UCI Law Experiential Education Newsletter

Fall 2021

A Message from UCI Law's Co-Associate Deans for Experiential Education
As we round out the second year of a global pandemic, it is hard not to feel daunted by the challenges that lay ahead. COVID-19 has ravaged entire communities and laid bare extant social and economic inequalities, groups domestically and abroad continue to grapple with myriad forms of violence, and the crisis of climate change looms. Yet, these uncertain times have also presented new opportunities. Amidst this upheaval, the UCI Law clinical program has been hard at work. Students adjusting to a new “hybrid” world of practice have found new ways to creatively advocate for clients in the community, in the courts, and before legislatures and political bodies. We recently wrapped up an innovative year-long seminar taught by clinical faculty on COVID-19 and civil rights. And this fall, we returned to the classroom, embracing the chance to greet each other in person after a year and a half on Zoom.
In the clinical program, we have had a transition in leadership. After a decade under the brilliant and steadfast leadership of Carrie Hempel, we (Annie Lai and Michael Robinson-Dorn) took over as Co-Associate Deans of Experiential Education. UCI Law also launched a new clinic, the Workers, Law, and Organizing Clinic, directed by Sameer Ashar, who returned to our faculty last year after serving for two years as Vice Dean for Experiential Education at UCLA Law. Additionally, we were fortunate to be able to retain several visiting/full-time adjunct professors. Paul Hoffman continues to direct and teach in the Civil Rights Litigation Clinic, Camille Pannu is co-directing and teaching in the Community and Economic Development Clinic, Stacey Tutt continues to direct and teach in the Consumer Law Clinic, and Susan Seager is leading the Intellectual Property, Arts, and Technology Clinic's work on press freedom and transparency. Fellows Sofia Jaramillo Otoya, Claire Johnson-Raba, Scott Badenoch and Jabari Brown are enhancing the work of our clinics and providing critical guidance to students in international justice, consumer law and environmental justice, respectively. Finally, Carrie Hempel has been named the chair of the 2023 AALS Clinical Law Conference. 
Over the past year, our clinical faculty have continued to critically examine how we can deepen our commitment to combatting anti-Blackness and fighting for racial justice in our teaching, practice and in our institutional roles. We held several workshops on this topic in the spring and the summer to exchange ideas and develop learning objectives, but we know there is still much work to do. Our work parallels UCI Law’s adoption of a new requirement that students take at least one course on race and indigeneity before they graduate. To enrich our students’ exposure to these issues and put us in greater proximity to the communities with which we work, we recently partnered with El Centro Cultural de México and UCI Community Resilience to launch a new satellite space for our program in downtown Santa Ana, Calif.
What follows are highlights of the work currently being done in our 11 core clinics. Together with our popular Pro Bono Program, our rigorous Externships Program and our elective clinics, they comprise the essence of service learning at UCI Law. 

All the best,

Annie Lai, Co-Associate Dean for Experiential Education
and Clinical Professor of Law

Michael Robinson Dorn, Co-Associate Dean for Experiential Education
and Clinical Professor of Law
Civil Rights Litigation
Clinic Director: Paul Hoffman
Adjunct Clinical Professor: Melanie Partow

The Civil Rights Litigation Clinic (CRLC) has worked on a range of civil and human rights issues over the past year. For example, Clinic students helped prepare briefing and oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court in Nestle USA, Inc. v. Doe, a case involving child slave labor in the Ivory Coast. Clinic students have also been actively involved in the briefing in several post-Nestle cases under the Alien Tort Statute.
In July, after two years of collaboration with civil rights attorney Carol Watson, CLRC obtained a grant of a petition for habeas corpus on behalf of Kenji Howard, a wrongfully convicted client who served 26 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. He was released from prison in September. Clinic students also continue to be involved in lawsuits challenging police brutality that occurred during demonstrations in Los Angeles after the death of George Floyd in 2020.
Along with the Criminal Justice Clinic, CRLC students are assisting the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office in re-evaluating cases involving police shootings to determine if further investigation and possible prosecutions are warranted. Clinic students are also challenging the Orange County District Attorney’s DNA database in a case expected to lead to a significant appellate ruling on the scope of privacy rights under the California Constitution. Meanwhile, the Clinic handled the first appeal (in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals) for the ACLU’s Justice Lab in Louisiana. The Justice Lab is a collaboration involving law firms and clinics around the country aimed at addressing race discrimination in policing in Louisiana.
Community and Economic Development
Clinic Directors: Carrie Hempel, and Robert Solomon and Camille Pannu
Adjunct Clinical Professors: Anna Marie del Rio and Linda Schilling

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, students in the Community and Economic Development (CED) Clinic have continued to provide representation to mobile home resident groups and nonprofit organizations in their efforts to protect their communities. CED students successfully litigated a California Public Records Act (PRA) petition seeking corporate records from the nonprofit owner of multiple mobile home parks in the City of San Bernardino. The nonprofit, which was formed by the City to manage the parks, unsuccessfully asserted in the trial court that it was not a public entity required to comply with the PRA. In response to the order to produce documents, the nonprofit filed an untimely appeal for review. CED students then drafted and filed a motion to dismiss, which the California Court of Appeal granted in late July. The Clinic hopes to use information obtained in response to the PRA request to pursue claims against the nonprofit for misuse of funds intended for the benefit of the parks’ low-income residents.
Clinic students recently began representing the Imperial Valley Equity and Justice Coalition, a grassroots organization that advocates for community empowerment, social and environmental justice, and health equity in communities along California’s southern border. As residents of the county hardest hit by COVID-19, the Coalition’s members have gone door-to-door to expand access to COVID-19 testing, distribute sanitation supplies and assist in contact tracing. CED students are supporting the Coalition’s efforts by assisting them in forming a tax-exempt nonprofit organization and developing risk management protocols for outreach volunteers.
Consumer Law
Clinic Director: Stacey Tutt
Clinical Fellow: Claire Johnson Raba

Throughout the past year, the Consumer Law Clinic (CLC) has focused on assisting vulnerable homeowners who were defrauded by the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program, an equity-stripping home-improvement financing product that targets older adults, limited English proficiency homeowners, and persons of color. HBO’s "Last Week Tonight" with John Oliver recently featured a segment on the predatory nature of the program. The Clinic contributed to the segment by sharing its expertise as well as client experiences. In addition, CLC was appointed to the Committee of Unsecured Creditors on behalf of a defrauded senior homeowner after a PACE financing company filed bankruptcy amidst mounting allegations of fraud. Through this effort, the Clinic was able to preserve data homeowners need to unwind fraudulent transactions and prevent their homes from being foreclosed upon.
Photo: PACE client Alma Foster, who CLC represents on the Unsecured Creditors Committee, along with her sister.
With ACLU SoCal, the Clinic also filed a lawsuit against the City of Lancaster and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) for maintaining “an administrative citation system that is designed and enforced to punish poverty, in violation of the California Constitution.” The plaintiff in the lawsuit is Leroy Butts, a 68-year-old Black man who was unhoused at the time of an incident in 2019 in a Lancaster, Calif. park. He was legally passing out “Know Your Rights” pamphlets when two LASD deputies approached a group of people who were homeless. Butts told members of the group of their rights to be in the park, and in a clear act of retaliation, the deputies issued him a $500 administrative citation.
Criminal Justice
Clinic Director: Katharine Tinto
Adjunct Clinical Professor: Janet Hong

This past year, the Criminal Justice Clinic (CLC) fought for compassionate release for federal prisoners serving lengthy prison sentences, often due to outdated and unjust sentencing laws. The Clinic represents individuals in federal court in seeking their release. Grounds for relief include vulnerability to COVID-19, the deterioration of the client’s health due to aging and inadequate medical care, and the fact that the sentences received are considered overly harsh under today’s sentencing laws and standards.
Since starting this project in 2019, CJC has successfully won the release of nine individuals, including four of whom were serving life sentences and two who were serving “effective life” sentences. Many of these clients had each already served over 30 years in prison. The Clinic has won release for its clients in federal courts across the country, including in the Southern District of Alabama, the Southern and Eastern Districts of Texas, the Southern District of Florida, the Northern District of Georgia and the Western District of Louisiana.
Photo: CJC compassionate release client Luiz Gonzalez with his daughter Mariana.
Domestic Violence
Clinic Director: Jane Stoever
Adjunct Clinical Professor: Patricia Cyr

The Domestic Violence Clinic (DVC) has continued litigating domestic violence, custody and immigration cases—both in-person and remotely—as demand for the Clinic’s services escalated throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. DVC students continue to assist clients in crisis, including those who are criminalized, unhoused and who experience language isolation, threats of deportation, reproductive coercion, religious abuse and other forms of gender-based violence. 
DVC also conducted community education and pursued policy advocacy on behalf of clients. Professor Stoever received a UCI Inclusive Excellence Spirit Award to fund expansion of the Clinic's gender-based violence prevention education in the region's high schools, along with the creation of online modules and resources on teen dating violence. Regarding DVC's policy advocacy success, California Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed into law a bill the Clinic proposed on behalf of multiple clients to include reproductive coercion in California's definition of domestic abuse. California is the first state with such a law. 
Additionally, Professor Stoever continues to direct the UCI Initiative to End Family Violence and serves as co-chair the Orange County’s Domestic Violence Death Review Team, involving DVC students in the interagency team's review of cases and recommendations for abuse and fatality prevention.
Photo: DVC faculty and students in a Zoom meeting.
Environmental Law
Clinic Director: Michael Robinson-Dorn
Clinical Fellows: Scott Badenoch and Jabari Brown
CLEANR Attorney: Melissa Kelly

The Environmental Law Clinic (ELC) continues to deepen its commitment to centering environmental justice in its work. Recently, ELC added three new members to its team. Scott Badenoch and Jabari Brown have joined the Clinic as Mysun Foundation Clinical Fellows whose focus will be to support the Clinic's environmental justice work in Orange County, Southern California, and beyond. Scott and Jabari follow in the footsteps of the ELC’s first Mysun Foundation Clinical Fellow, Alyse Bertenthal, who is now a member of the law faculty at Wake Forest. Additionally, Staff Director and Attorney with UCI Law's Center for Land, Environment and Natural Resources (CLEANR) Melissa Kelly, UCI Law ’14, has joined ELC to focus on water policy matters.  
Throughout the pandemic, ELC has continued working alongside its clients on policy and litigation matters. From ensuring that agencies and decisionmakers are properly taking account of California’s human right to water and environmental justice laws and policies in permitting decisions and general planning, to aiding in matters involving ecosystem health in places as different as Ventura County and the Apalachicola Bay, students working in-person and remotely have represented clients at the local, state and federal levels. 
Those familiar with the Clinic’s history will be interested to learn that ELC is back in federal court in yet another case involving the controversial Cadiz Water Project. Additionally, Professor Robinson-Dorn and ELC continue to have a close relationship with CLEANR, which recently added Gregg Macey as its Associate Director for Environmental Justice.
Immigrant Rights
Clinic Director: Annie Lai
Adjunct Clinical Professors: Hannah Comstock, Sabrina Rivera and Munmeeth Soni

Over the past year, students in the Immigrant Rights Clinic (IRC) have been helping to litigate a class action case challenging Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) practices when conducting home arrests. Among other things, the case seeks an injunction against ICE agents posing as police or probation officers in order to obtain “consent” to enter community members’ homes. In addition, IRC students continue to work closely with the Orange County Rapid Response Network to conduct trainings on various topics for local organizers and immigrant families. Last spring, a student team gave a training on the constitutional rights of community members during ICE enforcement actions. The training included a presentation about ICE’s growing reliance on new forms of surveillance technology to target, arrest and deport immigrants.
Since 2014, IRC has been assisting immigrants subject to prolonged detention at an ICE detention center in Adelanto, California in hearings to obtain their release on bond. The detention center is located in a remote area and run by the private prison contractor GEO Group. This bread-and-butter work of the Clinic became even more critical during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last spring, IRC students collaborated with a social work team (including a social work student at California State University, Fullerton) to develop more comprehensive release plans in several particularly challenging cases, and successfully secured the release of their clients in all three cases. The Clinic also continues to pursue post-conviction relief on behalf of immigrants facing deportation (or exclusion from immigration benefits) as a result of past contact with the criminal legal system.
Intellectual Property, Arts, and Technology
Clinic Director: Jack Lerner
Adjunct Clinical Professors: Susan Seager and Christina Gagnier

In June, the Intellectual Property, Arts, and Technology (IPAT) Clinic released "Rap on Trial: A Legal Guide for Attorneys," to help protect artists from having their lyrics used against them in court. Prosecutors frequently use rap lyrics to get convictions, relying on stereotypes and misconceptions about rap music to sell a racialized conception of the case to judges and juries. The guide serves as a comprehensive resource for attorneys dealing with rap lyrics in criminal proceedings and includes, among other things, a summary of legal grounds for challenging the introduction of rap lyrics at trial. Along with the guide, the Clinic compiled a collection of cases involving rap lyrics and a set of tools such as court briefs. Since its release, the guide has been shared and downloaded by hundreds and has already been used in court.
Meanwhile, students in the IPAT Clinic’s Press Freedom and Transparency practice are mounting a multi-front legal battle to hold police accountable for wrongful arrests of reporters and to unseal records to shed light on misconduct by police, prosecutors, and child welfare workers. This fall, students filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of photojournalist Pablo Unzueta in Los Angeles alleging that the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department violated the journalist’s First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights as well as state and federal reporter shield laws when they arrested him after he peacefully filmed deputies shutting down an anti-police brutality street protest. Deputies jailed him for allegedly failing to disperse from an unlawful assembly—even though he was six blocks away from the already dispersed protest—confiscating his cell phone for three months and "losing" his camera memory card containing two years of his work.
Photo: Cover image of "Rap on Trial: A Legal Guide for Attorneys."
International Justice
Clinic Director: David Kaye
Clinical Fellow: Sofia Jaramillo Otoya
Adjunct Clinical Professor: Mary Hansel

The International Justice Clinic (IJC) focuses on freedom of expression worldwide, online and offline, while also pursuing work under the umbrella of “human rights at home.” The Clinic’s overarching mission is to give students the tools to become effective and confident human rights lawyers. From 2014 to 2020, the Clinic supported the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion and Expression, held by Clinic Director David Kaye, and IJC continues to conduct research and advocacy in that space. The Clinic has expanded its remit in recent years to consider not only government obligations but also the responsibility of corporate actors to respect human rights.
Among the projects IJC has pursued over the past year has been an initiative to monitor the work of the Facebook Oversight Board. The Clinic published an interim report in 2020 that explored the ways in which the Oversight Board can do a better job integrating fundamental human rights protections for users and the public. IJC students continue to monitor the Oversight Board and address the broader issue of human rights-compliant regulation of the internet ecosystem. The Clinic is currently working on a major new Treaty Body Litigation Project, developing cases to bring before the eight global human rights treaty mechanisms. IJC is also taking on several projects to constrain the private surveillance industry, preparing amicus filings for cases in national courts, and developing policy proposals in export control and national law. Finally, IJC continues to work to expand the availability of human rights tools for domestic advocacy. Presently, it is developing a project to build support for a National Human Rights Institution in the United States.
Ninth Circuit Appellate Litigation Clinic
Clinic Directors: Peter Afrasiabi and Kathryn Davis
Adjunct Clinical Professors: Kathryn Eidmann and Michael Seplow

Two students in the Ninth Circuit Appellate Litigation Clinic (ALC) have been representing a refugee who was trafficked as a sex worker around the world and across the United States. The client provided grand jury testimony to break up the sex trafficking ring, but was then denied asylum due to her involvement with the organization. Other students in the Clinic are currently involved in litigation of immigration appeals and prisoner civil rights appeals.
ALC students have been arguing their appeals via video technology (such as Zoom) in the age of COVID-19 and have learned how to pivot their presentation and advocacy styles to use this new form of exchange with courts. As part of the advocacy skills curriculum taught in the Clinic, students have found ways to take advantage of the benefits of using new technology and have learned to overcome challenges associated with arguing by video. 
Workers, Law, and Organizing Clinic
Clinic Director: Sameer Ashar
Adjunct Clinical Professor: Amelia Alvarez

The Workers, Law, and Organizing Clinic (WLO) launched this fall with a focus on organizing among essential workers forced to work under unsafe conditions during the pandemic. Clinic teams are currently working with an array of clients, including: day laborers at three sites in Southern California through the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and in Orange County through Colectivo Tonantzin; rideshare drivers in the state through Rideshare Drivers United; food processing workers in the Central Valley of California through the United Farm Workers; hospitality workers at the Los Angeles International Airport through UNITE HERE Local 11; meat packing workers in Los Angeles through UFCW Local 770; and worker cooperatives in Orange County through Cooperacion Santa Ana.
WLO aims to expand its network of union and non-union partners in future semesters and to work across multiple segments of the low-wage sector in Southern California. The Clinic’s pedagogical agenda is a work in progress. The knowledge and justice arcs of learning in the Clinic seminar (as differentiated from its skills arc) are animated by a focus on the implications and impacts of racial capitalism on conditions for low-wage workers and on potential openings for collective action. WLO is privileged to work with talented and creative organizers and lawyers in the field and to be supported by employment litigation expert and UCI Law graduate Amelia Alvarez '15. 
UCI Law Elective Clinics
In addition to UCI Law's 11 core clinics, the Law School also offers several elective clinics for second- and third-year students:

UCI Law Externships
Director of Externships: D'lorah Hughes

UCI Law’s robust externship program is a vital part of the UCI Law Experiential Learning Program. In addition to our partnerships with more than 300 judges, nonprofits and government agencies around the world, UCI Law's program encourages students to create their own placements, building on and applying the knowledge they have gained in their substantive coursework. With part-time opportunities offered every semester (including summer) and full-time opportunities available in the academic year, the externship program at UCI Law can support every student’s learning and career goals.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, externs in the program demonstrated commitment to seeking justice in their communities and furthering their legal education, working more than 40,000 hours on behalf of their field placements. UCI Law externs demonstrated strong leadership and advocacy skills in support of lawyers across all fields of practice, whether fighting on behalf of those who are housing insecure, advocating on behalf of incarcerated people across California or working to increase access to justice during a time of crisis. This fall, UCI Law students in the UCDC Law Program, a full-semester externship program in Washington, D.C., are working at the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, National Center for Youth Law and the Department of Justice Fraud Section.

2021 also brought UCI Law’s first Outstanding Externship Student Award, bestowed by the Clinical Legal Education Association to Carson Capps '21 for his work with the nonprofit Orange County Coastkeeper.
Photo: Carson Capps '21, CLEA Outstanding Externship Student Award recipient.
Photo: UCI Law students Bowen Cochran, Nico Jaffe and Sydney Martin together at a coffee shop in Washington, D.C. while participating in the UCDC Law Program.
UCI Law Pro Bono
Director of Public Interest Programs: Anna Davis

UCI Law students are changing the world through pro bono service and leadership. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, UCI Law students volunteered to help support and protect people experiencing homelessness, immigrants, children in foster care, incarcerated people, Black Lives Matter activists and many more individuals. Today, UCI Law students continue their tradition of serving those most in need, maintaining ongoing collaborations with law firms and legal service providers across the nation and around the world.

Last academic year, UCI Law students contributed more than 15,000 pro bono hours. Since the Law School opened its doors in 2009, 93 percent of UCI Law J.D. students have participated in pro bono activities. To date, UCI Law J.D. students contributed more than 125,000 pro bono hours.
Photo: Graphic displaying pro bono statistics.
UCI Law Experiential Education Administration
Co-Associate Dean for Experiential Education: Annie Lai
Co-Associate Dean for Experiential Education: Michael Robinson-Dorn
Director of Externships: D'lorah Hughes
Director of Public Interest Programs: Anna Davis
Experiential Learning Programs Coordinator: Jocelyn Campino
Clinics Administrative Director: Debi Gloria
Law Clinics Coordinator: Czarina Ellingson