Watch This From Felonies to 4.0
Antonio Reza is a law student at Santa Clara University School Law and a 2019 ChangeLawyersâ Scholar.
More of This She was sworn in as a new lawyer while the judge held her baby
A woman who was sworn in while a judge held her young son is hoping the video of the sweet moment inspires parents everywhere.
Juliana Lamar's swearing in ceremony took place Nov. 8 before Judge Richard Dinkins of the Tennessee Court of Appeals. The 27-year-old Nashville resident graduated from Belmont University College of Law in May and passed the bar exam in July.
"I've always wanted to be lawyer, a mom and a wife so to have my son see me get sworn in was an amazing moment in my life," Lamer told "Good Morning America. "Some nights I wondered how I was going to handle getting through law school, taking the bar, being a mom and becoming a lawyer. This moment let me know that I did it.â
At the ceremony, Lamar was accompanied by her husband Javon Lamar, mom Ana Hendriks, classmate Chubi Echetebu, co-worker Gale Robinson and friend Chicoiya Smith.
But the youngest and very special guest was her 1-year-old son Beckham, who Judge Richard Dinkins enlisted as his assistant that day.
"[The judge] looked at Beckham and said, 'You're going to help me do the swearing in,'" Lamar recalled.
Read the story on ABC News
Speaking Ofâ¦ A judge helped an undocumented immigrant escape detention, and sheâs willing to risk a trial
When she was brought before a court this spring, charged with the federal crime of obstruction of justice, Judge Shelley Joseph did not look like a rebel.
Her face was tear-streaked, and bore an expression of helpless dismay, as if she were struggling to take in the upside-down world in which she was the defendant.
In April, she and a court officer, Wesley MacGregor, were accused of allowing an immigrant to evade detention by arranging for him to sneak out the back door of a courthouse.
The federal prosecutor in Boston took the highly unusual step of charging the judge with obstruction of justice, setting off a debate over whether and how states can refrain from carrying out President Trumpâs immigration policy.
Massachusetts has been at the forefront of the sanctuary city movement, its courts passing a series of legal rulings that constrain Immigration and Customs Enforcement from detaining immigrants in courthouses.
The judgeâs supporters say she is no crusader, but an inexperienced judge who stumbled into a bitterly contested area of the law. They warn that if the case goes forward, it will open the door for prosecution of other judges, undercutting their independence, as the country grapples with its deep divisions over immigration.
Judge Joseph has refused a plea deal that would have allowed her to avoid prosecution if she admitted violating federal law, signaling that she is prepared to go to trial in a case that could drag on for years.
For a federal prosecutor to indict a state judge is so rare that, in search of a Massachusetts precedent, observers have cast back to 1787, when Judge William Whiting was removed from the bench for defending a farmerâs rebellion against state tax collectors.
Some in Massachusettsâs sprawling legal and immigration rights community kept a distance from Judge Joseph, in part because the evidence against her was damning: Before allowing the man to be led out of her courtroom, Judge Joseph could be heard on an audio recording instructing the court clerk to switch off the recorder in an apparent effort to conceal what they were saying
But legal heavyweights have rallied in her defense, arguing that the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, Andrew E. Lelling, has crossed a line by indicting a state judge, inviting the use of federal power to intimidate state officials into compliance.
Read the story on NY Times
More of This Too Government lawyers rebel against immoral Trump policies
It took Doug Stephens two days to decide: He wasnât going to implement President Trumpâs latest policy to restrict immigration, known as Remain in Mexico. The asylum officer wouldnât interview any more immigrants, only to send them back across the border to face potential danger.
As a federal employee, refusing to abide by policy probably meant that heâd be fired. But as a trained attorney, Stephens told The Times, the five interviews heâd been assigned were five too many. They were illegal.
âTheyâre definitely immoral,â Stephens said he told his supervisor in San Francisco. âAnd Iâm not doing them.â
A spokesman for the union that represents some 13,000 Citizenship and Immigration Services employees said Stephens is believed to be the first asylum officer to formally refuse to conduct interviews under the program officially known as Migrant Protection Protocols. But across the country â according to asylum officers, including Stephens, as well as government officials â asylum officers are calling in sick, requesting transfers, retiring earlier than planned and quitting â all to resist Trump administration immigration policies.
Citizenship and Immigration Services declined requests for staffing data for the Homeland Security agency. In a sign of widespread discomfort among the asylum officers, however, the National CIS Council union has filed âfriend of the courtâ briefs in lawsuits against the administration, arguing that its immigration policies are illegal. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments last month in the litigation against the Migrant Protection Protocols, and a ruling is pending.
Read the story on LA Times
Less of This The Supreme Court may criminalize immigration advocacy
Freedom of speech is one of the few issues that could be said to have bipartisan support at the Supreme Court. While the justices might differ as to what exactly counts as âspeechââmoney, for exampleâthey agree that it takes a lot for the government to overcome First Amendment objections.
Now the conservative justices have a chance to prove their commitment to that principle. The Supreme Court has agreed to take up United States v. Sineneng-Smith this term, a case that concerns a little-used provision of immigration law that forbids âencourag[ing] or induc[ing] an alien to â¦ reside in the United Statesâ when the encourager knows that person has no legal status.
The case seems straightforward enough: Immigration consultant Evelyn Sineneng-Smith told her undocumented clients they could stay in the United States under a program she knew had ended. That was fraud, and the government ultimately convicted her for it.
But the government also convicted her on the encouragement provision, which on its face appears to criminalize any pro-immigration speech.
And that has the immigrant rights community worried that the courtâwith its recent record of unprecedented deference to the president on immigration mattersâcould greenlight the Trump Justice Department to criminalize routine legal work and political speech.
âAn advocate or lawyer now has to worry, given the governmentâs position in this case, that this language â¦ may trigger criminal liability just for correctly advising a noncitizen,â said Manny Vargas, senior counsel for the nonprofit Immigrant Defense Project in New York City.
Read the story on Slate
Interview of the Week This lawyer believes weâve become too punitive
In her new book, âWhen Should Law Forgive?,â the lawyer and academic Martha Minow looks at several areas where she believes American society has become too punitive and offers ways to fix them. Minow is interested in why some societies have found it easier than others to grant forgiveness to wrongdoers; she is also captivated by how and why certain societies have been able to put into place policies that minimize crime and misbehavior, which in turn help us understand that bad behavior is the result of more than individual choice. As she writes, âChild soldiers and other adolescents accused of criminal law violations may not be entirely innocent, but neither are they responsible for the social conditions in which they make their choices. The same can be said of individuals who are drowning in consumer debt or student loans, and even of sovereign nations, cities, and states in debt. Each is to blame when they violate promises to pay back loans or laws against violence, but each also is embedded in larger social patterns that construct limited and often poor options.â
A former dean of Harvard Law School and a professor to Barack Obama, Minow worked on the international commission that tried to bring a measure of reconciliation to post-conflict Kosovo. She is currently the three-hundredth-anniversary university professor at Harvard. I recently spoke with her by phone. During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we discussed what child soldiers teach us about forgiveness, the lessons of the #MeToo movement, and how forgiving Americans should be about the misdeeds of the Trump era.
Why did you want to write this book right now, in 2019? I know thatâs a clichÃ©d question, which I hope you will forgive me for.
No, itâs a perfectly fair question. I believe that we have come to be the most incarcerating society in the history of humanity, and that thereâs a responsibility for those of us who know something about the law to address its causes and responses. I also see this country and others still emerging from two other big problems. One is the consequences of the 2008 financial disaster, and the other is divisions, maybe produced by inequalities ethnically, by class, and so forth. The age of resentment. And itâs in that context that forgiveness seems, to me, a very valuable and important concept, not just interpersonally but societally and, again, to the law. Major civilizations in the past have had moments where theyâve had to ask, âAre we too punitive?,â whether itâs the Jubilee in the Bible, or the Hammurabi code, or the response to the Thirty Tyrants in ancient Greece. And they each came up with an idea of a restart that had an element of forgiveness, of letting go of justified resentment. And I think weâre at that kind of moment right now in this country.
You mention forgiveness as a concept that exists ânot just interpersonally but societally.â One has to do with inner peace, whether itâs the person whoâs doing the forgiving or the person who is asking for forgiveness. And the other is about mass incarceration and so on, and how we can create a better, more healthy, more just society. How much do you view those two things as separate?
I think youâre right to identify them as two phases of a phenomenon, but the phenomenon is one that is supported by every religion, every philosophy, every civilization. And itâs supported in both dimensionsâthat is, interpersonally and also in societal tools for forgiveness, whether itâs amnesties or bankruptcy. And I donât think itâs by accident. People who study large mammals actually report on the rituals they develop after conflict to soothe each other and start all over again. So I think that thereâs a survival dimension for each individual, and for human beings, to the experience of letting go of resentments and having a fresh start. I do think that there is an enormous resource that each of us has to let go of our resentments, and/or to seek forgiveness. But what most interests me is at the societal level. And thatâs why Iâm talking about law.
Read the interview on The New Yorker
Perspective 2020 is the year to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment
Rita Bosworth is lawyer and executive director of Sister District. Jennifer Carroll Foy is a former public defender a representative in the Virginia House of Delegates.
After 26 long years, we finally flipped Virginia blue.
On Nov. 5, in a decisive victory for Democrats, voters gave control of the House of Delegates and the state Senate in Virginia to the Democratic Party. They sent a message that, politics aside, voters care about issues Democratic candidates are talking about, such as gun-violence prevention, affordable health care and voting rights. The results also made clear that, as with the midterms last year, this election was about women.
2018 was deemed âthe Year of the Woman.â We saw women make historic gains in Congress. We watched as the #MeToo movement took root and ousted powerful men from powerful positions because of their harmful behavior toward women. We took heart that issues such as pregnancy discrimination and the appalling state of maternal health for black women were finally being discussed.
This year, amid unprecedented âoff-yearâ voter turnout, it doesnât come as a surprise that women again have won, taking 41 of 140 seats in the Virginia legislature.
Even with these record electoral gains, women make up just 23 percent of the U.S. House and 24 percent of the U.S. Senate. In Virginia, women legislators fare slightly better â but still hold just 29 percent of seats. In the more than 200 years since our founding, our country has never had a female president. Women continue to make less money than men, occupy fewer leadership positions in the workforce and take on a disproportionate amount of work at home. And the kicker is that gender discrimination not only still exists, but also it is sanctioned by our own government.
In 1972, Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment, which would guarantee equal legal rights for Americans regardless of sex. It would require states to intervene in cases of gender violence, prohibit pregnancy and motherhood discrimination and guarantee equal pay. A constitutional amendment needs to be ratified by 38 states. Forty-seven years after its passage in Congress, the ERA still has not met that threshold. House Democrats may eliminate the deadline for states to adopt the amendment, which expired in 1982.
Virginia has the opportunity to be the proud 38th state to ratify the ERA, but the previous Republican-held legislature repeatedly blocked its ratification, most recently in February. That came as no surprise: Only 11 percent of the entire Republican caucus is women. It is a sad truth that not everyone agrees that women should be treated equally, but the outcome of this election makes clear that those folks do not speak for the majority. Now is the time to enact the will of the voters and make progressive strides on issues that directly affect women.
And the new Democratic majority in Virginia should start by taking decisive action to ratify the ERA.
We are two of the women in this fight to push the moral arc of the universe toward justice. We both spent the first half of our careers as public defenders, and then we both changed the course of our lives after the 2016 election to fight for fair representation in Virginia and across the country. We also both have twin boys who are still too young to grasp the stakes of this work but who we hope will never know a world where women are treated as less than. Now, we are ready to bear witness to another historic leap on the journey to equality.
Read the story on Washington Post
Law School Admissions Conference at Berkeley Law
âThis event will provide attendees with a comprehensive overview of the law school application process. Current law students and administrators will provide advice on how best to navigate the law school application process. Continental breakfast and lunch will be provided.
February 1. Register here >
Job Opportunity at San Mateo County Bar Association
The San Mateo County Bar Association is seeking a new Chief Defender/Executive Director of its Private Defender Program. Since 1968, the San Mateo County Bar Association has operated the Private Defender Program (PDP) under the provisions of a contract with the County of San Mateo for the legal representation of all indigent persons eligible for the appointment of counsel at public expense.
Apply here >
Diversity Summit 2020
85% of lawyers are white. Why isn't the legal profession more diverse yet? Presented by ChangeLawyers, BASF, and Berkeley Law's California Constitution Center. Featuring ChangeLawyersâ ED Chris Punongbayan. 4 Hours of MCLE credit.
January 21. Register here >