Pro Bono Honors Society Deadline Is Upon us!

Another Summer Grant Opportunity- Don’t Miss Out! Deadline April 15!

bhfdt7pcuaabqslI’m writing to let you know about a source of funding for law student summer service that is going underutilized.  It’s the Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps JD program.  Students secure their own placements at nonprofit organizations or government agencies, then fill out a brief application, serve at least 300 hours and submit a short report on their activities.  In return, they receive an education award of $1,222 that can be applied to tuition or student loans.

The priority deadline for submitting applications is Friday, April 15, 2016.  Note that students may not get law school credit and the education award for the same service, but they may receive outside funding up to $4,300 and still be eligible for the education award.

Interested students can fill out the brief application here

May 9: Attention Students! Pro Bono Honors Society Deadline Is Upon us

taupc7ah_400x400Between May 2015 and April  2016, did you:

  •  Volunteer for IFAP, PFJP, SYLAW, CHRJ App Help, ELS research project?
  • Do law-related pro bono work for a community-based legal or public interest organization?
  • Volunteer as a case manager or leader for a student-led pro bono project?
  • Intern last summer for a public interest organization and didn’t get a summer grant, stipend or externship credit?

If you can answer YES to any of these questions you are likely eligible to participate in the UW Law Pro Bono Honors Society!

Submit your online form so that you can be recognized with fellow students, faculty and staff with a Pro Bono Service Award at graduation!

For complete information please click here.

Student Pro Bono Honors Deadline: Monday, May 9.

Student Debt: Department of Education FOIA Lawsuit

aclu_picStudent debt is a major driver of lifelong debt cycles and presents a significant civil rights challenge. The federal student loan program grows out of a commitment to educational opportunities for all Americans, yet research shows there are significant racial disparities at every major inflection point of the student debt system, from the magnitude of the debt burden borrowers undertake to the chances of being victimized by predatory educational programs and harmful debt-collection practices.

The American Civil Liberties Union and National Consumer Law Center submitted a Freedom of Information Act request on May 7, 2015, to the federal Department of Education reflecting concerns that the department’s student debt collection practices disproportionately harm students of color and may be violating those students’ constitutional rights.

The Department of Education exercises extraordinary debt-collection powers: It has authority to garnish the wages of borrowers who default on their loans and to intercept tax refunds and other government payments, including funds directed

toward economically vulnerable people. This authority raises inherent concerns. It implicates the due process rights of borrowers, with the most significant impact most likely on low-income people.

To continue reading, click here

Judge Rules Yakima-Area Hospitals Violated Charity Care Law and Breached Contracts with Indigent Patients

columbia20legal20servicesLast week, a Yakima County Superior Court judge ruled in favor of a class of indigent patients against the parent company of Yakima Regional Medical Center (YRMC) and Toppenish Community Hospital. Judge Susan L. Hahn found that the hospitals had a practice of violating the Washington Charity Care Act by failing to screen patients for financial need before demanding payments from patients-many times in the form of up-front deposits as a condition of receiving care. She also found that this practice violated the hospital’s contract with its patients because it caused patients to pay money they did not owe under Washington law.

“All Hospitals have to provide their fair share of charity care, under Washington law,” said Eleanor Hamburger, of Sirianni Youtz Spoonemore Hamburger and one of the attorneys for the class. “By making their obligation to provide charity care a well-kept secret, the hospitals required some patients to pay more than legally allowed for treatment, forced others to go without the medical care they needed, and foisted its responsibility for providing charity care on its closest competitor. Now the Court has concluded that this practice is illegal and a breach of contract.”

The lawsuit, pending since late 2013, points to YRMC’s policy of demanding deposits from low-income patients and refusal to refund deposits even after patients qualify for charity care, which is free or reduced-cost care they are entitled to under the law. “YRMC’s deposit policy and other barriers to accessing charity care may be driving low-income patients away from that hospital and towards Yakima Valley Memorial [a non-profit hospital across town], or away from care altogether,” concluded Carolyn A. Watts, Ph.D., formerly the Faculty Director at the University of Washington’s Health Policy Analysis Program, in a declaration submitted as part of the case.

To continue reading, click here

UW project focuses on fines and fees that create ‘prisoners of debt’ by Deborah Bach

Criminals are meant to pay their debts to society through sentencing, but a different type of court-imposed debt can tie them to the criminal justice system for life and impact their ability to move forward with their lives.

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DonkeyHotey / Flickr

Though debtors’ prisons were eliminated in the United States almost two centuries ago, a modern-day version exists in the dizzyingly complex system of fines and fees levied against people as they move through the court system.

Offenders are charged for everything from DNA samples to electronic monitoring devices, jury trials and even room and board while imprisoned. The fees can add up to thousands of dollars, and those who fail to pay are routinely jailed.

Little is known about how such fines and fees differ among or even within states, but a new University of Washington-based initiative will provide new insight on the issue. Alexes Harris, an associate professor of sociology, is the principal investigator of a five-year research project on monetary sanctions in eight states. The $3.9 million project, funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, will be the first systematic study of how multiple states implement court-imposed fees.

To continue reading, click here