Breaking News! BIA Recognizes Domestic Violence as Basis for Asylum

Northwest Justice Project’s New Text Campaign Connects People to Legal Information

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The Northwest Justice Project is pleased to announce that we have recently launched a text campaign connecting individuals with legal information via their cell phone. Individuals who need a driver’s license for work and have a suspended driver’s license because of unpaid traffic fines, suspension due to a car accident while uninsured, or had one or more convictions for driving with a suspended license and still have unpaid fines even though the suspension period is over can text the keyword DRIVE to 877877. 

Click here to view the short video describing the campaign.

Breaking News! Highest U.S. Immigration Tribunal Recognizes Domestic Violence as a Basis for Asylum

By: Center for Gender & Refugee Studies

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The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) today issued a landmark ruling, Matter of A-R-C-G-, with the potential to affect immigrant women across the country. As CGRS has done with so many asylum cases based on domestic violence, we assisted the attorney in this case (Roy Petty) with briefing and strategy, and we filed an amicus brief in support of the client.

CGRS has pioneered this area of the law in two internationally known cases – starting with the case of Rody Alvarado, Matter of R-A-, and then in Matter of L-R-. CGRS Director Karen Musalo, working with her colleagues at CGRS, represented both women. In 2004, and again in 2009, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) set forth its position that women fleeing intimate partner violence can qualify for asylum and agreed to grants of asylum in R-A- and L-R-, respectively. These were important victories, signaling that these cases are viable, but they did not set precedent. Now, for the first time, we have binding precedent to support domestic violence survivors who seek protection in the United States.

Continue reading here.

CERD Issues Its Concluding Observations on the United States

By: Poverty & Race Research Action Council (PRRAC)

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The U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has issued its Concluding Observations on U.S. compliance with the CERD treaty, reflecting many of the concerns raised by the delegation of U.S. civil and human rights groups that came to Geneva to testify.  We were especially pleased to see the strong recommendations (pp. 6-7) on U.S. housing and education policy (issues where PRRAC had submitted coalition comments).  Stay tuned for Megan Haberle’s report on the CERD review in the next Poverty & Race, and thanks to the U.S. Human Rights Network for coordinating a successful advocacy effort.

Click here for the full report.

Moldovan Legal Professionals Trained on Fighting High-Level Corruption

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By: American Bar Association

From May 4–10, six Moldovan legal professionals attended the Central and Eastern European Law Initiative Institute’s second regional anti-corruption training with support from the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI). ABA ROLI also selected the Moldovan participants, including two prosecutors, a judge and a National Institute of Justice (NIJ) trainer, who were accompanied by an ABA ROLI staff attorney. A total of 24 lawyers, including from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine, attended the Prague workshop.

The interactive course addressed several aspects of investigating high-level corruption, including tracking money, interviewing witnesses, and gathering and presenting evidence. The training employed a case study, allowing participants to work in smaller groups to accomplish various tasks, such as identifying potential corrupt practices, developing an investigation plan, identifying and interviewing witnesses and defendants, analyzing financial data and presenting evidence in court.

Continue reading here.  Photo credit: American Bar Association

Evictions Soar in Hot Market; Renters Suffer

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By: Shaila Dewan, New York Times

Just after 7 a.m., sheriff’s deputies knocked on the door of the duplex apartment, holding a fluorescent orange eviction notice. The process was quick and efficient. A moving crew began to carry out the family’s possessions and stack them neatly at the curb. Celeste Wilson, the tenant, appeared on the front step in pajama pants.

Ms. Wilson, 36, explained that the family had missed a month of rent when her husband fell ill, so the landlady filed for eviction. Knowing they would be thrown out, the Wilsons had already found a new home, paying a double security deposit and an extra $300 because of the open eviction case.

“It’s the stability I worry about,” Ms. Wilson said, watching her five children trickle out into the yard that had been their playground for five years. “They’ve got to start off fresh, get new friends, new neighbors. It might not show now, but maybe later on in life.”

Continue reading herePhoto credit: Ben Brewer of the New York Times

Opportunity for Service! Northwest Justice Project Accepting Letters of Interest for Its Board of Directors

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By: WSBA Board of Governors

The WSBA Board of Governors (BOG) is accepting letters of interest and résumés from members interested in serving on the Board of Directors of the Northwest Justice Project (NJP). There are three attorney positions open for three-year terms commencing January 2015 and ending in December 2017. Notice of BOG action will follow its November 2014 meeting.

The Northwest Justice Project is a 125-attorney statewide not-for-profit law firm providing free legal services to low-income people from 17 offices throughout Washington. NJP is funded primarily by the State of Washington and the federal Legal Services Corporation, with additional support from the Legal Foundation of Washington. NJP’s 2014 budget is $22 million.

Board members play an active role in setting program policy, assuring adequate oversight of program operations, and must have a demonstrated interest in, and knowledge of, the delivery of high-quality civil legal services to low-income people.

NJP’s Board is a working board. Board members are expected to attend quarterly meetings in Seattle normally on the last Saturday of January, April, July, and October. Board members also serve actively on one or more standing committees. The Board typically holds a one-day annual Board retreat, which may be held in conjunction with an appropriate equal justice conference. Attorney Board members are expected to participate and support NJP efforts in legal community activities and limited resource development efforts. Travel and lodging expenses are reimbursed, as appropriate.

Please submit letters of interest and résumés on or before Friday, Sept. 5, 2014, to WSBA Communications Department, 1325 Fourth Avenue #600, Seattle, WA 98101-2539; or email barleaders@wsba.org.

Tenant Rights, Immigrant Rights, and Real Change Make Promising Advances

New York Seeking Better Legal Help for Immigrants

Judge Katzmann & Nisha Agarwal Photo By Kirk Semple, The New York Times, published Jan. 28, 2014

In the next several days, the deans of the nation’s top law schools will be notified of a new job opportunity for their graduating students. Applicants must be high achievers who want to be part of a groundbreaking start-up, live in New York City, train with veteran lawyers and help create a new paradigm in immigration representation.

The call comes from the Immigrant Justice Corps, a new group that received a life-giving injection on Tuesday when the board of the Robin Hood Foundation, a poverty-fighting philanthropy, approved more than $1.3 million in funding.

The initiative is the long-nurtured idea of Robert A. Katzmann, the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, who has for years campaigned to redress a grave problem: the shortage of competent legal representation for immigrants, particularly those of modest means facing deportation.

Continue reading here.

Interested in Public Interest Post Graduate Fellowships? Wish there was a Comprehensive and User Friendly Deadline Calendar?

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Well look no further. PSJD has updated their fellowships calendar with an easy to use searchable database! This is the ultimate resource where you can find organization-based, project-based, clinical/teaching and entrepreneurial fellowships as well postings from host organizations (sponsors) seeking candidates for project-based fellowships (such as Skadden, Equal Justice Work, Berkeley Law Foundation).

Check it out here.

Not registered with PSJD? It’s pretty much mandatory if you want to build a career in public interest/ public service. It’s free and takes literally two minutes to set up. Register here

To learn more about the nuts and bolts of Public Interest Post Graduate Fellowships don’t miss our annual spring presentation on Tuesday, April 1, Room 133, 12:30 – 1:20 PM.

Real Change Offers Opportunity to Join its Board of Directors in May 2014

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The Real Change Board of Directors is actively seeking passionate, diverse, and experienced board members to help guide the organization as it grows.

Real Change board members have the privilege of working collaboratively to direct and support a well-established, first-rate organization. Board members are part of a truly cross-class team, which is a rare opportunity in a world usually segregated by income disparities. The board is made up of current and former vendors as well as community members and professionals who come together
to make policies and provide strategic direction and oversight.

For more information about Real Change and its board member application process, click here.

Chief Justice Madsen Presents the 2014 State of the Judiciary on Behalf of the Courts of Washington

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It has become a tradition for the Chief Justice to provide a written State of the Judiciary report at the start of the short session of the legislature and I do so now with appreciation for the opportunity to provide a brief look at how the courts of Washington fared in 2013, as well as the challenges coming in 2014.

What follows is a series of articles and interviews that highlight some activities and accomplishments of the judicial branch this past year. I believe this new approach to reporting on the state of our courts will be more informative and will put a human face on the issues affecting the courts and the people we serve.

Continue reading here.

Housing as a Human Right Posts “Congressional Briefing on the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act”

(c) Homelessnesslaw.org Rep. Ellison

Leah Tedesco, Program on Human Rights & the Global Economy Fellow, Housing as a Human Right

If not made permanent, on December 31, 2014 the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA) will expire, leaving renters living in foreclosed properties vulnerable. Without the protection of the PTFA, renters could have no idea their landlord has defaulted on their mortgage and could come home from work one day to find the locks changed and their belongings on the street.

At a Congressional briefing held last week, speakers praising the PTFA’s effectiveness in protecting innocent renters included Tristia Bauman and Jeremy Rosen from the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP), Matt Hill from the Public Justice Center, and Sham Manglik from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Representative Keith Ellison, who sponsored the bill, H.R. 3543, that would make the PTFA permanent and add a private right of action also spoke (Senator Richard Blumenthal who sponsored the Senate companion bill, S. 1761 was unable to attend).

Continue reading here.

UW’s Innocence Project Northwest Ranks Fourth in Exonerations in 2013

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Due to the work of the UW’s Innocence Project Northwest, the state of Washington ranked fourth in the nation for exonerations in 2013. The ranking comes from the annual report of the National Registry of Exonerations, released Feb. 4.

In a record-breaking year of 87 exonerations, the state of Texas led with 13, followed by Illinois with nine, New York with eight and Washington with seven, five of which were gained through the Innocence Project Northwest. Following Washington were California with six and Michigan and Missouri with five each.

The report also indicated that DNA exonerations declined slowly in 2013, continuing a trend in recent years, and non-DNA exonerations rose sharply. DNA exonerations accounted for about one-fifth of the total for 2013.

Read the complete report here.

Serve on NJP Board of Directors, Connect with Students About Your Summer Internship, Tips to Avoid Burnout & Criminalization of the Poor

Apply to Serve on the Northwest Justice Project’s Board of Directors

NJP_LogoApplication Deadline: Sept. 5, 2013. That’s tomorrow folks!

The Northwest Justice Project has an opening on its Board of Directors for three attorneys, for three-year terms starting Jan. 1, 2014. NJP is a statewide not-for-profit law firm providing free legal services to low-income people from 13 offices.

For more information about the position and how to apply, see the Volunteer Opportunities area of the WSBA website.

Just Finished your Summer Internship, Externship or Volunteer Experience? Want Other Students to Benefit and Learn from Your Experience? Got 3 minutes?

networkingIf you answered YES to all of these questions then be sure to add your contact info to our public service student experiences database so that other students can connect with you to learn about your internship, externship or volunteer experience! Click here to access the database and add your contact info.  Be ready to enter your UW NetID to access the database. Please note that this database is only available for current UW law students.

From Fired up to Burnt Out: 7 tips to help you sustain a life committed to social justice

Stone CirclesBy Lindsey Mullen, Reprinted by Idealist.org, photo credit stone circles at The Stone House

When she was an organizer in the 1990s, Claudia Horwitz began to notice that many of the people she worked with were overworked, exhausted, and stressed out. Responding to the urgent need she saw in the activist community, Claudia founded stone circles, an organization that works to strengthen and sustain people committed to transformation and justice.

Since 2007, stone circles has been based in Mebane, North Carolina at The Stone House, a retreat and training center on 70 acres of land. One of stone circles’ primary goals is to address high rates of burnout among activists and organizers.

Burnout is more than just a busy week at work—it’s the long-term result of carrying continual stress, exhaustion, anxiety, or isolation.

Here are some tips from stone circles for addressing burnout:

1. Develop a personal practice.

A practice is simply a habit that gives us energy and reminds us of what matters most. Having a practice helps us pay concentrated attention to the inner voice—a presence that has the power to continually re-inform the activities of our daily lives. Mindful breathing, yoga, meditation, prayer, and journal writing are all examples of personal practice. Choose a practice that replenishes you and commit to doing it daily for a month. This can help make it a habit. Conitinue reading here.

Civility 

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by Tim Harris, Real Change Executive Director, Alliance for Equal Justice September Newsletter
A Pioneer Square business owner angrily compares homeless people in a nearby park to pigeons and demands in a public meeting that they be cleared away immediately.  Yakima considers new anti-panhandling legislation, and sheriffs in Snohomish County are ticketing freeway on-ramp beggars for pedestrian interference.
While all of this is recent, none of it is new.  Over the past two decades, as the numbers of homeless people have steadily risen, visible poverty has been criminalized across the United States, with a battery of legislation to prohibit sitting or lying on public sidewalks, camping on public property, overnight parking, panhandling, feeding people in public, and even the possession of a shopping cart or a blanket.
While these laws have added to the troubles that poor people face with fines, jail time, and criminal records that makes it harder to find housing and work, homelessness itself has continued to rise.
Recent budget cuts at both the state and federal levels have not helped.  Over the past four years, more than $20 million has been slashed from Washington state programs offering mental health and addiction treatment services to the very poor.
Once proposed, these laws, driven by fear and prejudice, almost always pass.  Seattle has provided a few recent exceptions, but these stand as a fragile hedge against the greater trend. Continue reading here.