by California ChangeLawyers
News Brief is the news letter for vigilant optimist. We hand-pick social justice stories and deliver them to your inbox every Wednesday night. Thanks for reading!
by California ChangeLawyers
#ChangeLawyer Meet the single mom who went into labor during final exams and graduated from Harvard Law
Briana Williams, J.D., is a Harvard-educated lawyer, single mom and inspiration to many.
Williams, a 24-year-old from Los Angeles, defeated incredible odds when she had a baby in law school -- literally. She was in labor in a Harvard Law School classroom while taking a final exam.
"I went into labor in April -- during final exam period," Williams writes in an Instagram post that has gone viral. "I immediately requested an epidural so that my contractions wouldn't interfere with my Family Law grade. And, with tears in my eyes, I finished it.”
How did this woman get through two incredibly tough things -- law school and labor -- at the same time? She says she simply "bit the bullet.”
She completed her exam and then gave birth to her daughter, Evelyn. She had one more year of law school left, and being a young, single mom did not deter her. She kept biting the bullet.
She said some days she was so mentally and emotionally fatigued that she did not leave her bed. Williams struggled with childcare and Evelyn often had to attend class with her.
"I did not think that, at 24 years old, as a single mom, I would be able to get through one of the most intellectually rigorous and challenging positions of my life," Williams wrote. "It was hard. It hurt. Instagram can make peoples' lives seem seamless, but this journey has been heart wrenching. However, I am happy to say that I DID do it." Last week, all of the pain and hard work paid off for Williams.
With her 1-year-old daughter in her arms, Williams walked across the graduation stage and received that hard-earned law degree from Harvard University. It was an image of inspiration and determination.
She said she knows that when she became a single mother, she became a statistic, but she didn't want to be just that -- she wanted to be an example.
Williams admits she did not think she could do it. But one thing kept her determined. "Evelyn -- they said that because of you I wouldn't be able to do this. Just know that I did this BECAUSE OF YOU," Williams wrote.
"Thank you for giving me the strength and courage to be invincible. Let's keep beating all their odds, baby," Williams wrote for her daughter.
Story by CBS News >
More of This The government took away my mom’s protected status, so I'm suing them
Months have passed since the Trump administration announced that the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) granted to immigrants from Nicaragua, Haiti, Sudan, and El Salvador would be terminated, impacting many who have been living here for decades after disasters impacted their respective countries.
After analyzing the administration’s decision, nine TPS recipients and five United States citizens with TPS-recipient parents announced on March 12 that they are suing the federal government for violating their rights.
The ACLU Foundation of Southern California, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, and the law firm of Sidley Austin LLP filed the lawsuit with the mission to challenge the decision made by President Donald Trump.
“The lawsuit includes various components. It recognizes that there has been a change in the interpretation of the TPS statute by this administration, and that is a violation of the law, [since] it is grounded in racial discrimination and not in real analysis of the law,” Emi MacLean, an attorney with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network
Crista, a 14-year-old U.S.-born citizen, is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit. She tells Teen Vogue that she found out her mother is a TPS recipient only recently, when her mom was distressed about the decision and having to leave the country. To ensure her family stays together, she joined the fight against the administration's decisions.
“My role is to tell the Trump administration that they are violating my rights as a U.S. child and [the rights of] all the other children,” Crista tells Teen Vogue. ”They can’t be separating families or forcing us to choose to stay here or go back to live with our parents in their country. If we do decide to stay here some of us will end up living with our relatives, friends, or in foster homes, but they will not treat us the same way as our parents.”
There is a burden that children with immigrants families have, one that no one can understand but them. Crista, grateful to be able to help her parents, believes “fear of deportation should not be a part of any child’s life.” To continue this fight against a racist agenda and attack on black and brown immigrant families, she and Emi both believe that people have to shift their mindset and recognize TPS holders also have rights in this country.
“There needs to be a growing recognition of who these people are, of the contribution they have made and they continue to make in the United States, and the fact that this is their country too,” Emi says.
Story by Teen Vogue >
Speaking Of… Trump’s child separation policy is immoral & illegal. Can lawyers stop it?
The following editorial was written by Berkeley Law Dean and Professor Erwin Chemerinsky.
Any time I think that the Trump administration cannot get more extreme or more inhumane, I am surprised by something even worse, most recently a newly created policy of separating parents and children at the border. No prior administration has done this and it is illegal and morally wrong.
Under the Trump administration’s policy, undocumented adult immigrants stopped by the Border Patrol or customs officers are sent to a federal detention center to await a trial. Children, no matter how young, are placed in the custody of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement.
Between May 6 and May 19, 638 adults were referred for prosecution. Those adults brought with them a total of 658 children, all of whom were separated from the adults they traveled with.
There is no doubt that the policy is illegal under international law. The UN Refugee Convention, to which the United States is a party, clearly states that asylum-seekers should not be penalized for entering a country illegally.
Separating children from their parents is offensive to basic human decency. The American Academy of Pediatrics has written to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security on at least five occasions opposing the forced separation of parents and children at the border.
So far these efforts have fallen on deaf ears. The hope is that the federal courts will put an end to this practice. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit, Ms. L. v. ICE, to challenge this policy and reunite a mother and her daughter.
Fearing death in the Congo, the plaintiff, “Ms. L,” escaped with her daughter, eventually arriving at a port of entry near San Diego. An asylum officer did a screening interview and determined that the fear of persecution in her home country was credible and that she had a significant possibility of receiving full asylum following immigration proceedings.
Nonetheless, the mother has been incarcerated in a detention facility in San Diego while her daughter was sent to a facility in Chicago. When the officers separated them, “Ms. L” could hear her daughter in the next room frantically screaming that she wanted to remain with her mother. They now have been apart for months.
It is hard to comprehend the horror for a child of being taken and placed in an institution with no knowledge of when or whether the parents will be seen again. As a parent, I cannot imagine how awful it would be to have my children taken and moved hundreds or thousands of miles away. And I simply cannot fathom how human beings with any shred of decency could devise and implement such a policy.
Story by Sac Bee >
More of This The Travel Ban is in trouble at the Supreme Court
The following analysis was written by Richard Primus, law professor at University of Michigan School of Law and former law clerk for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Follow him on Twitter @Richard_Primus
In a much-anticipated decision Monday morning, the Supreme Court ruled – by a vote of 7 to 2 – in favor of a Colorado baker who claimed his refusal to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple was protected under the First Amendment.
But from a culture-war perspective, the baker’s victory was considerably less than opponents of same-sex marriage might have been hoping for. Rather than saying that the First Amendment entitles people with religious objections to same-sex marriage to be exempted from laws prohibiting discrimination against same-sex couples, the Court ruled only that the specific administrative proceeding that ruled against this particular baker had been tainted by a disrespectful attitude toward his religious beliefs.
But by framing the case as it did, the Court made its limited decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission a warm-up act for another decision expected later this month—one at least as anticipated as Monday’s wedding-cake decision. That other case is Hawaii v. Trump, the case about the executive order banning entry into the United States by nationals of several countries, most of them majority-Muslim. That case, like the wedding-cake case, is about the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause. The author of Monday’s decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy, is generally assumed to be the swing vote in the entry-ban case. And over and over in Monday’s decision, Justice Kennedy articulated positions directly relevant to the entry ban—all of them running against the Trump administration’s position.
At issue in Hawaii v. Trump is whether the entry ban order results from anti-Muslim animus—that is, a kind of religious prejudice. Much of the fight is about whether courts should ignore President Trump’s Islamophobic statements when reasoning about the purpose of the entry ban.
In Kennedy’s formulation, the First Amendment prohibits “even subtle departures from neutrality on matters of religion.”
The connection between the president’s Islamophobia and the entry ban is not plausibly described as “subtle.” If the statements of lawmakers can be considered, and if even subtle suggestions of prejudice violate the Free Exercise Clause, the entry ban is in serious trouble.
Justice Kennedy is not unaware that history will remember him, and he may have an inkling that history will see the entry-ban case in terms of anti-Muslim prejudice. If he plans to side with the government on the entry ban and wants to shield himself from posterity’s judgment that he failed to stand up against religious bigotry—or even if he just wants to reassure himself, as he sustains the entry ban, that he is not tolerant of such bigotry—then Monday’s opinion might have provided him a welcome outlet.
Story by Politico >
Less of This A Black man was killed by police. A jury awarded his family just $4
On January 14, 2014, Gregory Vaughn Hill Jr., a 30-year-old black father of three, was fatally shot by a white sheriff’s deputy in St. Lucie County, Florida. The deputy was responding to a noise complaint about music coming from Hill’s garage.
Four years later, a federal jury has determined that Hill was largely responsible for his own death, awarding the man’s family just $4 in a wrongful death lawsuit.
The jury determined that $4 — $1 to Hill’s mother for funeral expenses and $1 for each of Hill’s three children — would be enough. The decision came after hours of jury deliberations, and the amount was so small because the jury ruled that Hill, who was intoxicated at the time of the shooting, was mostly responsible for his death.
In some ways, Hill’s case is unsurprising. Officers are rarely prosecuted for police shootings, at least partly because they’re given wide latitude to use deadly force. But it also comes at a time when national attention is highly focused on large racial disparities in police use of force. And Hill’s case stands out for the meager amount awarded to his family, which they view as an insult.
The New York Times reports that Hill, a 30-year old Coca-Cola warehouse employee, was in his garage at the time of the shooting. Deputies were called to his home after a woman picking a child up from a nearby elementary school complained of loud music coming from his garage.
When the deputies arrived, they knocked on the garage door. Hill raised the garage door but then closed it after seeing police. A deputy then shot through the door four times as it closed, hitting Hill once in the head and twice in the abdomen. He was found dead four hours later after a SWAT team came to the home.
The verdict has outraged Hill’s family. “Why go there with the $1? That was the hurtful part,” John Phillips, the family’s lawyer, said of the jury. On May 29, Phillips set up a GoFundMe in the hopes of raising money for Hill’s children and to cover repairs for home damages caused by the SWAT team.
“That a black child’s pain is only worth a dollar is exactly the problem with the plight of the African-American right now. This says, black lives don’t matter,” Phillips told CNN.
Hill’s family plans to appeal the jury’s decision. “I’m going to keep fighting until I get some justice,” Davis, Hill’s fiancée, told the Times. “That’s the only way I’m going to get peace.”
Story by Vox >
Podcast of the Week District Attorneys are the most powerful people you’ve never heard of
District attorneys wield enormous power but have been historically overlooked in efforts to reform the legal system. Recently that has changed, with the rise of a bail reform movement and new primary election challenges upending the “tough on crime” status quo.
Job Opportunity Latinx policy & research one year fellowship
California ChangeLawyers is partnering with the Network for Justice and
Southwestern Law School to provide a one-year fellowship to a recent Southwestern law graduate committed to engaging in policy work and research focused on supporting Latinx civil rights. This position is based out of Los Angeles.
To apply, please send your resume, names of three references, 1-2 page writing sample, and a one-page cover letter to Bianca Sierra Wolff at
firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Network for Justice Fellow”.
Free Clinic Free insurance clinic and attorney consultation hosted by Legal Aid of Sonoma County
The clinic will be held at Legal Aid of Sonoma County which is located at 144 South E Street in Santa Rosa for victims of the 2017 wildfires.
June 9, 2018. Email questions to email@example.com
Job Opportunity East Bay Community Law Center hiring Youth Defender Clinic Attorney
EBCLC is a non-profit legal services organization and the community-based clinical program for Berkeley Law School, committed to increasing justice through education and advocacy and building a culturally diverse workplace, centered on equity.
Job Opportunity Lawyers’ Committee hiring Senior Litigation Attorney
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area seeks an energetic and experienced Senior Litigation Attorney with strong litigation skills and a collaborative approach to join our fast-paced, dynamic public interest legal organization.
NEWS BRIEF is curated by Executive Director Chris Punongbayan & Strategic Communications Director Carlos Aguilar.