney Ada Sheng. Clinical Fellow Clara Long was in Santiago this week to help present the book at the release event.

For the English and Spanish press releases and a copy of the book, visit the clinic’s web page:

Landmark Win for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic

The Immigrants’ Rights Clinic team was thrilled to receive news last week of a significant U.S. District Court victory requiring the U.S. government to give bond hearings to immigrant detainees.

In Rodriguez v. Robbins, U.S. District Judge Terry J. Hatter issued a permanent injunction requiring the government to give automatic bond hearings as soon as immigrant detainees have been held for six months to determine if they should continue being detained.  The Clinic — along with co-counsel from the ACLU and Sidley Austin, LLP — have been litigating the case for six years.  Former clinic students Eli Miller, Erin Mohan, Mark Baller, Kimere Kimball, and Michael Kaufman worked on the case.

The ruling follows the Ninth Circuit’s decision affirming a preliminary injunction issued by Hatter late last year. The judge has now held that all immigration detainees held in the Central District of California with pending deportation cases are entitled to a bond hearing at six months, and that such hearings include heightened procedural protections to ensure the hearings are fair.

The Clinic and its co-counsel filed Rodriguez on behalf of the hundreds of immigrants whom the government has imprisoned for more than six months in the Los Angeles area while their deportation cases are being decided. The suit sought the most basic procedural right for detained immigrants – a right to a hearing where they can argue for release on bond. The case has been pending since 2008 and has been extensively litigated, including in two different Ninth Circuit appeals.

The Immigrants’ Rights Clinic is directed by Professor Jayashri Srikantiah.  Lisa Weissman-Ward has recently joined the team as Clinical Supervising Attorney and Lecturer in Law, and will be co-teaching the clinic.  Legal support is provided by Allie Thrall.

Congratulations to all!

Great work by Students in the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic

Students in the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic (“IRC”) finished up work on several significant projects on behalf of clinic clients this past quarter, as detailed below. Congratulations to all.

Aimee Krause (’13) successfully negotiated with a prosecutor to reduce the charges against Ms. S, an eighteen year old immigrant rape survivor.  Aimee also worked with Ms. S to develop her application for legal status through the U visa, based on a series of severe sexual assaults Ms. S suffered, beginning when she was fourteen years old, and her subsequent cooperation with law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrator.  In order to prepare Ms. S’s filing, Aimee met with Ms. S’s family members, conducted intense factual investigation, and assembled numerous supporting documents.  Aimee and the Clinic were also required to advocate for Ms. S’s release from immigration detention during the course of the spring quarter.  Because of Aimee’s efforts, Ms. S was able to be released from custody back to her family, where she can continue receiving the support she needs to recover from the abuse she has suffered.

Sherri Hansen (’14) and Katherine Zhao (’14) successfully negotiated last week with the Department of Homeland Security to close immigration deportation proceedings in the case of their client, Mr. A.  The client is a young man from Guatemala who has been in the United States for a decade and works to support his family while simultaneously completing his education.  Sherri and Katherine prepared an application for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals for Mr. A, a new form of immigration relief announced by the Obama administration last summer.  In order to prepare the application, Sherri and Katherine conducted numerous interviews with Mr. A, gathered voluminous records, and assembled an extensive filing documenting Mr. A’s eligibility.

Lauren Tsuji (’14) and Katharine Wies (’14) successfully negotiated this week with the Department of Homeland Security to close immigration deportation proceedings in the case of their client, Mr. L.  The client is a young man from Mexico, who is facing deportation.  Mr. L has been in the United States since he was four years old and has experienced severe domestic abuse at the hands of his father, partly based on his sexual orientation.  Lauren and Kate prepared a U Visa application based on the abuse that Mr. L suffered, which is a form of relief for noncitizens who have been the victim of a crime and who have cooperated with the police in the investigation of that crime.  Lauren and Kate also filed an application for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals for Mr. L, which is a new form of immigration relief for young immigrants who have been to school in the United States and do not have any significant convictions.  In order to prepare these applications, Lauren and Kate conducted extensive client meetings, interviewed witnesses, engaged in factual investigation, and gathered supporting evidence to establish the client’s eligibility.

The IRC is directed by Professor Jayashri Srikantiah. Alison Kamhi serves as the Clinical Teaching Fellow, and Allie Thrall provides excellent assistance.

News from the Religious Liberty Clinic

Congratulations to all in the Religious Liberty Clinic on the latest accomplishments of several students, as highlighted below.

Nick Landsman-Roos (’13) and Aren Balabanian (’13) wrote an amicus brief on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism and Foundation for Jewish Camp and in support of a faith-based recreational camp in Wisconsin. The brief concerns the harm caused to religious assemblies by an unduly narrow interpretation of the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA). Nick and Aren argue local governments should not be permitted to avoid liability under RLUIPA for excluding religious assemblies from their midst by hiding behind state zoning arrangements.

Eric Hamilton (’13), Nick Landsman-Roos (’13), and Manuel Possolo (’13) successfully resolved a dispute with a local school district involving “released-time” instruction. California law authorizes public schools to adopt “released-time” programs, where students may periodically leave school an hour early to receive instruction in the religion of their choice. The chief purpose of the law is to accommodate parents who believe religious instruction should form an integral part of a child’s school schedule. Late last year, the Anti-Defamation League contacted the clinic, asking it to represent a single mother who wanted her daughter’s school to release her four times per month for Jewish education but whose request had been denied. After a lengthy and complex negotiation, Eric, Nick, and Manny convinced school officials of their client’s position and obtained full relief under the statute.

Finally, an article published yesterday about the Clinic’s efforts in a Florida case involving a prisoner’s request for a ritual circumcision references the excellent work that Paul Harold (’13) and Courtney Quiros (’14) have been doing on the case.

Jim Sonne directs the Religious Liberty Clinic. Jared Haynie serves as the Clinic’s Staff Attorney, and Nicole Riley is the Clinic’s Legal Assistant.

Professor Jim Cavallaro Elected to Join the IACHR

Many congratulations to Professor James Cavallaro, Director of the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic, on his having been elected yesterday to be one of the seven members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). This is an extraordinarily important position that will allow Jim to carry on his tireless efforts to promote human rights in the Americas.

Thankfully, this is not a position that will require Jim to give up his directorship of the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic, which will continue to operate with students as a vital part of the Mills Legal Clinic.

Spring Quarter Highlights from the Organizations and Transactions Clinic

Congratulations to all in the Organizations and Transactions Clinic on a successful spring quarter. Students worked on a variety of matters, as highlighted below:

Advice and Documents: Corporate Structure and Operations

Michael Ruiz (’14) and Raymond Tambe (’14) provided extensive operations advice to the country’s leading charter school organization. The project included thorough study of organizational structure, research and preparation of a substantial report and contract comments, and discussions with the general counsel. Michael and Raymond also prepared a complex contract for a San Francisco nonprofit that supports legal service organizations across California and a suite of documents for a Peninsula nonprofit that connects science, technology, engineering and math professionals with middle school students for weekly mentoring sessions.

David Fechter (’14) and Florence Wang (’14) prepared a marketing agreement for a Monterey County nonprofit organic produce distributor. The project entailed a site visit, study of marketplace practices, and development of a substantial contract reflecting regulatory and market requirements but tailored for the small farmers served by the client. David and Florence also developed education materials for a consortium of several of the country’s largest private foundations, a project that involved multiple meetings and calls with lawyers from each of the foundations, and drafted contract documents for a Santa Cruz sustainable agriculture nonprofit.

Nick Tsui (’14) and Monica Lienke (’14) advised a San Benito County nonprofit about branding and trademark licensing matters, and about its relationship with an affiliated charitable organization. The engagement involved meeting with management and preparation of a report and multiple contract and business planning documents. The team also revamped the installation contract used by a rapidly-growing statewide nonprofit that installs solar power systems at homes in low-income communities, and prepared a copyright license, website terms of use, and website privacy policy for a nationally-prominent San Francisco immigration legal services organization.

Ian Aucoin (’14) and Jackie Robinson (’14) reimagined and revamped contract documents used by a San Mateo County affordable housing organization that operates one of the country’s largest home sharing programs. Ian and Jackie also advised a leading Marin County community resource center about its relationship with an affiliated organization that manages affordable housing units, a project that involved considerable factual analysis, report preparation, contact drafting, and discussions with management. Finally, the team developed website terms of use, a website privacy policy, and trademark license terms for a large Bay Area food bank.

Advice and Documents: Corporate Governance

Monica Lienke (’14) and Ian Aucoin (’14) provided comprehensive corporate governance advice and materials for a leading San Francisco-based venture philanthropy organization. Monica and Ian met with the president of the client and later presented their recommendations to the president and multiple members of the board of directors.

Jackie Robinson (’14) and Nick Tsui (’14) reviewed the governance practices and documents of a San Francisco-based organization focused on gun violence prevention. The team met with the CEO and CFO, prepared an extensive report, and presented recommendations and materials to a committee of directors, all of whom are senior partners in major law firms.

Florence Wang (’14) and Michael Ruiz (’14) prepared governance recommendations and a suite of bylaws, committee charter, policy, and management documents for a multi-site community health center in the East Bay. The team worked closely with the CEO and met with both the executive committee of the board and the full board to discuss their advice.

Raymond Tambe (’14) and David Fechter (’14) worked with a long-established senior center on the San Mateo County coast to review and modernize the organization’s governance documents. The team met the CEO and a board member, and then made a formal presentation at a meeting of the full board of directors.

The Organizations & Transactions Clinic is directed by Professor Jay Mitchell. Michelle Sonu serves as the Clinic’s Staff Attorney, and Allie Thrall provides legal support.

Immigrants’ Rights Students File Ninth Circuit Amicus Brief

Congratulations to the students, faculty and staff of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic (“IRC”), who filed an amicus brief this week on behalf of various immigrants’ rights organizations in Almanza-Arenas v. Holder, a case pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The brief, written by IRC students Pat Gutierrez (’14) and Mia Crager (’14), concerns the intersection of immigration and criminal law–the Ninth Circuit is considering whether a noncitizen should be precluded from securing humanitarian immigration relief based on his or her criminal record, even though his or her prior criminal records do not conclusively demonstrate that the noncitizen is subject to the legal bar.  In the brief, the Clinic argues on behalf of its clients that the Ninth Circuit should revisit an earlier ruling that was unfavorable to noncitizens, in light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Moncrieffe v. Holder (another case in which the Mills Legal Clinic was deeply involved).

Pat and Mia were supervised by Clinic Director Professor Jayashri Srikantiah and Clinical Teaching Fellow Alison Kamhi. Allie Thrall provided excellent assistance.

Criminal Defense Clinic Students Win eight dismissals in six weeks

The best defense is a strong offense!  That is the watchword of the Spring Quarter Criminal Defense Clinic students, who have recently won dismissals in eight criminal cases as a result of their vigorous assertion of their clients’ rights.

Megan Byrne and Bret Vallacher won dismissal of three misdemeanor cases — one over the prosecutor’s strong objection. In another case, in which Megan and Bret had two motions and a toxicology retest pending, the prosecutor admitted in front of the judge that the dismissal was “in anticipation of further aggressive advocacy” by the Stanford students.

Daniel Brown and Tarana Riddick also achieved dismissal of a marijuana possession case due to lack of evidence and their client’s possession of a medical marijuana card.

Mariam Hinds and Mark Feldman, just a few days before their evidentiary hearing, won dismissal in a hard-fought case involving mistaken identity.

CDC advanced students continued their zealous advocacy. Camden Vilkin and Katherine Hubbard won dismissal of all charges relating to trespass allegations after litigating for over four months.  In court, the prosecutor openly lauded Camden and Katherine for their strong defense.

Capping months of effort, Taylor Hauck and Sam Cross persuaded a judge to grant their client Proposition 36 relief (dismissal after successful drug abuse treatment) after an evidentiary hearing and an initial denial of the program.  Finally, Katherine Lin and Sam Jacobson won full dismissal of an assault case on the eve of trial.

The Criminal Defense Clinic is directed by Professor Ron Tyler.  Galia Phillips and Suzanne Luban serve as staff attorneys and Lynda Johnston provides legal assistance.

Congratulations to all.

YELP Students Advocate on Behalf of Clients for access to Special Education Services

Students in the Youth and Education Law Project (“YELP”) wrapped up their clinical quarter this past Winter having successfully represented several young clients and their families in gaining access to special education services and accommodations. Below are highlights of their work.

Maureen Howard (’14) and Matthew Fine (’14) represented four-year-old D.M., a pre-school student with autism.  D.M.’s parents approached YELP after moving to the area and becoming involved in a dispute with her school district.  D.M. had been receiving significant special education services in her prior school district, but her new district had refused to provide comparable services, in violation of special education and student transfer laws.  After the sides were unable to resolve the dispute at an Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) meeting, Maureen and Matthew filed a due process complaint with the Office of Administrative Hearings.  At an ensuing pre-mediation resolution session, Maureen and Matthew negotiated a settlement agreement, procuring a level of services comparable to what D.M. had been previously receiving and securing compensatory services in the form of extended education during the summer.

Andrew Noll (‘14), Maureen Howard (‘14), and Matthew Fine (‘14) represented I.R., a kindergarten student who is deaf, in a disability discrimination matter.  I.R. and his family sought I.R.’s admission to a special state school for students who are deaf/hard of hearing.  I.R. was rejected from that school because school officials asserted I.R. has a second disability which the school stated it could not accommodate.  This despite the fact that I.R.’s only mode of communication was American Sign Language (ASL) and that school is the only publicly available option for students who would benefit from an ASL environment. The family sought YELP’s representation, and Andrew, Matt, and Maureen conducted extensive factual investigation and legal research to prepare a disability discrimination claim for potential federal litigation.  Litigation would prove unnecessary. After detailing in a letter I.R.’s discrimination claims and demanding I.R.’s readmission, Andrew, Maureen, and Matthew received from the school an unconditional offer of admission.

When third-grade special education student E.S. first came to YELP, he was mainstreamed in a general education classroom with inadequate behavioral and academic supports. Rather than developing strategies to accommodate E.S.’s intellectual disability and emotional disturbance, the school put him under a table in what they called the “cave” for up to two hours a day. Recognizing that this type of segregation/seclusion is not an acceptable—and indeed, unlawful—educational and behavioral intervention, Michael Reynolds (’13) and Lila Miller (’14) represented E.S. and his mother at an IEP meeting to secure E.S.’s placement in an appropriate education environment. In the meantime, E.S.’s behaviors continued to escalate, resulting in the need to evacuate the classroom to restore order and safety. The situation was so severe that the school district requested that E.S. receive home instruction until the IEP team determined a new placement for E.S., a request that required his mother to miss nearly five weeks of work. Michael and Lila successfully arranged for the school district to reimburse E.S.’s mom for all of the work that she missed during the home instruction. They also persuaded the school district to fund E.S.’s placement at a non-public school that meets his educational and behavioral needs. E.S. started at the school last month and both his mother and teacher report that he is doing very well.

The Youth and Education Law Project is directed by Professor Bill Koski (the Eric and Nancy Wright Professor of Clinical Education). Carly Munson serves as the Bingham McCutchen Clinical Staff Attorney and Joanne Newman is the program’s Legal Assistant.

Congratulations to all.