Friday, August 29, 2008

Callbacks for Public Service -- 1 Callback = 1 EJF Hour

It's callback season and that means Callbacks for Public Service.

A Callback for Public Service (CPS) is a callback where you travel to a city, are offered a hotel room by a firm, and you choose to instead to stay with friends or family. Firms support public service work and EJF by donating to us the money they would have spent on your room. The firm gets a tax write-off, EJF gets a donation and if you're a recipient -- you get an hour of EJF volunteer credit! And if someone wants to do a CPS on your behalf (because they aren't a recipient or because they don't need the hour), that's fine too!

Here's a link to a list of firms who are participating (PDF).

Here's a link to the form you'll need to fill out to do a CPS (PDF).

Here's a link to a list of FAQ's about the CPS program.

And here's the EJF/CPS policy:

"EJF recipients will receive one hour of credit for doing a CPS. Recipients can get others to do a CPS in their name -- similar to One Day for Justice last year. There is no maximum number for the number of C'sPS one can get credit for -- a recipient could take care of all 7 of their hours and then give away hours to another recipient. In order to get credit, a recipient must email the EJF lawmail ( account with (1)their name, (2) date of the CPS, (3) name of the firm and (4) an affirmation that they submitted the form to the firm."

Thanks and good luck with your callbacks!

Callbacks for Public Service -- Frequently Asked Questions

What are Callbacks for Public Service (CPS)?

CPS is a program where students who have interviews with non-DC firms can help to raise money for EJF. Under this program, a student can stay with friends or family instead of in a hotel. The firm will then donate the money they would have spent on the hotel directly to EJF.

How do I know which firms participate?

Office of Career Services (OCS) has on their website the list of participating firms (PDF).

Callbacks at DC firms are not eligible for this program.

How do I set up the program?

Students should set up this program when they set up their interview for a callback. The school has already sent a letter to all non-DC firms about this program, so a student who is organizing this with their firms can mention the letter sent out by Georgetown's assistant dean.

What do I give to the firm when doing this program?

On the OCS website there is a short form (PDF) that students should give to firms. Firms will then submit this form to OCS.

How can a recipient get hours for this program?

EJF recipients will receive one hour of credit for doing each CPS. Recipients can also get others to do a CPS in their name. There is no maximum number for the number of C'sfPS one can get credit for -- a recipient could take care of all 7 of their hours and give away hours to another recipient.

How does a recipient get credit for each hour?

In order to get credit, a recipient must email the EJF lawmail account ( with (1)their name, (2) date of the CPS, (3) name of the firm and (4) an affirmation that they submitted the form to the firm.

Can non-EJF recipients participate without linking to an EJF recipient?

Of course!! We encourage every and all to participate. This program is a great way for to support EJF and public interest at Georgetown. We appreciate your support.

Will firms mind if I stay with friends instead of at a hotel?

Often firms will view it positively. You've helped raise money for charity and not cost the firm any money while demonstrating your strong connections with their community. And the firms get a tax write-off! Remember, the firms on the list have received a letter from OCS about the program’s details.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Environmental Law Institute

Your friendly blog-master, Kym Hunter, writes from Washington DC:

Working at the Environmental Law Institute this summer has been a wonderfully validating experience, showing me that I made the right decision in coming to law school. I loved my 1L year at Georgetown, but nonetheless there were times when I would sit in class and wonder how it was that this British, environmental scientist came to be sitting in class discussing search and seizure rights in the United States. This summer has allayed any former doubts I may have had and shown me just how enabling and empowering a legal education can be.

ELI is an independent, non-partisan education and policy research center located in Washington DC. A host of attorneys focus on a wide range of domestic and international environmental issues, resulting in a wonderfully varied work environment. During my time here I have co-authored a study on marine spatial management in Alaska, assisted in the development of new biodiversity laws for Grenada and St. Vincent, researched a range of issues and laws pertaining to offshore wind energy within the United States, written a memo on nanotechnology and much more besides. Not only have I had the opportunity to research and write about subjects I love this summer, but I have been able to see first hand how my legal education will help me better contribute to the environmental community. The summer has also been a tremendous education. A combination of ELI's summer seminar series and my own research activities have brought me into contact with most of the major environmental statutes and a number of interesting international and state approaches to environmental regulation.

As I plan to work in public interest for my foreseeable career Equal Justice Foundation assistance has been incredibly important this summer, allowing me to pursue my chosen path without being saddled by additional debt. The stipend also sends a clear signal that Georgetown values its public interest students - which is greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty

Luis Rodriguez writes from D.C.

As a Georgetown University graduate student in law and public policy, I have spent the last eight months as an intern for the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP). I feel that my time here has contributed to ending the criminalization of homelessness through human rights law and public policy, although there is still a good deal of work to do.

Many cities across the US have shown a trend of criminalizing life-sustaining activities, such as sleeping and eating, that people experiencing homelessness must perform in public places as a result of having nowhere else to go.

NLCHP uses a human rights framework in arguing against the criminalization of homelessness, which focuses on protecting the fundamental human dignity of people experiencing homelessness. During my time here, I had the opportunity to prepare a memo arguing that a city ordinance that limits sharing food with homeless individuals in public places violates the human right to food. This summer, human rights fellow Allison Garren and I wrote memos arguing that a city's various measures criminalizing homelessness violate various human rights. Our memos will be used in future NLCHP litigation.

In addition to violating human rights and constitutional law, the criminalization of homelessness is harmful to public policy, as these measures are not the most constructive methods for ending homelessness. I have also had the opportunity to write an article presenting constructive alternatives to the criminalization of homelessness, which will be published in the near future. This article is based on the premise that cities should stop inappropriately using the criminal law system to remove homeless individuals from public spaces and start implementing more constructive alternatives that address the root causes of homelessness and poverty, such as providing non-coercive outreach services that engage people experiencing homelessness by providing them with low-barrier permanent supportive housing without any strings attached.

My experience with NLCHP has given me great opportunities to make progress on these important issues. I would like to thank Georgetown Law's Equal Justice Foundation for funding my internship this summer and NLCHP for giving me this opportunity. I hope I can be part of NLCHP's work to end homelessness in the future.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

Jonathan Tucker writes about his experiences interning with the Housing Unit of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

This summer was a fantastic experience. Interning with the Housing Unit of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia gave me an opportunity to help some of the most vulnerable in DC. Those who are impoverished have needs for legal services beyond the average citizen. By extending legal services, one helps clients resolve legal problems and acquire a restored self-respect and dignity.

Many of the clients I saw at Legal Aid clients were desperate for help. They were often on the brink of homelessness. Many had been taken advantage of. One client came in complaining of becoming sick given her apartment’s conditions. She was asked, what was the code violation? She responded, "I have mushrooms growing out of my carpet." Helping such individuals improve their lives brings mutual joy. This summer’s experiences also gave me confidence that I can help individuals in meaningful ways.

Some may say that with more than 110,000 - nearly one in five - District residents living below the federal poverty line, the need for help creates an overwhelming challenge for legal services. Yet, it should be noted that the work performed by at the Legal Aid Society of DC extends far beyond their clients. Through briefing the courts and making convincing arguments in court, systemic improvements occur as judges are educated and previously erroneous assertions in the common law can be whittled away. The District is fairly progressive, but it’s common law presents opportunities to improve conditions for the poor. By researching varied topics, such the equitable defenses of laches and clean hands, elements of an oral tenancy, accord and satisfaction, to name just a few, I helped individual clients and laid the potential ground work for providing greater justice to others.

For others interested in pursuing legal services I would recommend DC Legal Aid. The organization is managed with the efficiency of any large firm. However, the personalities make the work fun and enjoyable. Those who work at DC Legal Aid are not their for a pay check. They love their work and their dedication to it is reflected in infinite ways. I have no regrets to having dedicated my 2L summer as I did.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

US Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia

Justin Murray writes from DC:

The Equal Justice Foundation enabled me to work with the U.S. Attorney's Office to help prosecute bad guys. "Bad guys," you might ask? "Isn't that a little childish and simplistic?" Actually, they were by and large a bad lot, and mostly guys to boot. I worked in the Federal Major Crimes section, which handles many different kinds of crime. But I want to focus on one category of crimes that our office thankfully makes a high priority: sexual exploitation of children.

A tragic fact is that the vast majority of sex crimes against children never get reported. The children know that something wrong has happened to them, but they cannot process the meaning of the event until they are older; even then, memories are often repressed; and the child may view the event partially as his/her own fault, shrouding the event further in shame and silence.

The explosion of internet usage and web-based pornography has created vast new opportunities for child predators, such as pedophile chat and e-mail groups to exchange child erotica and technological know-how, and the stalking and solicitation of children in chat rooms and social groups like MySpace.

These very same developments have also created opportunities for law enforcement. Previously, child sex crimes were generally state crimes and relied upon reporting of the crime by the child victim. But the vast interstate flow of child pornography and internet solicitation has constitutionally enabled Congress to pass federal laws, often with (much needed) mandatory minimum penalties. Rather than waiting for the next child victim, undercover officers can enter chat sessions, posing as fellow pedophiles or as teenagers, to identify and lock down would-be child predators. It was a joy to spend the summer working with the U.S. Attorney's Office to prosecute these "bad guys" before they irreparably harm a child.

World Health Organization

Hugh Carlson writes from Geneva where he is serving as an intern in the office of legal counsel for the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.

The work is diverse and interesting, and no two projects are the same. For example, my day yesterday began with my having to research legal issues surrounding the Georgian/Russian conflict, and ended with my drafting a brief pertaining to a dispute between the WHO and a member-state. I'm the only intern in my department, so I've taken on a lot of responsibility which has, in turn, made for a rewarding and memorable experience.

There is a palpable sense of community at the WHO. For example, the chief legal counsel (and also a GULC adjunct professor) will somehow find the time for afternoon espresso and conversation in spite of an exceedingly busy schedule. The intern network, being 160 strong during the summer, provides for a wonderful opportunity to meet people from throughout the world, many training to serve as doctors or lawyers (and sometimes both). The camaraderie is certainly strengthened from the shared experience of living without income in an extraordinarily expensive city, and in this respect I've been quite fortunate: without the EJF stipend I wouldn't have been able to afford living here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rebecca Project for Human Rights

Anna Carpenter shares her experiences:

This summer, I worked as a law clerk at the Rebecca Project for Human Rights (RPHR), a national legal and policy advocacy organization based in Washington, DC. RPHR works to promote policy reform, justice and dignity for vulnerable families. The organization works at the nexus of the child welfare, criminal justice, and substance abuse treatments systems that impact the lives of vulnerable families. RPHR works to address the pervasiveness of violence against women and girls, the draconian conditions that too often characterize maternal incarceration, and the dearth of access to health and healing for incarcerated mothers and their children—RPHR frames these issues in a human rights context.

I began working with RPHR during the spring semester, when I was enrolled in Professor Aiken's Motherhood and Criminality course. As part of that experiential learning class, I worked for RPHR and supported their work to send the shackling of pregnant incarcerated women. In the United States, most state and federal prisons engage in the horrible practice of shackling women during pregnancy and childbirth. Women are routinely shackled, with hard, heavy iron shackles, across their stomachs (including during transportation to the hospital while they are in labor), by their legs and by their wrists. Women are usually shackled to the hospital bed throughout
labor and childbirth. All of this, despite the presence of guards in the room and despite the fact that most incarcerated women are non-violent offenders.

This summer, I continued to work on the shackling issue by conducting national survey of state policies on shackling. I was also able to write an amicus brief for an 8th Circuit case where a civil rights claim was brought on behalf of a woman who was shackled in Arkansas. My time with RPHR has truly been gift in my personal and professional life. I respect and admire the staff and their approach to the work. I would encourage anyone seeking an amazing summer work experience to contact this inspiring organization.

Fire Arms Investigation Enforcement Unit

Christina Bostick writes from Baltimore,

There was never a quiet day in the Fire Arms Investigation Enforcement Unit (FIVE) at the Baltimore State's Attorney's Office. There are fifteen attorneys, four secretaries, six law clerks, and an infinite amount of witnesses and attorneys constantly moving in and out of the office. The work is glum, but spirits are high and there is always an interesting assignment to be conquered. At any given time three to five attorneys could be in trial at one time and I had the opportunity to watch all of them.

One of the most memorable cases assigned to FIVE never went to trial. A young man was shot; saw the shooter; and was willing to testify against the shooter in court. His willingness to testify was a big deal because there is a "no snitching" movement in Baltimore and witnesses typically say they did not see anything, recant later, or disappear. However, in this case, his cooperation would not matter. He was a convicted perjurer and, according to Maryland law, he could not testify in a court of law. Or could he? It was my job to put my legal research skills to the test by investigating the constraints of this rule. As justice would seem to require, the rule could be bent when the convicted perjurer is the victim and the only witness. A judge can use his or her discretion in determining whether the testimony is essential to the preservation of justice. Even if the testimony would be allowed, the jury could be informed of his past perjury conviction. Consequently, the lawyers did not see this as a case they could win and decided not to pursue it.

The question of whether or not something can be proved in court or if the case could be won is a question I heard over and over again throughout the summer. FIVE must approve all arrest and search warrants that involve a shooting or handgun violation and a warrant is not approved unless there is clear evidence against the suspect. A typical warrant approval involves an officer coming into the office, giving a synopsis of why a warrant should be issued, listening to recorded statements, and a lengthy discussion about whether or not a warrant should be issued. Participating in these discussions was probably my favorite part of this internship because they provided me with an opportunity to look at the facts and construct my own opinion. Moreover, seasoned attorneys whom I was there to learn from valued that opinion.

Before this experience I was not sure whether or not criminal law would hold my interests. Thanks to EJF, I now know it is a career option I would love to explore further.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico

Sue Kilgore -writes from Puerto Rico where she is a student clerk for the Honorable Jaime Pieras, Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico

Every morning of my summer clerkship starts pretty much the same–with a stretch and a yawn on my balcony overlooking the ocean, as I contemplate yet again how hot it is for only 8:00 in the morning. On the way to the Courthouse, I stop to buy "café con leche para llevar" ("coffee with milk to go") and maybe a quesito, a delicious cheese-filled, sugar-covered pastry. I love the Courthouse in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, not only because it is a pretty colonial-style building that is thankfully air conditioned, but because everyone greets each other with a big smile and an enthusiastic "Buenos dias!"

Then the day’s work begins. I typically have between two and three assignments at any given time, in addition to the summaries of First Circuit cases that I prepare for the Judge weekly. I have drafted opinions on several types of motions, probably the most juicy being a motion for an order of contempt of court against an attorney in a particularly protracted piece of litigation. The most difficult opinion I worked on was a motion to dismiss involving claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII that also raised sovereign immunity issues and involved both institutional and individual defendants. I also prepare case memoranda and other documents for pre-trial meetings between the Judge and counsel, which I attend to take notes. Following the meetings, I compose initial scheduling conference orders that define the course of discovery for each case. I was also fortunate to witness a rendition hearing and parts of a jury trial while working here. These experiences not only familiarized me with courtroom procedure, but afforded me the chance to observe differing advocacy styles.

Clerking for Judge Pieras has been a wonderful opportunity!

U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia

Ryan Majerus writes from Washington DC,

I am working for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, in the Office of Professional Development. The principal responsibility of our office is teaching D.C. police officers federal constitutional principles. Everyday there are several dozen police officers in our office who are being trained in 4th, 5th, 6th Amendment law, as well as many other topics. After a few days in this office, it becomes very clear that law enforcement play the central role in the criminal justice system. Even after the arrest, they are often the chief witness, and the thoroughness of their documentation can make or break a case. The goal of our office is that when police officers are in the field arresting someone during a drug deal, gun fight, etc., that they will consider their actions carefully so as to ensure the evidence pertaining to the suspect is not excluded at trial.
Thus far I have played a role in several interesting projects. My boss, an Assistant U.S. Attorney, has given me three memos thus far to address unresolved issues raised by law enforcement in our training programs. I wrote a memo addressing whether children or adolescents, whom the police suspect committed a crime, are the sole individuals that can consent to a search of their bedroom, or whether a parent, guardian, or grandparent can effectively give consent to have their rooms searched. I also wrote a memo focused on the Sixth Amendment standard, and this week I am researching a memo regarding whether you can conduct a Search Incident to Arrest of an automobile after the arrested individual is taken from the scene. My
major project for the semester is focused on collecting opening and closing statements from the AUSA's in our office, sifting through them, and uploading the very best on our office's shared drive as a model for AUSA's to consider before they go to court.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

International Organization for Migration

Joanna Ghosh writes from Geneva:

This summer I am working at the headquarters of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Geneva, Switzerland. Although it is somewhat lesser-known than the United Nations organizations that neighbor it, the IOM is by no means unimpressive.

IOM is highly decentralized and service-oriented. There are about 40 field locations and 6,000 operational staff members all over the world. At headquarters we mostly coordinate and organize projects(and the local missions or field locations physically implement them and provide services), communicate with members states, participate in
international forums, research and produce publications, and handle the internal affairs of the Organization.

Working for the International Migration Law and Legal Affairs Department is like working for two different departments. In its 'Legal Affairs' capacity, the Department handles all the legal issues that arise in the daily operations of the Organization (ranging from employment contracts to contracts for the purchase of pre-fabricated homes for refugees). In its 'International Migration Law' capacity, the Department has the initiative of defining, forming, and contributing to an area of law that is somewhat amorphous—international migration law involves just some of the following subjects: entry, residence, citizenship, labour, trafficking, borders management, human rights, transport, asylum, displaced persons, extradition, state security, and health.

I spend most of time working on IOM's International Migration Law Database, which is publicly accessible. The purpose of the database is to consolidate the norms and instruments relevant to migration at the international, regional and national levels. Once I have scanned through and compiled the laws of a
particular state or region, I usually contact the original copyright holders for permission to include the materials on our database. I enjoy this work because, in the course of doing it, I become familiar with the laws of various countries and legal systems and find out interesting things about them. In one particular case I remember surprising my supervisor by telling her that we could not contact a copyright-holder "because Parliament was dissolved in a 2006 coup and the government websites have not been updated since!" In another situation I had to explain why theoretically there was and (at the same time) was not such a thing as Puerto Rican citizenship.

I have also had the opportunity to contribute to IOM publications regarding discrimination of migrants in the workplace, migrants' right to health, and trafficking in persons.

Overall I think the goal of IOM's initiative is to facilitate migration that is positive for both the countries of origin and destination, and of course, the migrants themselves. By working on the database and publications, I feel that I am helping make available the tools for legal and beneficial migration. Thank you Equal Justice Foundation for making this summer internship possible.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Southern Environmental Law Center

Sarah Nealen shares her experiences:

Greetings from Charlottesville, VA! I have been working with the Air and Energy group at the Southern Environmental Law Center, almost exclusively on an effort to halt the construction of new coal-fired power plant in southwest Virginia. The plant, which is currently being built by Dominion Virginia Power, will emit a variety of pollutants into the environment around southwest Virginia, including the Clinch River and several federal wilderness areas. It will also lead to an increase in mountaintop removal mining, a form of strip mining in which the forest is cleared from a mountain and the top of the mountain is blown off with explosives. The resulting debris is dumped into a nearby stream, a practice known as “valley fill.” In Wise County, where the new plant will be located, 25% of the county has already succumbed to MTR, and another 8% is slated for destruction.
I began my summer a few weeks before a public hearing to finalize and vote on air permits for the facility, so there was plenty to do right out the gate. I was able to accompany my attorneys to the hearing and meet our clients, who have formed a grassroots coalition fighting to save their community and their way of life. We were able to get much stricter air permits than had been proposed, but they were still issued and the company was able to begin construction. SELC has now appealed both the State Corporation Commission’s decision to allow Dominion to recover the costs of the $1.8 billion plant through its ratepayers and the Air Pollution Control Board’s decision to issue air permits not in compliance with the Clean Air Act. The last few weeks of my internship have focused on writing initial drafts of the petitions for appeal of the air permits. This has been a fantastic learning experience, and I am grateful to the Equal Justice Foundation and its donors for making this summer possible.

Les Mêmes Droits Pour Tous

Ioana Rusu writes from West Africa:

I first met Mamadou Alpha Barry during a routine visit to La Surêté, the largest prison facility in Guinea, West Africa. A young man of only 23, he had been placed in pre-trial detention since 2004. His family could not afford a lawyer, so he asked our organization to take his case. Several weeks later, we finally located his file and were shocked to discover that all charges against Mamadou had already been dropped--in November 2004. He should have been set free, but someone neglected to convey this information to the prison. Mamadou Alpha Barry walked out of prison a free man on July 7th, 2008, after over 3 years and 7 months of illegal detention.

Mamadou’s case is shocking, but sadly far from unique. The disorganization and corruption endemic in Guinea’s judicial system have given rise to grave and pervasive human rights abuses. I have spent the past 10 weeks working with Les Mêmes Droits Pour Tous – MDT (Equal Rights for All), the only non-governmental organization in Guinea currently providing free legal assistance to adult detainees.
The work is challenging and often extremely frustrating. Some of our clients have already finished their sentences, but have not yet been set free. Others have been in pre-trial detention for many years. Yet others have confessed to crimes they did not commit after having been severely tortured by the police.
During my ten weeks with the organization, I have attended trials and hearings, met with clients, followed-up with cases of illegal detention, and helped raise awareness about police brutality. For more information about MDT’s work and my experience working in the Guinean judicial system, please email me at

US District Court - Southern District of New York

Hayley Tozeski writes from New York:

It’s Monday morning in early June, 9:30-ish a.m., and the beginning of my third week as a judicial intern in the Southern District of New York. Scores of potential jurors fill Courtroom 12B, each hoping to dodge the bullet in what is expected to be a two-week-plus criminal trial. Interns from the United States Attorney’s Office line the walls and anteroom; the gallery is standing room only. On trial are four friends from the Bronx, alleged to have conspired to commit murder in furtherance of a larger narcotics conspiracy. Until earlier this spring, two of the twenty-something-year-old men faced the death penalty.

Over the next few weeks, the story of the victim’s murder played out like the television drama our professors promised we would never see: bales of marijuana and pistols passed from prosecutors to witnesses to jurors; co-conspirators and former associates flipped on one-time friends; a surprise defense witness provided graphic testimony about a purportedly related sexual assault; a defendant threatened to assault the Assistant United States Attorney prosecuting the case; and extensive forensics testimony tied the loose ends. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. After several days of deliberation, the jury convicted on all counts.

I have had the good fortune of observing not one, not two, but three criminal trials this summer. This means that along with researching and drafting memorandums on Daubert, Title VII, sovereign immunity, jurisdiction and venue, and pleading standards under the PSLRA and the federal in forma pauperis statute, I have observed nine opening statements, nine summations, the examination and cross-examination of almost 50 witnesses, and, most importantly, my Judge’s and clerks’ reactions and observations every step of the way. Forget class, I have seen criminal law, criminal procedure, evidence, and trial advocacy in the flesh.

I made a decision early during my first year to take on a summer internship that would enhance both my skill-based and substantive knowledge of the law. My judicial internship has done just that, and, in addition, has imparted a greater familiarity with litigation and trial practice. I am incredibly appreciative of the Equal Justice Foundation’s support, without which I would have been unable to accept this position. I look forward to making similar experiences possible for the Class of 2011.

Monday, August 4, 2008

San Diego Coastkeeper

Pete Amaro shares his experiences:

Hello from California! I have been working for the summer as a legal intern at San Diego Coastkeeper, an environmental nonprofit working to protect San Diego’s beaches and watersheds through water-quality monitoring programs, public outreach, and legal advocacy. Coastkeeper is a part of Waterkeeper Alliance, an umbrella group with 179 member organizations worldwide.
Most of my tasks as a legal intern have involved stormwater and wastewater issues. I began my summer by creating a database of stormwater-related ordinances for all the municipalities and public agencies in San Diego County. Coastkeeper hopes that a centralized collection of various municipal codes will simplify its monitoring and enforcement work, as well as encourage updating stormwater codes throughout the county (they range from detailed and stringent in larger coastal cities to skeletal in smaller inland suburbs.) I have also had the opportunity to do field investigations: along with another legal intern, I surveyed targeted businesses in the city of Chula Vista to look for violations of both stormwater codes and industrial NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permits. We reported potential violations to the city’s stormwater hotlines, allowing Coastkeeper to also ensure proper compliance and follow-through by city officials.

I have also been working on Coastkeeper’s campaign on IPR (indirect potable reuse), a water recycling method popularly referred to as “toilet-to-tap.” The mayor of San Diego has resisted efforts by the City Council to implement a pilot project, and as a result, Coastkeeper has mounted an aggressive campaign to both sway the mayor and shift public opinion, which currently discounts water recycling in favor of desalination projects. I have done research to counter the city’s claims regarding the technical and financial infeasibility of an IPR project, and in June toured a facility in Orange County that recently began converting treated wastewater into drinking water. I was able to sample the finished product, and am happy to report that I am still alive and well.
This week brings an exciting opportunity to testify before the California Coastal Commission during their three days of meetings in Oceanside. I will speak in support of a staff report recommending denial of a proposed bayfront development in Monterey. This testimony, in addition to my other projects, has allowed me to become quite familiar with California’s complex environmental regulatory system; as I plan on returning home to California after graduation, I am especially grateful for the opportunity to begin refining my knowledge of California’s environmental legal framework.

US District Attorney's Office - Baltimore

Thanks to the Equal Justice Foundation for the funding that allowed me to work at the US Attorney's Office in Baltimore.

My first day on the job I was assigned to a capital murder prosecution involving two big-time drug dealers from Baltimore City. As it turns out, the capital defendant decided to plead guilty a few days before the start of trial, which allowed him to avoid a death penalty trial. The second defendant went to trial and I had to draft multiple evidentiary memos to either allow or exclude evidence in the trial. When we weren't in trial, we were interviewing and preparing witnesses because the judge decided to do the trial at whirlwind speed (condensed a 3 week trial into 5 days). To make a long story short, the second defendant barely made it through the prosecution's main witness before he decided to plead guilty - good move (we talked to the jury afterwards, and they were all ready to convict).

I've also been working on a 4th Circuit appellate brief in a RICO case, responding to various habeas petitions, and drafting memos on a variety of other topics. There are tons of different things going on around the office, and the attorneys really let us (the law clerks) pick and choose what we want to work on. We go to court most days, and get to see some top notch litigators in action. I came here having no desire whatsoever to do litigation - and after watching what goes on in the courtroom (and behind the scenes), I can't wait to start arguing a case. Amazing how pumped up some of these attorneys get before they go to court - like an athlete before a big game.

We also get to do some pretty interesting stuff outside of the office - like watch an ATF explosives demonstration, go on DEA ride-alongs to bust drug dealers and execute search warrants, visit the "Supermax" prison in Baltimore. We also went to the firing range with ATF agents and, in addition to firing every kind of gun imaginable, also donned full body armor and stormed a house (with paintballs not bullets).

All-in-all, I would definitely recommend working at the Baltimore US Attorney's office. There are tons of substantive legal projects here for the taking. Thanks to the Equal Justice Foundation for making this possible!

Equal Justice Foundation

EJF's Live Auction took place January 29, 2015 in Hart Auditorium and was a HUGE SUCCESS. Check the Facebook page for updates about other ways to help fund public interest activities for Summer 2015