#ChangeLawyer Anita Hill has thoughts about Kavanaugh
Anita Hill is a lawyer and university professor of social policy, law, and women’s, gender and sexuality studies at Brandeis University.
There is no way to redo 1991, but there are ways to do better.
Today, the public expects better from our government than we got in 1991, when our representatives performed in ways that gave employers permission to mishandle workplace harassment complaints throughout the following decades. That the Senate Judiciary Committee still lacks a protocol for vetting sexual harassment and assault claims that surface during a confirmation hearing suggests that the committee has learned little from the Thomas hearing, much less the more recent #MeToo movement.
Some judges, including those in the New York courts, interpret the new policies, which include quotas on how many cases they must hear, as an attempt to control their decision-making.
With the current heightened awareness of sexual violence comes heightened accountability for our representatives. To do better, the 2018 Senate Judiciary Committee must demonstrate a clear understanding that sexual violence is a social reality to which elected representatives must respond.
Here are some basic ground rules the committee should follow:
Refrain from pitting the public interest in confronting sexual harassment against the need for a fair confirmation hearing. Our interest in the integrity of the Supreme Court and in eliminating sexual misconduct, especially in our public institutions, are entirely compatible. Both are aimed at making sure that our judicial system operates with legitimacy.
Select a neutral investigative body with experience in sexual misconduct cases that will investigate the incident in question and present its findings to the committee. The investigators’ report should frame the hearing, not politics or myths about sexual assault.
Do not rush these hearings. Doing so would not only signal that sexual assault accusations are not important — hastily appraising this situation would very likely lead to facts being overlooked that are necessary for the Senate and the public to evaluate. That the committee plans to hold a hearing this coming Monday is discouraging. Simply put, a week’s preparation is not enough time for meaningful inquiry into very serious charges.
Finally, refer to Christine Blasey Ford by her name. She was once anonymous, but no longer is. Dr. Blasey is not simply “Judge Kavanaugh’s accuser.” Dr. Blasey is a human being with a life of her own. She deserves the respect of being addressed and treated as a whole person.
As Judge Kavanaugh stands to gain the lifetime privilege of serving on the country’s highest court, he has the burden of persuasion. And that is only fair.
In 1991, the phrase “they just don’t get it” became a popular way of describing senators’ reaction to sexual violence. With years of hindsight, mounds of evidence of the prevalence and harm that sexual violence causes individuals and our institutions, as well as a Senate with more women than ever, “not getting it” isn’t an option for our elected representatives. In 2018, our senators must get it right.
Story by NY Times >
Speaking of… Five former prosecutors find the allegations against Kavanaugh credible
The following editorial was written by five prosecutors: Mimi Rocah, a former federal prosecutor; Barbara McQuade, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School; Jill Wine-Banks, a former Assistant Watergate special prosecutor; Joyce White Vance, a law professor at the University of Alabama School of Law; and Maya Wiley, the senior vice president and professor at The New School.
These allegations are extremely serious and we — five former federal prosecutors with a combined experience of many decades — believe that a Senate hearing, if it indeed occurs, is not enough. It will not adequately provide the American public with the full facts and truth about these allegations, nor, importantly, will it allow the Senate to fulfill its constitutional role of “advice and consent” in the context of potential Supreme Court justices. Rather, there must be a thorough, unrushed investigation by the FBI or by another independent investigator and a full and fair public hearing, including all relevant witnesses and not just Kavanaugh and his accuser.
While some argue that the truth about this incident will come down to a “he said, she said” situation, that’s not how it looks to us. Prosecutors and investigators are confronted with these scenarios frequently and don’t just throw up their hands and say, “We can’t decide.” Instead, prosecutors look for corroborating evidence — and there are strong indications already that Ford is telling the truth about her attack.
Here are some of those indicators:
First, there is corroboration. Ford’s therapist’s notes in 2012, provided to The Washington Post, generally record her account of the attack.
Second, while not determinative, the fact that Ford passed a polygraph administered by a former FBI agent lends credence to her claims.
Many people have pointed to Ford’s delay in going public as evidence that she is lying. As prosecutors, we have learned that victims of sexual assault do not always come forward immediately — and often never do — because they are shamed by society, fear not being believed, worry that they will be blamed for the attack or just want to move on with their lives. And as difficult as it is to come forward now, it would likely have been even more daunting for a 15-year-old girl in the 1980s, when Ford says she had this experience.
In our view, Ford is providing a credible account about a painful, horrible incident that occurred many years ago and which she hoped she would never have to talk about to anyone again, let alone the whole country.
Some have said that because these alleged acts occurred so long ago, when Kavanaugh was a teenager, they should not be disqualifying — even if true. We strongly disagree. In our criminal justice system, people 17 years old (and younger) are held accountable for acts they commit, sometimes in very harsh ways. It is simply not acceptable for one of the people tasked with overseeing that criminal justice system to not be held to the same standard.
Finally, if these allegations are true, then that means that Kavanaugh has lied about them. That alone should disqualify someone from serving on the country’s highest court.
Story by NBC News >
#ChangeLawyer Meet Christine Ford’s lawyer, who has decades of experience fighting sexual harassment
Christine Ford's lawyer, Debra Katz, has decades of experience fighting sexual harassment cases and was even named a "Leading #MeToo Lawyer" by Washingtonian Magazine in June.
"It hurts people in such a deep way," Katz told the magazine in June, referring to sexual harassment. "It causes them to question their value, it erodes their self-esteem, and it’s one of the ultimate indignities that people experience in the workplace.”
Earlier this year she filed a lawsuit against celebrity chef Mike Isabella, alleging that he and his partners sexually harassed a female manager. Isabella denied the allegations, but he and the manager settled the case for an undisclosed amount in May with stipulations that Isabella's restaurant company take "corrective measures" to prevent future harassment, The Washington Post reported at the time.
Katz said in a statement provided to The Post that her client "met one of her central goals," which was to have the restaurant company "enter in a binding agreement obligating it to take corrective measures, including robust training, and to adopt policies to encourage a work environment free of sexual harassment.”
"Women are feeling emboldened to come forward because they have a sense that people will actually now believe them," Katz told Washingtonian Magazine of the #MeToo movement this summer. "[And women] who do come forward tend to find more people who are willing to support them.”
Although Ford has reportedly received death threats for coming forward with her allegation about Kavanaugh, women around the country have voiced their support for her fight. And she has one of D.C.'s most experienced sexual harassment attorneys on her side.
Story by Bustle >
This Week on Twitter #BelieveWomen
Nina Shaw, one of the founding members of Time's Up Legal Defense Fund, will speak at California ChangeLawyer's Scholarships for Justice on October 4. California ChangeLawyers is proud to stand with women and victims, and the lawyers who fight for their rights.
More of This Alameda County wants to eliminate fines and fees for defendants
Alameda County officials have taken a major step toward abolishing what some called “crippling” criminal justice fines and fees that low-income defendants have to pay, a move that was cheered by reformists — and, if passed, would probably make the county only the second in the nation to do so.
“It is clear from our clients ... that based on their income and resources they cannot afford counsel,” Public Defender Brendon Woods told supervisors Thursday at a public protection committee meeting. “We should be providing them with representation at no cost.”
“This to me is a no-brainer,” Supervisor Scott Haggerty said. He added that people shouldn’t be “saddled with a debt to the county after (they’ve) repaid your debt to society.”
The proposal comes as reform activists around the state push to lower the barriers that ex-criminals face when attempting to re-enter society.
A recent study showed that, even after years of a crime-free life, millions of Californians struggle to find housing and jobs or pay off criminal-justice fees. Elected officials, including San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón and Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, are now backing legislation that would make it easier for those with a rap sheet to find gainful employment.
This year, San Francisco became the first county in the nation to approve a similar reform, officials said. A unanimous vote by the Board of Supervisors wiped away what used to be charges for booking, probation, electronic monitoring, issuing warrants and collecting restitution.
If Alameda County moves forward on all of the requests, it would absorb the costs for probation supervision, public defender services and a sheriff’s program that allows criminals to work in lieu of incarceration.
Story by SF Gate >
Less of This How funds that are supposed to help victims end up hurting Black families
After his father was murdered in Sarasota, Florida, in 2015, Anthony "Amp" Campbell was in shock. Not only had he lost his role model and supporter, he also worried about coming up with $10,000 to pay for the funeral and burial.
Sarasota police urged him to apply to Florida’s crime victim compensation fund for help. Every state has such a fund to reimburse people for the financial wallop that can come with being a victim.
The answer was no. His father, Johnnie Campbell, had been convicted of burglary in 1983 after a late-night break-in attempt at a local business, and Florida law is clear: people with certain types of felonies in their past cannot receive victim's aid. It did not matter that the elder Campbell had changed in 30 years—the Sarasota City Commission called him a “prominent citizen” a month after his death—or that his son had never committed a crime.
An analysis of records in two of those states—Florida and Ohio—shows that the bans fall hardest on black victims and their families, like the Campbells.
Critics call the imbalance a little-known consequence of a criminal justice system that is not race-blind.
In Florida, the ban applies to anyone who has been convicted as an adult of one of a constellation of felonies, including burglary and aggravated assault. In that state, about 30 percent of people who listed their race when applying for victim compensation in 2015 and 2016 were black. But black applicants made up 61 percent of people denied aid for having a criminal record, according to the analysis by The Marshall Project and Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting, in conjunction with the USA TODAY Network.
In 2014, Antonio Mason was a student and basketball player at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, studying to be a gym teacher, when his car was rammed by a speeding drunk driver. He was paralyzed from the chest down.
Mason, 26, applied to the state compensation fund to help make his house and car wheelchair-accessible.
But Mason was disqualified because when he was 16, he was found guilty in juvenile court of drug trafficking.
“They always say that your juvenile record is sealed, they can't use it against you as an adult. And yet they still found a way,” Mason said.
“The fact that a prosecutor has looked at all the evidence and decided not to pursue a case, that doesn’t stop the attorney general from using that information to deny a victim’s claim. I think that’s very wrong,” said Matthew Shaughnessy, a former police officer and firefighter who now works as an attorney specializing in victim compensation appeals. “It’s disheartening.”
Story by the Marshall Project >
Perspective Trump’s refugee fiasco
The following editorial was written by Robert Malley and Stephen Pomper of the International Crisis Group. Both men were lawyers for the White House and State Department under President Obama.
It has been strange and unsettling to watch how much effort the Trump team has put into damaging the U.S. government’s own refugee resettlement program, but give them points for effectiveness.
On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the refugee ceiling for the coming fiscal year will be 30,000. It is the lowest number in the history of the nearly 40-year-old resettlement program.
In any normal administration, the State Department, which runs the refugee resettlement program, would have led the charge in arguing for a number that better represents the United States’ capacity and humanitarian traditions—something closer to the historical average of 80,000. But in the Trump era, allies of immigration uber-hawk Stephen Miller have occupied key positions at State, virtually guaranteeing that leadership would not come out of Foggy Bottom.
But while the administration’s hostility toward refugees is hardly unexpected—candidate Donald Trump made Syrian refugees into a campaign issue—it is still difficult to find a rational explanation. The usual anti-immigration tropes don’t make much sense in the context of refugee resettlement. It can’t be, for example, that the administration sincerely worries about uncontrolled waves of resettled refugees driving down wages for low-skilled workers. Refugees who come through the resettlement program don’t come in uncontrolled waves. Their numbers are capped, and at levels way too low to have a meaningful impact on wages.
It’s also hard to believe the White House is really concerned about the burden refugees place on U.S. taxpayers. Indeed, the Department of Health and Human Services prepared a draft report last year showing that resettled refugees produced a net economic benefit of $63 billion for the period 2005 to 2014. The White House accused the drafters of political bias and buried the report.
Given that these justifications don’t hold up, maybe we need to consider one further possibility. Maybe the administration’s posture toward refugees is about something that no economic study or security regime or personnel infusion can fix. Maybe it’s about who the refugees are.
If that’s true, if that’s what is driving the administration’s war against a program that has provided transformative assistance to more than 3 million people over nearly four decades, and projected America’s best face to the world, then it’s time to come clean. The flimsy justifications the administration has offered don’t compute. They should invite the American people to judge them on the strength of their bitter convictions.
Story by Politico >
Free for Students Scholarships for Justice presented by California ChangeLawyers
Featuring former Attorney General Eric Holder and Time’s Up founding member Nina Shaw.
October 4 at 5:00 PM. RSVP here >
Free for Students Career Panel at Cal Western
SABA SD has put together a panel of exceptional attorneys in different practice areas. This event is during lunchtime, so food will be provided!
This Thursday, September 20 12:30-2:00pm at CWSL 350 Cedar Street, Room LH1
For more information, email Nisha Bhakta at firstname.lastname@example.org
Free for Students How to become a United States Attorney
Informative discussion featuring Assistant United States Attorneys from the Criminal and Civil Divisions.
October 16 from 12:15 to 1:15pm. United States Attorney’s Office, 300 North Los Angeles St - 7th Floor (Weidman Training Room)
RSVP to Julia Choe at email@example.com
Job Opportunity Legal Services for Children hiring Immigration Attorney
Founded in 1975, Legal Services for Children (“LSC”) is one of the country’s first non-profit law firms dedicated to providing free legal representation and social work services to children.
Please send cover letter, resume, brief writing sample, and contact information for three references to firstname.lastname@example.org, with “Immigration Staff Attorney” in the subject line. In your cover letter, please address the following in order for your application to be considered: LSC’s clientele is extremely diverse, and the majority of our clients are low income youth of color.