Clinical Law Program, Fall Newsletter
Stay informed about the latest updates and successes from UW Law's Clinical Law Program, which provides students with real-world legal experience assisting clients and communities.
Civil Rights and Justice Clinic
The Civil Rights and Justice Clinic (CRJC) received a 94-page decision upholding last year's verdict in Ohio, in which Clinic Director David B. Owens, working with CRJC students and attorneys from Loevy & Loevy, won a federal jury verdict of $45 million for their wrongfully convicted client, Mr. Dean Gillispie. Read more about this case, which resulted in one of Ohio's largest ever civil rights awards in this article on CRJC Victories.
As an issue of first impression, the Civil Rights and Justice Clinic received a ruling from the Washington Court of Appeals, Division 1, under the Wrongly Convicted Person's Act. Two students attended the argument, having worked on the case both as 2Ls and as 3Ls. For Clinic Director David B. Owens, this case was the latest of many in a career dedicated to seeking justice for the wrongfully convicted.
Tribal Court Clinic: Criminal Defense and Family Advocacy
Following an emergency briefing and hearing on July 13, 2023, Tribal Court Clinic attorneys secured an order for immediate return of their client to the local jurisdiction. The client had been extrajudicially transferred to the Washington State Department of Corrections’ (DOC) custody, without notice to counsel of record, the Tribal Court Clinic. The extrajudicial transfer occurred despite a standing court order denying transfer to DOC, as well as a pending appeal asking the Court to halt a proposed alternate transfer to the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). Upon the client’s return, Tribal prosecutors abandoned efforts to change custody status and voluntarily abandoned the defense of the transfer on appeal, thereby providing a victory for the Tribal Clinic client.
Federal Tax Clinic
In 2023, the Federal Tax Clinic closed cases in which they helped taxpayers decrease their tax liabilities by $4,159,508. The Clinic also conducted two outreach and six educational activities, reaching out to over 225 taxpayers. Their educational activities and consultations guided taxpayers in resolving their tax controversies with the IRS.
Additionally, the Federal Tax Clinic participated in a four-day Afghan Support Center event, together with various governmental agencies and service providers. Several clinic faculty, students, and volunteer attorneys attended throughout the week to provide legal advice to this vulnerable and underserved community.
John Clynch, who previously served as managing director of the Clinic from 2012 to 2021, returned as a staff attorney in August. The Clinic is delighted to have John back as part of the Tax Clinic team.
Immigration Law Clinic
The Immigration Law Clinic Director, Georgina Olazcon Mozo, in partnership with Columbia Legal Services, United Farm Workers of America (UFW), Gonzaga Law, SAI Justice, and undergraduate students, organized two community legal clinics for mushroom farmworkers in Sunnyside, Washington.
These farmworkers had participated in an investigation and litigation against their employer for labor rights violations. These legal clinics aimed to screen workers for eligibility for labor-based deferred action and other forms of immigration relief. Roughly 180 workers were screened, with approximately 80 workers receiving assistance with preparation and submission of their applications for deferred action.
These clinics drew national attention, prompting other law schools to ask Georgina for her model to replicate in their own communities. Georgina was also recently interviewed about this clinic by Spanish-language television network Univision.
Learn more about Georgina and her leadership of the Immigration Law Clinic.
The Mediation Clinic hosted a highly successful 40-hour Professional Mediation Skills Training for students and the community on October 6, 7, 8, 14 and 15.
To serve low-income individuals residing in Seattle Housing Authority units or receiving housing choice vouchers, Mediation Clinic students and faculty designed an interdisciplinary conflict resolution services (CRS) project that is now in its first year of implementation. This project is a collaboration between UW School of Law, Seattle Housing Authority, and two local non-profits: King County Dispute Resolution Center and Housing Connector.
UW Law Professor Christine Cimini, Associate Professor Gregg Colburn from UW’s College of Built Environments, and Ph.D. candidate Ellie Terry from UW’s Evans School of Public Policy are actively evaluating the CRS project’s implementation.
Regulatory Environmental Law & Policy Clinic
In the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the Regulatory Environmental Law & Policy Clinic filed a complaint in June against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to carry out mandatory duties under the Noise Control Act.
The complaint alleges that the EPA has ignored Congressional commands under the Act since 1982 and, in doing so, turned its back on an entire category of public health harms. The complaint was filed on behalf of a long-time clinic client, Quiet Communities Inc., which dedicates itself to supporting communities and their members suffering from excessive exposure to noise.
Ninth Circuit Pro Bono Appellate Advocacy Clinic
Last year, 3L students H.R. Fitzmorris and Hannah Garland represented Cole Spencer in a Ninth Circuit appeal of a Section 1983 suit against multiple police officers. During oral argument in Phoenix, the students persuasively argued that the defendants acted unconstitutionally when they beat, tased, and knelt on Spencer, an unarmed passenger in a traffic stop. A decision in the case is pending. Learn more about the Appellate Advocacy Clinic.
Tools for Social Change: Race and Justice Clinic
Tools for Social Change: Race and Justice Clinic client Asaria Miller finally had her day in court. After a 2022 win for Asaria in the Court of Appeals, a court reviewed her sentence for a serious crime she participated in at the age of 17. This time considering her youthfulness when imposing punishment, the court returned a sentence that was less than half of the “standard range sentence” Asaria had previously received. She will enter work release soon and will be free a short time thereafter.
Asaria was represented in court by Rose Boughton (Race and Justice Clinic Alum, 2020) and Professor David Owens, director of the Civil Rights and Justice Clinic, who covered the case while Race and Justice Clinic director Kim Ambrose was on sabbatical. Since 2017, almost a dozen clinic students have worked on her case, and many former and current students attended the hearing to support her.