Stein Center News - December 2012
Read Director Bruce Green's welcome letter.
Alumni Panelists Present Hot Topics in Public Interest LawOn Tuesday, October 2, five Stein Scholars alumni returned to campus for a panel presentation entitled “Hot Topics in Law and Public Policy.” Before a crowd of approximately 60 students, alumni, and faculty, the speakers talked about some of today’s most controversial points of public debate through the prism of their legal careers.
Kevin Carroll ’01 discussed homeland security through the lens of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security’s investigation into the radicalization of Islam. Carroll shared details of both the findings of the investigation and the process of attempting to conduct an investigation on such a controversial subject. Carroll is currently working as Senior Counsel for Congressman and Chairman Peter King's House Homeland Security Committee.
Leena Khandwala ’04 talked about immigration amnesty by analyzing the Obama administration’s policy establishing eligibility for deferred action status for many young immigrants. Khandwala offered a frank breakdown of the requirements of the policy (called the “mini DREAM Act” by some commentators), the perceived advantages and disadvantages from the perspective of immigrant communities, and thoughts about its potential for impact. Khandwala is an Associate with Claudia Slovinsky and Associates, PLLC.
Karen Loewy ’00 offered thoughts on marriage equality by looking at the many developments in state and federal law since she began her career. Loewy pointed not only to the remarkably fast shifting public opinion and law but also to the complicated patchwork of state laws that affect the families of same sex couples. She also previewed the marriage equality cases likely to appear before the Supreme Court in the coming term. Loewy was Senior Staff Attorney at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) until August 2012.
Michelle Movahed ’06 discussed reproductive rights by looking at a law and lawsuit in Mississippi concerning the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only clinic in the state offering abortion services. Movahed described lawmakers’ concession that the purpose of the law, which required doctors to have hospital privileges, was to regulate away all abortion services in the state. Movahed also discussed the lawsuit leading to an injunction against the law. Mohaved is Staff Attorney in the U.S. Legal Program at the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Susan Welber ’98 expressed surprise that welfare reform was considered a hot topic in 2012 but readily shared her thoughts on how the last major attempt at welfare reform under President Clinton worked. Specifically, she talked about how in New York there are more people who are eligible for benefits than are actually receiving them, how it is difficult to start a case, and how it is hard to keep welfare cases open because of work requirements and other barriers. Welber is a Staff Attorney for The Legal Aid Society, Civil Practice Law Reform Unit.
Professor Bruce Green, Director of the Stein Center, welcomed the audience and Tim Hiel ’14 moderated the panel discussion. The presentations were followed by a Q&A and reception. Watch video of the panel.
Stein Center Names Inaugural Bellet ScholarApril Harris ’16 has been named the first Bellet Scholar. The Bellet Scholarship, overseen by the Stein Center, is awarded annually to a member of the 1L class of Stein Scholars based on both merit and financial need.
April is an evening student who works full time at the Yorkville Common Pantry as a bilingual benefits enroller. She describes herself as a bookworm and loves home repair and travelling. She graduated from Hunter College in January 2011 and commutes to Fordham Law from Queens. With a background in entitlements, she is particularly passionate about welfare law and expresses an interest in pursuing a career as a lawyer for New York City.
The Bellet Scholarship is designed to enable a Stein Scholar to concentrate on developing the knowledge, skills, and values needed to successfully and ethically achieve leadership positions as a lawyer in the service of others. In addition to financial support, as a Bellet Scholar, April will work closely with her Stein Faculty Mentor, Professor Russell Pearce.
An Inside Look at the New Stein Mentorship Program
Stop and Frisk: Effective Police Tactic or Tool of Discrimination?
Taking part were Eugene O'Donnell of John Jay College of Criminal Justice (a former NYPD officer and Queens ADA); Glenn Martin, director of the
Global Legal Profession Workshop Explores How Human Rights Could Transform International PracticeOn October 17, the Stein Center teamed up with the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice to present the second Global Legal Profession Workshop. This workshop focused on reflections by Lucie White, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, based on her book Stones of Hope: African Lawyers Use Human Rights to Challenge Global Poverty (with co-editor Jeremy Perlman). Using case studies of human rights advocates who have dealt with poverty and structural violence, White examined the way these advocates employed the tools of economic, cultural, and social rights to solve problems. Specifically, White theorized that “prefiguring” certain creative institutional changes might, in the future, realize economic, cultural, and social (ECS) rights.
After White discussed her findings, David Trubeck of the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Harvard Law, commented on the work. Trubeck focused his discussion on how the findings of the book help move forward strategies of improving human rights. Trubeck believes that this research helps legitimize ECS rights as a human rights objective and exists within the tensions between competing ideologies and interests. He encouraged White to push for an answer to whether this kind of advocacy can be used for transformative strategy (e.g., Can it be scaled up to larger political or global efforts, and how?). Trubeck also commented on the need to reconcile these findings and strategies with economic growth agendas.
Stein Co-director Jennifer Gordon moderated the session and began the Q&A by positing an insightful comment and question. Approximately 50 people attended the event. View photos and video from the workshop.
Tina Matsuoka '01Tina Matsuoka '01 talks about her role as the Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association.
Mission and role
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the only national bar association in the United States serving the needs of the Asian Pacific American community. NAPABA advocates for the legal needs and interests of the Asian Pacific American (APA) community and represents the interests of APA attorneys and state and local APA bar associations. NAPABA’s mission is threefold:
As Executive Director, I manage the NAPABA staff and work closely with the NAPABA Board of Governors to promote the advancement of Asian Pacific Americans in the legal profession and to promote justice, equity, and opportunity for the Asian Pacific American community. On a day-to-day basis, this means that I work with staff and volunteers to ensure that our various programs are running smoothly, develop and implement policy and legislative initiatives, manage our budget and fundraise, and manage relations with members and key stakeholders.
The biggest challenge confronting NAPABA
One of the challenges I am grappling with at NAPABA is figuring out how to meet the needs of a growing membership organization that has the enviable problem of growing larger and larger every year. It was only 24 years ago that only 200 or so members attended our first annual convention and we now routinely expect up to 1,500 members at our annual meeting. It’s a great problem to have!
A success story
I am very proud that we established an annual Lobby Day two years ago as an event where our members from across the country can convene in Washington, D.C., to be trained in advocacy and meet with elected representatives to talk about and demand action on a wide range of issues, ranging from anti-trafficking legislation to legislation aimed at curbing racial profiling.
A noteworthy change affecting my work at the NAPABA
The biggest change in my life affecting my work was the birth of my son in February 2011. Being a working parent is a challenge but one that can help you build important life and career skills, including time management, organizing, and effective communication.
My career path
I started my legal career at the office of the Massachusetts Attorney General, working in the civil rights division. I began work exactly a week before September 11 and because of this timing, my caseload included many hate crimes and discrimination cases involving victims who were targeted in the 9/11 backlash. I left the office after about five years during a natural transition when my boss was running for Governor and a new Attorney General was coming into office. I spent a brief time in the private sector working on employment law and then, realizing that I wanted to move away from litigation, I ended up at the Massachusetts State House working on legislative issues in the Senate Counsel’s office. My next stop was NAPABA in Washington, D.C.
The primary impact of the Stein Scholars Program
The Stein Program served as an anchor for me during law school. The Program administrators and faculty, in addition to my fellow Stein Scholars, helped give me a law school experience that was defined by a commitment to service and the public interest. The Stein Scholars Program has served to ground me even after I left law school, and I always enjoy reading updates from the Stein Scholars Program and talking with my former Stein classmates as well as current Steins.
Advice to current Stein Scholars
My advice to Steins is to be flexible and open to change and new opportunities. What you want when you are 25 may not be what you want at 40 and that’s okay. The key is to have given yourself permission to change course and hopefully to have gained the experience to do what you want to do at each stage of your career. Every job, every volunteer position, every contact—they are all opportunities. If you don’t get your dream job right out of law school, be glad, because if your dream job is one that can be done by a lawyer with no experience, you probably needed to set your sights higher. There are always useful skills or insights you can learn from any job so take advantage of every position you have, even if you think it’s “just for now.” You could be surprised at what you might enjoy, so give yourself a chance and give a 100% effort no matter what it is you’re doing.
Stein Alumni in the NewsCarl Hum '97 named Executive Director of NYC Districting Commission
Congratulations to Stein Scholars alumnus Carl Hum ’97 who was appointed Executive Director of the 15-member New York City Districting Commission. The Commission meets every 10 years to redraw district lines based on Census data. The New York Times provided an introduction to the work of the Commission and some of the challenges they face this year.
Learn more at the Commission’s website.
Stein Scholars alumna Rachel Kleinman ’05 is part of the team of NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) lawyers who surprised the New York community recently with a complaint to the Board of Education alleging the City discriminates against black and Latino students at the top public high schools.
The complaint concerns eight of the City’s top high schools, known as the “specialized high schools” and includes Stuyvesant High School, the Bronx High School of Science, and Brooklyn Technical High School. Admission to these schools depends solely on a student’s performance in a two-and-a-half hour multiple-choice exam known as the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT), completely ignoring other indicators of academic success such as grades and teacher recommendations. The test is administered annually to as many as 30,000 thirteen- and fourteen-year-old students in New York.
LDF argues that the exclusive reliance on this test has led to racial disparities that violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Rachel Kleinman explained to New York One why the test may not be the fairest measure for entry: "So, no matter how good your grades are, no matter what your teachers say about you, you could win the national spelling bee. None of that matters."
In alleging racial bias, LDF reports that in the fall 2011 administration, which included 27,612 eighth-grade test-takers, students taking the test were 23.1% African-American, 22.2% Latino, 25.8% Asian-American, and 14.9% white. However, of the 5,360 students offered admission to specialized high schools for the 2012–2013 school year, only 6.0% were African-American and only 7.7% Latino. By contrast, Asian-American students comprised 46.5% of the admission offers and white students accounted for 23.4%.
Examining data over several years, the LDF complaint alleges that the trend over the past decade has been one of shrinking opportunity for African-American and Latino students.
“Black and Latino students don’t see opportunity at places like Stuyvesant because of the admissions process,” Kleinman told the New York Daily News. “It’s not fair and it’s bad policy.”
LDF, joined by other civil rights groups, asks that the schools develop new, less discriminatory admissions methods that rely on multiple measures to assess merit. According to the complaint, this would allow the schools to enroll classes that are both highly academically qualified and more broadly diverse.
Read the full complaint. [pdf]
Webinar features Steins discussing ethical issues for criminal practitioners
An October 2 panel focused on the ethical issues that often arise during criminal cases and the recent developments in ethics and professional responsibility. Speakers included Hon. Jed S. Rakoff, Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York; Bruce Green, Professor and Director of the Louis Stein Center for Law and Ethics at Fordham Law; Rita M. Glavin ’96, Partner at Seward & Kissel LLP; and Sylvia Shaz Schweder ’05, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
New Pro Bono Rule for Law Students in New York StatePursuant to a new rule announced by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, every law student will now be required to complete at least 50 hours of pro bono service prior to admission to the New York State bar. This new rule goes into effect on January 1, 2015, and will apply to all who sit for the New York Bar Examination in the summer of 2014 or later.
New York will become the first state to require lawyers-to-be to perform pro bono work before being licensed to practice. Judge Lippman described the rule as one way to help the growing number of people who cannot afford legal services.
Under the new rule, pro bono work is defined as law-related work on behalf of low-income individuals, non-profits, and those seeking to expand access to justice, as well as legal assistance for a judicial, legislative, or executive entity. This pro bono work must be performed under the supervision of law school faculty, an attorney in good standing, or a judge.
After the rule change was proposed, members of the Fordham Law community worked with others to address how to best implement the plan, accounting for those for whom this new requirement might be particularly difficult to fulfill, such as evening and LL.M. students. Those efforts informed the new rule's broad definition of pro bono, as well as the choice to include service done anywhere (e.g., outside of the United States) and to rely upon individual rather than school-based certification. The implementation date of January 2015 allows ample time for transition.
Review Section 520.16 of the Rules of the Court of Appeals for the Admission of Attorneys and Counselors of Law. [pdf]
Visit the court’s webpage to learn more about the rule.
Tom Schoenherr, Assistant Dean, Public Interest Resource Center, is the Fordham Law School point person for the 50-hour pro bono requirement. He can be reached at email@example.com.
What’s New in Legal Ethics?Gideon at Fifty
by George Conk
Literature regarding lawyers’ professional responsibility often begins with the lilting exhortations to zeal, loyalty, and confidentiality, but we see too little reference to competence. Yet without it, all the good will and loyalty in the world will be of little use to the client and to the social goal of justice for all. Competence, however, requires skill and resources.
Fifty years ago, the United States Supreme Court appointed a distinguished lawyer and future Associate Justice, Abraham Fortas, to take on the representation of Clarence Gideon, a man of little virtue, who had in a handwritten petition to the Court asserted that the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution required the government to furnish him with a lawyer for his defense in a criminal trial. It didn’t—not yet. But the Court soon declared in Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963), that Gideon was right. Gideon’s Trumpet—as Anthony Lewis titled his book—called on the state and federal government, as well the courts, to fulfill this mandate.
The Supreme Court added the requirement that Gideon-mandated counsel be competent in McMann v. Richardson, 397 U.S. 759 (1970). Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), afforded a remedial test: representation falling short of the Sixth Amendment’s adversarial vision at each stage of a criminal proceeding would lead to reversal if the shortcoming likely affected the outcome.
But principles alone do not do the job. Government responded, but the response fifty years later is often insufficient to assure a competent defense of every criminal defendant. The National Right to Counsel Committee’s comprehensive report, "Justice Denied: America’s Continuing Neglect of our Constitutional Right to Counsel" [pdf] (April 2009), found on page xi that
despite the fact that funding for indigent defense has increased during the past 45 years since the Gideon decision, there is uncontroverted evidence that funding still remains woefully inadequate and is deteriorating in the current economic difficulties that confront the nation. Because of insufficient funding, in much of the country, training, salaries, supervision, and staffing of public defender programs are unacceptable for a country that values the rule of law. Every day, the caseloads that defenders are asked to carry force lawyers to violate their oaths as members of the bar and their duties to clients as set forth in rules of professional conduct.
New Jersey made the decision early to establish a statewide Office of the Public Defender. The Public Defender serves a five-year term, insulating the 450 lawyer statewide organization. The PD’s strength can be seen in its 25-year record in capital defense. The PD participated in every capital case—from legislative restoration in 1982 to repeal in 2007—and not a single person was executed of the sixty sentenced to death.
Unfortunately the situation in neighboring New York and Pennsylvania is not so good. Those two states have relied on county, not state funding. In Hurrell Harring v. New York, 930 N.E.2nd 217 (2010)—a case that the Stein Center joined as amicus curiae—the Court of Appeals allowed an action by defendants alleging inadequate representation to proceed. The Court majority (on page 227) decried inadequate funding yielded by the county-based system, saying
The severe imbalance in the adversary process that such a state of affairs would produce cannot be doubted. Nor can it be doubted that courts would in consequence of such imbalance become breeding grounds for unreliable judgments. Wrongful conviction, the ultimate sign of a criminal justice system's breakdown and failure, has been documented in too many cases. Wrongful convictions, however, are not the only injustices that command our present concern. As plaintiffs rightly point out, the absence of representation at critical stages is capable of causing grave and irreparable injury to persons who will not be convicted. Gideon's guarantee to the assistance of counsel does not turn upon a defendant's guilt or innocence, and neither can the availability of a remedy for its denial.
In Pennsylvania the situation is also deplorable. The exposure of the dreadful corruption of juvenile justice by two now jailed judges in Luzerne County prompted the legislature to commission a new study. Its December 2011 report, "A Constitutional Default: Services to Indigent Criminal Defendants in Pennsylvania" [pdf], concluded on page 103 that the
Kids for Cash scandal showed how failure to maintain professional independence of defense attorneys from interference by the judiciary can create systemic injustice [and that] Pennsylvania’s overly localized [indigent defense system] can lead to inadequate supervision and training, which in turn can lead to a shocking deterioration in professional standards.
Despite such authoritative findings of constitutional shortcomings, we have seen no progress toward a remedy from either the New York or the Pennsylvania legislatures. We see much lamentation about the job prospects of law school graduates around the country. The need for competent legal assistance is plain. The failure of our elected officials to hear the call of Gideon’s trumpet leaves us with much work to do. Enabling competent representation requires a firm commitment by governments, which too often lack a constitutional vision.
What’s New with the Stein Center Directors?Professor Bruce Green published two short articles: “Prosecutors for Sale,” Nat'l L.J., Oct. 1, 2012, p. 43; and “Federal Litigation: A “No-Contact” Sport?,” vol. 38, no. 4, Summer/Fall 2012, pp. 11-12.
He spoke at Mercer Law School's symposium on “Federal Criminal Discovery Reform: A Legislative Approach” on October 5 and at the University of Akron School of Law on the topic "Lawyers’ Professional Independence: Overrated or Undervalued?" on November 9. The talk was part of the Distinguished Lecture Series of the Akron Law Joseph G. Miller and William C. Becker Center for Professional Responsibility. The Stein Center hosted the NACDL (National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers) conference on November 15–16 at which Bruce Green spoke.
Professor Jennifer Gordon gave the Clason Lecture on Public Interest Law at Western New England School of Law in late October and participated in a webinar on President Obama’s use of prosecutorial discretion in the immigration law context in November. She also moderated the second Global Legal Profession Workshop, "Reading Stones of Hope from the South: Some Reflections," on October 17 at Fordham Law.
Professor Russell Pearce spoke on the panel "Why Morality-Free Economic Theory Does Not Work: A Natural Law Perspective in the Wake of the Recent Financial Crisis" at Fordham Law on October 17.