Social Security Overpayments Creates Serious Hardships, Volunteering is Good for You, Updates from Local Civil Legal Aid Orgs, Plus more

‘I was Overpaid by Social Security’

overpaid-social-security-620xaRebecca Rivetto had received disability payments for four years for her autistic son. Now the Social Security Administration is asking for it all back.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney)- photo courtesy Rebecca Revetto

Americans dealing with injuries, mental illnesses and other impairments are being notified out of the blue that they’ve been overpaid by the Social Security Administration and now owe thousands of dollars.

One 33-year-old veteran began receiving Social Security disability payments after his left foot was amputated following an explosion in Iraq in 2007. After going through rehab for his prosthetic leg, he began working full-time for a defense contractor in 2009. As soon as he started collecting a paycheck, the veteran, who asked to remain anonymous, reported his roughly $100,000 annual salary to the Social Security Administration.

When recipients of disability benefits reenter the workforce, they have a nine-month trial period in which they continue to receive benefits. Once the trial period ends and their earnings exceed a certain level — currently $1,040 a month — the payments are supposed to stop. And that’s exactly what happened in his case.

But then, last July, he noticed a $75,000 deposit in his checking account. Three days later, a letter arrived from the Social Security Administration saying it had reinstated his benefits because he had not been “gainfully employed” during the past three years. Continue reading here.

Thanks to the folks at Seattle Community Law Center for sharing this article!

A New Frontline/ProPublica Report Sheds Lights on Assisted Living and Elder Law Issues

Elderly, At Risk and Haphazardly Protected _ Life and Death in Assisted LiviDid you know that in Minnesota and 13 other states, the administrators of assisted living facilities don’t need to have high school diplomas? Or that in California, assisted living facilities housing as many as 200 seniors need no more than two workers on the overnight shift? The workers are not required to have any medical training, and one is allowed to be asleep.

A special report from ProPublica and FRONTLINE finds that even though increasing numbers of assisted living residents are seriously ill and require complex care, regulations for assisted living lag far behind the reality in many states — and assisted living operators face few consequences for even the most serious lapses.

Why?  Our special report is here. It’s the latest installment in our investigation of assisted living in America — and it’s something you won’t want to miss.

Report Concludes that Volunteering is Good for Your Health


A national survey of 3,351 adults conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of UnitedHealth Group demonstrates that volunteering is good for your health. 

It’s no secret within the nonprofit sector that volunteers are often the difference between “make” and “break,” the special sauce that keeps an organization moving forward, delivering against its mission, serving its constituents. From hands-on volunteers to skills-based volunteers to the volunteer leaders who serve on boards, it’s almost impossible to calculate the value that those who give back add to the sector. So it’s nice to know that those who volunteer benefit from the experience as well.

A national survey of 3,351 adults conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of UnitedHealth Group demonstrates that volunteering is good for your health. Here are some of the takeaways from this research:

  • Volunteers say they feel better—physically, mentally and emotionally—than non-volunteers
  • Volunteering helps people manage and lower stress levels
  • Volunteers feel a deeper connection to communities and others
  • Volunteers are more informed healthcare consumers and are more engaged and involved in taking care of their own health

If you work with volunteers—or if you are one yourself—those first three points are probably not very surprising. The fourth is perhaps a bit unexpected, but the report includes some interesting data around this topic, including people who report that volunteering helps them cope with a chronic illness and/or helps them take their minds off their own problems. Survey respondents who volunteer scored better than those that don’t on nine well-established measures of emotional well-being. Read more here.

Columbia Legal Services and Pro Bono Partners File Suit Against Yakima Hospital Over Charity Care


Together with Sirianni Youtz Spoonemore Hamburger, Columbia Legal Services has filed a lawsuit seeking access to healthcare for low-income Yakima area residents.

By Molly Rosbach, Yakima Herald-Republic.

In violation of state laws, Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center and Toppenish Community Hospital have been deterring patients from seeking charity care, shifting the burden onto other area hospitals, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday against the hospitals’ parent corporation.

The lawsuit in Yakima County Superior Court alleges a “severe imbalance” when it comes to charity care in Yakima County, using state figures that show Regional’s total charity care cases numbering 385 for 2011 compared to 28,503 for Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital.

Toppenish Community and Regional are owned by Health Management Associates (HMA) of Naples, Fla., which is the sole named defendant.

Charity care is for patients who cannot pay all or part of their hospital bill, and is typically a tax write-off for the hospital. Read the full story here.

News from Eastside Legal Assistance Program


By Stan Kehl, Executive Director

As the King County Budget process unfolds, I’ve been looking at the need for legal services for DV survivors. I’ve always known that we only scratch the surface in meeting this need, but the numbers I have recently received drove the point home. Domestic Abuse Women’s Network would refer 75 to 100 more survivors a month who would benefit from assistance on their family law cases. The King County Protection Order Advocates would refer an additional 100 to 120 survivors a month to ELAP, if we had the capacity to serve them. Lifewire, formerly Eastside Domestic Violence Program, would refer 15 more clients with critical health and safety needs to our ELAP DV Staff Attorneys each month, if we had the capacity. 

We are working on an innovative proposal to address this critical need by substantially expanding ELAP’s capacity to serve DV survivors by up to 120 to 130 DV survivors a year. We are designing a program to use what we see as unused resources, i.e. new attorneys who practice in the area of family law but have not fully established their practice yet, and non-practicing attorneys who would like to volunteer on a regular basis to keep their skill sharp. 

We will recruit new attorneys to the program and provide them with full support, including computers, phones, paralegal assistance, mentoring and training for one year while they build their solo practice. In return they will provide ELAP’s DV clients with 20 hours of legal services a week for one year. This will involve between five and eight of these attorneys each year. We will also recruit three to five experienced non-practicing family law attorneys who are temporarily staying at home, but who would like to give ten hours of their week.

In addition to providing legal services to more of the DV survivors who desperately need legal assistance, we want to train new family law attorneys in an environment which would acquaint them with working with DV survivors. We would also be forging connections with them, which we believe will lead to ongoing pro bono work on behalf of DV survivors.

If you would like to be a part of this effort, or have suggestions and ideas for this program, please contact me at

Equal Justice Coalition Funding Update

logoDuring the months of September and October, six legal aid Alliance organizations and the Equal Justice Coalition testified at all four scheduled public hearings on King County Executive Dow Constantine’s proposed fiscal year 2014 budget. The public hearings were held in Kent, North Bend, Bellevue, and Seattle.

Legal aid organizations that provided testimony, and that are supported through Executive Dow Constantine’s proposed budget are Seattle Community Law Center, Unemployment Law Project, TeamChild, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Eastside Legal Assistance Program, and the Family Assistance Program at Solid Ground.

While we are thankful to be included in the Executive’s proposed budget, we’ve continued to meet with Councilmembers to highlight the importance of investing in our services, which collectively ensures our most vulnerable people are protected.

The County’s investment has enabled legal aid organizations to leverage support through unique partnerships that have resulted in a coordinated multiple entry point system for low-income people to gain access to the legal services they need.

Last year, the County’s investment of half a million dollars to these six legal aid programs allowed them to leverage support from volunteer attorneys, yielding over 25,000 hours of pro bono help – a sizable return on investment of about $4 million to the county.

At a time when we’ve seen a decline in federal support, and state funding has remained stagnant, King County has stepped up its support for legal services.

The King County Council’s Budget Leadership Team is currently in the process of budget deliberations. We expect the Council to announce their final proposal within two weeks.

Post Grad Opportunities Abound and US District Court Judge Seeks UW Law Externs

Community Alliance for Global Justice Seeking Part-Time Director of Organizing


CAGJ is a volunteer led, membership-based organization founded in 2001 by Seattle-area activists who helped to organize the historic shutdown of the World Trade Organization meeting in 1999.  We strive to carry on the protests’ legacy of effective and creative collective action for global justice, working in solidarity with the powerful social movements of the Global South who continue to inspire us with their growing resistance to the corporate-driven economic model.  Our mission is to educate and mobilize with individuals and organizations to strengthen local economies everywhere. We are grassroots, community-based and committed to anti-oppressive organizing as we build solidarity across diverse movements. Focusing on the food system, we seek to transform unjust trade and agricultural policies and practices imposed by corporations, governments and other institutions while creating and supporting alternatives that embody social justice, sustainability, diversity and grassroots democracy.

About the position:

CAGJ’s Organizing Director will lead two areas: organizational development (through member and volunteer recruitment and engagement) and communications. Responsibilities will be shared with the Executive Director in the areas of fundraising, partner relations, strategic planning and administration.  The Organizing Director will also provide program support in the area suited to their experience and interests.

Applications due by November 15. For complete description and application instructions please click here.

O’Neill Institute for National & Global Health Law Seeking Policy Associate


The O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law seeks a candidate to serve as an O’Neill Institute Associate to work on domestic and global health law and policy projects. The O’Neill Institute is housed at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, DC.

Associates are based at the Law Center and report to the O’Neill Institute Executive Director and Deputy Director. Associates work on legal policy projects including researching and drafting white papers, organizing research colloquia, expert meetings, coordinating interdisciplinary research teams, and grant writing.  Associate positions are for one year with possible renewal.  Associates will receive a competitive salary with outstanding benefits.

Candidates should have a J.D. degree and outstanding research and writing skills.  Candidates with advanced training in public health and economics are preferred.  They should also have experience in areas such as public health law and financing, health reform and healthcare systems (U.S. and comparative), and food and drug law.

Applications should be submitted electronically. Complete the online application here. The application should include: resumé, cover letter, writing sample, professional references (list and contact information only, no letters of recommendation please), official law school transcript, and other graduate school transcripts (if applicable).

The application deadline is November 30, 2013. Any questions about the position should be directed to

Alliance for Justice Announces Post Grad Fellowship


Alliance for Justice is offering a public interest fellowship to a recent law school graduate. The term of the fellowship will be from September 2014 through August 2015.

The 2014-2015 Dorot Fellow will work on our Justice Programs, including our Judicial Selection Project, our Supreme Court campaign, and other access to justice issues.

Through our Judicial Selection Project, Alliance for Justice vets nominees to the federal judiciary, working closely with Senate offices, the White House, and the U.S. Department of Justice.  The Judicial Selection Project also educates the public and the press to ensure that only fair, qualified, individuals committed to social justice are confirmed.

Through our Supreme Court campaign, Alliance for Justice analyzes and comments on Supreme Court decisions that benefit powerful corporate interests at the expense of everyday Americans.  Under the leadership of Chief Justice John Roberts, the Court has radically rewritten laws in order to shield big business from liability, insulate corporate interests from environmental and antitrust regulation, make it easier for companies to discriminate, and enable powerful interests to flood our election process with special interest dollars.

Don’t delay! Applications due no later than November 1. For complete description and application instructions please click here.

Center for Budget and Policy Priorities Announces Post Grad State Policy Fellowship


The Fellowship is sponsored the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a national policy institute, and the State Fiscal Analysis Initiative (SFAI), a network of public policy organizations in over 40 states that participate in debates over budget and tax issues and other issues in their states that affect disadvantaged communities and families.

Below are key details on the program:

  • Fellows will spend two years as entry-level analysts working with a state policy organization belonging to the nationwide SFAI network.
  • Fellows will research and write analyses on current policy issues; brief policymakers, journalists, and others on these issues; and serve as a resource for advocates and community groups.
  • These are paid, full time positions with benefits.
  • Fellows will participate in a professional development program that includes a week-long seminar in Washington, D.C. and additional training opportunities, including national policy conferences.  Additionally, fellows will be partnered with mentors who are leaders in their field.
  • To be eligible for the program, candidates must 1) have a graduate degree in public policy, public affairs, economics, social work, public health, law, or a related field by August 2014, 2) have a strong academic record, and 3) be eligible to work in the United States for the two-year duration of the program.

Application requirements include a personal essay, resume, copies of undergraduate and graduate transcripts, and two letters of recommendation.  Completed applications must be submitted by January 24, 2014, but we encourage applicants to apply earlier.  The fellowship will begin in the latter part of August 2014.

For complete info please click here.

US District Court Judge in Portland Seeking UW Law Judicial Externs

Judge Marco Hernandez

photo courtesy: El Hispanic News

The Hon. Marco Hernandez, U.S. District Court, Portland, is accepting applications for full-time judicial externships.  Apply for summer and fall quarters by February 28.  Learn more about Judge Hernandez here.

Be sure to meet with your career coach before applying. Submit a letter of interest, resume, writing sample, law school transcript (unofficial is fine), and names of three references to Honorable Marco Hernandez, U.S. District Court, 1427 U.S. Courthouse, 1000 SW Third Avenue, Portland, OR 97204.

Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System, Diversity on the Bench, IFAP Volunteer Attorney Training and More

October 28: Human Trafficking Speaker Series- Supporting Human Trafficking Survivors in the Philippines


Where? Room 117

When? Monday, October 28, 12:30-1:20

Lunch will be served.

Speakers include:
Mr. Benjamin Aritao Jr., Barer Fellow; LL.M. Candidate in Sustainable International Development, UW Law; Founder of The Paper Project, Inc.
Mary Tal, iLeap Fellow; Founder and Project Director of Whole World Women Association 

Hosted by the Barer Institute for Law and Global Human Services, the International Law Society, and the Graduate Program in Sustainable International Development

October 29: Social Justice Tuesday- Addressing Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System


Where? Room 133

When? Tuesday, October 29, 12:30-1:20pm.

Join Lisa Daugaard, Policy Director at The Defender Association, and UW alum Dan Satterberg, King County Prosecuting Attorney for a discussion of Racial Disparities in the Criminal System and local collaborative efforts to address the problem. 

If you would like lunch please RSVP via Symplicity or Please RSVP by 12:00 pm Monday, October 28, 2013.

October 30: Diversity in the Judiciary- Panel Discussion with Washington Supreme Court Justices & the Washington Leadership Institute


Where? Room 133

When? Wednesday, October 30, room 133

The UW Law School Chapter of the American Constitution Society is hosting an informal panel discussion about the importance of diversity in the judiciary. The panel will include Justice Steve Gonzales as well as members of the Washington Leadership Institute who will discuss their own experiences as well as the broader importance of diversity in the judiciary. 

October 30: Externship Information Session


Where? Room 133

When? Wednesday, October 30, 3:30-4:30pm

What is an externship? How do I apply for one? How do I register and earn credit?

In this session, we will answer your questions and many more as we explain the nuts and bolts of externships. We will also provide an overview of the objectives and requirements of our Externship Program, and outline the responsibilities of student, field supervisor and faculty supervisor.

RSVP via Symplicity or

October 31: Litigation and Political Movements: Challenging Prolonged Solitary Confinement in American Prisons 

Jules Lobel

Where? Allen Auditorium, Allen Library, room 181L, UW Campus

When? Thursday October 31, 3:30-5:00pm

Professor Jules Lobel is the Bessie McKee Wathour Endowed Chair at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Lobel is the co-author with David Cole of Less Safe, Less Free: Why America is Losing the War on Terror (2007), which won the first Roy C. Palmer Civil Liberties Prize for exemplary scholar-ship exploring the tension between civil liberties and national security. He is also the author of Success without Victory: Lost Legal Battles and the Long Road to Justice in America (2003), and editor of several books on civil rights litigation as well as the U.S. Constitution. Lobel is president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a national human and constitutional rights organization headquartered in New York City. He has litigated numerous cases involving constitutional and human rights issues in the United States courts, including several cases challenging presidential assertions of executive power to unilaterally initiate warfare and cases challenging US policy toward suspected terrorists. Professor Lobel involved his students in all these cases, giving them first hand exposure to the constitutional litigation of important and complex issues.

Sponsored by the Center for Human Rights; the Hilen Endowment for American Literature and Culture; the Law, Societies & Justice Program; the Program on Values in Society; the UW School of Law; and the Simpson Center for the Humanities.

November 1: Attention Seattle Area Attorneys! Don’t Miss this Fantastic Opportunity to Mentor Students & Assist Immigrant Survivors of Violence

Where? Davis Wright Tremaine, 1201 Third Ave., Suite 2200, Seattle

When? Friday, Nov. 1, 10am-4:30pm.

The Immigrant Families Advocacy Project (IFAP) seeks volunteer attorneys to take on U-Visa cases and supervise student teams in 2013-2014. IFAP, a project of the University of Washington School of Law and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, pairs pro bono attorneys with law student teams to help secure U-Visas for immigrant survivors of qualifying crimes. The majority of clients are women who have suffered physical and emotional intimate partner violence. Attorneys do not need any experience in immigration law. IFAP provides the necessary training.

Pro Bono attorneys who are new to IFAP must attend our annual CLE. This year’s CLE is hosted by Davis Wright Tremaine, 1201 Third Ave., Suite 2200, Seattle, on Friday, Nov. 1st from 10am-4:30pm. Registered attendees get 4.25 CLE credits, including 0.75 ethics credits. The cost is $35 for those who volunteer to supervise a student team and take on a U-Visa case, and $150 for attendees who do not volunteer.

Dont’ delay! Registration ends October 30. To register please click here

Attorneys who have previously attended the CLE needn’t attend this year in order to volunteer. To RSVP as a repeat volunteer, e-mail Shira Zucker.  IFAP CLE 2013 FLYER

UW Law Launches Videos for ABA Celebrate Pro Bono Week, Victory for DV Survivors, Plus More

UW Law Launches Videos for Celebrate Pro Bono Week

At UW Law, we believe that members of the legal community have an obligation to help reduce barriers to access to justice. Providing high quality pro bono legal services to low-income clients and other under-represented groups is paramount. To this end, the UW Law School’s Pro Bono Honors Program encourages our law school community (students, faculty and staff) to provide pro bono legal assistance. We particularly encourage JD law students to pledge to provide at least 70 hours of law-related pro bono assistance by graduation. By providing training, support, resources, opportunities and leadership development to our students, the program ensures that future lawyers are prepared and ready to fulfill the promise of equal justice.

Thank you to all the students, faculty and staff who took time out of their very busy schedules to participate in the production of these videos. A special thank you goes out to Damien Koemans who put many hours into producing the videos and to Tiffany Sevareid who helped us with web content in a pinch. Another special thank you goes out to Danny Hyatt who transformed the Pro Bono Honors web pages this past summer making it more inviting and user friendly.

See both videos on the Pro Bono Honors Program main page here.

Important Victory for Survivors of Domestic Violence in Washington

Legal Voice
Latest News from LegalVoice–Last week, the Washington Supreme Court issued a powerful decision that holds police accountable for women’s safety.
In 2008, Baerbel Roznowski of Federal Way was stabbed to death by her partner, Paul Kim. Ms. Roznowski was killed shortly after Federal Way police served Mr. Kim with a protection order she had obtained against him. The order required Mr. Kim to stay 500 feet away from her home.
When she obtained the protection order, Ms. Roznowski filled out paperwork that clearly informed the police about the threat she faced from Mr. Kim. She specifically stated that he was likely to react violently when served with the order, and that he did not know she had obtained the order. She also indicated that Mr. Kim would need an interpreter to understand the order.
But the police officer who served the protection order did not even read the information Ms. Roznowski provided. Instead, the officer knocked on the door to her house, handed the order to Mr. Kim, and walked away – leaving Ms. Roznowski alone in her home with Mr. Kim, who murdered her just three hours later.
On October 17, the Washington Supreme Court unanimously affirmed a jury verdict holding the City of Federal Way liable for negligence in connection with Ms. Roznowski’s death. The Court held that the police officer failed to act with reasonable care in serving the protection order and had a duty to guard Ms. Roznowski against Mr. Kim’s violence when serving the order.
Legal Voice filed an amicus brief arguing that law enforcement officials must act with reasonable care in serving protection orders – especially when an order separates intimate partners. We emphasized that women are at a particularly high risk of violence when they try to leave an abusive partner, and that police must take reasonable steps to guard against the risk that an abuser will react violently when served with a protection order.
Legal Voice’s amicus brief was joined by the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Northwest Justice Project, and Washington Women Lawyers. Laura Clinton, Erica Franklin, and Tia Sargent of K&L Gates served as Legal Voice’s cooperating counsel in the case.
The ruling recognizes that Ms. Roznowski’s murder could have been prevented if the police had taken the threat she faced seriously. While nothing can compensate Ms. Roznowski and her family for her needless death, we hope this decision will mean that what happened to Ms. Roznowski will never happen to another woman in Washington.

The Cognitive Burden of Poverty

By Evan Nesterak, The Psych Report, Photo courtesy: Eric Pouhier

Nobody is perfect. At times we have difficulty managing our finances, we don’t always take our medications as planned, and sometimes we don’t perform up to par at work. However, research shows that people experience these problems to different degrees. Across financial strata, research reveals that the financially less well-off engage in these behaviors more often than those who are financially stable (1). These behaviors are particularly concerning, because, for those with limited financial resources, they can lead to poverty as well as perpetuate it.

In their article, “Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function,” which appears in the latest issue of Science, University of Warwick Professor Anandi Mani and several other social scientists (2) suggest poverty, and the ever-present concerns that come with it, places an undue burden on an individual’s limited mental resources. Compared with those who are free from poverty, this burden leaves those in poverty with fewer cognitive resources with which to make choices and take action. Mani et al. write, the poor “are less capable not because of inherent traits, but because the very context of poverty imposes load and impedes cognitive capacity.”

However, it is important to note that their explanation is not limited to the traditional populations of poverty, defined by a specific income level or ability to access basic human needs. The authors define poverty “broadly as the gap between one’s needs and the resources available to fulfill them.” That is, people in poverty are those who feel “poor,” who feel they have less than they need.

In the present work, Mani et al. demonstrated the impact of poverty on cognitive resources in two very different populations, New Jersey shopping mall-goers and Indian sugar cane farmers. The research showed that although the financial wealth differs considerably between these two populations, the “poor” in each population experienced diminished cognitive ability as a result of the cognitive burden imposed by their respective levels of poverty.

Continue reading here.

UW Announces the Launch of the New Green Seed Fund

UW stewardship

The University of Washington is delighted to announce the formation of the Green Seed Fund, a grant opportunity for sustainability-focused research projects. Newly-established by President Young and Provost Cauce, the Fund seeks to engage the UW community in research that advances sustainability on campus and beyond. Successful grant proposals will use the campus as a living, learning laboratory and help the UW find solutions to the most pressing environmental issues.

Seed Fund Facts:

  • Proposals for 2013-2014 grants may be submitted immediately.
  • All proposals are due by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 3, 2013.
  • Grants are open to UW Seattle, Bothell, Tacoma and affiliated field stations, as well as UW Medical Center, and Harborview.
  • Research teams are required to include at minimum a faculty, student and staff member.
  • Approximately $250,000 of funding is available for Fiscal Year 2013-2014.
  • The average award will be $25,000-75,000.
  • Projects should be approximately one year in duration and should not exceed two years.
  • Applicants will also be required to provide letters of support from any campus unit potentially impacted by the proposed scope.
  • For more info please click here.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact

DOJ Civil Rights Division Summer Internships, Gates Foundation Seeking Motivated 2L or LLM, San Francisco Legal Aid Seeking UW Law Students and More

Gates Foundation Seeking Highly Motivated 2L or LLM Student for Summer Legal Internship


The Legal Team of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation seeks a highly motivated 2L student to join our 2014 Summer Internship Program.

“Guidance, Solutions, Integrity” describes the Legal Team’s approach to providing comprehensive legal guidance supporting the implementation of the foundation’s strategies. The Legal Team offers creative solutions that accomplish programmatic objectives, develops and implements efficient legal processes to streamline the foundation’s investment making practices, and applies preventive legal strategies and compliance policies to minimize risks and safeguard the foundation’s reputation.

Position Summary & Responsibilities:

  • Work as part of the Legal Team to provide advice and counsel on a broad range of legal issues critical to the foundation’s mission, which may include exposure to the foundation’s various program teams and strategies.
  • Work on matters across the various practice groups of the legal team, including tax, intellectual property and complex transactions.
  • Although work assignments vary depending on client needs, we expect to rely on our summer associate to help complete actual client work.
  • Review and participate in preparing grant agreements, review proposals, concept notes and contracts, and identify issues related to proposed projects.
  • Provide guidance in the due diligence process to assess business structures and intellectual property rights of potential grantees.
  • Become familiar with laws and best practices applicable to private foundations generally as well as other issues that are applicable to the foundation.
  • Provide support in other investment matters or foundation policies and issues as needed, providing counsel and creative problem solving on a broad range of issues.

Don’t delay! The Gates Foundation is accepting applications from law students from any law school this year. Applications accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis through November 3. For complete description and application instructions check the Symplicity posting here.

Legal Aid Society- Employment Law Center in San Francisco Seeking UW Law Summer Interns

LAS-ELC  The Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center promotes the stability of low-income and disadvantaged workers and their families by addressing issues that affect their ability to achieve self-sufficiency. Using the law as a tool, the LAS–ELC helps workers attain financial security by preserving their employment opportunities. We believe that stable working conditions and adequate income strengthen families and build communities. By protecting the employment status of wage earners, we provide families the means to pull through adverse times, avoid the downward spiral caused by job loss, and be fully contributing members of society.

For complete information and application instructions please click here. Applications accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis. Don’t delay!

** SPECIAL APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS FOR UW LAW STUDENTS** In addition to following the application instructions listed on the website, be sure to ALSO copy the email to Marsha Chien at

King County Hiring Senior Deputy Ombudsman for Rural and Unincorporated Area Affairs


The Senior Deputy Ombudsman investigates and seeks resolution of jurisdictional citizen complaints about King County government operations and alleged ethics code violations, and employee reports of improper governmental action or retaliation. The duties of the Senior Deputy Ombudsman for Rural and Unincorporated Area Affairs will emphasize land use-related issues and complaints. The Rural Ombudsman is generally sole or lead investigator on complaints by property owners involving the departments of Permitting and Environmental Review, Natural Resources and Parks, Transportation-Roads Division, and Environmental Health. The position reports directly to the Ombudsman-Director.

Minimum Qualifications: The position requires graduation from an accredited four-year institution of higher learning with coursework in public administration, political science, law, business, communications, or other fields relevant to this position plus four years of progressively responsible research and investigative work, issue analysis, land use, public policy formulation, or code compliance, preferably in the government sector; OR any equivalent combination of relevant education, experience and training. Formal training and certifications in conducting investigations, interviewing techniques, dispute resolution, and public presentations are desirable.

Applications accepted on a rolling basis through Monday, October 28. For complete description and application instructions please click here.

The Feds Are Back in Business: Check Out All of the Summer Internship Programs with the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division


Interns gain a unique and exciting view of the work and mission of the Division. Interns will assist Division attorneys and/or specialists in a variety of assignments, including conducting legal and factual research, preparing documents and exhibits, interviewing witnesses, summarizing depositions, analyzing records, and other case-related work. Interns in the Policy and Strategy Section, as well as interns in some other sections, will assist the Division with a full range of civil rights policy work, including legislative proposals, policy development, and engaging civil rights stakeholders.

From the Office of Attorney General, Disability Rights, Employment Litigation, Policy and Strategy, to Voting Rights (to name a few), there’s virtually something for every social justice, public service and law enforcement interest. While each division has it’s own application process, do apply early. Applications tend be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis. For more info. application instructions and the complete list of specialized offices, please click here.

Attention 2Ls & 3Ls! Washington Supreme Court is Looking for a Few Good Externs

WA supreme ct externship

It’s ABA Celebrate Pro Bono Week! Don’t Miss Out on Some Fantastic Events

October 22: Pro Bono & Externship Fair. A Record 44 Organizations and Agencies are Participating. Find Out Which Ones Right Here

Celebrate Pro Bono 2013Friendly Reminder! The Pro Bono & Externship Fair will replace Social Justice Tuesday on October 22.

Don’t miss out on a once a year opportunity at UW Law to directly connect with pro bono and service learning opportunities.

When: Tuesday, October 22, 12:30-1:30pm

Where: UW Law Main Floor Galleria

Who Will Be There: See below

  1. ACLU of Washington
  2. Access to Justice Board
  3. Associated Counsel for the Accused
  4. Center for Children and Youth Justice Lawyers Fostering Education
  5. Center for Children and Youth Justice Lawyers Fostering Independence
  6. Columbia Legal Services
  7. Disability Rights Washington
  8. Earthjustice
  9. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Seattle Field Office
  10. Federal Public Defender
  11. Federal Trade Commission
  12. GreenLaw- UW Law
  13. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development/ Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
  14. Immigrant Families Advocacy Project (IFAP)- UW Law
  15. Incarcerated Mothers Advocacy Project (IFAP)- UW Law
  16. International Treaty Monitoring Project (ITMP)- UW Law
  17. King County Department of Public Defense-SCRAP Division
  18. Kitsap County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
  19. LegalVoice
  20. Moderate Means Program
  21. MultiCare Health System Legal Department
  22. Northwest Immigrants Rights Project
  23. Northwest Justice Project
  24. Olympia Quarter Fellows Program
  25. Q-Law Foundation
  26. Seattle Biomedical Research Institute
  27. Seattle City Attorney Civil Division
  28. Seattle City Attorney Land Use Section
  29. Seattle City Attorney Criminal Division
  30. Seattle Community Law Center
  31. Seattle Public Schools Office of General Counsel
  32. Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office
  33. Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office-Land Use Division
  34. Street Youth Legal Advocates of Washington (SYLAW)- UW Law
  35. Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney
  36. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 11
  37. Unemployment Law Project
  38. United States Attorney’s Office U.S. Attorney’s Office Western District of Washington
  39. U.S. Department of Labor
  40. UW Center for Commercialization
  41. UW Student Legal Services
  42. Washington Appleseed
  43. Washington Attorney General’s Office
  44. Washington Defender Association

October 22: Volunteer Advocates for Immigrant Justice (VAIJ) Pro Bono Celebration Event


Microsoft Corporation invites you to join us to celebrate VAIJ’s Past and Welcome our Future at the

Volunteer Advocates for Immigrant Justice (VAIJ) Pro Bono Celebration Event

When: 5:00-7:00pm

Where:  Microsoft Visitor Center, 15010 NE 36th Street, Redmond, WA 98052

Please RSVP asap:

Special Guest Speakers include Brad Smith, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Microsoft Corporation and Wendy Young, President, Kids In Need of Defense.

Hors d’oeuvres and drinks to be served

ABOUT VAIJ: Over the past ten years, thousands of immigrants and refugees in our community have been impacted by VAIJ’s attorneys, volunteers and supporters. Please join us to celebrate this work and to welcome the next chapter of our organization.

Launched in 2003, VAIJ is a joint initiative of Microsoft Corporation and the American Bar Association’s Commission on Immigration and the Seattle affiliate of Kids In Need of Defense. VAIJ provides access to pro bono counsel to immigrants and refugees, particularly unaccompanied children, in removal proceedings. Since its inception, VAIJ has provided training to more than 300 attorneys and volunteers, and provided legal orientations, intakes and representation to hundreds of immigrants in removal proceedings. As our work has come to focus on meeting the need for legal representation of unaccompanied alien children in federal custody before US immigration authorities in the Puget Sound area, we are moving into a new chapter and, on October 1, 2013, became the Seattle office of KIND. We hope you can join us to celebrate.

October 23: Eager to Get Real Client Experience? Want to Help Reduce Barriers to Justice? Attend the Moderate Means Program Info Session

wsba mmp

Where: Room 127

When: 12:30-1:20pm

Please RSVP: via Symplicity or by Tuesday, October 22, 2013, no later than 12:00pm.

Please join Supervising Attorneys, Chach Duarte White and Clay Wilson and former student interns for an important information session about the Moderate Means Program. Learn about the program’s goals, how it works and how you can volunteer!

Here’s a sneak peak..

  • The Moderate Means Program is a joint venture between the WSBA and the three law schools in Washington State.
  • The purpose of the program is to increase access to civil legal services for moderate means individuals (those between 200% and 400% of the federal poverty level), who cannot afford to hire private attorneys at prevailing rates but make too much money to qualify for traditional civil legal aid services.
  • Interns have direct contact with clients and attorneys dealing with everyday legal issues in Family, Housing, and Consumer law.

October 23: Columbia Legal Services Pro Bono Celebration


Columbia Legal Services will celebrate their pro bono partners, whose collaborative advocacy on behalf of thousands of low-income individuals and families work to achieve a vision of justice, and a more inclusive and equitable society.

When: 5:00-6:30 p.m.
Where: Center for Impact and Innovation/Hub, 20 Second Ave. S (Pioneer Square), Seattle

Please RSVP: RSVP preferred to

Catered by Farestart

The Columbia Legal Services Pro Bono celebration is free to attend, but donations and your support of our work for justice will be gratefully accepted.


Columbia Legal Services advocates for people who face injustice and poverty. We seek to achieve social and economic justice for all, using policy reform, litigation, and innovative partnerships to reveal and end actions that harm the communities we serve.

When people have the necessary tools and opportunity to achieve social and economic justice, a more inclusive and equitable society is possible.

October 24: Film Screening of “American Winter” Hosted by Pierce County Foreclosure Prevention Roundtable

Personal stories of NW families struggling to make ends meet & avoid foreclosure highlight the need for community involvement to help Pierce County families struggling to stay in their homes

Where: Grand Theatre in Tacoma

When: 6:30pm 

How do I reserve a free ticket? Reserve your seat – tickets are FREE – at:  or call (253) 572-5134 or e-mail for more information.

The Pierce County Foreclosure Prevention Roundtable is pleased to announce the screening of American Winter at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 24 at the Grand Theatre in Tacoma. The documentary, directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmakers Joe and Harry Gantz (Taxicab ConfessionsThe Defenders), follows the personal stories of eight families struggling in the wake of the economic downturn. Shot over the winter of 2011-12 in Portland, OR, this powerful film reveals the human impact of budget cuts to social services, rising poverty and economic inequality, and the fracturing of the American Dream.

American Winter premiered on HBO in March 2013 and won Best Documentary Award at the Portland International Film Festival. Most recently, American Winter won “Best of the Festival” at the Workers Unite!

Guests are invited to stay following the film for a reception at Corina Bakery next door to the Grand Cinema, as local experts and co-director Harry Gantz talk about how the themes of American Winter are relevant in our community, and learn more about the resources available in Pierce County to help prevent foreclosure and its consequences.

This screening is brought to Washington by the partners of the Pierce County Foreclosure Prevention Roundtable – including: Seattle University School of Law’s Foreclosure Mediation & Outreach Project, Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association’s Volunteer Legal Services Program and Home Justice Project, Northwest Justice Project’s Foreclosure Prevention Unit, Washington Attorney General Consumer Protection Division, Washington State Housing Finance Commission, Columbia Legal Services, Associated Ministries, Washington Department of Financial Institutions, Washington Association of Justice, South Sound Outreach, Parkview Services, Pierce County Center for Dispute Resolution, Puget Sound Mediation, and others including housing counselors, mediators, paralegals and attorneys.

Pro Bono Opportunities, Summer Funding, US Human Rights Treaty Compliance and a Victory for the Homeless

Meena Jagannath ’10 Shines Light on US Failed Compliance with Human Rights Treaties

Police Shooting TeenBy Trymaine Lee at MSNBC, photo courtesy of John Minchillo/AP

A broad umbrella group of American human and civil rights groups has filed a joint submission to the United Nations, calling for the United States and the Obama administration to hold itself to the same international standards of human rights compliance as it does other nations.

In more than 30 so-called shadow reports filed by the U.S. Human Rights Network (USHRN), advocacy groups raised a number of concerns and issues, including racial profiling, gun violence, stop-and-frisk policies and Stand Your Ground laws.

“While USHRN recognizes the positive steps the U.S. has made towards the advancement of human rights, it remains concerned about the general trend of the country and the large number of individuals whose rights as provided for under the [International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights] remain unprotected, in particular the racial, ethnic, gender, and class disparities that persist in the enjoyment of those rights,” the USHRN wrote in its submission.

Read full article here.

ABA Commission on Homeless & Poverty Annouces 2014 Summer Grant Program

homeless_headerThe Curtin Justice Fund Legal Internship Program is seeking motivated law student interns to apply for stipends available for the Summer 2014 Program. These students should have a position offered, contingent on funding, from a qualified organization.

The Curtin Justice Fund Legal Internship Program is managed jointly by the ABA Commission on Homelessness and Poverty and the Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants. The Program will pay a $2,500 stipend to three law school students who spend the summer months working for a bar association or legal services program designed to prevent homelessness or assist homeless or indigent clients or their advocates. The Legal Internship Program will provide much-needed legal assistance to organizations serving the under-represented and give students direct experience in a public interest forum. Through this, it aims both to help homeless clients and to encourage careers in the law that further the goals of social justice.

Application Deadline: March 31. For complete description and application instructions please click here.

For more info on how to fund your summer in public service please attend the January 14 Social Justice Tuesday. You can also learn more here.

Volunteer Interpreters Needed to Support the Clinical Law Program

InterpreterIf you speak a second language, the Clinical Law Program Language Bank needs your skill.  All foreign languages are required but there is a high demand for interpreters of Spanish.  As a volunteer interpreter, you will assist clients of the Clinical Law Program (CLP) and Immigrant Families Advocacy Project (IFAP).

A free interpreter orientation (four hours) will be provided here at the Law School.

Interpreting assignments involve phone conversations and face-to-face interviews as well as document translations.  No in-court interpreting is involved.  Assignments are offered via email and you decide whether to volunteer for the assignments.  In most instances, dates and times for the interpretation are set in coordination with your fellow law student who is assisting the client; thus, providing maximum scheduling flexibility.  Most assignments do not require any travel.

Although requiring only a few hours of your time during the year, by volunteering you will provide invaluable public service and experience the satisfaction of helping others.

For more information or to volunteer send your full name, class, UW email address, phone number, language competency and any questions to:

Volunteer for UW Law’s International Treaty Monitoring Project

CEDAWApplications to be involved with the International Treaty Monitoring Project, sponsored by CHRJ, are due this Friday, October 18. Click here to access the application form!

This is a great opportunity to gain experience in international human rights law and learn about treaty enforcement. Questions? Please contact Brittany Tri at

Victory for Homeless People’s Rights

HomelessArizona’s Anti-Begging Law Declared Unconstitutional. In Flagstaff, Arizona, a federal judge struck down as unconstitutional an Arizona state law that made it a crime to beg in public places.  The ruling follows a recent trend, reported in the May issue of IJT, of federal rulings striking down laws banning begging. Read the full decision here.

The ruling comes at a time when increased need has pushed more and more people out on the streets. In a misguided response, many communities have adopted ill-conceived laws and policies to criminalize conduct such as sleeping, eating and begging in public places. According to the National Law Center on Homeless and Poverty’s Criminalizing Crisis report, over 120 cities of 234 surveyed had bans on begging, and such bans had increased 7% over the previous two years.

The lead plaintiff, a 77 year old Hopi woman, had been arrested after asking an undercover police officer for $1 in bus fare.

Health and Environmental Law Positions Bubble Up

Northwest Health Law Advocates Hiring Staff Attorney


Northwest Health Law Advocates (NoHLA) is a Seattle-based non-profit organization that works to achieve accessible and affordable health care for all through policy and legal advocacy, public education and support to community-based organizations in Washington State. Founded in 1999, NoHLA is a leader of consumer advocacy on health care reform in Washington State.

We are seeking a full-time Staff Attorney to advocate on issues related to Medicaid, the Health Benefit Exchange, health reform implementation, innovation and changes to health care delivery systems, and securing access to quality health care for all, regardless of income, ability, language or national origin. The ideal candidate will have knowledge of health laws and experience as a health advocate; strong communication, research and writing skills; and the ability to work individually and in teams or coalitions. The work will be in Washington State with opportunities to collaborate with advocates on a national level.

Act now! Applications accepted on a rolling basis. For full description and application instructions please click here.

Judicial Vacancies in King County Superior Court to be Filled by the Governor


Gov. Jay Inslee is now seeking interested and qualified members of the Washington State Bar Association to submit applications to fill the following judicial vacancyKing County Superior Court — application deadline: Oct. 25, 2013 

To be considered for this vacancy, applicants are encouraged to submit complete applications, along with the Waiver and Authorization to Release Information, and schedule judicial evaluations with the King County Bar Association and the statewide minority bar associations. All applications must be completed and submitted to the Governor’s Office by Oct. 25, 2013, with all judicial evaluation ratings submitted to the Governor’s Office of General Counsel by Nov. 1, 2013. For further information and application materials, visit the Governor’s website.

Trustees for Alaska Seeking Summer 2014 Interns


Trustees for Alaska, a public interest environmental law firm with a busy and interesting docket, is now accepting applications for Summer 2014 legal internships. For 40 years, Trustees has been working to protect Alaska’s environment.  Trustees provides counsel to local, regional and national conservation organizations, Alaska Natives and tribal councils, fishing organizations, and others in environmental and natural resource matters.  Trustees’ work generally focuses on state and federal law issues concerning oil and gas leasing, exploration and development; coal mining and combustion; hard rock mining; fisheries; endangered species; public land use; and transportation projects.

Applications accepted on a rolling basis through October 21. For complete description and application instructions please click here.

Dolores Street Community Services in San Francisco Looking for Summer 2014 Interns


Dolores Street Community Services (DSCS) is seeking a summer law clerk for its Deportation Defense and Legal Advocacy Program for the summer of 2014 to assist attorneys in handling removal cases.  DSCS provides free immigration legal services to low income San Francisco residents facing imminent deportation.  As the fiscal sponsor for the San Francisco Immigrant Legal & Education Network, DSCS is part of a groundbreaking collaboration of thirteen organizations, including some of the region’s pioneering immigrant service providers.  For the past several years, DSCS has been on the cutting edge of providing innovative legal defense in removal cases.   The summer clerkship will provide the law student with the opportunity to engage in a broad range of legal tasks and advocacy, depending on the needs of the clients, and the student’s goals. Spanish fluency is required. For complete info and application instructions please click here (must be a subscriber.)

Western Environmental Law Center Seeking Summer 2014 Interns


The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) is accepting resumes from law students currently in their second or third year of law school (2L or 3L) for summer 2014 legal internship positions in these locations: the Rocky Mountains office in Helena, Montana, and the Southwest office in Taos, New Mexico. We are looking for bright and motivated individuals committed to public interest environmental law.

Under the supervision of a staff attorney in the office location in which they are hired, the selected interns will assist our attorneys with case development and strategy, conduct legal research, and draft pleadings, briefs, and other legal documents.  We offer a flexible summer work schedule to allow for outdoor recreation and travel.

Western Environmental Law Center is a non-profit public interest environmental law firm that works to protect and restore Western wildlands and advocates for a healthy environment on behalf of communities throughout the West.

Applications accepted on a rolling basis. For complete information and instructions please click here (must be a subscriber.)

Community Organizing Against Gender Violence, Racial Justice Advocacy in Civil Legal Aid, Statewide Diversity Conference and Much More

October 15: Social Justice Tuesday- Mobilizing our Communities Against Gender Violence


Sabrina Chen and Katrina Pestano from API Chaya will discuss their work with survivors of sexual and domestic violence from Asian, South Asian, and Pacific Islander communities.

API Chaya organizes communities by educating, training, and offering technical assistance. It also provides comprehensive culturally relevant services on domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking to Asian, South Asian, and Pacific Islander community members, service providers, survivors, and their families. API Chaya is one of the few organizations in the country that serves Asian, South Asian, and Pacific Islander community members, survivors, and their families. They also assist mainstream service providers who serve API refugees and immigrants.

When? Tuesday, October 15, 12:30-1:20pm

Where? Room 133

If you’d like lunch please RSVP by Monday, October 14 at 12 noon to

October 17: Are We Full of Contradictions? Legal Aid Programs and Racial Justice Advocacy 

racial-justice-slideshowShould antipoverty advocates focus on racial justice advocacy? How do racial justice and antipoverty advocacy intersect, and what barriers impede legal aid participation in that work? Days after Clearinghouse Review‘s 2013 special issue on pursuing racial justice comes out, we are holding a webinar on these and other questions. Informed by the results of a recent NLADA survey, our panelists will dig into these questions and offer a range of perspectives on the importance of racial justice to antipoverty advocacy. The webinar is set for October 17, 2013, from noon to 1:00 p.m. CST. Speakers will include Carol Ashley, vice president of advocacy, Shriver Center; Camille Holmes, director, Leadership and Racial Equity, NLADA; and William Kennedy, managing attorney, Legal Services of Northern California. Learn more and register.

October 18: Statewide Diversity Conference, “Moving Forward Together”-Free for Law Students

WAMPACInspired by the ABA Conference for the minority lawyer, WAMBAC’s Statewide Diversity Conference is an opportunity for legal professionals to convene, learn about and discuss ideas, trends, and issues impacting and affecting diversity in the legal profession. This year’s conference will feature keynote speakers such as Governor Jay Inslee, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Jones, and many others, who will provide CLE seminars on a variety of topics. The Minority Bar Associations Collaboration Project presents this years conference at Seattle University School of Law, 10/18 from 8 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.

Estimated 6 CLE credits, with breakfast and lunch provided for $50. A reception will follow.  Attorney please register here. Free for law students and no need to pre-registration requirement! 

If you have questions, please contact or call toll free 1-800-945-WSBA.

October 18: PILA’s Brewfest is Here!

PILAWhat: PILA’s Annual Brewfest! All proceeds help fund Social Justice Tuesdays and the Loan Repayment Assistance Program. Price of admission includes a PILA Pint Glass, beer from Fremont Brewing Company, and snacks.

TICKETS: $15 per person/$5 designated driver rate
When: October 18 at 7 PM
Where: Vista Cafe, William H. Foege Building (Boat Street and 15th Ave NE)

Tickets go on sale Monday, October 14. Look for the Brewfest table during lunch. Please bring cash or check. Questions? E-mail Michael Caulfield ( See you there!

October 18: UW Symposium in Environmental Ethics- Climate Justiceenvironmental ethics

On October 18th, the Program on Values in Society is sponsoring the inaugural Ben Rabinowitz Symposium in Environmental Ethics, organized under Steve Gardiner’s Ben Rabinowitz Endowed Professorship in the Human Dimensions of the Environment.  The topic is Climate Justice.
The Symposium will culminate in a public lecture by David Schlosberg (University of Sydney), entitled Climate-Challenged Society”, from 3:30-5.30 in Savery Hall 264.
During the day, there will also be a workshop on climate justice, concentrating on the dispute between philosophers and some legal scholars about the role of ethics in climate policy.  The symposium features philosophers from the region – Avram Hiller, Marion Hournequin, Jay Oderbaugh and Allen Thompson – as well as David Schlosberg, and Steve Gardiner.  The workshop will begin at 9:15 am in Savery 408 and will continue until 2:30. The workshop is open to members of the campus community, but space is limited, so preregistration is required.  If you would like to register, please click here
The colloquium talk requires no registration. If you have any questions, please contact Dustyn Addington at

Former Foster Kids Plead for Attorneys in WA, Haitian Cholera Victims Sue UN and Openly Gay, Secretly Undocumented

Former Foster Children Plead for Kids to Have Attorneys

A bill stuck in the Legislature could make a difference for young people when they are most alone and in need.
foster kids bill
By John Stang- Photo courtesy by John Stang
October 4, 2013–The  common thread was control. Losing it.
Yearning for it. Grasping for it.That’s part of being in the foster care system. moving from foster family to foster family, from school to school without any legal say in your fate.Three women, all former foster kids, shared their experiences with the Washington House’s Early Learning & Human Services Committee and Judiciary Committee on Thursday at a hearing in Olympia. They testified in favor of a stalled bill that would require the state to provide foster kids — indeed, all kids — with an attorney in family court cases where the child’s parents have had their parental rights terminated.”I did not know what it would be like to feel alone until I was in foster care (at the age of 5),” Delilah Bruskas, 48, told the committee. Delilah, who is from Tacoma, lived with seven foster families, attending four elementary, two junior high and four high schools. “If I had legal representation,” she continued, “I’d have asked several questions: When can I see my mother? When can I go home? … I feared social workers. To me, they were the most powerful people on earth. They could take a child from a family. … I believe legal representation can ensure optimal outcomes.”“It takes away your humanity,” said Mikhail Stewart, 21, of Olympia, about her journey through 22 different foster homes in six years. “It seems like you’re a piece of property.”Mandy Urwiler, 19, of Seattle said the attorney she obtained in family court four years ago “treated me like an adult when the state treated me like a kid.”Washington’s 39 counties are a hodgepodge of different rules about when to provide attorneys for foster children whose parents had their rights terminated. Right now, the appointment of attorneys in such cases is discretionary — based on a judge’s determination — and it varies widely across the state. King County appoints an attorney for children 12 and older; the Benton-Franklin county system for kids eight and older; judges in several counties don’t appoint attorneys for kids at all.”Youths are constantly baffled by the fact that some kids get an attorney and some do not,” said Jim Theofelis,  executive director of The Mockingbird Society, a foster care advocacy organization. “Surely, we do not want a justice-by-geography system. … An unintended consequence of no legal representation is that it feeds that feeling of desperation in young people.” Continue reading here.Check out the full hearing here

Haitian Cholera Victims Sue UN for Gross Negligence

October 9, 2013, New York— Attorneys from the human rights groups Bureau des Avocats Internationaux(BAI) and Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), and civil rights law firm Kurzban, Kurzban, Weinger, Tetzelli & Pratt (KKWT), announced today the filing of a class action lawsuit against the United Nations (UN) on behalf of victims of the deadly cholera epidemic in Haiti.  Since October 2010, when the UN contaminated Haiti’s principal river with cholera-infected human waste, the disease has killed over 8,300, sickened more than 650,000, and continues to kill about 1,000 Haitians per year.

Speaking from Geneva, where he is being honored as a finalist for the Martin Ennals Human Rights Award, BAI Managing Attorney Mario Joseph said: “The filing of this lawsuit marks a critical step towards justice for Haiti and all those who have suffered and are suffering because of cholera.”  Joseph is co-counsel on the case and has led the fight for justice for cholera victims since 2011.

The plaintiffs in the case are five Haitians and Haitian-Americans whose family members died of the disease or who were infected but managed to survive life-threatening cholera. The plaintiffs are asking the court to certify the case as a class action, which will allow the plaintiffs to represent and obtain relief for the hundreds of thousands Haitians and Haitian-Americans who suffered injuries or died from cholera.

“The Plaintiffs have undergone indescribable suffering as a result of cholera and have to live with the knowledge that cholera can strike again. They have rights to have a Court hear their case and rights to damages that will help them go on with their lives and access clean water,” said Brian Concannon, Jr., Esq., director of IJDH and co-counsel for the plaintiffs.

The 67-page complaint, filed today in federal court in the Southern District of New York, details extensive evidence demonstrating that the UN knew or should have known that its reckless sanitation and waste disposal practices posed a high risk of harm to the population, and that it consciously disregarded that risk, triggering an explosive epidemic. The plaintiffs seek damages for personal injury, wrongful death, emotional distress, loss of use of property and natural resources, and breach of contract.

“We anticipate that the UN will seek to avoid responding to the evidence presented by the victims by arguing that the court does not have jurisdiction to hear the case. We are prepared for that challenge, and are confident that the court will find that the case must proceed because the victims have a recognized right to access courts that must be protected,” said Ira Kurzban, Esq., a civil rights litigator with KKWT and co-counsel on the case.

The UN has legal obligations under international treaties to provide people harmed by its operations either compensation or a fair forum to present their claims, but the organization has not complied with this requirement. In November 2011, BAI, IJDH and KKWT filed claims with the UN on behalf of 5,000 Haitian victims of cholera, seeking remedies and the establishment of the commission.

The UN refused to receive the claims in February 2013, claiming that they were “not receivable” because considering them would “require a review of political or policy matters.” The UN has come under strong criticism for its handling of the case, which includes denial of responsibility, stonewalling press inquiries, and a refusal to even meet with the cholera victims or their lawyers.

Openly Gay, Secretly Undocumented


New America Media / Coachella Uninc., News Feature, Brenda R. Rincon, Posted: Oct 02, 2013. Photo courtesy, New America Media

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – Juan Ceballos came to the United States so he could live freely as an openly gay man. But the move came with a high cost: he had to take on another secret identity as an undocumented immigrant.

Ceballos was 17 when he entered the United States by foot, a backpack on his shoulders, easily passing as an American student through the Tijuana border.

He quickly realized that, as an undocumented immigrant, it wouldn’t be easy to stay in the United States. And as a gay man, it wouldn’t be easy to go back to Mexico.

Ultimately, his fear of being deported outweighed his fear of being ostracized in Mexico.

“To be here was more difficult,” says Ceballos. “I was afraid.”

After only two months of living as an undocumented immigrant in the United States, Ceballos decided to go back to Mexico.

But he didn’t last long there either.

His return to his hometown of San Luis Potosí, in central Mexico, thrust him back into the same bullying and verbal abuse that he had tried to escape.

Ceballos, who knew he was gay at a very young age, had a difficult relationship with his father, who he describes as “macho.” The treatment he received from his father upon his return home eventually drew him back to the United States.

Continue reading here.