LGBT Month, Minimum Wage, Chemical Warfare, Joy Rides, and Tiananmen – Get the Scoop!

President Barack Obama Releases Proclamation Declaring June LGBT Pride Month

Pres. Obama

By James Nichols, Huffington Post

President Barack Obama has released a proclamation declaring June as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Pride Month. Check out the excerpt below.

As progress spreads from State to State, as justice is delivered in the courtroom, and as more of our fellow Americans are treated with dignity and respect — our Nation becomes not only more accepting, but more equal as well. During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, we celebrate victories that have affirmed freedom and fairness, and we recommit ourselves to completing the work that remains.

Last year, supporters of equality celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, a ruling which, at long last, gave loving, committed families the respect and legal protections they deserve. In keeping with this decision, my Administration is extending family and spousal benefits — from immigration benefits to military family benefits — to legally married same-sex couples.

Continue reading here.  Photo credit courtesy of the Associated Press and Susan Walsh.

Seattle raises minimum wage to $15 an hour

By John Bacon, USA Today

AP_Waiter (minimum wage)

Martina Phelps says the Seattle City Council’s historic vote Monday to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour could change her life.

Phelps, 22, earns $9.47 per hour working for a McDonald’s restaurant near downtown. She wants to move out of her mother’s South Seattle home, and she wants to go back to school. She says those things could happen now that the city will have the nation’s highest minimum wage.

“It’s hard right now,” she told USA TODAY hours before the midafternoon vote. “I have been trying to save up for school, but I just can’t do it. This would mean a lot.”

The council unanimously approved the measure before a packed house.

Continue reading here.  Photo of waiter Spencer Meline at Ivar’s courtesy of the Associated Press.

Woman Not Guilty of Chemical Warfare; Constitution Saved

mailbox

By Garrett Epps, The Atlantic

The Supreme Court Monday stepped back from the abyss.

By a vote of 6-3, it refused to invent limits on the federal government’s power to make and enforce treaties.

The case was Bond v. United StatesThis is the second installment of the soap opera of Carol Anne Bond. Bond’s husband and her best friend conceived a child. When she found out, Bond, a trained laboratory technician, turned to the hostile use of 10-chloro-10H-phenoxarsine and potassium dichromate, both deadly poisons. She smeared them on various doorknobs and car doors at Hayes’s house, on one occasion giving Hayes’s thumb a nasty burn. She also unwisely smeared them on Hayes’s mailbox, which is by law part of the U.S. Postal System. Postal inspectors posted security cameras and caught her on video.

Federal prosecutors proclaimed this “a very serious, scary case,” because Bond had stolen four pounds of potassium dichromate from her workplace. They charged her with theft of the mail—and violation of 18 U.S.C. § 229, the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act of 1998.

On Monday a six-justice majority, in an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, told the government it had misread the statute to “sweep in everything from the detergent under the kitchen sink to the stain remover in the laundry room,” and “make[] it a federal offense to poison goldfish.” Roberts was joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. All nine justices agreed that the government had gone too far in prosecuting Bond. The majority said the indictment violated the statute; Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito would have held the prosecution unconstitutional.

Continue reading here.  Photo credit courtesy of Eric Thayer & Reuters.

Locked Up and Locked Out: How a three-minute joy ride cost one foster youth his AB 12 benefits

Bakkhit brothers

By Brian Rinker, The Chronicle of Social Change

When Terrick Bakhit turned 18 while incarcerated in a juvenile correction facility, the foster care system that had watched over him for the previous five years abruptly cut him off.

On June 13, 2012, Bakhit emerged from San Diego County’s Camp Barrett homeless and broke.

“After being locked up for 11 months I felt free, but in the wrong way,” said Bakhit, who was left to fend for himself on the streets of downtown San Diego. “I slept in the rain. I slept on the street. No roof. No house. No nothing. I was stealing food.”

California state law ensures that youths who turn 18 in foster care are eligible for support up to the age of 21 if they choose, to help the transition into adulthood and self-sufficiency. But a small percentage of foster youth can become ineligible for extended benefits if they happen to turn 18 inside a correctional facility without a foster care placement order waiting for them on release.

“If you are incarcerated and don’t have a placement still intact on your 18th birthday, you can’t get benefits,” said Amy Lemley, policy director at the John Burton Foundation, referring to to the benefit foster youth can get after extended foster care benefits.

The problem seems to be rooted in the varying interpretations of state law among counties and the lack of inter-agency communication. Because of the confusion, kids like Bakhit struggle to make ends meet while eligible foster youth continue to receive benefits.

Continue reading here.  Photo of Terrick brothers, Terrick, left, Matthew, middle, Joseph, right; Photo credit courtesy of Terrick Bakhit.

Voices from Tiananmen

soldiers from Tiananmen

By South China Morning Post

[Today] marks the 25th anniversary of a brutal military crackdown on pro-democracy protests led by students and residents in Beijing. Hundreds of people were killed and many more were wounded when People’s Liberation Army units rolled into Tiananmen Square, ending more than a month of peaceful protests seeking political reforms.

In the following pages, former government officials, student leaders and other eyewitnesses revisit the momentous events of spring, 1989. These personal accounts, gathered from recent video interviews, as well as memoirs, shed new light on the hope and despair left by those days, which continue to haunt China a quarter century later.

Click here to continue reading.  Photo credit courtesy of South China Morning Post.

 

Planning for Fellowships in 2015? Apply Now, Apply Early!

Attention All Law Students!  Washington State Supreme Court Seeking Survey Volunteer Interviewers, Due 6/1/14

Washington State Temple of Justice

Under auspices of the Washington State Supreme Court CLNS Update Committee, work with the Washington State Office of Civil Legal Aid and Washington State University’s Social and Economic Sciences Research Center (WSU-SESRC) conducting face-to-face interviews to update our understanding of the unmet civil (non-criminal) legal problems faced by low-income residents of Washington State.

Time commitment: Completion of up to 3 hours of required training; up to 15 contact hours for completing 8 interviews and entering information.

Interviewer’s primary responsibility will be to conduct face-to-face interviews with low-income Washington State residents & enter the data into a secure data base following the interview. The project includes mandatory training in interviewing protocols.

For a complete description on the scope of the volunteer work and application instructions, click here.

Columbia Legal Services Seeking Institutions Project Staff Attorney, Due 6/25/14

CLS Logo

The Institutions Project (IP) is seeking a full-time attorney with a minimum of five years of litigation experience.  IP is an advocacy team consisting of five attorneys, a paralegal, and two legal assistants. IP engages in system systemic advocacy for individuals and groups, in collaboration with other programs and the private, on behalf of people in facilities for the developmentally disabled, psychiatric hospitals, and adult and juvenile state and local correctional facilities throughout Washington.  IP systemic advocacy has focused on cases that have a broad impact on solving the most critical issues of clients in institutions, including class actions, legislative representation and other policy advocacy on behalf of clients.

Under the supervision of the Project Coordinator, staff attorneys provide civil legal advice and representation in areas of importance to Columbia Legal Services low-income clients.  Staff attorneys are expected to be able to use the full range of potential forums appropriate to address relevant issues for our clients, including litigation, alternative dispute resolution, and administrative or legislative representation.  The changing needs of our clients require attorneys to engage in an ongoing effort to gain and share expertise and resources with their coworkers and others throughout the Alliance for Equal Justice.

For a complete job description and application instructions, click here.

Community Legal Services in Philly Accepting 2015 Fellowship Applications, Due 7/7

CLSPhillyCommunity Legal Services, Inc. of Philadelphia (CLS) sponsors law students and lawyers for fellowships funded by the Independence Foundationthe Skadden Fellowship FoundationEqual Justice Works, the Open Society Foundations, theStoneleigh Foundation, the Borchard Fellowship in Law & Aging, and other fellowship programs (including fellowships offered directly by law schools).  Fellows work closely with our experienced staff attorneys and are directly supervised by a more senior attorney.  Fellows carry their own caseload and gain valuable experience in providing a wide range of services, from brief advice and counsel to representation at administrative hearings, judicial proceedings, and appeals.  Fellows are also deeply involved in our policy and systemic advocacy work.  Past fellows have provided crucial advocacy for our clients, contributed greatly to CLS’ development as a legal services organization, and many have become long-term members of our staff.

CLS invites law students beginning their third year, recent law school graduates, and those with judicial clerkships to apply for sponsorship for a fellowship.  For consideration for fellowships that begin in 2015, applications will be accepted until Monday, July 7, 2014. 

For a complete description and application instructions, click here. Please note this post has recently been corrected.

Eastside Legal Assistance Program Seeking Rule 9 Intern, Due 12/31

ELAP Logo

The Eastside Legal Assistance Program (ELAP) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency that provides access to justice through free civil legal aid to low income residents of East and Northeast King County Washington and domestic violence legal aid throughout King County.

Your role as a Rule 9 Intern will be to assist ELAP DV Staff Attorneys in their representation of clients who are survivors of domestic violence.  This volunteer position requires a minimum of ten hours a week for a minimum of one semester.

For a complete job description and application instructions, click here.