Georgia Law Community HeLP Clinic reaches successful settlement of lawsuit challenging DHS immigration practices

The University of Georgia School of Law Community Health Law Partnership Clinic recently secured significant immigration relief for its clients, by means of an agreement settling a lawsuit that it filed against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The settlement concluded Oviedo de la Cruz et. al. v. Mayorkas et. al., Case No. 3:21-CV-00077, which had been prepared by the Clinic’s lawyers and law students and filed last June in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia. (credit for M.D. Ga. courthouse photo) The lawsuit alleged that the U.S. Administrative Procedure Act had been violated by several practices of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; for example, unreasonable delays in DHS processing of benefits for immigrant survivors of crime who assisted law enforcement.

Twenty Clinic clients benefited from the terms of the settlement. Seventeen clients received favorable agency determinations resulting in deferred action and employment authorization pending final adjudication. Three family members residing abroad also were granted relief; this will, among other things, help one of the individual plaintiffs reunite her family.

The Oviedo de la Cruz litigation’s success is due to the hard work, on this lawsuit and the underlying immigration cases, of many students and staff at the Clinic. Primary drafter of the complaint was M. Paige Finley (JD’21), under the supervision of Clinic Director Jason A. Cade and Staff Attorney Kristen E. Shepherd, with administrative and interpretive support from Sarah Ehlers. Other Clinic students involved included 3Ls Navroz Tharani, Thomas Evans, Luis Gomez, and Paige Medley, as well as 2Ls M. Kaitlin Hocker and Victoria M. Hiten. Several who have since completed their JD studies also contributed, including: from the Georgia Law Class of 2021, Ansley Whiten; Class of 2020, Caitlin Felt and Christopher Larsen; Class of 2019, Gabriel A. Justus, Sarah Mirza, and Megan Alpert; Class of 2018, Alina Venick, Michael D. Aune, and Onur Yildirim; and Class of 2017, Ashley A. Rudolph and Alessandro Raimondo.

Georgia Law coursework begins for inaugural class of students seeking Graduate Certificate in International Law

Graduate Certificate in International Law students tour Hirsch Hall at the University of Georgia School of Law Friday, in anticipation of the new semester beginning this week.

This New Year marks the arrival of the inaugural class of Graduate Certificate in International Law students here at the University of Georgia School of Law.

Through the initiative of the law school’s Dean Rusk International Law Center, postgraduate students from other disciplines within the university will earn this academic certificate following their successful completion, in classes alongside J.D., LL.M., and M.L.S. students, of fifteen credit hours chosen from among the law school’s rich comparative, transnational, and international law curriculum; courses include Public International Law, International Human Rights, International Trade Law, Immigration Law, International Law Colloquium, and Global Governance.

The seven students comprising the first class include:

  • Four doctoral students: from the School of Public and International Affairs, Alma Bajramović, a Ph.D. candidate who is researching conflict and conflict resolution, with a focus on the Balkans; from the Mary Frances Early College of Education, Leslyn Beckles, candidate for a Ph.D. in Learning, Leading, and Organization Development, whose research concentrates on women political leaders in the Caribbean; and from the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, Isaac Torres, a Ph.D. candidate in Bioinformatics who examines artificial intelligence and statistical models to address complex biology problems, and Jasmine Underwood, a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology interested in gender, development and social change, and political sociology.
  • Three master’s students, all from the School of Public and International Affairs: Megan Gerken and Nelson Millan Nales, both pursuing Master of Public Administration degrees, and Michael Sway, a candidate for the Master of International Policy degree.

Details on application of and matriculation toward the Graduate Certificate in International Law are available here and by contacting the initiative’s administrator, Sarah Quinn, Associate Director for Global Practice Preparation at the Dean Rusk International Law Center, squinn[at]uga.edu.

Georgia Law Professor Amann joins Wisconsin historian Hirsch in “Understanding Nuremberg” podcast

“Understanding Nuremberg” is the title of a new podcast with Professor Diane Marie Amann, a Faculty Co-Director of our Dean Rusk International Law Center here at the University of Georgia School of Law, and University of Wisconsin Professor Francine Hirsch.

Their conversation appears as Episode 53 of Asymmetrical Haircuts: Your International Justice Podcast, hosted by the Hague-based journalists Janet Anderson and Stephanie van den Berg. To quote the hosts, Amann and Hirsch discussed

“what we think we know (and what we don’t) about Nuremberg trials.”

Amann, who also is Regents’ Professor of International Law and the Emily & Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law here at Georgia Law, is writing Nuremberg Women, a book about the roles that lawyers and other women professionals played at the first post-World War II war crimes trial, before the International Military Tribunal composed of judges and prosecutors from 4 Allied countries: France, Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union.

Hirsch, who is the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, published an account of the work of that last country in 2020. Her award-winning book is called Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal After World War II.

Their full podcast conversation about these previously understudied participants, and about how including their stories may chance conventional understandings of the Nuremberg trials and their legacy, is here.

Georgia Law’s Community HeLP Clinic and Project South release report on harms from spike in state-federal jailhouse immigration enforcement

Negative effects of three Southern states’ collaboration with federal immigration officials are detailed in a report just published by the Community Health Law Partnership here at the University of Georgia School of Law and Project South, a 35-year-old, Atlanta-based nongovernmental organization.

Entitled Escalating Jailhouse Immigration Enforcement, the 52-page report focuses on “ICE holds” – the nonbinding request, placed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, that local jails detain certain detainees. Based on records obtained through the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, the report reveals that between fiscal years 2016 and 2018:

  • The number of ICE holds nearly quadrupled in Georgia, nearly tripled in South Carolina, and doubled in North Carolina.
  • On average, persons subject to ICE holds were held more than two weeks in Georgia, about three weeks in South Carolina, and more than a month in North Carolina.
  • In at least half of these more than 18,000 detainer cases, the person named was taken into ICE custody.
  • At least 189 persons, including at least 29 U.S. citizens, were erroneously detained.

Co-authors of the report were our Clinic’s Director, Georgia Law Professor Jason A. Cade, (pictured above), along with Priya Sreenivasan and Azadeh Shahshahani of Project South. Cade said:

“The findings in Escalating Jailhouse Immigration Enforcement should encourage state and local governments to take their own steps to disentangle local policing from immigration policy. Enacting laws and practices that decrease the fiscal and human costs of lengthy incarcerations that rip families apart – usually just following minor traffic violations – will also go a long towards reducing immigrant communities’ fear of interaction with law enforcement in these southern states.”

Numerous Georgia Law students enrolled in the Clinic made important contributions to various stages of this project, including initial data collection, legal research, and data analytics: Onur Yildirin, Sarah Mirza and Michael Aune in Spring 2018; Caitlin Felt, Carter Thomas and Roger Grantham in Spring 2019; and Andrea Aldana, Stroud Baker, Lisa Garcia, and Farishtay Yamin in Spring 2020.

The full report is available here.

Georgia Law Professor Cohen presents “Court-Custom Paradox” in conference on customary international law

“Coherence in the interpretation of CIL is a process, not an outcome!” Professor Cohen stated, as reported in a TRICI-Law live tweet.

Harlan Cohen, who is Gabriel M. Wilner/UGA Foundation Professor in International Law and Faculty Co-Director of the Dean Rusk International Law Center here at the University of Georgia School of Law, presented Friday on “The Court-Custom Paradox” as part of “Interpretation of CIL: Methods, Interpretative Choices and the Role of Coherence,” a 2-day global conference.

Hosting the online gathering was TRICI-Law (“The Rules of Interpretation of Customary International Law”), a 5-year European Research Council Starting Grant project. Co-organizers were the PluriCourts-Centre for the Study of the Legitimate Roles of the Judiciary in the Global Order at the University of Oslo, Norway, and the Department of Transboundary Legal Studies at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

In addition to Professor Cohen, the conference featured Judge Liu Daqun of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals as well as scholars based in Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Georgia Law 3L Davis Wright on his externship in Virginia: “My time at NATO helped me grow as an aspiring lawyer, law student, and person.”

Pleased today to welcome this post by University of Georgia School of Law student Davis Wright, who describes his just-completed his Fall 2021 externship in Norfolk, Virginia, in the legal department of HQ SACT, a leading unit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. This externship is administered by our law school’s Dean Rusk International Law Center in partnership with NATO Allied Command Transformation. Davis arrived at Georgia Law with a background in international relations and politics, having competed in Model United Nations and worked for a member of the Dáil Éireann. His experiences at Georgia Law have included service as a Dean Rusk International Law Center Student Ambassador and J.D.-to-LL.M. liaison. He is due to receive his J.D. degree this May, and then to begin practice as an Associate at the Atlanta office of Jones Day.

Working in the Office of the Legal Advisor at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Headquarters Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (HQ SACT) in Norfolk, Virginia, was an exciting and rewarding experience. In the time I was at HQ SACT I grew substantially, in personal, academic, and professional aspects.

Personal growth

During the time I spent at HQ SACT, I was exposed to a diverse range of ideas and people. While the Chief Legal Advisor at HQ SACT is American, there is a French Legal Advisor, a Dutch Legal Advisor, and a Turkish intern. All of these interactions were valuable to me as I was exposed to cultural and legal perspectives from their home nations. 

My interactions at the office likewise gave me exposure to a diverse set of views on a variety of topics, ranging from the insignificant, such as musical preferences, to the significant, such as views on the war in Afghanistan and NATO’s involvement in it. These new friendships, and sometimes deep discussions, helped me grow as a person and challenged my views and perspective of the world.

Academic growth

As one part of my externship at HQ SACT, I participated in a once-a-week seminar course with Georgia Law Professor Diane Marie Amann, who is a Faculty Co-Director of the Dean Rusk International Law Center. We discussed a variety of topics through weekly readings on different areas of international law. Highlights included the role of the legal advisor in armed conflict, rules of engagement, and immunities of international organizations in domestic courts. Most of these subjects were new to me, and the weekly seminar helped build my knowledge and challenge my perspective on different international legal issues.

I am especially pleased that I was encouraged to lead the discussions in this seminar and to select readings for subjects that I find of interest. This encouragement to be curious and take a leading role also helped me grow academically.

Professional growth

The experience at HQ SACT was completely new for me as I had never before worked in the national security sector or for an international organization. My time in the legal office was largely split into two categories, as follows:

  • Legal assistance: During the mornings I was assigned to legal assistance work. This is essentially all the support elements that the office provides to both civilian and military personnel at HQ SACT. This work varies depending on who walks through the door, but includes a large amount of immigration work.  These experiences provided me an appreciation of the multitude of legal issues that foreign personnel face during their time in the United States. Additionally, these experiences provided me valuable client interaction that will assist my future career.
  • Legal projects: In the afternoons I worked on projects for the legal advisors. These projects varied considerably. For example, I had the opportunity to work on an overhaul to the general terms and conditions throughout HQ SACT and its subordinate commands, and to research whether NATO information is protected under U.S. laws against espionage. These projects all challenged me and provided an opportunity to make a substantial impact during my time at HQ SACT.  

In short, my time at NATO helped me grow as an aspiring lawyer, law student, and person. I am sure I will use the experiences I have gained so far at NATO in my future career.

I am extremely grateful that the Dean Rusk International Law Center and the University of Georgia School of Law allowed me to partake in this unique experience. Specifically, I would like to thank the Center’s Associate Director for Global Practice Preparation, Sarah Quinn, and Professor Amann, for their valuable guidance. I would also like to thank everyone at HQ SACT, especially Theresa Donahue, Kathy Hansen-Nord, Monte DeBoer, Butch Bracknell, Mette Hartov, Vincent Grassin, and Muge Karatas.

Georgia Law Professor Zohra Ahmed publishes on Pakistan, United States & global war on terror at LPE Blog

Zohra Ahmed, who is an Assistant Professor of Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law, posted “Towards a Law and Political Economy Approach to the Global War on Terror” at the LPE Blog published by The Law and Political Economy (LPE) Project, housed at Yale Law School.

Here’s the abstract:

“To ensure support for its Global War on Terror, the United States has exploited the Pakistani government’s reliance on foreign credit to guarantee cooperation in US counterinsurgency operations. In leveraging its role as a lender to provide Pakistan with short-term financial relief, the United States has deepened Pakistan’s economic dependency, undermined the nation’s chance for a more equal domestic political and economic arrangement, and consolidated the power of its domestic military elite.”

Professor Ahmed’s full essay, posted last Wednesday, is available here.

Georgia Law Associate Dean MJ Durkee, our Center’s Director, gives online webinar to law students in Bangladesh

Melissa J. “MJ” Durkee, who is Associate Dean for International Programs, Director of the Dean Rusk International Law Center, and Allen Post Professor here at Georgia Law, gave an online presentation on Friday, entitled “International Lobbying by Industry and Trade Groups: Context, Laws, Reforms,” to students at the Department of Law of North South University in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

She delivered the webinar by invitation of North South Law Professor Md. Rizwanul Islam, whose own scholarship includes examinations of the operation of international economic law in South Asia.

In her presentation, Durkee observed that COP26, the 2-week international climate change conference just concluded in Glasgow, Scotland, spotlighted difficulties in designing rules and processes that welcome nongovernmental organizations and business groups into global governance. She explored the adequacy vel non of conceptualizations of this challenge, and further considered possible designs for reform.

The webinar built on “Welcoming Participation, Avoiding Capture: A Five-Point Framework,” remarks that Durkee published in the Proceedings of the American Society of International Law Annual Meeting of 2020, available here.

Video of last Friday’s webinar may be found here.

Georgia Law Professor Walter Hellerstein presents on value added tax in International Monetary Fund webinar

Walter Hellerstein, Distinguished Research Professor & Shackelford Distinguished Professor in Taxation Law Emeritus here at the University of Georgia School of Law, presented last Tuesday in a webinar entitled “VAT and the Digital Economy,” organized by the International Monetary Fund as part of its ongoing VAT Webinar Series. More than 500 participants from countries around the world attended.

Hellerstein spoke on “Taxing digital economy: VAT vs. CIT and DST,” as part of a panel moderated by Katherine Baer of the IMF. Also on the panel were experts based in Australia, Panama, and South Africa.

The webinar program is here.

Stockholm Declaration conference: link to video of Shelton keynote and panel on international environmental law’s future

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A superb third panel and keynote speech concluded “The 1972 Stockholm Declaration at 50: Reflecting on a Half-Century of International Environmental Law” conference that we at the Dean Rusk International Law Center and the Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law at the University of Georgia School of Law hosted on October 8.

Following on our prior posts outlining the first and second parts of our daylong conference, we’re pleased in this post to recap the final segment, video of which is available here. (The full series, meanwhile, is available here.)

It begins with the third panel of the conference, entitled “International Environmental Law’s Future,” and moderated by MJ Durkee, Associate Dean for International Programs, Director of the Dean Rusk International Law Center, and Allen Post Professor at Georgia Law (pictured above, middle right). Joining her were 4 panelists (pictured clockwise from bottom center): Lakshman D. Guruswamy, Nicholas Doman Professor of International Environmental Law at Colorado Law; Jutta Brunnée, Dean, University Professor, and James Marshall Tory Dean’s Chair at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law in Canada; Cymie Payne, Associate Professor in the Department of Human Ecology and the School of Law, Rutgers University; and Rebecca M. Bratspies, Professor and Director of the Center for Urban Environmental Reform at CUNY Law.

Together, they consider the part of Principle 1 of the Stockholm Declaration that declares:

“[Humankind] bears a solemn responsibility to protect and improve the environment for present and future generations.”

In light of that statement, panelists examined the major successes and failures of the last half-century of international environmental law, and, imagining a “2022 Stockholm Declaration,” they considered how to prioritize environmental protection efforts going forward.

Then follows “Stockholm Plus 50: Glass Half Full, Half Empty, or Shattered?,” the keynote address by Dinah L. Shelton, Manatt/Ahn Professor of International Law Emeritus at George Washington University School of Law. In it, Shelton sounds an urgent call to action to ensure protection from the worst effects of climate change, especially for the most vulnerable populations.

Kimberlee Styple, GJICL Editor-in-Chief, then delivers closing remarks.