Immigration Clinic Students Win Asylum for Couple from Congo
A couple from the Republic of Congo fleeing persecution in their homeland is on the path toward U.S. citizenship because of the work of two students of the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Third-year students Anne Kaiser (Photo below, left) and Amanda McIlwain won asylum for the couple as part of their participation in the law school’s immigration clinic, directed by Professor Linda Kelly Hill.
The couple came to the United States after they were severely tortured, imprisoned and interrogated because of the wife’s involvement in a non-violent political party which speaks out against Congo’s longstanding president, Denis Sassou Nguesso, who held power from 1979 to 1992, and has held power a second time since 1997. The female client’s political work included translating for her party’s leaders from French into her native tribal dialect. Her presence and activism were critical when her party travelled into parts of Congo to rally and educate the women of her tribe.
“The culmination of the couple’s persecution occurred,” Professor Kelly Hill said, “when President Nguesso’s officers raided the couple’s home and arrested them upon discovery of a book in the home entitled ‘Sassou Nguesso: L’irrestible ascension d’un pion de la Françafrique,’ which loosely translates as ‘Sassou Nguesso: The irresistible ascension of a pawn of the Françafrique,’ referring to France’s neocolonial relationship with Africa.” McIlwain and Kaiser found the book in IU’s library and introduced it as a key exhibit.
The case involved three separate hearings in federal Immigration Court in Chicago before Judge Craig M. Zerbe – roughly nine hours of trial and a great deal of travel, Professor Kelly Hill said. McIlwain and Kaiser represented the couple at each hearing. Their work included fully preparing the clients, conducting direct examination of both individuals, submitting a 24-page brief and introducing numerous other exhibits. After the hearing, the students and clients celebrated by eating pizza at Chicago’s famous Giordano’s.
“Now that they are on the path to U.S. citizenship, it is time that our clients learn what good American pizza tastes like,” joked Kaiser.
Professor Schumm, '98, Authors Criminal Defense Reform Report for ABA
Just in time for the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, a report written by Professor Joel Schumm, '98, on behalf of two attorney groups calls for changes in what the report terms “the perpetual crisis in indigent defense.”
Titled “National Indigent Defense Reform: The Solution is Multifaceted,” the report was released on January 8, 2013, by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
Recommendations on how to approach the problem come from a focus group made up of 18 experts, one of whom was Professor Norm Lefstein. The report concludes that criminal defense could be improved by reclassification – changing criminal statutes so that minor illegal acts become civil infractions dealt with by a fine; and diversion – in which low-level criminal charges are dismissed if the offender performs community service and meets other requirements.
An article written in the ABA Journal contains a link to a pdf of the report.
Professor Schumm is a magna cum laude graduate of the law school. He is a clinical professor of law, where he teaches in the Appellate Clinic, and is director of the Judicial Externship Program.
Appellate Clinic Wins Case for Man Charged as a Habitual Traffic Violator
Professor Joel Schumm, '98, director of the Appellate Clinic; and 2013 J.D. candidate Amy Beard, a certified legal intern, won an appeal in the Indiana Court of Appeals for their client who was not notified that his driving privileges had been suspended.
“The Appellate Clinic was an invaluable practical experience, which provided an opportunity to develop appellate advocacy skills,” Beard said. “It is rewarding to realize that this appeal may affect future Indiana law. I greatly appreciate the guidance and knowledge I received from Professor Schumm and the Marion County Public Defender Agency.”
The Indiana Court of Appeals, in Israel Cruz vs. State of Indiana, 49F24-1107-FD-48198, determined that the clinic client’s conduct was worthy of blame in that he knew he wasn’t supposed to drive yet did anyway, but that the evidence presented at the bench trial did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he knew he has been suspended by the BMV. The court reversed his conviction.
Professor Schumm to Receive Pinnell Award
Professor Joel Schumm, ’98, has been selected to receive IU’s George W. Pinnell Award in 2013 for outstanding service to Indiana University. Recipients are chosen from more than 4,000 faculty members from IU’s eight campuses. The awards are presented at the Celebration of Distinguished Teaching in the spring.
“This is really a great honor and a great tribute to Joel’s endless willingness to do things above and beyond the call of duty,” said Dean Gary Roberts.
W. George Pinnell is a former executive vice president of Indiana University and former president of the IU Foundation, who was known for his stewardship as dean of the School of Business, for leadership in university administration, and for his service to state and national government. The Pinnell award was established in 1988 to recognize faculty members and librarians who have shown exceptional breadth of involvement and depth of commitment in service to the university, to their profession, or to the public.
Professor Schumm, a magna cum laude graduate of the law school, is a clinical professor of law and director of the Judicial Externship Program. He teaches in the appellate clinic, appellate practice, a judicial selection seminar, juvenile justice, and state constitutional law.
Professor Martin to Present at IU Medical School
Professor Allison Martin will present “Fostering Hope: A Primer on Hope Theory for Educators, Mentors, and Clinicians,” to faculty of the IU Medical School on December 13, 2012. She and her research partner, IUPUI Assistant Professor of Psychology Dr. Kevin Rand, will offer the presentation.
This presentation will introduce participants to hope theory, which Professor Martin and Dr. Rand have researched extensively regarding law students. Hope theory is a psychological model of human behavior organized around the pursuit of goals. Research on hopeful thinking and goal pursuits will be reviewed from different contexts, including graduate education and healthcare.
Professor Martin is a Clinical Professor of Law in the nationally ranked Legal Analysis, Research and Communication (LARC) department. She has taught extensively in the areas of legal writing, moot court advocacy, and professional responsibility. She is the faculty advisor for the law school’s national and international moot court teams.
Professor Quigley Delivers Lecture on How Human Rights Can Save Haiti
Professor Quigley’s talk, titled “How Human Rights Can Save Haiti… and Other Developing Countries, too,” was delivered on November 29, 2012. The lecture was offered in observance of International Human Rights Day, and was the second in the newly established Graduate Studies Lecture Series. The lecture is available via podcast.
In an effort to focus attention on what he called “the humans in human rights,” Professor Fran Quigley showed photographs of people he has met while working in Haiti.
One woman had lost her mother to the cholera outbreak that began less than a year after the January 2010 earthquake. Another woman was too afraid of the government to be photographed, so Professor Quigley showed a photo of her family’s tormentor, Jean-Claude Duvalier. Several members of her family were tortured and killed under his regime. While no longer in power, Duvalier has returned to Haiti after a self-imposed exile. He faces charges of embezzlement, but has not been detained or tried.
And there was a photograph of Marguerite, a toddler Professor Quigley met in Port-au-Prince. She lives with her family under a blue plastic tarp with cardboard walls, along with thousands of others struggling to exist after the earthquake. An estimated 300,000 are still homeless after the quake, he said.
Haiti does not have established human rights law for its poor, but there is reason to hope that this changing, Professor Quigley said. The formula for social change there is global, grassroots activism, and “Haiti has the blueprint,” Professor Quigley said. He encouraged those interested in helping Haiti to connect with the website Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, or Bureau des Avocats Internationaux.
“Unless we do this in a better way,” Professor Quigley said of efforts to bring about change for the better in Haiti, “we won’t have a better result.
There also is a real need for basic infrastructure in Haiti. Professor Quigley pointed to the lack of a water purification system there, which contributed to the cholera outbreak.
Professor Quigley teaches in the Health and Human Rights Clinic and is the senior advisor for the IU Center for Global Health.
IU McKinney Fauculty Take Part in 2012 Law School for Legislators
Professor Cynthia Baker, director of the Program on Law and State Government; Professor Joel Schumm, ’98, director of the Judicial Externship Program; and Adjunct Professor John Krauss, ’76, who also is director of the Indiana University Public Policy Institute, took part in the Indiana State Bar Association’s Law School for Legislators. The event was held in the House Chambers at the Indiana State House on November 19, 2012.
Professor Krauss gave an overview on the role each branch plays in Indiana Government, and provided a summary of what role each branch is tasked with fulfilling. Professor Schumm worked with Justice Loretta Rush, new to the Indiana Supreme Court, to walk legislators through the differences between civil and criminal court proceedings. Professor Baker offered an interactive program aimed at demonstrating how the decisions made in state government ultimately end up impacting the lives of Indiana’s residents.
Immigration Clinic Students Successfully Defend Clients
Students in the law school’s Immigration Clinic were able to help a client gain asylum and a path toward citizenship, and another client to reunite his family. Both cases were decided on the same day, November 6. 2012.
Sam Ladowski, a second-year student, and Clare Corado, a third-year student, successfully represented Aissatou Barry from Guinea in her asylum claim before the Immigration Court in Chicago. The students had filed a strong brief prior to the hearing, said Professor Linda Kelly Hill, who teaches in the law school’s Immigration Clinic. Immigration Judge Robert Vinikoor told the students he had read the brief and was “almost convinced” to decide the case in their client’s favor. “Ms. Corado promptly retorted, ‘Well, we are here to convince you the rest of the way,’” Professor Kelly Hill said. “And so they did!”
Barry comes from an ethnic group in which the practice of female genital mutilation is nearly universal. She fled to the United States in an attempt to prevent herself and her young daughters from being forcibly subjected to the practice, Professor Kelly Hill said. An important legal issue in the case stemmed from the fact that Barry had not filed for asylum within one year of arrival in the country, which is required by U.S. law.
Corado and Ladowski had both served as Peace Corps volunteers prior to entering law school. Corado’s service took her to Ecuador, and Ladowski worked in Madagascar. “One cultural/language difference is that Americans tend to me more direct,” Ladowski said, “while other folks tend to speak more indirectly.” The students learned to effectively communicate with Barry after a couple of meetings with her. “Our experiences certainly help and also give our clients a little more comfort,” Ladowski said.
Ladowski and Corado were able to successfully argue that Barry qualified for an exception to this filing deadline due to changed personal circumstances, Professor Kelly Hill said. Several years earlier, the Immigration Clinic had secured asylum for Barry’s young daughter based on her daughter's fear of FGM. Her daughter's relief provided a heightened argument for the mother's fear of FGM forced upon herself and further reprisal for protecting her daughter. Barry’s application, which had been filed with her daughter's claim in 2009, had been initially denied and forwarded to the Immigration Court.
Judge Vinikoor granted Barry asylum and withholding of removal based on the likelihood of her persecution if she were deported back to Guinea. Barry is now safe from being deported and can eventually become a United States Citizen.
“Juggling a case load, classes, and other responsibilities is tough, but it’s probably good practice for what life will be like after graduation,” Corado said. “I have been careful to keep up in my classes, but I definitely prioritize my clients over my classes. There is nothing like working with people who have fled torture and oppression to remind us law students that grades are not the most important things in life.”
Corado plans to practice immigration law after graduation, which means “taking the time now to research details even tangentially related to my cases will help me to build a solid foundation for my career,” she said.
Barry’s immigration case has been pending for three years, and many past Immigration Clinic students assisted with various portions of her case. These students include Emilee Preble, '09, Andrea Schmidt, '09, Jared Prentice, '12, and Mercedes Rodriguez, '12.
“Aissatou is a loving mother of three beautiful children,” Ladowski said of Barry. “They have all been through a lot so this was a great relief for her and her family.”
A second victory for an immigration clinic client came that same day. Naun Anthony Benitez and Atcha Piyatanang, both third-year students, were in their successful representation of a U.S. citizen stepfather who had filed a family unification application on behalf of his Honduran stepdaughter, said Professor Kelly Hill. His stepdaughter remains in Honduras.
The Department of Homeland Security called the application into question, and in an unusual move, required the stepfather to present himself at DHS in Indianapolis to prove the bona fides of their relationship. Benitez and Piyatang prepared a convincing legal memo supported by significant documentation of the valid relationship, the professor said. Accompanied by the students on the day of the meeting at DHS, the stepfather was interviewed and the application was granted in minutes.
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