Opinion: After Exoneration, Apologies From Government Are Simply Not Enough; Compensation is Needed

UPDATES/University of Baltimore School of Law

There was much rejoicing last month when Clarence Shipley Jr., 47, was completely cleared of all criminal charges in a Baltimore city courtroom after serving 27 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. The exoneration was the result of investigative work by UB School of Law’s Innocence Project Clinic and the State’s Attorney’s Office Conviction Integrity Unit.

Clarence Shipley Jr. and his attorney, Michele Nethercott, of the University of Baltimore School of Law.
Clarence Shipley Jr. and his attorney, Michele Nethercott, of the UB School of Law Innocence Project Clinic.

But as Brianna Ford, Innocence Project clinical teaching fellow and staff attorney, wrote in a Jan. 4 Baltimore Sun op-ed, “The state can do nothing to make up for the 27-year gap in his work experience as he is now faced with finding a job. Struggling to meet basic needs is not a burden that exonerees and their families should shoulder after already having endured decades of wrongful imprisonment.

“The…

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UB LITC Student Attorneys Heading to IRS Chief Counsel, Washington, DC

The University of Baltimore Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic is pleased to announce that two of its student attorneys have secured full-time attorney positions with the Internal Revenue Service’s National Office of Chief Counsel in Washington, D.C. to begin in the fall of 2019.

Dominic DiMattia (J.D. anticipated May 2019) and Hayley Hassan (J.D. anticipated May 2019) were accepted under the Office of Chief Counsel’s Attorney Honors Program.  This rigorous and competitive program is the sole channel for hiring by the IRS’s National Office of Chief Counsel, which provides legal support the IRS nationwide.  As attorneys in that office’s Income Tax and Accounting Division, they will gain and apply expertise in a wide array of substantive tax areas and help implement and set IRS legal policy.

Mr. DiMattia served as a UB LITC student attorney in the spring and fall 2018 semesters, while Ms. Hassan served in the fall 2018 semester and was invited to return in the spring of 2019.  As student attorneys, Mr. DiMattia and Ms. Hassan handled a wide variety of federal tax controversies, including collection matters, administrative disputes before the IRS, and litigation in various federal courts.  In the fall 2018 semester alone, Mr. DiMattia prepared for trial and settled a factually complex matter in U.S. Tax Court, while Ms. Hassan litigated a U.S. District Court tax refund suit raising novel legal issues.

Mr. DiMattia said, “I attribute a big part of landing a job at the IRS to the Tax Clinic. Clinic was the place in law school where I learned the practical skills necessary to practice tax law.  It allowed me to meaningfully contribute to the agency through my work.”

The IRS Honors Program is highly selective and draws applicants from law schools nationwide.  Attorneys chosen for this honor often go on to successful careers in tax law both within and outside the government.  Professor Snyder and the entire University of Baltimore LITC congratulate Mr. DiMattia and Ms. Hassan on achieving these coveted positions.

Professor Snyder Speaks at National Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic Conference

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On December 6, 2018, Jack Snyder of the University of Baltimore Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic took part in a panel at the annual Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic Conference in Washington, D.C.

Professor Snyder spoke on the topic of “Effective Tax Administration Offers in Compromise.”  Joining him on the panel was Professor Joshua Wease of the Michigan State LITC.

An Offer in Compromise allows a taxpayer to settle an outstanding tax debt with the IRS for less than the full amount due.  Most Offers are based on doubt as to collectability, a demonstration that the taxpayer lacks the assets or monthly income to pay the tax liability in full.  Effective Tax Administration (“ETA”) offers, on the other hand, allow taxpayers to settle a tax debt on the basis of general economic hardship or a variety of specific public policy reasons even if the taxpayer can otherwise afford to pay in full.

For example, as Prof. Snyder explained, many of the UB LITC’s clients have little or no net monthly income but are “asset-rich” due to retirement plan savings or equity in a home in Maryland’s high-value real estate market.  Such taxpayers need to preserve these assets in order to survive and cannot use them to pay down their tax liabilities.  In some cases, an ETA offer is the optimal tool to resolve such a taxpayer’s problem.

The panelists also discussed the rarer “public policy” ETA offers.  One public policy basis for an offer, Prof. Snyder noted, is when the tax liability arose due to the crime or fraud of a third party, such as a withdrawal from the taxpayer’s retirement plan at the behest of a “friend” who then absconds with the money.

The panelists cautioned that ETA offers can be difficult to obtain.  The IRS is less familiar with ETA offers than with other types.  The panelists encouraged representatives considering submitting such offers to the IRS to research the relevant facts and law extremely thoroughly and to be prepared to educate the IRS employee handling the matter.  Even then, success is not guaranteed.

The LITC Conference is presented annually by the LITC Program Office of the Taxpayer Advocate Service.  All directors of low-income taxpayer clinics nationwide attend the conference, where they share information on emerging issues and legal challenges faced by low-income taxpayers.

 

After 27 Years Behind Bars, Man is Exonerated of All Charges, Thanks to UB School of Law Innocence Project Clinic — UPDATES/University of Baltimore School of Law

Clarence Shipley Jr. is going to have a very special Christmas this year. That’s because on Dec. 18, after spending 27 years in prison — more than half of his life — he was exonerated on all charges against him and left the Baltimore city courthouse a free man. In front of a packed courtroom, Circuit […]

via After 27 Years Behind Bars, Man is Exonerated of All Charges, Thanks to UB School of Law Innocence Project Clinic — UPDATES/University of Baltimore School of Law

As His Second Term Begins, Gov. Hogan Faces Pressure to Give Juvenile Lifers Opportunities for Parole — UPDATES/University of Baltimore School of Law

There are an estimated 2,100 people in prison nationwide who were sentenced to life for crimes they committed when they were 17 or younger. States have begun to eliminate sentences of life without parole for juveniles. Others have implemented alternative sentencing programs to give juvenile offenders a “meaningful opportunity” for release. The changes were prompted by an […]

via As His Second Term Begins, Gov. Hogan Faces Pressure to Give Juvenile Lifers Opportunities for Parole — UPDATES/University of Baltimore School of Law

Bronfein Family Law Clinic Student-Attorneys Make Progress on Providing Dignity to Menstruating Inmates — UPDATES/University of Baltimore School of Law

Women are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. prison population. In Maryland, the female inmate population has more than tripled since 1978. Yet correctional facilities have fallen short in responding to the unique personal hygiene needs of this population –specifically, granting them free access to menstrual products. In a Dec. 9 post on Human […]

via Bronfein Family Law Clinic Student-Attorneys Make Progress on Providing Dignity to Menstruating Inmates — UPDATES/University of Baltimore School of Law

‘Ungers’ Study Provides Blueprint for Reform to Address Problem of Mass Incarceration

UPDATES/University of Baltimore School of Law

The American public is finally becoming aware of the problem of mass incarceration, but not enough is being done to address it. Reform efforts have focused on non-violent offenders, as UB School of Law Professor Jane Murphy wrote in a Dec. 3 Baltimore Sun op-ed.

“Over the past three decades, the number of people jailed in America has tripled to almost 2.3 million, more per capita than any other country in the world. The racial disparities in our criminal justice system are flagrant and well documented,” wrote Prof. Murphy, who directs the Juvenile Justice Project at the law school.

Most people serving long sentences should be considered for release, she wrote. “As I can attest from working with clients sentenced to life as children, many people convicted of violent crimes have been overcharged or wrongfully convicted. But — and this is crucial — even those who are guilty of…

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