2016 Summer Public Interest Fellowship Highlights
Thursday, September 15, 2016
Posted by: Office of Career & Professional Development
One way in which UDC David A. Clarke School of Law supports its commitment to preparing students for careers in the public interest is by offering Summer Public Interest Fellowships to all qualifying first-year law students, and to as many second-year students as funding will allow. Through their full-time summer placements with non-profits, legal services providers, and government agencies, students build substantive expertise and commitment, make valuable professional contacts, and provide vitally needed legal services — often to individuals and communities who otherwise could not afford a lawyer.
In Summer 2016, the School of Law had 44 Summer Fellows, including 36 Rauh Fellows working in public interest law and policy, 4 Equal Justice America Fellows working in the School of Law's legal clinics, 2 Freddie Mac Fellows working in the area of housing and community development law, a Hadley Fellow focused on workers' rights, and a Women's Bar Association Foundation (WBAF) Founders Fellow focused on the legal needs of women and girls in the DC metropolitan area.
Keya Duncan interned for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, one of the country’s premier civil and human rights coalitions, where she worked on several civil rights policy initiatives. She has a passion for fighting inequities in the criminal justice system and relished the opportunity to meet and work with civil rights leaders such as Wade Henderson. As part of her work, she partnered with Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, on its project to document the history of lynchings of African Americans in the South from 1877 to 1950. She was especially grateful to have had the opportunity to work for Mr. Stevenson’s organization, as she hopes to work for it in the future in order to fulfill her dream of doing post-conviction criminal defense work. This summer, she also researched and prepared a report analyzing how bail practices at courts in Maryland, DC, and Virginia disproportionately impact indigent defendants, minorities and people of color and violate the principle of “innocent until proven guilty.”
Jarlens Princilis, who is strongly interested in fighting consumer fraud, was an Equal Justice America Fellow working in the UDC Housing and Consumer Law Clinic this summer, where he “had a great opportunity to help protect tenants against deceptive practices.” Through this process he learned that he is not only interested in consumer fraud but has come to realize that his interest lies in “helping others against unfair dealings in any form.” He gained significant, substantive experience interviewing clients and drafting legal materials, including a lis pendens motion, in the Clinic’s lawsuit filed on behalf of elderly residents at the Washington Home nursing facility who face eviction should the sale to the Sidwell Friends School go forward.
Tracey Jackson is a 2L student with a Ph.D. in Social Welfare Public Policy and Administration and a passion for fighting for the rights of labor. This summer she interned with the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 12, a division of one of the largest federal employee unions, representing approximately 670,000 federal and D.C. government workers. She handled a wide variety of tasks, including assisting in grievance and arbitration representation preparation, working on employment matters invoked to binding arbitration before a “third party neutral,” successfully negotiating with management to settle two cases, assisting on several bargaining teams, participating in mediations, and supporting a labor/management team working on a joint training program to improve the annual performance appraisal process at the U.S. Department of Labor. She came away from that in-depth experience with an even deeper commitment to fighting for workers. According to Tracey:
More than ever my experience demonstrated the need for a social justice advocate for labor law. The employee is under attack from just about every direction with little support or help without a union.
She ended with a renewed commitment to pursue labor law:
As a direct result of my Ernie Hadley Fellowship, I will take Employment Discrimination Law with Professor Robinson and Alternative Dispute Resolutions with Professor Reuben-Cooke this fall. My experience this summer and continued course work will help provide a greater understanding and support for my efforts to be a social justice advocate for labor law and employees.
John Blake worked for the Montana Innocence Project, whose mission is to free wrongfully convicted prisoners and prevent future wrongful convictions. John is a Montana native who has been an organizer, leader, and volunteer for non-profits focused on social justice for more than 15 years, and was very excited to have the opportunity to return to his home state to work on innocence project issues. Over the summer, he had the opportunity to observe and work on cases where clients were convicted “with so little evidence that” people hearing the facts “hardly believed that such a thing could happen.” Feeling a passion for the mission of the organization helped inspire him to tackle extremely challenging legal issues and exceed the expectations of even highly experienced criminal defense veterans. Indeed, he tackled such a complex federal habeas corpus issue that a noted federal appellate attorney reviewing his work said he “must have angered the gods to get assigned this particular piece of research.” Unbowed by the challenges, Blake did a superb job and reached the correct conclusion according to the appellate attorney after in depth research and analysis. Furthermore, John did such excellent work for the Montana Innocence Project that halfway through the summer his supervisor already considered him to be “a valuable asset to [the] organization” and hoped that “similarly talented and dedicated students from UDC will be willing to work with us in the future.”
Hannah Amundson worked as an intern at the District of Columbia Department of Health Office of General Counsel, where she got excellent substantive experience handling assignments for the District’s Board of Medicine and a chance to have a positive impact on public service work. Her responsibilities included writing public consent orders and private negotiated settlement agreements regarding medical licensure, writing various official requests to the Office of the Attorney General, attending Board of Medicine meetings, researching DC law issues, writing legal memoranda on issues/topics she researched, and drafting letters for follow-up and guidance on agreements and orders. As part of her work, she wrote an especially helpful and thorough memo that was utilized by her supervisor in a case involving medical marijuana and the unauthorized practice of medicine. According to Hannah:
I effectively did legal research for [my supervising attorney] and created a memo not only to be proud of, but that would also significantly help him with his work—and that is what is really important, creating real positive impacts in public interest work.
Hannah was especially grateful for the opportunity which the Rauh Fellowship afforded her and did such great work that her employer asked her to stay on this fall. According to Hannah:
The whole internship was an incredible opportunity to learn and I am so grateful for the professional experience and skills I gained. I even got an offer to return and work in the Office of General Counsel anytime this year or next summer—whenever I would like to come back! I also got a letter of recommendation from the executive director of the D.C. Board of Medicine! This fellowship enabled me to gain much-needed confidence, legal skills, and experience through my internship at the D.C. Department of Health Office of General Counsel, Board of Medicine.
Furthermore, Hannah not only did a superb job, but like so many UDC students, her positive attitude and character impressed those around her and even improved the atmosphere of the office during her time there this summer. Her supervisor reported:
Hannah has developed very good relationship[s] with the other interns and staff members at the Office of General Counsel. She adds to the pleasant environment with her cheerful nature and demonstrates and fosters mutual respect with her coworkers. She understands the value of a pleasant, positive working environment.
Jason Diggs worked for the Virginia Legal Aid Society in Roanoke, Virginia, and was greatly appreciative of the opportunity to “assist those who are the most vulnerable in our society.” Jason handled substantive matters in various areas including housing and social security disability claims. He completed a large volume of significant work including memoranda on topics involving social security administrative law, landlord-tenant issues, unemployment law, professional license restoration and other areas. He also worked on a long-term project to create a methodology for gathering data in Fair Housing Act cases involving discriminatory policies affecting individuals involved in the criminal justice system. Working with his supervisor, Jason devised a creative argument to overturn a decision to evict a client from public housing after she was wrongfully charged with possession of marijuana belonging to another person. Due to Jason’s hard work the single mother of four who had been a model tenant before the wrongful charge was able to get back into public housing. Through this process Jason was able to see the discriminatory impact of housing policies and to make a significant, positive difference in the lives of a mother and four children swept up in those policies. According to Jason:
I am happy to report that the client did gain acceptance into public housing after my supervisor and I had an appeal hearing with the administrative officer. Through research, I was able to identity creative arguments being made on behalf of public housing applicants with a criminal history. The most convincing argument is the Title VII violation of due process rights under the Fair Housing Act. I learned that under the Fair Housing Act, some blanket ban PHA policies actually discriminate against protected classes. These blanket ban policies are in many ways a direct effect of the war of drugs. Being that the war on drugs has caused a disproportionate amount of drug convictions for black and brown people, the blanket ban policies are a reflection of those populations being denied access to public housing.
Kelechi Agbakwuru worked for Neighborhood Legal Services Program in Washington, DC, where he received excellent substantive legal work experience. He researched and wrote memoranda on topics such as tenants’ rights, consumer protection, asbestos remediation, procedure and applicable criteria for requesting a stay in a state action pending adjudication of a federal action, and child custody modifications. He also worked on a community canvassing listening project related to home ownership preservation.
Through his work, he gained respect for the rigors of working as an attorney on the front lines of serving indigent clients. Furthermore, he notes that working in the trenches of progressive law in Washington, DC, has helped him “grow as a citizen of the District.” Kelechi was deeply inspired by the work and gained a deep appreciation for the critical role that organizations like NLSP play in ensuring that needs of lower income citizens of the District are met. He states:
I have found my time at NLSP particularly fruitful because I’ve had the pleasure of working with various programs that help the people who are most in need of legal services: people from low income areas. NLSP works with clients that may not have reasonable means to pay for a private attorney for various reasons and the assistance and counsel they are able to receive from the passionate and dedicated staff here can literally change their lives for the better. I have been excited and very humbled coming to work every day for an organization that cares so much about bridging the wealth gap between those who do and do not have access to legal services and, through that disconnect, have less than equal protection under the law.
Furthermore, Kelechi learned much about his community and himself, and grew tremendously through his experience working at NSLP in just a few short months:
Working in Deanwood, I was able to learn about the issues facing residents of Ward 7 and the resources that are available to help alleviate those concerns. [Many] of those resources emanate from non-profit service providers like NLSP and their impact cannot be overstated. Access to affordable legal services is paramount to low income people getting the full benefits of their citizenship as Americans and NLSP works tirelessly to expand their reach and work with service providers to help clients protect themselves and their families. Through my time at NLSP, I learned as much about the community as I did about myself and my goals beyond law school. Hopefully I can use these experiences to grow as a person and become a more impactful citizen in both my professional and personal life.
Alicia Lewis interned at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) with the goal of helping to promote the organization’s mission of promoting environmental sustainability-focused practices in the building and construction industry and “advancing greener buildings and communities.”
She handled a wide variety of substantive projects, including:
- Research to show how federal agencies can enforce energy efficiency requirements in the buildings they lease,
- Drafting of proposals for USGC’s Board to extend the organization’s influence beyond environmental causes to advocate for diversity, inclusion and ethical workplace practices, in response to North Carolina’s enactment of a discriminatory bathroom law directed against transgender individuals, and
- Researching rules and procedures for transacting business in all 50 U.S. states and overseas.
Alicia found the experience extremely worthwhile and especially helpful in moving her towards her professional goals. In her mid-summer reflective essay, she said about her experience:
There are a number of other projects I have completed and am in the midst of executing. They are all intriguing and complement the courses I have taken, my current summer courses or my personal legal interests. I am also encouraged by the varied projects I am able to undertake. I began the opportunity wanting to experience a host of different tasks and to learn as much as possible. The fellowship experience has not let me down thus far. I am also enjoying the general counsel’s mentorship and opportunities to meet other legal professionals. For example, I have met copyright and trademark attorneys as well as seasoned environmental attorneys. I am presently deciding whether I want to pursue environmental law or intellectual property. Therefore, this experience has been extremely invaluable.”
She also learned a great deal about what it takes to be a general counsel of an organization – one of her longer term goals – by working directly with the General Counsel of USGBC, alumna Susan Dorn, ‘85. According to Tracey:
A great attorney works hard; serves their clients well; has a host of employment, tax, contracts, intellectual property and other pertinent experience; takes measured risks (trail blazes); and maintains an awesome reputation.
I love the work that [USGBC’s General Counsel] does. It’s varied and keeps her on her toes. I love the rigor and mental enlightenment of handling multiple, different tasks to meet stakeholder needs. I have learned that one must pay their dues, stay the course, take calculated career risks, and make themselves available in their quest to become a general counsel. The role is an organization’s jack-of-all-trades and is a strong researcher, writer, information synthesizer, and communicator. I embody these same skills and look forward to paying my professional dues in my course to become a general counsel. I am encouraged by this experience and the opportunities that await me.
Kyndall Hicks worked for the D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) where she worked closely under the mentorship of Administrative Law Judge Claudia Crichlow. OAH is a judicial body that handles appeals from government decisions in a variety of areas, including unemployment compensation, Medicaid and other public benefits, public space, rent control, professional and business licenses, and building, health and fire code violations. At OAH, Kyndall got significant, hands-on legal experience, preparing legal memoranda, drafting decisions and observing hearings. In addition, one of Kyndall’s most important goals this summer was to improve her writing skills and Judge Crichlow gave her an extraordinary opportunity to learn directly from her. As Kyndall said, “Judge Crichlow truly has my best interest at heart and when I am in her office, every day I learn something new.” With her guidance, Kyndall gained invaluable insights and learned how to write more clearly, concisely and effectively.
Prior to the summer, Leslie Benjamin was a student attorney in the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, and participated in the School of Law’s service-learning trip in Dilley, Texas, where she worked on behalf of families detained at the Dilley Family Detention Center. Over the summer, she served as an advocacy intern for Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), a non-profit organization that supports a national network of community-based legal immigration services programs. Within the first two weeks of her internship, Leslie was tasked with submitting a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Department of Homeland Security to obtain enforcement memoranda relating to deferred action for childhood arrivals. In addition, Leslie wrote entries in the State and Local Advocacy monthly newsletter, which provides affiliates with information on emerging trends in immigration legislation across the US. Her last major project for CLINIC was helping organize a national awareness event on ending family detention, which will take place in more than 26 cities across the country.
Leslie’s supervisor was very impressed with her work, and remarked that “[Leslie] has been excellent. The work required unique and complex skill sets: Technical writing, good communication skills, coalition building work, and strategic messaging. She has excelled at all of them.”
Mi Chau worked at the Prince George’s County office of the Maryland Public Defender where she assisted with research and writing, legal filings, discovery review and trial preparation. She received superb marks from her supervisor who indicated that she was “energetic and helpful in assisting in attorneys’ cases” as well as “interactive” and “well-liked by staff.” Her research included Fourth Amendment issues, which taught her how gray this area of law can be in real cases as compared with the “black and white” way it can seem in class. She also had the opportunity to go to the Medical Examiner’s office in Baltimore to observe part of an autopsy, and attended a jail training which enables her as a law clerk to visit incarcerated clients.
Roxy Araghi worked both for the Smithsonian Privacy Office and Magistrate Judges Beshouri and Matini of the D.C. Superior Court. She managed to balance all of her responsibilities at both fellowship locations and impress her supervisors. At the Smithsonian Privacy Office she provided practical guidance to assist Smithsonian webmasters with compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), helped develop best practices around COPPA, and helped implement COPPA through the Smithsonian Kids Online Privacy Statement. She also supported the Privacy Office by reviewing contracts with third party vendors to determine any privacy implications and assessed the institution’s public-facing privacy statements, ensuring consistency in this area across the organization. Her Smithsonian supervisor was impressed at the amount of work she accomplished and said she is always “engaging and professional” and should be “commended for her commitment, dedication and her professionalism.” She even served “as a great mentor and resource for the Smithsonian Privacy Office’s undergraduate summer intern, providing guidance on legal issue spotting when conducting privacy assessments of Smithsonian Museums.” She had the opportunity to meet with the Undersecretary for Finance and Administration, the Director of Information Technology and other senior leaders within the organization.
Roxy also received very high marks from her supervisors – one of whom was Shana Frost Matini,
‘96 – at the court, where she helped with the preparation of the mortgage foreclosure calendar by reviewing case documents, writing case summaries and drafting orders. In addition, to giving her high scores for her substantive work, her evaluation noted that she was “always professional and friendly with everyone she interacted with.”
Seth Brown worked for the D.C. Office of the Attorney General, Equity Section. The Equity Section "defends the District of Columbia and its officials and employees in large complex constitutional litigation brought against the District challenging its laws, regulations, policies and practices.” During the course of the summer, Seth wrote motions and memoranda, drafted and responded to discovery requests, prepared correspondence, and conducted legal and factual research. He also attended pre-trial hearings and status conferences, depositions and client interviews, mock trials and interoffice meetings. He completed several challenging assignments during the summer. For example, he wrote a summary judgment motion in a negligence case with facts that were not especially favorable and where the law on the issue was sparse. Nonetheless, he wrote an excellent motion that impressed his supervisor. He also managed a high volume discovery project, teaming up with interns to comb through copious files stored at an off-site location. He noted that his 1L training at UDC Law prepared him well. According to Seth:
One of my most extensive substantive assignments was to provide my managing attorney with a memorandum of law that explained when an employee is acting within the scope of their employment. I was required to include case law, case briefs, a synthesized rule statement, the factual background, and analysis of whether we could win the case. For the first time, while I completed this assignment, I came to appreciate what I learned in my Legal Writing class and all of the workshops that I attended.
He is extremely grateful for his experience at the OAG and believes it provided him significant progress towards his professional goals:
My summer internship with Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia has been absolutely phenomenal. ... Without a doubt, my experience with the Equities Division of OAG has helped me hone my legal skills, network with other attorneys, and gain the real world experience needed before entering the profession. ... I do not think that I could have chosen a better place to hone my legal skills, while doing what I love to do most: bring people hope and happiness.”
Dean’s Fellow Jessica Guinyard has a wealth of family law experience from her internships with Break the Cycle and the District of Columbia Office of the Attorney General, Child Support Services Division. This summer, she was the Women’s Bar Association Foundation Founders Fellow working at Advocates for Justice and Education, a DC non-profit law firm, co-founded by Class of 1996 alumnae, Kim Jones and Bethann West James, established to increase parental involvement in the education of children with special needs. Under the supervision of alumnae Rochanda Hiligh-Thomas, ’96, and Patrice Wedderburn, ‘13, Jessica drafted a due process complaint, conducted client intakes, and managed a caseload of school discipline and special education matters. On the first day of her internship, Jessica proposed the development of a school discipline toolkit. At the end of the internship, Jessica assisted AJE with organizing a campaign to end school pushout.
Jessica’s supervisors remarked that she is “bright and knowledgeable about special education matters. She is a pleasure to work with and is genuinely interested in the issues.”
In the spring semester, Jessica Christy was a student attorney in the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, and this summer, she continued her advocacy there as an Equal Justice America Fellow. Jessica managed the Clinic’s entire docket, preparing and filing documents with the Immigration Court and USCIS, meeting with clients, appearing in court, and conducting research and writing on active cases. Jessica represented a daughter and mother who had traveled from Central America to escape the mother’s abusive former partner, and advocated on their behalf during a master calendar hearing. In addition, Jessica represented a man fleeing from persecution in his home country due to his sexual orientation. A mistake in the client’s criminal record put him in jeopardy of deportation back to his country of origin. Jessica contacted and worked with multiple agencies to get the record corrected and thereafter submitted his waiver request to the USCIS so that her client could remain in the country he has lived in for 10 years.
Immigration and Human Rights Clinic Director, Professor Kristina Campbell, said, “Jessica was a great asset to the clinic this summer, and I am very grateful for her hard work and dedication.”
Marsha Williams had been a student attorney in the Housing and Consumer Law Clinic, and this summer, she continued her work there as an Equal Justice America Fellow. One of the cases that Marsha worked on involved a young woman who was given notice to vacate her apartment after complaints by her neighbors. The notice did not allege any specific lease violations. In response, and armed with her technical knowledge of civil procedure, Marsha drafted a Motion for Summary Judgment, arguing that the complaint was vague, and that there were discrepancies in the description of the alleged violations. In another case, Marsha was the primary contact on a complicated matter where the Clinic was seeking the D.C. Office of Attorney General’s (OAG) involvement. Marsha presented her clients’ factual and legal case for the OAG to consider, and ultimately significantly advanced the Clinic’s goals.
In connection with clinic work, Marsha was interviewed on UDC-TV, and Housing and Consumer Law Clinic Director, Professor Norrinda Hayat said, "Marsha contributed significantly to the clinic’s mission and work over the summer. We are appreciative of her contributions.”
In the spring semester, Nathaniel Goodman-Johnson was a student attorney in the Law Students in Court (LSIC) Criminal Law Clinic. As the only remaining student attorney in the clinic this summer, and an Equal Justice America Fellow, he represented two juvenile clients in court. In addition to his direct representation, Nathaniel helped develop LSIC’s pilot LGBTQ Community Outreach project. The goal of the project is community engagement with at-risk youth in the system, and especially youth who identify as LGBT. Nathaniel attended multiple meetings with professionals across the city, and planned a trip to the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) to speak with the youth and get a sense of their interests and concerns. During the visit, the youth were very enthusiastic about sharing their legal concerns and other issues. In the end, Nathaniel, in collaboration with numerous LGBT youth, came up with some great ideas to increase and improve LSIC’s outreach and interaction with LGBT youth in the future.
As a student attorney in the UDC Community Development Clinic, Erika Cummins was the lead writer of a comment to the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) which made recommendations to assign preference “points” to limited equity cooperatives that previously received DHCD acquisition loans under the Tenant’s Opportunity to Purchase Act. DHCD subsequently implemented the recommendations and the policy was changed. In the summer, as a Freddie Mac Fellow, Erika returned to the Clinic and represented the board of trustees of a limited-equity housing cooperative. To avoid termination of low-income cooperative members who may become delinquent in their “carrying charges,” she drafted provisions for a payment and forbearance plan. In addition, she assisted with securing the translation of documents for non-English speaking cooperative members, so that they can understand the agreement and ensure that they participate fully in the vote.
As a Freddie Mac Fellow, Jessica “JJ” Galvan was the lead student attorney in the Housing and Consumer Law Clinic’s litigation against The Washington Home, a nursing home that plans to close its facility and involuntarily transfer its residents. In her representation, Jessica drafted a Temporary Restraining Order and Complaint on behalf of four residents. The complaint alleged a violation of tenants’ rights, namely the District’s Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act, which requires that landlords seeking to sell a rental property first give their tenants a chance to buy it, a law meant to prevent the displacement of vulnerable renters. Jessica’s work is critically important because the potential sale of the nursing home would displace dozens of low-income elderly and infirm residents. In the fall, Jessica will serve as a Teaching Assistant for the Housing Clinic, so even after this summer she will be around to help other students become familiar with the particular legal issues of The Washington Home residents and their case.
Clinic Instructor Adrian Gottshall, ’11, said, “JJ has excellent critical thinking, legal analysis, and client communication skills. She is dedicated and passionate about our clients and their pursuit of justice. She works tirelessly, sometimes at the school until after midnight, in order to meet filing deadlines and client expectations. She has exceeded our expectations.”
Adam Rodriguez began serving as an intern with the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons in summer 2015, and has continued working for them throughout the academic year. This summer, he expanded his Bureau of Prisons experience by working for its South Central Regional Office, in Grand Prairie, Texas. Adam’s work included assisting the Bureau in drafting settlement memoranda, and several litigation reports dealing with issues ranging from inmates challenging their sentencing, to sanctions for breaking prison rules, to suing the BOP for malpractice or negligence.
Given his extensive experience with the Bureau of Prisons, Adam is a promising candidate for the DOJ Attorney General’s Honors Program, the largest and most prestigious federal entry-level attorney hiring program of its kind.
Brian Stubits has a passion for criminal defense, and in the spring of his 1L year began work as a law clerk within the Public Defender Service of DC, Mental Health Division. Seeking an opportunity in another jurisdiction, this summer Brian served as a law clerk with the Maryland Public Defender, Howard County office. Brian worked closely with Circuit Court attorneys on an armed robbery case, where he developed case strategy, drafted motions, reviewed evidence, and met with clients at the Howard County Detention Center and at the Circuit Courthouse. Additionally, relying on his Spanish language skills, Brian helped District Court attorneys conduct interviews with Spanish-speaking clients to ensure that clients were aware of their attorneys’ advice and the nature of the proceedings.
In the fall, Brian will interview with the Maryland Office of the Public Defender for an entry-level attorney position to begin after graduation.
This summer, Christina Quant served as a Washington Bar Association (WBA) Judicial Intern for D.C. Superior Court Magistrate Judge Lori Parker. With an interest and professional background in child welfare, Christina reviewed and prepared summaries of motions filed on the abuse and neglect docket, as well as proofread and edited Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law for an adoption proceeding. She also reviewed record hearings to clarify issues, and observed numerous child welfare proceedings, including initial, disposition, and pre-trial hearings.
Christina received mentoring from Judge Parker, and attended various informational sessions with Magistrate, Associate, and Appellate Court judges. A judicial clerkship is one of Christina’s primary post-grad goals!
This summer, Max Kauffman returned to his 2015 summer placement at the Law Offices of the Public Defender – State of New Mexico. Max gained wide-ranging experience, drafting an omnibus motion to quash and seal bench warrants, conducting client interviews at jail, and investigating and preparing for trial in a high-stakes felony case. The highlight of Max’s courtroom experience was his role in arguing in favor of a “directed verdict” in an 11-count felony indictment which resulted in the Court ordering a directed verdict on seven of the counts. At the conclusion of the trial, the judge praised Max and said that some of the arguments he made were novel and not previously argued before the Court. The client and his family were grateful, and Max shared that “it was a touching moment to receive thanks from the client’s family after a favorable outcome in the case.”
Max made a wonderful impression on his supervising attorney, who described Max as having “a passion for working with indigent clients and his passion drives him to do all he can to help the client. He has a firm grasp of the law and the criminal legal process. He is a strong advocate in court for his client’s rights.” Near the end of the summer, Max interviewed for a permanent position with the office and hopes to continue his passion for indigent representation.
In the spring semester, Nana Yankah was a student advocate in the Juvenile and Special Education Law Clinic (JSELC), representing parents of children with disabilities at Individualized Education Program meetings and students with discipline and delinquency cases. Expanding upon her interest in juvenile justice and criminal defense, this summer Nana worked at the Maryland Office of Public Defender (OPD), Rockville office. As a member of OPD’s Juvenile Department, Nana drafted motions, supervised undergraduate investigators, interviewed clients, and reviewed discovery in anticipation of trial. In addition to JSELC and OPD, Nana is also a member of Law for Black Lives DC, a coalition of law students and lawyers committed to bridging the gap between the law and the community it should serve. As an active member, she participates in legal observing, “Know Your Rights” training, and also conducts legal research and drafts policy analyses for local organizers.
Nana is very passionate about issues that affect vulnerable populations, particularly mass incarceration. She wishes to use her experience to advocate on behalf of juvenile clients to stop the “school to prison pipeline.”
This summer, Marvin Mathew completed his internship with the D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings, which adjudicates cases involving unemployment compensation, Medicaid and other public benefits, public space, rent control, professional and business licenses, and building, health and fire code violations, among others. Marvin drafted final orders, as well as orders on reconsideration, intervention and dismissal for cases involving the Department of Public Works, Department of Human Services, and the Department of Housing and Community Development.
Marvin worked under the tutelage of Administrative Law Judge Ann Yahner, who remarked that “Marvin has been a good addition to the office. He has been enthusiastic about his work, and he compares favorably with other second year summer interns.”
Raimondo “Ray” Gugliotta is passionate about criminal defense and litigation. He completed the Criminal Clinic with Law Students in Court (LSIC), and took the Trial Advocacy course. This summer, he worked as an intern with the Broward County Public Defender's Office, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. On his first day, he sat-in on three depositions. By week three, he was assisting his supervising attorney in a very high stakes case: the defendant/client had been awaiting trial, in county jail, for over two years. Ray met with and interviewed the client in jail, and helped to draft motions and to pick a jury for the upcoming trial. In the following week, Ray and his supervising attorney went through opening statements, direct and cross-examination, and finally closing arguments. Ray described the victorious result as follows:
[Then] the Jury had reached a verdict. The client stood up and the verdict was read; on count one . . . we find the defendant Not Guilty. On count two . . . we find the defendant NOT GUILTY! I have to admit I had a bit of a lump in my throat. He was tearfully grateful. It was awesome, after two years in jail for something that he did not do, he walked out of the courthouse a free man. It was a huge deal. This was beyond huge! It was beyond anything I could have imagined when I signed up for this internship. It was truly worth it.
Ray’s supervisor described him as “one of the most motivated students I have supervised in over 25 years! Ray would make any legal organizations proud – he would make an excellent courtroom/trial partner. I would be pleased to have Raimondo as [my] colleague.”
Maria “Ria” Thompson Washington has a strong background in civil rights activism, serving as the National Vice-President of the National Lawyers Guild and previously organizing for workers' rights in San Antonio, TX, with the Service Employees International Union. This summer, she began working with Barbara Arnwine at the Transformative Justice Coalition (TJC), a non-profit organization that works on legislative policies surrounding the criminal punishment system, voting rights, and African American women in law. Ria’s first task was to update TJC’s “Map of Shame,” which depicts the 16 states that will be adversely affected by extreme voting laws in the 2016 voting election cycle. In addition, as a part of the Voting Rights Alliance and in conjunction with the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus, Ria led a virtual Twitter town hall and conversation with 20+ participating organizations including momsrising.com, JAM Network, and NOW. Ria was featured on Ms. Arnwine’s weekly show to discuss voting rights and how the changes would affect voting this year, and how to mobilize to ensure that citizens exercise their right to vote. Most recently, she has been involved in the coordination of the African American Women and the Law Conference which was held in September.
Barbara Arnwine said, “Ria Thompson Washington has been an exceptional asset to TJC. She has the brilliance and fortitude to be a future attorney with the leadership skills to make profound change.”
Last year, Jason Imbiano was the inaugural recipient of the Hadley Fellowship, awarded to an outstanding student who focuses on workers' rights. Jason also worked at the Employment Justice Center as his community service project. Continuing in his interest in employment and labor law, Jason’s summer placement was with the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). Jason’s work focused on assisting the roll-out of OFCCP’s Sex Discrimination final rule. The recently published final rule updates sex discrimination guidelines from 1970 with new regulations that align with current law and address the realities of today’s workplaces. Jason’s work included developing and responding to substantive questions about the rule for public and internal webinars, attending public discussions about the rule, and organizing public outreach.
Of his performance, Jason’s supervisor said “Jason’s strengths are many. He is bright, hard-working, motivated to learn, and self-directed. He has great people skills, does excellent research and produces quality writing.”