Bronfein Family Law Clinic Fellow Shanta Trivedi contributed an op-ed to today’s Baltimore Sun that advocates against a proposed state bill that would criminally penalize “mandatory reporters” who fail to report suspected child abuse or neglect. Bills in the Maryland House and Senate propose criminal penalties for certain professionals – including teachers, counselors, social workers and […]
On February 13 and 15, 2018, students from the Bronfein Family Law Clinic, as part of the Reproductive Justice Inside Coalition, submitted written testimony and gave oral testimony in front of the Senate and then House on SB 598 and HB 797. These bills would require correctional facilities in Maryland to provide menstrual hygiene products to female inmates for free. Also on February 15, students submitted written testimony and testified in front of the House on HB 787, which would require all correctional facilities to have written policies related to reproductive health care for pregnant inmates. Both bills have since passed in Committee!
Karilyn Lee |Rule 19-217 Student Attorney, Juvenile Justice Project
Representing clients serving life sentences for crimes committed as children has taught me to be an advocate who thinks outside of the box. When I enrolled in the Juvenile Justice Project in August, 2017, my first client was in the process of preparing for a parole hearing. However, instead of just relying on the usual evidence of mitigation and rehabilitation, the prior Student Attorney and Professor Jane Murphy decided to reach out to our client’s sentencing judge from 27 years ago. Thinking the judge might have changed her views on the wisdom of sentencing children to die in prison, they asked if she might be willing to write a letter supporting our client’s parole. Much to their surprise, this judge, now a senior Court of Appeals judge, agreed to meet with our client in prison and bring along the prosecuting and defense attorneys from his 1992 trial. A substantial part of my first semester on the case was spent preparing our client for that meeting and tracking down all documents requested by the sentencing judge.
After months of preparation, the meeting finally took place at in January, 2018. I think I might have been more nervous than my client was. However, I knew my client was prepared and hoped that the judge and lawyers would be moved by his growth and rehabilitation.
On the day of the meeting, the prison was abuzz; no one—the lawyers, corrections officers, and prisoners–had ever seen a meeting like this happen before. In fact, the staff took special care to get the room ready. When my client was escorted into the room, the emotion showed on his face. This meeting was something he had only dreamed about. He had always wanted an opportunity to meet his sentencing judge again and to express his sorrow, in a way that he couldn’t when he was a child. He also wanted to demonstrate the ways he had changed and grown since the prosecutor, defense lawyer and judge had last seen him as a small, scared teenager being sentenced to life in prison nearly 30 years ago. And that moment had finally come. Over a two-hour visit, he spoke beautifully, and his growth was obvious through his words and actions. The judge and lawyers asked tough questions but, in the end, complimented him on his remarkable progress since his incarceration and told him to keep up the good work.
On that day, my client felt a sense of relief and peace that he had never felt before. He told me later that, even if nothing came from that meeting, he was grateful because the impossible had happened – the sentencing judge and attorneys had come to visit him, which was unprecedented. The judge and former prosecutor both described the meeting as “transformational.” The judge had sent many people, including children like our client, to this adult prison over her many years presiding at criminal trials and appeals. But this was her first visit to the prison and the only time she had ever heard, first hand, what it was like for child to grow up behind bars and find growth and maturity despite the brutal conditions and hopelessness inherent in serving a life sentence in Maryland. For me, it was a powerful lesson that advocacy, justice and redemption can take many forms and happen in the most unlikely places.
Juvenile Justice Project student-attorney Karilynn Lee testified yesterday before Maryland’s House Judiciary Committee in support of legislation to reform the parole process. House Bill 846 would remove the governor from the parole process for individuals serving life terms. While the U.S. Supreme Court, in Montgomery v. Louisiana, held in 2016 that people who committed crimes […]
The University of Baltimore Students for Public Interest (UBSPI) holds an annual auction that raises money for stipends to help UB law students working for public-interest organizations over the summer. Last year, the auction raised enough to cover 14 stipends.
As the 24th Annual Public Interest Gala & Auction approaches, we will share testimonials from students who have benefited from the generosity of UBSPI donors.
Every donation to UBSPI supports not just our students but also the important work they do to advance social justice in the Baltimore region.
Harry Snoots, 2L
Mid-Shore Pro Bono (MSPB)
“While working with Mid-Shore Pro Bono (MSPB), I was able to interact with clients who needed help in areas such as elder law, consumer protection, foreclosure prevention…
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The University of Baltimore School of Law, with the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS) and the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, will offer a free program on Saturday, March 3 to help Marylanders who make less than $14.50 an hour and owe back taxes.
The “Offer in Compromise” program allows taxpayers to offer the Internal Revenue Service an amount they can afford to pay in exchange for the IRS’s dropping the amount owed in back taxes. The amount actually paid is decided based on each individual’s financial situation, as well as on other circumstances, according to an article in The Daily Record.
John Snyder III, the director of UB’s Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic, and the director of the University of Maryland’s tax clinic will give a joint presentation to the taxpayers before student-attorneys from the two law schools meet with taxpayers individually.
Attendees must register in…
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From left: 3L Jasmine Pope and her client Bessy.
Jasmine Pope, a 3L, published a post in the ImmigrationProf blog about her experience last semester representing Bessy, a transgender woman from El Salvador.
At first, Pope said, she was nervous about whether Bessy would like her and consider her a competent advocate. But Pope said she also began with the determination to do her best by her client, “a woman I had yet to meet, whose story I had yet to fully understand.”
As Pope got to know Bessy and delved deeper into her case, she said, she became afraid of what could happen: “The more confident I became in my knowledge of Bessy and asylum law, the more terrified I became that no matter how hard I worked and how deserving I believed my client to be, the system could work against us.”
Pope said her clinic…
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