Beth Lyon, Clinical Professor of Law, Associate Dean for Experiential Education, Clinical Program Director, and Director of the Farmworker Legal Assistance Clinic
This winter, as the courtyard tent came down and travel restrictions lifted, clinic work both moved indoors and went on the road, allowing students to forge deeper connections with clients and community partners near and far.
The Clinical Program was proud to launch four new courses this year. The Afghanistan Assistance Clinic began as a fall pro bono project with 70 humanitarian parole filings. In the new clinic’s spring semester, each of nine students is representing an Afghan client applying for asylum. In the Appellate Criminal Defense Clinic’s inaugural semester, students worked on two direct appeals; in one, the client is serving a seven-year sentence for an assault conviction; in the other, the client is serving a sixteen-years-to-life sentence for a robbery conviction. In their first semester with the Education Law Practicum, law students have researched a variety of issues to allow their school clients to better serve students from financially-disadvantaged communities, including whether schools can pay students to work while in school and the extent to which schools can help students in accessing healthcare. In its first shift from a practicum course to a year-round clinic, the Movement Lawyering Clinic has provided litigation support, research, writing, and more to many movements across the United States including drafting memos that directly led to the dismissal of four criminal cases against movement defendants in Boston, providing research support for Indigenous environmental organizers, and drafting compassionate release petitions for incarcerated women at heightened COVID risk.
In a few other highlights, students in the Capital Punishment and Juvenile Justice Clinics’ new “Bring ‘Em Home” Project obtained the release on parole of former death row inmates and juveniles sentenced to life without parole who had their sentences vacated and are now serving paroleable life sentences. Two recently released clients, Rusty Cain and Tony Enriquez, are both doing well “outside the walls.” The 1L Immigration Law & Advocacy Clinic and the Asylum & Convention Against Torture Appellate Clinic worked with new partners on anti-racism projects ranging from amicus briefs to legal research memoranda. The Farmworker Legal Assistance Clinic testified before a New York State Department of Labor Wage Board in support of lowering the state’s farmworker overtime threshold from sixty to forty hours. The First Amendment Clinic had an active litigation docket over the past few months, with three students and a faculty member conducting oral arguments on access-related matters, and numerous advances including a win at the Fourth Department. Finally, New York State funded the Tenants Advocacy Practicum in its work with Legal Assistance of Western New York to ensure broad-based housing rights legal access in the region.
You will read about these and many other developments in this issue of our clinical newsletter. And, as always, please do stop in and see us if you find yourself here “high above Cayuga’s waters.”