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Human Rights Clinic Founder Appointed White House Advisor on Violence Against Women


By Catharine Skipp
Special to UM News

Carrie Bettinger Lopez

Carrie Bettinger-Lopez

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (March 4, 2015)—Vice President Joe Biden announced today the appointment of Miami Law’s Caroline “Carrie” Bettinger-López as the new White House Advisor on Violence Against Women. Bettinger- López, a leading advocate for gender-based equality and human rights, has worked at local, national, and international levels to bring an end to violence against women.

In her new role, Bettinger-López will serve as an advisor to the president and vice president on domestic violence and sexual assault issues and as a liaison to the domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy communities, according to the White House.

She also will collaborate with federal agencies on the implementation of Violence Against Women Act programs and the coordination of federal efforts to address violence against women and girls both domestically and globally, and drive the development of new initiatives and policies to combat domestic violence and sexual assault with key public and private stakeholders.

“Throughout her career, Carrie has made clear that the most basic of human rights is freedom from violence,” Biden said. “I am honored that she will be joining my staff to continue the work we began with the Violence Against Women Act, and I know she will be a strong voice for women everywhere who continue to suffer from sexual assault and domestic violence in the worst prison on earth—the four walls of their own home.”

As a litigator and an advocate, Bettinger-López has fought for the protection of victims of domestic violence and the provision of remedies for violations of survivors’ rights. Prior to her legal career, Bettinger-López engaged in social services advocacy and youth education centered on women and girls’ empowerment, as well as anti-violence programming.

Most recently, Bettinger-López founded and served as director of the Human Rights Clinic at the  School of Law, where she served as an associate professor of clinical legal education. Her scholarship included a focus on violence against women, gender and race discrimination, and immigrant rights.

“We are delighted that Vice President Biden has asked Professor Bettinger-López to play this important role,” said School of Law Dean Patricia D. White. “Her path-breaking advocacy work makes her uniquely qualified to carry out her charge.”

Bettinger-López will lead the Obama administration’s efforts to put an end to violence against women. Among many important steps forward, the administration has led efforts to combat campus sexual assault, worked to prevent domestic violence homicides, and fought to extend protections to women of color and LGBT Americans who have been victims of violence, according to the White House.

 

 

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Twenty Years Later, Lawyers Recall the Fight for Cuban Rafters


By Peter E. Howard
UM News

Panelists included, from left, Harold Hongju Koh, Francisco Angones, Marcos Jimenez, Roberto Martinez, and Christina Frohock.

Panelists included, from left, Harold Hongju Koh, Francisco Angones, Marcos Jimenez, Roberto Martinez, and Christina Frohock.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 17, 2015) — Inside the event program, the list was long. In two columns, alphabetized from A to W.

They were the names of women and men, lawyers all, who had helped fight for legal rights of Cuban rafters and Haitians held at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in the mid-1990s.

“They are my brothers- and sisters-in-law,” quipped fellow lawyer Harold Hongju Koh.

Many on the list were among the more than 100 people who turned out on February 16 at the University of Miami’s Richter Library to hear a panel discussion about the refugees’ plight and the legal fight to win their freedom.

The lead lawyers in the case, Cuban American Bar Association v. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, outlined their strategy to secure representation of the 33,000 rafters, and the two year battle it took to get them freed and brought to the United States.

Joining Koh, a professor at Yale Law School, were Roberto Martinez, adjunct professor at UM’s School of Law and partner at Colson Hicks Eidson; Marcos Jimenez, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery LLP; and Francisco Angones, senior partner at Angones McClure & Garcia. The panel was moderated by Christina M. Frohock, a professor at the School of Law.

The panelists talked about how Haitians began being held at Guantanamo in the early 1990s, but it was in August 1994, Jimenez said, that “Fidel did what Fidel always did” when he wanted to get rid of dissidents – anyone who wanted to go could go.

The mass exodus began, and Cubans in boats, rafts, inner tubes and other makeshift craft fled across the Florida Strait. Some died at sea. About 8,000 made it to South Florida. More than 33,000 were intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard and brought to Guantanamo.

The lawyers, all working for free, fought the U.S. government for due process rights for the detainees, and sought a solution that didn’t involve sending the group back to Cuba.

They recalled racing against time to file briefs in the case; being applauded by onlookers as they exited cars in front of the courthouse; winning the right to go and meet with rafters at the base; and one day being quoted in a front page article in USA Today.

“We embarked on this without really knowing anything about international law or human rights law,” recounted Angones. “It was a very emotional case for all of those involved.”

Martinez said the initial intent was not to win the lawsuit. The objective was to get the rafters freed and brought to the U.S., and the “lawsuit was a tool” used to make that happen.

The lawyers wanted sympathetic clients, people the public could rally behind. At Guantanamo they found a young woman who played the Star Spangled Banner on a violin, and her picture ended up in the Miami Herald. They found a pregnant woman among the detainees.

The detainees were held in a camp with barbed wire fencing. Many were educated – lawyers, doctors, teachers. Some were political prisoners in Cuba. They were all grateful for the intervention and representation.

At the conclusion of the discussion, Frohock and the panelists talked about how the detainment of the rafters and Haitians was a prelude to use of Guantanamo as a place to imprison suspected terrorists following 9/11.

The politics of the time, said Koh, gave the impression that Guantanamo was “the land without law.”

Peter Howard can be reached at 305-284-8085.

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Aftershocks: Law Clinics Document the Human Toll of Deportations to Haiti


Special to UM News

The report documents the impact of deporting  Haitian nationals back to a country

The report documents how Haitians deported back to their homeland face  broken homes and broken hearts.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 19, 2015)—In a report documenting the failure of the U.S. to safeguard the human rights of those it deports to post-earthquake Haiti because of their criminal records, the School of Law’s Human Rights and Immigration Clinics urge the U.S. government to halt the deportations until conditions in Haiti improve. The report, a collaboration with the International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Chicago School of Law, makes other recommendations, including the extension of Temporary Protected Status to all Haitian nationals.

For the report, “Aftershocks: The Human Impact of Post-Earthquake Deportations to Haiti,” the law  clinics joined forces with Alternative Chance/Chans AlternativAmericans for Immigrant JusticeHaitian Women of Miami (FANM), and the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti to conduct extensive fact-finding, including interviews with more than 100 deportees, about their treatment.

“We hope this report moves the U.S. government to stop deportations to Haiti,” said Marleine Bastien, executive director of FANM. “Post-earthquake Haiti is unable to safely receive deportees.” She spoke at a news conference at the Little Haiti Cultural Center on Thursday with other advocates and Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat, who wrote the award-winning novel Brother, I’m Dying, and the foreword to the report.

“In post-earthquake Haiti, deportees from the U.S. face tent cities, deadly cholera, broken homes, and broken hearts,” added Michelle Karshan, founder of Alternative Chance. “Barriers such as lack of language and family support, and insufficient medical or mental health care and medicine, leaves deportees lost and at risk of death.”

The report also documents the severe financial and psychological strain imposed on the spouses and children of deportees left in the U.S. “The government has taken away my father, my best friend,” said one teenage girl whose father was deported after the earthquake.

Following the catastrophic 2010 temblor that killed more than 200,000 people and leveled much of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, the U.S. granted Temporary Protected Status to eligible Haitians, allowing them to remain in the U.S. for the time being. But individuals who had  two misdemeanors or one felony on their records were excluded from TPS protection, leading to the forcible repatriation of approximately 1,500 men and women. The deportees included parents of U.S. citizen children and people with severe medical and mental health conditions, as well as those with minor criminal records.

“This report would not have been possible without deportees willing to share their stories of the almost insurmountable obstacles they face in post-earthquake Haiti,” said Geoffrey Louden, a third-year law student at UM School of Law, who traveled to Haiti in October and worked on the report. “We urge policymakers to listen.”

 

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18th Annual Entertainment and Sports Law Conference to Explore Labor Issues, Unveil New LL.M. Degree


By Catharine Skipp
Special to UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 16,2015)— Leading experts in sports and entertainment law will participate in Miami Law’s 18th Annual Entertainment and Sports Law Conference from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, February 20, at the Student Activities Center. They will explore the timely topics of labor issues in sports and entertainment, and how technology has changed the delivery and monetization of content.

Among the panelists will be James Quinn, the most successful and influential litigator of sports antitrust cases in the 25 years that the cases have been contested in the national arena. Quinn is a partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, and will focus on the three biggest ongoing cases in sports— O’Bannon v. NCAA, the Kessler suit, and the challenge of NCAA athletes as employees—on the NCAA Case Law Roundup panel.

Garrett Broshuis, a former San Francisco Giants minor league pitcher and attorney at Korein Tillery, will discuss the minimum wage lawsuits he has filed on behalf of players on the panel Pay to Play: Discussing the Legalities of the Unpaid Intern and the Underpaid Athlete. His work on behalf of minor leaguers has been featured on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.

As part of the conference, Miami Law will announce and discuss its newest offering, the unique LL.M. in Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law.* The degree is designed for U.S.- and foreign-based law students and attorneys committed to counseling professionals and companies in these fields, and lawyers currently in the field who wish to be better prepared to address emerging and novel issues, such as equity investment, public-private conduct, and regulatory compliance.

Registration opens at 10:30 a.m. and will run throughout the day. Lunch will be served and a reception will follow the day’s events from 5 to 7 p.m.

The event is open to the public. Miami Law students may register here. The cost is $20 for other UM students with valid I.D.s, $75 for  Miami Law alumni, and $125 for general admission.

Five Florida CLE Credits, including one in ethics, are pending approval.

*Subject to University of Miami Board of Trustees approval, program commences August 2015.

 

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Spanning 96 Hours and 800 years, Two Supreme Court Justices Speak at Miami Law


By Catharine Skipp
Special to UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla.— (February 12, 2015)—In the span of 96 hours, two U.S. Supreme Court Justices addressed students and faculty at Miami Law, with retired Justice John Paul Stevens discussing the repercussions of criminal convictions with regard to deportation and Justice Anthony Kennedy tracing the relevance of Magna Carta over 800 years.

Stevens, who delivered a keynote address at the 2015 University of Miami Law Review Symposium “Criminalized Justice: The Consequences of Punitive Policy,” challenged case law where guilty pleas of immigrants on non-immigration matters – often minor crimes – triggered mandatory removal from the U.S. This often happens without understanding the ramifications of deportation prior to a plea.

Stevens argued that “the proposition that exclusion of advice about collateral consequences from the Sixth Amendment’s scope” might well be a widely recognized rule of American law but that it was inappropriate in this arena. It was wrong, he said, to consider deportation a mere collateral consequence.

“It was Congress,” said Stevens, the third longest serving justice in U.S. history who was nominated in 1975 by President Gerald Ford, “rather than the judiciary, that is responsible for the radical changes in our immigration law that have made deportation a virtual certainty for many offenses.”

During a lively and engaging question-and-answer period, Stevens advocated for greater adjudicatory discretion in assessing individual cases.

Once the conservative wing of the Court, Stevens came to be considered a liberal voice. He retired from the court in 2010 at the age of 90.

The symposium took a critical look at how our nation’s laws have been increasingly criminalized over the past 30 years, the negative consequences of this criminalization, and recent positive developments. It explored criminalization through a variety of subjects, including sentencing policy, immigration, homelessness, and race and social class.

“A smashing success” is how Professor David Abraham, faculty advisor to the Law Review, described the symposium.“Every single presentation was of the highest intellectual quality, and all are publishable. Justice Stevens delivered a real substantive address, and together with Judge Rosenbaum, (U.S. Circuit Judge Robin S. Rosenbaum) undertook a serious Q&A session with a lively, informed, and varied audience of students, colleagues, and members of the bar.”

Kennedy, who returned to Miami Law for the fourth time in three years, this time to deliver a Robert B. Cole Lecture titled “Magna Carta: Relevant after 800 Years,” said it might surprise people to know that the document is on his mind every day as he drives to work. “It teaches us that we must know the heritage of freedom to preserve it and the fact that it is ancient is all the more important,” he said.

Kennedy worked his way back and forth across a remarkably long period of time, beginning with the Ten Commandments, through Athenian and Roman law, forward to the signing of the Magna Carta by King John of England in a field in 1215 and to the present.

“The principles that the English perfected 800 years ago – the struggle for freedom – has just begun,” Kennedy said. Constitutions evolve, he said.

Saying it is good to romanticize founding political documents, he concluded with a quote from John Locke about the duty to those with whom we disagree, to do so with respect and dignity.

“Justice Kennedy has visited the Law School three times in the last few years,” said Vice Dean Patrick Gudridge. “We are very lucky. He has an unusual gift he uses well in his public talks, taking ideas and events that we at first take for granted and therefore don’t think too much about, and then — as he makes us look at them over and over — making us see that there is often much that is surprising, important, complex, and ultimately often moving in what we had thought to be just commonplace. This is constitutional law in the style of Earl Warren and Ronald Reagan, we might think — a really remarkable synthesis.”

Kennedy, 78, has served on the Supreme Court since his appointment by President Reagan in 1988.

The Robert B. Cole Lecture was established in 1985 through the generosity of the former Miami law firm of Mershon, Sawyer, Johnston, Dunwody & Cole to provide a forum for faculty, students, and practicing attorneys to hear distinguished jurists and public figures discuss important legal and international matters. It honors the late Robert B. Cole, who served for many years as the principal legal advisor to the University of Miami and on the School of Law’s Visiting Committee. Attorney Richard P. Cole continues to sponsor the lecture in memory of his father.

Previous speakers include Stevens, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justices Warren E. Burger and William Rehnquist, and Justices William J. Brennan, Jr., Harry A. Blackmun, Antonin Scalia, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Stephen G. Breyer, and Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and George J. Mitchell, former majority leader of the United States Senate.

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