David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy Newsletter

Fall 2015

Ingrid Eagly Appointed Faculty Director of the Epstein Program

Professor Ingrid Eagly has been appointed the faculty director of the David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy. A member of the UCLA Law faculty since 2008, her primary research and teaching interests include immigration law, criminal adjudication, evidence and public interest lawyering. Professor Eagly has authored two recent articles based on new data related to immigration courts and the representation of immigrants. “A National Study of Access to Counsel in Immigration Court,” 164 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 1, is the first national study of access to counsel in immigration courts and is based on an analysis by Professor Eagly and then Epstein Program student Steven Shafer ’15 of more than 1.2 million immigration cases decided between 2007 and 2012. “Remote Adjudication in Immigration,” 109 Northwestern University Law Review 933, is the first empirical study of the use of televideo technology to adjudicate immigration court cases over a television screen, rather than in a traditional, in-person courtroom. This summer, Professor Eagly also accompanied Epstein Program students Rocío Sánchez ’16, Sonia Gutiérrez ’16 and Jana Whalley ’17 on a week-long trip to Dilley, Texas, to provide volunteer legal assistance to female asylum seekers and their children incarcerated in the South Texas Family Residential Center—the nation’s largest immigrant detention facility. Working as part of the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project, they assisted women and children fleeing violence and persecution in Central America and Mexico in their credible-fear asylum interviews and bond hearings. Read more from Professor Eagly and the students in the “Dispatches from Dilley.”

Scott Cummings Named Inaugural Robert Henigson Professor of Legal Ethics

Professor Scott Cummings, who previously served as faculty director of the Epstein Program, has been named the Robert Henigson Professor of Legal Ethics in recognition of his contributions to our understanding of legal ethics and the legal profession. The endowed chair was recently established by Meyer Luskin, president and CEO of Scope Industries, in honor of his friend and attorney, Robert Henigson. Professor Cummings, who teaches and writes about the legal profession, public interest law and community economic development, is co-author of the first public interest law textbook, Public Interest Lawyering: A Contemporary Perspective (with Alan Chen) (Wolters Kluwer, 2012), and co-editor of a leading legal profession casebook, Legal Ethics (with Deborah Rhode and David Luban) (6th ed. Foundation Press, 2012).

Epstein Program Fall Speaker Series Features Criminal Justice Innovators

The Epstein Program hosted a new series of public programs and smaller discussions this fall with criminal justice innovators, leading advocates and practitioners who spoke about a variety of issues affecting the U.S. criminal justice system. Speakers included Joshua Perry, executive director of the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights, who spoke about reforming the juvenile justice system; Jonathan Rapping, president and founder of Gideon’s Promise, who talked about ensuring “justice” in the criminal justice system; and Robin Steinberg, founder and executive director of The Bronx Defenders, who discussed the growing community defender movement. The Epstein Program will welcome additional speakers this coming spring semester.

Prison Law and Policy Program Events Address Critical Issues Affecting California Prisons

The Prison Law and Policy Program, an initiative of the Epstein Program launched last year and led by Professor Sharon Dolovich, hosted two talks on critical issues affecting California prisons this fall semester. Terri McDonald, assistant sheriff of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, presented “From the California Prisons to the LA County Jail: Jail Reform Post-Realignment.” She shared her thoughts on the state of realignment, the process of diverting would-be state prisoners to county jails, and its impact thus far. In November, Keith Wattley, managing attorney at UnCommon Law, spoke about the growth in the number of life sentences, as well as changes in the way some of these sentences are being administered in California, particularly for those sentenced as juveniles. The program also hosted a UCI Criminology/UCLA Prison Law and Policy faculty roundtable discussion and will host additional events in the spring. Spring semester speakers will address other aspects of the contemporary experience of criminal punishment in the United States.

New Postgraduate Fellowship Initiatives Launch

Epstein Program faculty and staff were instrumental in the establishment of a number of new postgraduate fellowship programs, which are intended to provide graduating students entry-level public service employment for a finite term of one or two years. These new fellowships include:

UCLA School of Law Gideon Fellowship: UCLA School of Law was the first law school in the country to establish this unique fellowship in partnership with Gideon’s Promise and public defender offices primarily throughout the South. The inaugural Fellow was Arienna Grody, Epstein Program class of 2014, who now continues her tenure with the Jefferson County Public Defender’s Office in Birmingham, Alabama as a staff attorney.   

UCLA School of Law – Tolchin Immigration Law Fellowship: Stacy Tolchin ’01, an alumna of the Epstein Program and the founder of a private law practice focusing on complex immigration cases, partnered with the law school to establish a two-year immigration law postgraduate fellowship with her firm. The inaugural fellow is Susan Lopez, Epstein Program class of 2015.   

UCLA School of Law – Bet Tzedek Elder Abuse Law Fellow:  Supported by cy pres funds, this fellowship enables a UCLA Law graduate to engage in legal work that supports Bet Tzedek’s efforts to address financial elder abuse. The inaugural fellow is Dani Kaiserman, Epstein Program class of 2015.

UCLA School of Law – Planned Parenthood Federal of America Fellowship (PPFA): This two-year fellowship with PPFA’s Office of General Counsel  will enable a UCLA Law graduate to engage in legal work that supports Planned Parenthood’s efforts to protect and advance women’s right to quality health care generally and reproductive health care more specifically. The inaugural fellow will be selected this coming spring semester.

Recent Epstein Program Student Engagement and Honors

Throughout the past year, Epstein Program students volunteered, externed and served as summer law clerks with an array of public interest organizations, government agencies, private public interest law firms and NGOs across the country and abroad.  Students engaged in direct service work, litigation, community education and organizing, transactional work and policy advocacy across a range of issue areas. As but a few examples of the work engaged in by and honors awarded to our students:

Carlos Almendarez ’17, Delvin Turner ’17 and Vivian Wong ’17 were among six UCLA School of Law students to receive 2014 California Bar Foundation Diversity Scholarships.

Ben Kowalczyk ’17 was awarded a Peggy Browning Fund Fellowship to support his summer work at Gilbert & Sackman, a union-side law firm in Los Angeles. 

Han Lu ’16 was one of five local law students to receive a Beverly Hills Bar Foundation Scholarship, which is awarded based on academic merit and public service commitment. 

Kelly Orians ’15 and Rica Garcia ’16, students in UCLA Law’s Community Economic Development Clinic, researched construction cooperatives and considerations of entity structure, licensing and financing, and possible incubator structures that could help cooperatives improve economic security for undocumented workers and/or workers with a conviction history. They presented their findings in April during a workshop at the UCLA Downtown Labor Center.

Jasmine Phillips ’15 was selected by the UCLA Center for the Study of Women to receive the Paula Stone Dissertation Fellowship. The prize rewards excellence in research focusing on women and the law with preference given to research on women in the criminal justice and legal systems. Jasmine’s research interests focus on the intersections of race, gender and incarceration in a domestic and global context.

Vivian Wong ’17 also was recently appointed to the Board of Directors of Equal Justice Works, a national leader in creating public interest opportunities for law students and lawyers.  Vivian joins leaders from every corner of the law profession who are united by a single mission: to create a just society by mobilizing the next generation of lawyers committed to equal justice.

Pui-Yee Yu ’15 was one of the co-authors of a report, issued by UCLA Law’s Criminal Defense Clinic, outlining key reforms that the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office should take to reduce the over-criminalization of low-income sidewalk vendors.

Epstein Program Alumni Continue to Impact Their Communities

Joining the more than 450 Epstein Program alumni, Epstein Program Class of 2015 graduates are working in a variety of public service capacities throughout the country.  A number are recipients of prestigious and nationally competitive postgraduate public interest fellowships, others are recipients of UCLA School of Law-supported postgraduate fellowships, and still others are serving as judicial clerks in state appellate, federal district and circuit courts. Through their work, Epstein Program alumni continue to make a significant impact in their respective communities.

David Ambroz ’05, Executive Director of Corporate Citizenship & Social Responsibility for Disney | ABC Television Group, was one of twelve former foster youth honored earlier this year by the White House as “Champions of Change” who are making a difference in their communities.

Caliph Assagai ’12, President of Public Interest Advocacy, has been selected as one of the Sacramento Business Journal’s 2015 “40 Under 40” leaders.

Jordan Cunnings ’14 recently completed her clerkship with the Honorable Jacqueline Nguyen, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and began her Equal Justice Works Fellowship with Public Counsel’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

A number of alumni recently ascended to leadership positions in organizations across the country. Joining other colleagues, new Epstein Program executive directors and presidents include Cara Dessert ’12, Executive Director, Immigration Equality (New York); Guillermo Mayer ’04, President & CEO, Public Advocates (San Francisco); and Christopher Punongbayan ’04, Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus (San Francisco). 
Tasha Hill ’14 recently completed her clerkship with the Honorable Douglas F. McCormick, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Southern Division, and began her Berkeley Law Foundation Fellowship as the new LGBTQ Rights Fellow/Staff Attorney with the ACLU of Southern California’s LGBTQ, Gender & Reproductive Justice Project.

Kelly Orians ’15 and Calvin Duncan, who together founded RisingFoundations, were awarded an echoing green fellowship based on their idea to stop the cycle of incarceration affecting primarily black men in New Orleans through access to homeownership, gainful and stable self-employment, and financial services. 

Joshua Piovia-Scott ’02, a partner at Hadsell Stormer & Renick LLP, and his co-counsel recently obtained a $5.3 million settlement from Los Angeles County for the fatal shooting of Jose De La Trinidad in 2012. Read the Los Angeles Times story about the settlement.

Maria Ignacia Rodriguez ’13, an Equal Justice Works Fellow at the National Immigration Law Center, penned an insightful piece on the third anniversary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) for The Hill.

Heather Zakson ’02, whose law practice focuses on special education and disability law, as well as mediation and dispute resolution, received Learning Rights Law Center’s Breaking Education Barriers Award at its annual gala in September.

Theresa Zhen ’14, a Skadden Fellow at A New Way of Life, was featured on KCRW for her work and a recent report she co-authored highlighting the pervasive problems of traffic-related fines, fees and driver’s license suspensions in California.

Recent Scholarship, Engagement and Epstein Program Faculty News

The Epstein Program faculty continues to publish, speak at public and academic conferences, appear in the media, and engage in significant public service efforts and initiatives. Select recent faculty endeavors and awards include:

Tendayi Achiume was appointed co-chair of the American Society of International Law (ASIL) 2016 Annual Meeting Program Committee. In November, she participated in a closed expert workshop on xenophobia hosted by the United Nations special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism. Her forthcoming article, “Syria and the Responsibility to Protect Refugees,” will be published in 100 Minnesota Law Review (2015).

Asli Bâli was a co-organizer of the 2015 Armenian Genocide Centennial Commemoration in Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey and presented “International Interventions:  Re-evaluating the Role of the United Nations in Syria” at the Middle East Legal Studies Seminar at Yale Law School. She was also appointed advisory committee co-chair of the Human Rights Watch – Middle East and North Africa Division.

Beth Colgan moderated the debate “Solitary Confinement Should Be Abolished” at the Stanford Law School Symposium on “Secrecy and Transparency in the Criminal Justice System” and was a respondent at the UCLA Law Review Spring Scholar Forum on “Prison Abolition and Preventive Justice.” Her research was cited in the Court of Appeal of the State of California, First Appellate District, Division Two opinion in People v. Elias V., which was released in June.

Scott Cummings has published “Preemptive Strike: Law in the Campaign for Clean Trucks,” 4 UC Irvine Law Review 939 (2015). A 2010 study that he co-authored on the professionalization of pro bono programs in large firms and the challenges they face was recently cited by Crain’s Chicago Business.

Sharon Dolovich commented on “The Point of Mens Rea: The Case of Willful Ignorance” at a Yale Law School Criminal Justice Roundtable and spoke on “Are Natural Life Sentences ‘Cruel and Unusual Punishment’?” at the Roundtable on Life Imprisonment and Human Rights, sponsored by the International Institute of Sociology of Law in Oñati, Spain. She recently commented on criminal justice reform in a New York Times article.

Ingrid Eagly moderated the American Bar Association panel discussion, “Family Detention at a Crossroads: Will the U.S. Government Persist or Desist?,” in September. She was recently quoted in USA Today on a case in which an L.A. Kings hockey player, a Russian citizen, was taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement after serving a misdemeanor sentence for domestic abuse.

Cara Horowitz, Andrew Sabin Family Foundation Co-Executive Director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, and Epstein Program alumna, testified in November at a hearing of California State Senator Fran Pavley’s Select Senate Committee on climate change and the implementation the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. She, and a group of students, participated in the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, held in Paris, France this month.

Hiroshi Motomura’s most recent book, Immigration Outside the Law, won the Association of American Publishers 2015 Professional and Scholarly Publishing Excellence (PROSE) Award for the best book of 2014 in Law & Legal Studies. During the past year, he gave numerous talks throughout the country on the book, including at the Association of Asian American Studies Annual Conference, the Center for Migration Studies and at law schools including Harvard and Stanford. He commented on birthright citizenship in a number of leading media outlets, including CNN, The Washington Post and CBS News.

Jyoti Nanda was a lead panelist on “Is there Room for Racial Justice, Truth and Equality in the New Normal?” at the 2015 AALS Clinical Conference and recently served as a panelist in the day-long conference, “Advancing Equity for Women and Girls of Color:  A Research Agenda for the Next Decade,” co-hosted by the Anna Julia Cooper Center at Wake Forest University and the White House Council on Women and Girls. She also delivered the keynote address “Overpoliced & Underprotected: Girls of Color in the Juvenile Justice System” at Humboldt State University.

Joanna Schwartz was selected as a recipient of UCLA’s Distinguished Teaching Award, which represents the highest level of attainment of academic and professional excellence at UCLA and honors individuals who bring integrity and innovation to the art of teaching. Her research on the cost of police misconduct was featured in a Salon article and she is cited in a Wall Street Journal article on the topic.

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