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UDC-DCSL Students Receive Earl H. Davis Awards at Olender Foundation 27th Annual Awards

Wednesday, January 9, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Max Rodriguez
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The Olender Foundation honored 6 UDC-DCSL students at their 27th Annual Awards at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on December 5, 2012. Associate Dean of Students Annamaria Steward, a former attorney at the malpractice law firm, Jack H. Olender & Associates, presented the students with Earl H. Davis Awards for their commitment and dedication to public service. The students were also presented with an engraved plaque and a copy of "Emancipation, the Making of the Black Lawyer,” and "Supreme Justice, Speeches and Writings, Thurgood Marshall,” both written and edited by former Dean of Howard Law School J. Clay Smith, Jr. Interim Dean and Professor of Law at Howard University School of Law Dean Okianer Christian Dark and Olender Foundation President Jack H. Olender also presented scholarships to the students.

The event, hosted by former television newsman Paul Berry, began with renowned vocalist Debra Tidwell entertaining the audience with a variety of jazz and show tune renditions followed by the students receiving the scholarships.

Former World War II WAC Alyce Dixon received the America’s Role Model Award for her work designing the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind (children’s division). Upon receiving the award Ms. Dixon, 105, regaled the audience with tips on staying young at heart.

Deborah McFadden, a well-known champion of the disabled, then presented the Foundation’s Trailblazer Award to her daughter, international paralympian athlete Tatyana McFadden, who has triumphantly struggled since birth against insurmountable odds, and astonished the world with her abilities and gymnastic feats. Tayana is the winner of the numerous gold and silver medals. Her story of survival, from orphanage to gold medalist, held the audience in awe. An Olender Foundation grant was awarded to the University of Illinois, a national wheelchair training center designed by Tatyana McFadden.

The Foundation’s Generous Heart Award was presented to legendary WRC-4 news anchor Jim Vance for his continuous humanitarian efforts on behalf of the District of Columbia. Mr. Vance, a well-known fixture in the District, has given his time and energy on numerous occasions to spotlight the District and raise money on behalf of its citizens and charities. Maudine Cooper, President, and Jerry Moore, Chairman of the Board of the Washington Urban League, accompanied Mr. Vance on stage to receive the Olender Foundation grant in Jim Vance’s honor.

Mayor Vincent Gray also presented a proclamation for the Olender Foundation and the awardees to Attorney Olender. A reception for the honorees and guests was held at the Rivers Restaurant at the Watergate before the Awards ceremony.

Here, below, are synopses of this year’s UDC-DCSL Earl H. Davis Award recipients:

Tyrone Hanley distinguished himself in the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic through his work on a trial at the Baltimore Immigration Court, on which he served as lead co-counsel. By conducting several moot trials, Tyrone and his clinic partner prepared the client, who is limited-English proficient, for potentially aggressive questioning by the government attorney and the Immigration Judge. He also co-authored a substantial merits brief arguing the Client’s eligibility for relief from removal under former INA § 212(c), which required him to demonstrate that the client satisfied specific elements established by statute, regulations, and case law. Because of Tyrone’s diligence, the government attorney stipulated to the client’s eligibility for and did not oppose his application for relief, and the client’s Lawful Permanent Resident status was restored. Through all of this, Tyrone demonstrated great skills in client interviewing and counseling, and was able to develop a successful theory of the case that was both client-centered and compelling. In addition to his exemplary work in the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, Tyrone currently serves the community in the Legislation Clinic, through which he serves the DC Council Committee on Human Services. He also serves as Co-President of OutLaw, Co-President of the Consortium of D.C. Area LGBTQ Law Student Groups, received the CALI Excellence for the Future award for his work in a Spanish Law and LGBT Community class, and is currently involved in planning a Spring Break experiential learning opportunity to the Arizona-Mexico border for 3L students.

Chris Hekimian served as a student-attorney in the Government Accountability Project (GAP) clinic, where his outstanding work contributed significantly to several important projects, including GAP’s representation of whistleblowers from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Federal Communications Commission (FCC), DC Fire Department and the banking industry. In particular, Chris’s superb research, writing and analytical skills supported the appeal of a TSA whistleblower. The whistleblower, who served as a Federal Air Marshall (FAM), was terminated for reporting a cost-cutting plan to cancel FAM coverage from long distance flights on the eve of a confirmed al-Qaeda suicidal hijacking plan. The plan never went into effect after Congress protested – based solely on the whistleblower’s disclosure. Three years later, the whistleblower was fired with a single charge of "Unauthorized Disclosure of Sensitive Security Information” (SSI) - an unclassified "hybrid secrecy” label the TSA retroactively applied to the information that the whistleblower disclosed. The case is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Chris also worked to utilize the federal Privacy Act to help whistleblowers in the federal government who had derogatory information in their records take steps toward getting that information modified or removed. In cases were a whistleblower has no other formal remedy, often clearing her/his record is one of the few meaningful actions available. In addition to his clinic work, Chris’s writing has been recognized by his peers. His seminar paper was nominated for publication in the law school’s Law Review. Furthermore, Chris is an Advocate for Justice Scholarship Recipient, a Dean’s Fellow, an Associate Editor on the Law Review, and a Class Senator.

In the Housing and Consumer Law Clinic, John Millar’s crowning success was arguing and winning an administrative appeal of a rental housing matter for a Latino client in a slum property. John became expert in damages for housing conditions, treble damages for a landlord’s heedless disregard of those conditions, thorny statute of limitations issues, and administrative appeal standards based on "substantial evidence.” He successfully defended an administrative law judge’s decision which awarded our client about $25,000, a kingly award in a conditions case. John also calculated that the rent overcharges noted in that decision bring the current damages to more than $30,000. As a result of his success, the Housing and Consumer Law Clinic is seeking several thousand dollars in attorney’s fees for his successful appeal to add to the twenty thousand dollars it received from the court below. No commission panel that the clinic has encountered in the last several years was more aggressive and challenging than the panel John faced. Nevertheless, he parried each of their challenges with poise and incisiveness. In addition to his clinic work, John has served as a teaching assistant in three courses: Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and Civil Procedure; Senior Editor on the Law Review, Vice Justice of Phi Alpha Delta, and Secretary of the Environmental Law Society. He is also a Dean’s Fellow.

Janee Phillips served in the Juvenile and Special Education Clinic as a student advocate in the Spring of 2012 and as a fellow in the Summer of 2012. Throughout her eight months working on behalf of D.C. students with disabilities, Janee provided exemplary services for more than a dozen clients. Her work consisted of advocating at a disciplinary hearing, drafting complaints and demand letters, investigating claims, interviewing new clients, and researching innovative ways to challenge D.C.’s failure to provide appropriate educational services for students with disabilities. Her goals were not only to ensure students were properly evaluated for disabilities and received special accommodations but also to utilize the school system, rather than the court system, to rectify challenging student behavior. Notably, Janee tackled new issues for which there was no precedent in D.C. to make compelling arguments on behalf of her clients. She was a dedicated advocate for her clients, diligently worked to ensure that her clients understood their legal rights, and empowered her clients to participate in their own legal representation. Janee currently serves the community in the HIV/AIDS Legal Clinic and she served as Secretary of the Future Leadership Council of the American Civil Liberties Union-National Capital Area for two years.

From the first day in the Community Development Legal Clinic (CDLC), Eva Seidelman exhibited a deep commitment to the public interest work of the clinic and referred clients that she knew of from her work in D.C.’s low wealth community to the clinic, rather than the other way around. Due, in part, to her significant background in public interest and civil rights activities, Eva was assigned to cases in which the CDLC serves as co-counsel with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Community Development Project. Her clients included a small, newly formed community development corporation engaged in renovating a deteriorated area of New Orleans that had been devastated by Hurricane Katrina and a housing provider engaged in redeveloping affordable housing on a public housing site that had been destroyed by the hurricane. She performed work on complex matters including New Market Tax Credits and unique Non-profit For profit collaborations. As a result of her strong work, the Lawyers’ Committee accepted her as a summer intern, where she planned and participated in a strategic planning session for a coalition of farmworker advocates in rural Maryland and assisted a fair housing nonprofit client based in New Orleans to research and write a report for an advocacy campaign. Eva was an asset on all the projects to which she contributed, and the leader among her co-interns. Currently, Eva serves the community in the Housing and Consumer Law Clinic, is an Editor for the Law Review, Co-President of the American Constitution Society, a student member of the law school’s Service Learning Working Group, and a Teaching Assistant for three classes: Torts 1, Torts 2 (last year) and the Community Development Clinic (currently).

As a student-attorney in the Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic, Santosh Reddy Somi Reddy worked diligently to enable his clients to rebuild their financial lives. He successfully assisted a single mother, who was the victim of identity theft, then scammed by a fraudulent tax preparer, in obtaining a long overdue federal tax refund. He also represented a nurse who was precluded from renewing her professional license because of outstanding taxes. In this case, Santosh negotiated with the licensing authorities to allow her to maintain her nursing license while the IRS reviewed an Offer in Compromise. Finally, he worked closely with a 92 year old woman in failing health to submit an Offer in Compromise in the hope of reducing her tax burden so she can pay her medical bills. Santosh currently serves the community in the Immigration Law and Human Rights Clinic, serves as secretary of the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association, and as Class Senator and Budget Committee Member of the Student Bar Association.

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