The Community Health Law Partnership Clinic at the University of Georgia School of Law and four other law school clinics have published a lengthy practice advisory intended to assist immigrants currently or previously held at Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia.
Taking part in this effort at the Georgia Law were Jason A. Cade, Associate Dean for Clinical Programs & Experiential Learning, J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law, and Director of the Community HeLP Clinic, Staff Attorney Kristen Shepherd, and 3L Frederick King.
Joining them were the Boston University School of Law Immigrants’ Rights & Human Trafficking Program, Columbia Law School Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, Harvard Law School Immigration & Refugee Clinical Program, Texas A&M School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic, and National Immigration Project of the National Lawyer’s Guild. These and other entities have been collaborating on behalf of the Irwin detainees, including in ongoing litigation in Oldaker v. Giles, a consolidated habeas petition and class action complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia.
Pleased today to welcome a contribution from Jonathan Peters, an associate professor who has faculty appointments in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and the School of Law at the University of Georgia. (prior posts) Professor Peters teaches and researches in the area of media law and policy, and his post here discusses his participation April 19in an online training event hosted in Uzbekistan.
One purpose of the project, called the “Rule of Law Partnership in Uzbekistan,” is to strengthen public access to the nation’s judicial system as well as public trust in it. And a key priority has been to grow citizen knowledge of the courts and to improve the society’s legal culture and the population’s overall legal literacy.
To those ends, I shared an American perspective on how U.S. judges and courts—at the federal and state levels—use social media. Courts often use Twitter and Facebook to share information, and judges often use them to humanize themselves and to discuss matters of trial and appellate practice with other members of the legal profession. Over 42 percent of court public information officers reported in a recent survey that using social media is essential for courts to communicate with the public. As one put it:
There is an emerging recognition among courts that in order to fulfill the requirement that courts are transparent and understandable to the public in the new media age we are in, courts will have to play an active role in facilitating access to information and perform many of the same functions that traditionally have been performed by the now dwindling traditional media.
Judicial ethics codes even encourage judges to engage with their communities in various ways. For example, Canon 4 of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges says that a “judge may … speak, write, lecture, and teach on both law-related and nonlegal subjects.” The associated commentary says that “[c]omplete separation of a judge from extrajudicial activities is neither possible nor wise; a judge should not become isolated from the society in which the judge lives.”
But judges must be careful on social media not to run afoul of certain limits on their extrajudicial speech, namely those on ex parte communications and their ability to comment on cases pending before them. They also must avoid activities that would reflect adversely on their impartiality or independence. As I told the judges in Uzbekistan, recognizing the risks posed by specific types of content will enable them to create and maintain a social-media presence that is effective and productive—and respectful of the unique responsibilities of a judge.
The earliest work with the client was undertaken by the Jane W. Wilson Family Justice Clinic, as at that time the client was facing severe domestic abuse. Working under the supervision of Clinical Assistant Professor Christine M. Scartz, then-student Eric Abney, a member of the Georgia Law Class of 2020, secured a 12-month family violence protective order and successfully negotiated a resolution that gave the client exclusive possession of the marital residence and a vehicle, sole child custody, and child support.
After the client had gained this measure of safety and stability, the client then was referred to Georgia Law’s Community Health Law Partnership Clinic for further advocacy. Working under the supervision of Jason A. Cade, Associate Dean for Clinical Programs & Experiential Learning, Amy Buice and Carter A. Thomas, members of the Classes of 2019 and 2020, respectively, used the Violence Against Women Act to ensure the client retained permanent residency without having to rely on her abusive former-partner. Subsequently, 3L Ansley Whiten helped the client file an application for naturalization, while 2L Luis Gomez prepared her for the naturalization interview; both were supervised primarily by Kristen Shepherd, the Community HeLP Clinic’s Staff Attorney.
The client became a U.S. citizen in April 2021, on her birthday.
Harlan Cohen, the 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 on “The Sociology of WTO Precedent” last month as part of a 2-day Behavioural Approaches in International Law Workshop.