Georgia Law Appellate Clinic team briefs, argues, wins Convention Against Torture case before Second Circuit in New York

One week after oral arguments put forward by students in the University of Georgia School of Law Appellate Litigation Clinic, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit today ruled on behalf of a Clinic client, whose immigration case involved the 1984 Convention Against Torture, an international treaty that the United States joined in 1994.

The client, a gay transgender rights advocate from the state of Guerrero, Mexico, and the petitioner in Case No. 20-1693, Santiaguez v. Garland, seeks deferral of removal pursuant to the treaty’s provisions respecting non-refoulement, or non-return. Specifically, the client asks not to be sent back to his home country, where his brother, also gay, recently was killed due to sexual orientation.

Georgia Law 3L Noah Nix (pictured above) argued on behalf of the client last week at the Second Circuit’s New York courthouse. He challenged prior rulings in the case, in which both the Immigration Judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals had agreed that no Mexican public official would likely acquiesce to the Clinic’s client being tortured if he returned. The Board of Immigration Appeals also had found that the Immigration Judge did not violate the client’s due process rights when refusing to allow a country conditions expert to testify at the client’s merits hearing.

Today the Second Circuit panel, composed of Chief Judge Debra Ann Livingston, Judge Barrington D. Parker Jr., and Judge Eunice C. Lee, ruled on behalf of the Clinic’s client. Specifically, reasoning that the agency had not properly considered the client’s evidence, the panel issued an order vacating the agency’s decision and remanding the case for further proceedings.

Assisting in brief-writing in the case were two Georgia Law students who have since graduated, Jared Allen and Olivia Hunter. The team worked under the supervision of Thomas V. Burch, the Clinic’s Director.

Georgia Law students named top oralists, and team finishes in world’s top 16, at Jessup International Law Moot Court

Our exceptionally talented team of University of Georgia School of Law students – 2Ls Millie Price, Courtney Robinson, Caleb Grant, James Stewart, and Alex Krupp – competed last week through to the Octofinals of one of the world’s most prestigious law tournaments, the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.

2022 Georgia Law Jessup team: clockwise from upper left, Caleb Grant, James Stewart, Alex Krupp, Millie Price, Courtney Robinson

Making their achievement even sweeter, team member Robinson tied as the best overall oralist through the Advanced Rounds, while teammate Stewart was named fifth best. They and they teammates prepared written memorials and gave oral arguments as if they were appearing before the International Court of Justice, the judicial arm of the United Nations which adjudicates international law disputes.

In reaching the Octofinals, the Georgia Law team bested many other competitors, in a tournament that attracted nearly 3,500 students from about 700 law schools in 100 countries and jurisdictions. They lost in that International Round to a team from Canada’s University of Western Ontario. Winning the entire tournament was Harvard, against whom Georgia had competed last month in Jessup’s U.S. championship round.

Leading the team were 3L coach Courtney Hogan and faculty advisor/coach Anna White Howard, both themselves former Jessup advocates.

The team benefited from moots and other assistance by many members of the Georgia Law community, including: Professor Melissa J. “MJ” Durkee, Associate Dean for International Programs and Director of the law school’s Dean Rusk International Law Center, and Professors Diane Marie Amann and Harlan Grant Cohen, the Center’s Faculty Co-Directors; Georgia Law Dean Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge; Kellie Casey, Director of Advocacy; Anne Burnett, Foreign and International Law Librarian; Professors Nathan S. Chapman, Rob McNiff, and Lori A. Ringhand; and alums, Judge Ben Cheesbro, Ellen Clarke, Erik Chambers Myra Creighton, Amy Helmick, and Roger Grantham..

The Washington, D.C.-based International Law Students Association is Jessup’s primary host, with the law firm of White & Case sponsoring the International Rounds as well as some national competitions.

Georgia Law team places 2d in US championship, preparing for upcoming international rounds in Jessup Moot

Proud to announce that a team of talented University of Georgia School of Law students competed Sunday in the US National Championship of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. Although it lost to Harvard after having defeated many others among the 84 American teams that competed, the team’s success earned it an invitation to compete in the International Rounds set to begin in late March.

The team members are 2Ls Millie Price, Courtney Robinson, Caleb Grant, James Stewart, and Alex Krupp (pictured above, clockwise from lower right). Robinson won recognition as the 4th best overall oralist, and Stewart as the 14th best, in the US tournament. Leading the team were 3L coach Courtney Hogan and faculty advisor/coach Anna White Howard, both themselves former Jessup advocates.

The team benefited from moots and other assistance by many members of the Georgia Law community, including: Professor Melissa J. “MJ” Durkee, Associate Dean for International Programs and Director of the law school’s Dean Rusk International Law Center, and Professors Diane Marie Amann and Harlan Grant Cohen, the Center’s Faculty Co-Directors; Georgia Law Dean Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge; Kellie Casey, Director of Advocacy; Anne Burnett, Foreign and International Law Librarian; Professors Nathan S. Chapman, Rob McNiff, and Lori A. Ringhand; and alums, Judge Ben Cheesbro, Ellen Clarke, and Erik Chambers.

The Jessup is the world’s largest moot court competition, with upwards of 3,500 students, from more than a hundred countries, competing. Their teams prepare briefs and give oral arguments as if they were appearing before the International Court of Justice, the judicial arm of the United Nations which adjudicates international law disputes between sovereign nation-states. The Washington, D.C.-based International Law Students Association is the primary host, with the law firm of White & Case sponsoring the International Rounds as well as some national competitions.

Georgia Law clinic joins in publishing advisory for immigrant detainees

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.

The practice advisory is designed to help them in seeking damages, stays of removal, and long-term immigration relief based on the abuse they suffered at the detention center (prior posts). It thus provides detailed instructions on how to: file claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act; request stays of removal from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); file complaints with the U.S Department of Homeland Security Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties; and apply for U Visas.  

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. 

Georgia Law clinics’ advocacy helps client secure U.S. citizenship

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/64/Us_flag_with_eagle.jpg

Years of advocacy by two clinics at the University of Georgia School of Law recently helped secure U.S. citizenship for a longtime immigrant client.

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.

Georgia Law clinics share in national CLEA Award for work on behalf of immigrant women who endured abuse, retaliation while in ICE detention

Efforts on behalf of immigrant women detained in a U.S. immigration center have earned national recognition for the Community HeLP Clinic and First Amendment Clinic here at the University of Georgia School of Law.

The Georgia Law clinics will share that recognition – the 2021 Clinical Legal Education Association Award for Excellence in a Public Interest Project – with law clinics at Harvard, Columbia, Texas A&M, and Boston universities.

The CLEA Award will be presented online 12 noon-1 pm Eastern Friday, April 30, as part of the annual Conference on Clinical Education of the Association of American Law Schools.

The clinics’ project confronted abuse of immigrant women while in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Irwin Detention Center, a privately run facility in south Georgia. As previously posted, the women there were subjected to nonconsensual, medically unindicated, or invasive gynecological procedures. Those who spoke out about abuses faced accelerated deportation proceedings, solitary confinement, and other acts of retaliation. The project has pursued several administrative, judicial, and advocacy avenues, including ongoing litigation of Oldaker v. Giles, a consolidated habeas petition and class action complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia.

The Project’s efforts have resulted in the release of nearly all 80 women in ICDC, as well as over 200 men, and stays of deportation for most of the Oldaker plaintiffs.

Leading the project on behalf of Georgia Law were Jason Cade (above right), Associate Dean for Clinical Programs & Experiential Learning, J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law, and Director of the Community HeLP Clinic, and Clare Norins (above left), Clinical Assistant Professor and Director of the First Amendment Clinic. Also taking part in this team effort were 3L students Raneem Ashrawi, Frederick King, Julia Griffis, and Anish Patel, 2L students Thomas Evans, Paige Medley, and Davis Wright, First Amendment Clinic Legal Fellow Samantha Hamilton, Community HeLP Clinic Staff Attorney Kristen Shepherd, and administrative associate Sarah Ehlers.

Other collaborators included non-profits, private firms, legislative advocates, and community organizers.

Georgia Law Appellate Litigation Clinic students ask for asylum and withholding of removal in 11th Circuit oral argument

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit heard arguments this week in an asylum and immigration case prepared by a team of students in the University of Georgia School of Law Appellate Litigation Clinic.

Georgia Law 3L Maddie Conkel argued on behalf of the petitioner in Case No. 19-15144, Denis Aguilera Fernandez v. Garland. On account of the Covid-19 pandemic, Conkel’s argument was delivered online to a panel composed of Eleventh Circuit Judges William H. Pryor Jr., Jill A. Pryor, and Ed Carnes (audio here).

In earlier proceedings both the Immigration Judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals agreed that the Clinic’s client – whom Cuban police had detained and beaten repeatedly over two years in an effort to prevent him from protesting the Cuban government – was “thoroughly credible.”  They further agreed that his mistreatment, though “severe and regrettable,” did not rise to the level of “persecution,” and that he had no reasonable fear of future persecution.

Conkel’s argument sought reversal of the resulting denials of asylum and withholding of removal. Georgia Law 3L Sarah Nelson helped Conkel prepare for the argument, and several other students helped the Clinic brief the case. 

The Eleventh Circuit panel is now deliberating.

Georgia Law Appellate Litigation Clinic students win victory for client in 9th Circuit immigration case invoking Convention Against Torture

A woman seeking withholding of removal from the United States has won her challenge to an adverse ruling by the Board of Immigration Appeals – a challenge briefed and argued by students in the Appellate Litigation Clinic here at the University of Georgia School of Law.

By a 2-1 decision issued Tuesday in Case No. 19-72750, Arellano Herrera v. Barr a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded to the BIA.

The panel majority in Case No. 19-72750, Arellano Herrera v. Barr, comprised Ninth Circuit Judge Margaret M. McKeown and U.S. District Judge Virginia Mary Kendall, sitting by designation. Its opinion effectively reinstated the first decision in the case, in which an Immigration Judge had ruled for the Clinic’s client, Graciela Arellano Herrera, whose parents brought her to the United States three days after her birth.

In oral arguments conducted online this past September (prior post), Georgia Law 3L Jason N. Sigalos argued that if Arellano Herrera were sent back to her native Mexico it was more likely than not that member of a drug cartel would torture her, with the acquiescence of one or more public officials. To permit such a risk, the Clinic team contended, would violate non-refoulement (non-return) obligations that the United States took on when it ratified the 1984 Convention Against Torture. The panel majority agreed.

The panel’s third member, Ninth Circuit Judge Lawrence James Christopher VanDyke, agreed that the BIA had erred on one challenged ground, but in his view the BIA was correct in finding that Arellano Herrera could safely relocate in Mexico. He thus dissented, reasoning that the latter finding alone supported affirmation of the BIA ruling.

The Clinic team included Sigalos and his classmates, 3L Mollie M. Fiero and John Lex Kenerly IV, who earned his J.D. earlier this year. They worked under the supervision of Thomas V. Burch, the Clinic’s Director, and Anna White Howard, the Clinic’s Counselor in Residence. (prior posts)

Scholarly achievements, thriving initiatives featured in newsletter of Dean Rusk International Law Center

newletter_angle

For a recap of the year’s global law-and-practice accomplishments here at the University of Georgia School of Law, have a look at the just-published annual newsletter of the Dean Rusk International Law Center. Features include:

► Celebrating the scholarly achievements of our many other globally minded faculty and staff, including Diane Marie Amann, Christopher Bruner, Thomas V. Burch, Anne Burnett, Jason A. Cade, Nathan S. Chapman, Harlan G. Cohen, Kathleen A. Doty, Melissa J. Durkee, Walter Hellerstein, Lori Ringhand, Usha Rodrigues, and Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge.

► Events past and future, including day-long conferences cosponsored with the Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law, public lectures and our Consular Series of lunch talks with Atlanta-based diplomats, cosponsorship of panels at regional and national international law meetings, and the upcoming International Law Colloquium Series.

► Initiatives aimed at preparing our J.D. and LL.M. students for global legal practice, including our Global Externships and our Global Governance Summer School, plus support for students’ organizations and international advocacy teams.

The full newsletter is here.

Global Governance Summer School: after travel day and World Cup match, Special Tribunal for Lebanon kicks off The Hague briefings

From left, Gamble Baffert, Charles Wells, Lauren Taylor, Emily Snow, Emily Doumar, Leila Knox, Amanda Shaw, Alicia Millspaugh, Briana Blakely, Jessica Parker, Steven Miller, Ayman Tartir

LEUVEN & THE HAGUE — Yesterday, Georgia Law students participating in the Global Governance Summer School left Leuven, Belgium, where they had been in residence for classroom sessions and professional development opportunities. They traveled by train to The Hague, Netherlands, and arrived just in time to watch the U.S. – Netherlands Women’s World Cup match. What a place to watch!

From left, Emily Doumar, Jessica Parker, Briana Blakely, Lauren Taylor, Kathleen Doty, Charles Wells, Emily Snow, Gamble Baffert, Holly Stephens, Leila Knox, Steven Miller, Alicia Millspaugh, Ayman Tartir, Amanda Shaw.

Students spent this morning in briefings at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Established in 2009, the STL’s mandate is to hold trials for the people accused of carrying out the February 14, 2005 attack in Beirut that killed the former prime minister, Rafik Hariri, and twenty-two others.

Representatives from all four of the court organs presented to the students. They included: Romy Batrouny, Assistant Legal Officer in Chambers, who gave an overview of the tribunal’s history, mandate, and structure and an introduction to the work of lawyers in Chambers; Edel Regan, Associate Legal Officer with the Registry Legal Office, who explained the various legal issues encountered in the administration of the court, ranging from immunities to the protection of victims and witnesses to procurement; Matthias Neuner, Trial Counsel in the Office of the Prosecutor, who challenged students to think about the purpose of international criminal tribunals and the development of the law in the fight against impunity for terrorism; anPaula Lynch, Associate Legal Officer in the tribunal’s Defence Office, who discussed the unique position of defense counsel in the STL structure, and the challenges of representing the defendants in absentia.

img_2380

From left, Lauren Taylor, Briana Blakely, and Jessica Parker.

In the afternoon, students enjoyed a cultural excursion to the Mauritshuis museum, home to masterpieces from Dutch and Flemish artists, including Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicoleas Tulp, and Potter’s The Bull.

Tomorrow, the group will continue with a briefing at the Hague Conference on Private International Law where they will learn about the operation of private law in the global arena.