UCI Law Clinics Newsletter
November 2020

A Message from UCI Law's Associate Dean for Clinical Education & Service Learning
Dear Friends,
This has been a tough year. Because of the global pandemic, we have struggled with and continue to face unprecedented challenges in our work and personal lives. The move to an online learning environment, however, has intensified many of our students’ dedication to and passion for clinical work. They have discovered new ways to communicate with and advocate for their clients. They, along with their professors, have acquired new competencies in the practice of law in a mostly remote world. The line between legal services and other kinds of service have sometimes blurred, such as when students worked with their clients, mobile home park residents, to create a food bank and then volunteered there on weekends last spring.

Despite these challenges, UCI Law’s clinical program has been fortunate. This summer, we welcomed back an amazing colleague, and retained seven exceptional visiting professors and fellows. Sameer Ashar rejoined the UCI Law faculty this summer after serving for two years as the Vice Dean for Experiential Education at UCLA Law School. In fall 2021, he will direct a new Workers, Law and Organizing Clinic that will prepare law students to work on issues of economic and racial justice in their legal practice. Student teams will collaborate with collectives of low-wage workers on litigation, policy advocacy, community education, and cooperative development projects. Visiting Clinical Professor Mónica Ramírez Almadani continues to teach in our Immigrant Rights Clinic. Visiting Clinical Professor Camille Pannu continues to teach in the Community and Economic Development Clinic, and Visiting Clinical Professor Stacey Tutt directs and teaches in the Consumer Law Clinic. Clinical fellows Caitlin Bellis, Sofia Jaramillo Otoya, Claire Johnson-Raba and Brett Korte continue to enhance our students’ experiences in the Immigrant Rights, International Justice, Consumer Law and Environmental Law clinics.
In our annual summer retreat this year, the clinical faculty reflected on how we can increase our efforts to combat anti-blackness and other forms of racism through our clinical work. We surveyed our students to learn their perspectives and received thoughtful advice. We are implementing changes to our classes and our caseloads to deepen our focus on racial justice.

What follows below are selected highlights of work done in our 10 core clinics during the past eight months and a list of recent faculty publications. Our students and our clients have provided us the inspiration to persevere.

All the best,

– Carrie Hempel, Associate Dean for Clinical Education & Service Learning and Clinical Professor of Law
Recent Publications from UCI Law Clinical Faculty
Sameer Ashar
  • Sameer Ashar, Critical Theory and Clinical Stance (with Wendy A. Bach), 26 CLINICAL LAW REVIEW 81 (2019).
David Kaye
Annie Lai
Jack Lerner
  • Jack I. Lerner, Secondary Copyright Infringement Liability and User-Generated Content in the United States, in OXFORD HANDBOOK OF ONLINE INTERMEDIARY LIABILITY 349 (Giancarlo Frosio ed., 2020).
Jane Stoever
  • Jane K. Stoever, Firearms and Domestic Violence Fatalities: Preventable Deaths, 53 FAM. L. QUAR. 183 (2019).
  • Jane K. Stoever, The Ultimate Abuse: Perpetrating Domestic Violence Through Child Abduction, 12 FAM. & INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE QUAR. 61 (2020). 
Katie Tinto
  • Katie Tinto, The CalGang Database: Once In, Can You Ever Get Out?, VERDICT (2020)
  • Katie Tinto, The Dangers of Police-Created Crime, 2020 JUST. COLLABORATIVE INST. 2
Civil Rights Litigation
Clinic Director: Paul Hoffman
Adjunct Clinical Professor: Melanie Partow

The Civil Rights Litigation Clinic (CRLC) responded to the challenges created by the nationwide reaction to the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers by providing support for two major class actions brought by Southern California civil rights lawyers against the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Students gathered declarations and provided legal research to support applications for injunctive relief. These actions helped restrain the use of rubber bullets and other methods that caused widespread injuries to peaceful demonstrators.
The CRLC also joined in the briefing and preparation for oral argument in Doe v Nestle/Cargill, an important human rights case on behalf of a class of former child slaves held in slavery in the Ivory Coast. The Supreme Court will decide whether the Alien Tort Statute may be used by the class to hold U.S.-based chocolate companies accountable for complicity in the system of child slavery and forced labor in the Ivory Coast.
Community and Economic Development
Clinic Directors: Carrie Hempel and Robert Solomon
Visiting Assistant Clinical Professor: Camille Pannu
Adjunct Clinical Professor: Anna Marie del Rio

The Community and Economic Development (CED) Clinic represents clients in matters concerning community and economic development in low- and moderate-income populations. In its work, CED emphasizes non-adversarial, transactional approaches to advocacy. Nevertheless, because the CED's primary concern is to solve its client’s problems by the most effective means available, it sometimes represents clients in litigation. CED has continued this multi-faceted approach as students and clients have transitioned, beginning in early March 2020, to a world of remote representation. Since then, CED Clinic students have achieved two particularly important successes on behalf of mobile home park residents.

In 2012, residents at Capistrano Terrace, a 150-unit mobile home park in Orange County, approached CED to form an organization to purchase their park. After six years of negotiation and litigation, in 2018 the residents secured a $10 million bridge loan to allow them to purchase. However, with no assets, the resident organization was unable to secure permanent financing, and the bridge loan carried a high interest rate. This year, in the midst of the pandemic, working with residents and other parties through Zoom, CED represented the resident-controlled organization in a complex refinancing, securing a loan at less than three percent and saving the organization $300,000 per year. These savings will allow the organization to make necessary improvements and ensure that the 150 units remain affordable in perpetuity.

This summer, the owner of another mobile home park containing mostly elderly, low-income residents gave notice that he was implementing a $20 per month rent increase beginning August 1, 2020. CED students researched the legality of the increase, discovered that the park owner violated city ordinances concerning the required process for raising rent, and wrote a letter to the owner on behalf of the residents demanding that he eliminate the increase. After months of negotiations, the parties agreed to a $10 dollar per month increase beginning in February 2021, saving each family in the park $180 – money that the residents can now use for food and healthcare.  
Photo: Capistrano Terrace community monument sign. (Courtesy of Marisol Rendon).
Consumer Law
Clinic Director: Stacey Tutt
Clinical Fellow: Claire Johnson Raba

In the Consumer Law Clinic (CLC), students engage in a holistic approach to address systemic problems facing low-income consumers including: direct representation, impact litigation, policy advocacy, and grass roots organizing. This past year, CLC focused on helping vulnerable homeowners defrauded by PACE, an equity-stripping home-improvement financing product that targets older adults, limited English proficiency homeowners, and persons of color.

One such senior is a 74-year-old homeowner whose predominantly Black neighborhood was targeted by PACE solicitors. They turned her simple $7,500 roof repair into an $84,000 nightmare, increasing her property taxes by almost $9,000 a year for repairs that were never completed. She received no written disclosures or contract. Instead, the transaction used a fraudulent email address and electronic signatures. The PACE assessment caused her reverse mortgage company to initiate a non-judicial foreclosure, which would have resulted in her being homeless during the pandemic. The CLC was able to stay the foreclosure, obtain a regulatory citation with restitution, and testify before the California Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee in support of legislation that now prohibits PACE Assessments for homeowners with reserves mortgages. By objecting to a class action settlement on her and three non-profit organizations' behalf, the CLC also uncovered 6,500 other homeowners who were defrauded using the same email address utilized in her transaction. Even when working online and appearing remotely, the students’ holistic approach to representation not only helped to preserve her housing, but many other similarly situated homeowners. 
Criminal Justice
Clinic Director: Katharine Tinto
Adjunct Clinical Professor: Janet Hong

The Criminal Justice Clinic (CJC) fights for the compassionate release of federal prisoners who are serving lengthy prison offenses, often due to outdated and unjust sentencing laws. Once COVID-19 erupted in the prisons, the CJC expanded its existing compassionate release work to advocate for the release of medically vulnerable prisoners. In addition to providing direct representation in several federal district courts across the country, the CJC developed materials to assist pro se individuals in requesting compassionate release or home confinement from the Bureau of Prisons and in federal court.
In conjunction with representing prisoners who are at risk of severe illness or death if they were to contract COVID-19, the CJC strives to address severe and often racially biased sentencing laws through its compassionate release work. Several CJC clients are serving extremely long and life sentences they would no longer receive today if sentenced under today’s laws. Through the legal mechanism of compassionate release, the CJC strives to expand the meaning of “compassionate release” and bring attention to issues of unjust sentencing and the accelerated aging of elderly prisoners. Since starting this project in 2019, the CJC has successfully won the release of several individuals, including two of whom were serving life sentences. In June, the CJC won the compassionate release of David Stringer, a 74-year-old veteran who served over 17 years in prison for a minor drug offense and who would not be sentenced to the same lengthy sentence if sentenced today. 
Photo: UCI Law Criminal Justice Clinic client David Stringer, Jr. and his daughter Roshaunda Stringer.
Domestic Violence
Clinic Director: Jane Stoever
Adjunct Clinical Professor: Patricia Cyr

The Domestic Violence Clinic’s (DVC) work has often included substantial time sitting together as clients share painful details and experiences. Personal interaction has always been a pivotal part of the trust-building between law students and clients. Over the past months, the DVC has pivoted and stretched to build trust and closeness as it helps clients achieve goals complicated by COVID-19. The DVC also has adjusted its approach to advocacy, as many court hearings are handled remotely, while others are in person with new protocols; because the online versus in-person format regularly changes based on opposing counsel or the courts, the DVC must prepare students and clients for both. 

COVID-19 has exacerbated DVC clients’ experiences of abuse. One client wanted to leave her abusive marriage, but COVID-19 was impeding any obvious escape routes, so she packed and hid an “escape” backpack in case of extreme violence. The backpack held her passport, money, eyeglasses, and basic necessities for the couple’s children. After life-threatening violence by her husband one night, she decided to leave with the children, only to find that her husband had found and taken her backpack. Through the Domestic Violence Clinic’s advocacy, she now has a domestic violence order granting her custody of the children, control of the home, and safety relief. The client and her children now live free from violence. 

In another recent case, the Clinic's client fled significant physical violence and was staying in temporary housing with her two young children. This particular shelter was not domestic violence-specific because her abuser’s stalking had caused her to be removed from domestic violence shelters. Her time in the new shelter expired, but because she had nowhere to go, DVC students successfully advocated for extended housing given the complex and dangerous circumstances. 
Environmental Law
Clinic Director: Michael Robinson-Dorn
Clinical Fellow: Brett Korte

Since transitioning to remote operations in March 2020, the Environmental Law Clinic (ELC) has continued to advance the efforts of its clients while also pivoting to address new issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Students are working alongside clients to ensure agencies and other government bodies are not stifling participation or making decisions without robust public engagement during remote public meetings, or other government activities.
These efforts are particularly important to the ELC’s clients focused on promoting and achieving environmental justice, a key tenant of which is the meaningful involvement of communities in government activities that impact human health and the environment. California is a national leader in the codification of environmental justice principles, and the ELC is working to make sure those laws and policies are appropriately implemented under the unique circumstances that the pandemic presents. For example, ELC students are working with a community-based non-profit to advocate for inclusion of environmental justice-focused policies in Santa Ana’s forthcoming General Plan Update, and in response to concerns raised about the lack of outreach to residents, ELC secured deadline extensions and engaged in efforts to convince the city to postpone adoption of the General Plan until adequate input from Santa Ana’s environmental justice communities can be integrated. In other matters, students are advocating for the robust application of California’s Human Right to Water statute and other environmental justice laws and policies. The same communities that are most burdened by pollution are bearing the brunt of COVID-19’s health and economic impacts, making robust community engagement and environmental justice efforts more important now than ever.
Photo: Map of Santa Ana environmental justice neighborhoods. (Courtesy of the City of Santa Ana).
The Environmental Law Clinic’s ecosystem and natural resources protection work likewise continues through the pandemic. In June, ELC students filed a successful motion to intervene on behalf of four environmental organizations, and are now helping those clients defend first-of-their-kind wildlife corridor ordinances in Ventura County. The ELC is also working with clients to increase river flow in the Apalachicola River Basin— an important estuary in Florida’s panhandle, one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, and cultural treasure. The ELC is proud to help clients ensure environmental justice and ecosystem protections are not undermined during the pandemic, and continues to train tomorrow’s environmental lawyers in the process. 
Immigrant Rights
Clinic Director: Annie Lai
Visiting Assistant Clinical Professor: Mónica Ramírez Almadani
Clinical Fellow: Caitlin Bellis

In August 2020, the Immigrant Rights Clinic (IRC) filed a federal lawsuit against the County of Orange and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) on behalf of Kelvin Hernandez Román, an immigrant from El Salvador who was unlawfully detained by OCSD on an ICE detainer last year. Local authorities took Mr. Hernandez Román into custody following a traffic stop, but after prosecutors declined to bring criminal charges, he should have been released. Instead, he was held for additional time in violation of California’s state sanctuary law, the California Values Act, and transferred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). As a result, Mr. Hernandez Román spent nine months in ICE custody separated from his wife and children. During this time, he missed the birth of his youngest child.
While Mr. Hernandez Román was detained, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. He became the lead plaintiff in a class action suit against ICE for its failure to adequately protect detainees from COVID-19. This led to his release from ICE custody, after which he began working with the Orange County Rapid Response Network (of which the Immigrant Rights Clinic is a part) to seek redress from OCSD for its role in his 2019 arrest by ICE. The lawsuit filed by the Immigrant Rights Clinic is part of a broader campaign led by local community organizers to hold the Orange County Sheriff accountable for prioritizing cooperation with ICE over the protection of the immigrant community.
Photo: Mónica Ramírez Almadani, co-director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic, Kelvin Hernandez Román and local advocates participate in a virtual press conference regarding the filing of the lawsuit against County of Orange and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD).
Intellectual Property, Arts, and Technology
Clinic Director: Jack Lerner
Adjunct Clinical Professors: Susan Seager and Christina Gagnier

During the pandemic, students in the Intellectual Property, Arts, and Technology (IPAT) Clinic have both participated virtually in court proceedings and advocated that virtual court proceedings be more accessible to the press and the public. In September, two clinic students successfully argued in court for the unsealing of grand jury transcripts and a juvenile case file to allow a reporter to examine the L.A. Department of Children and Family Services’ role in failing to protect young children from fatal abuse by their parents. 
And this month, the Clinic filed a request in Los Angeles Superior Court urging the court to allow the Ojai Valley News to attend proceedings in an important civil case via the same video conferencing that is made available to parties and counsel; the Clinic argued that denying this access violates the First Amendment. The Clinic also filed amicus briefs in Los Angeles Superior Court and the California Court of Appeal arguing that the trial court's broad gag order imposed on the popular rapper Drakeo the Ruler violated the First Amendment because it curtained news reports about the case, depriving the public of information about the case. Shortly after the rapper appealed the gag order and the Clinic filed its brief, the Court of Appeal issued a stay and the prosecution withdrew its gag order motion.
Photo: IPAT Certified Law Student Hedyeh Tirgardoon and Prof. Susan Seager outside the Compton Courthouse after the gag order hearing.
The Clinic has also helped artists and journalists in the fight against racism and anti-blackness. Earlier this month, the Clinic sent a letter to Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva demanding the return of 26-year-old student journalist Pablo Unzueta's cell phone and camera memory card, which were unlawfully seized by deputies during their arrest of the journalist as he was leaving a Black Lives Matter protest near Compton. This year the Clinic has worked with numerous filmmakers on works involving race and justice, such as Collin Kornfiend’s film examining protest and patriotism in the National Football League. And later this fall, the Clinic will be releasing a practice guide for defense attorneys fighting against the discriminatory and unfairly prejudicial use of rap lyrics in criminal proceedings. 
International Justice
Clinic Director: David Kaye
Adjunct Clinical Professor: Mary Hansel
Clinic Fellow: Sofia Jaramillo Otoya

The International Justice Clinic (IJC), like all clinics in the time of COVID-19, has seen its work evolve and adapt to these new circumstances. As always, the IJC continues to focus on freedom of expression worldwide while also pursuing work under the umbrella of what many think of as “human rights at home.” Early in the year, the then-emerging coronavirus outbreak caused the Clinic to cancel a fact-finding mission to the Maldives, focused on freedom of expression, but students and faculty pivoted to draft a report on various concerns that was shared with the Government in May.

The IJC also began the year by launching an exciting new project, funded by the Knight Foundation, in which the Clinic monitors the work of the new Facebook Oversight Board. In concert with IJC Director David Kaye’s United Nations mandate on freedom of expression (which ended July 31, 2020), the Clinic published an interim report that explored the ways in which the Oversight Board needs to improve in order to integrate fundamental human rights protections for users and the public.

The Clinic's work on social media oversight has continued through the fall semester, as the IJC has converted a robust agenda of on-site fact-finding to Zoom interviews with stakeholders around the world. Keeping a focus on the human rights implications of social media and its regulation, the IJC has also examined emerging regulatory efforts in the United States and Europe. Working with colleagues in the Intellectual Property, Arts, and Technology Clinic, in September the Clinic filed a comment before the Federal Communications Commission concerning the Trump administration’s troubling efforts to regulate online speech, placing concerns within a human rights context. The Clinic prepared similar research for the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Irene Khan, for her work concerning the European Union’s draft Digital Services Act. All in all, students in the IJC have risen to the challenge of working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ninth Circuit Appellate Litigation Clinic
Clinic Directors: Peter Afrasiabi and Kathryn Davis
Visiting Clinical Professor: Jennifer Lee Koh
Adjunct Clinical Professors: Kathryn Eidmann and Paul Hoffman

Two students in the Ninth Circuit Appellate Litigation Clinic (ALC), both part of UCI Law's Class of 2020, have been representing a refugee who was raped as a child in Guatemala and denied asylum on the basis that she failed to articulate a proper social group that could qualify her for asylum.

As the appeal was delayed due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, ALC students studied for the bar but also continued their preparations to argue the case this November. Immediately post-bar exam, they resumed research on the appeal and are now able to supplement the filings with the Ninth Circuit to argue some very recent case law, which came down over the summer, that may prove beneficial to the client and augment her chances for success by way of a remand order.

Despite their own personal and professional situations outside of UCI Law now, these two students have maintained their dedication to the ALC’s client and will argue via Zoom this November as some of the first supervised law students, albeit now post-bar, to conduct video oral arguments in the Ninth Circuit.
UCI Law Experiential Learning Administration
Associate Dean for Clinical Education and Service Learning: Carrie Hempel
Director of Externships: D'lorah Hughes
Director of Public Interest Programs: Anna Davis
Clinics Administrative Director: Debi Gloria