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Equal Justice Works Blog

August 8, 2014

2013 AmeriCorps Legal Fellow
Rebecca Miller is currently serving low-income veterans at Levitt & Quinn Family Law Center in Los Angeles, California. Equal Justice Works recently interviewed Rebecca to learn about her efforts to support former military service members and their families. The conversation below highlights some of her achievements to help close the justice gap for veteran communities.

Right: AmeriCorps Legal Fellow Rebecca Miller (’13), at the Levitt & Quinn office, reviews paperwork with a client to sign and file with the court.

August 1, 2014

Below is a guest blog post from 2012 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Laura Huizar. Her fellowship at LatinoJustice PRLDEF in New York is sponsored by Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP. Read how Laura has battled employment agency abuse and protected job seekers in New York City.

I met Servando in the first year of my Equal Justice Works Fellowship.  He was referred by El Centro del Inmigrante, a worker rights organization in Staten Island where I have conducted presentations about job seekers’ rights when using employment agencies.  In 2012, Servando went to a Brooklyn-based employment agency that found him a job with a plumber.  He signed a contract with the agency and paid a $120 advance fee.  When he met the plumber, however, the plumber offered him a much lower salary than what the agency had promised. Servando did not accept the job and sought a refund from the agency, as permitted by law, but the agency refused.  


ABOVE:  2012 Equal Justice Works Fellow Laura Huizar discusses the importance of reforming New York’s employment agency laws at a press conference.

July 25, 2014

Doug Smith is a 2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow sponsored by The Ottinger Family Foundation.  Equal Justice Works recently caught up with Doug to learn more about his accomplishments at Public Counsel in Los Angeles, California.

With congested freeways and never-ending sprawl, Los Angeles was once described as “72 suburbs in search of a city.” Today, all of that is changing.  The region has largely embraced a new paradigm of urban growth driven by catalytic investments in public transportation and “smart growth” initiatives encouraging density and vibrant pedestrian-oriented streetscapes.  But much of this transformation is occurring squarely within the city’s low-income neighborhoods – often the very same communities that were marginalized and segregated by previous urban renewal initiatives.

July 18, 2014

Jason Langberg is an alumnus of the 2010 Equal Justice Works Fellowship class. Equal Justice Works caught up with Jason to learn more about his accomplishments at the Advocates for Children’s Services in Wake County, North Carolina.

What inspired you to work in education and with children?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been interested in public education and children’s rights. I didn’t experience one defining moment; instead, my passion has snowballed over the last 15 years of volunteering and working as a tutor, teacher, mentor, guardian ad litem, and advocate. In the process, I’ve been continuously inspired and sustained by young people who are full of life and resilience in the face of tremendous obstacles.

July 11, 2014

Below is a guest blog post from 2012 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Kathryn Kliff.  Her fellowship at The Legal Aid Society in New York is sponsored by KPMG and Sidley Austin LLP.  Read how Kathryn has secured immediate shelter and defended rights for many homeless families and individuals throughout New York City.

Shortly before Christmas of last year, I met the Johnson family while conducting outreach at the New York City intake facility for homeless families (known as the Prevention Assistance and Temporary Housing (PATH)).  The family included Ms. Johnson, her husband, and their three children (10-year-old Jessica, five-year-old Dwayne, and two-year-old James).  I discovered that for the previous 10 nights, the family had been riding the New York City subway trains after being denied shelter by PATH.  Tears streamed down Jessica’s face as her mother shared their story with me.

Right: 2012 Equal Justice Works Fellow Kathryn Kliff discusses access to shelter with a client at PATH, a New York City intake facility for homeless families.

June 27, 2014

Lewis Bollard, a 2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow sponsored by host site The Humane Society of the United States and an anonymous sponsor, is advocating for the low-income victims of contaminated meat produced by factory farms and slaughterhouses. During his Equal Justice Works Fellowship, Lewis is working to reform our ailing food system through coalition building, negotiations, and legal action.

June 20, 2014

When I was a law student, and unsure what exactly to do after graduating, I came across an article in the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism by Professor Regina Austin in which she describes the impact of the War on Drugs on low-income women of color. In it she examines United States Supreme Court decision HUD v. Rucker, which permitted public housing authorities to enforce “no-fault” eviction policies. The 2002 decision held that a tenant could be evicted for the drug-related activities of an occupant or guest, even if she had no knowledge of such activity. Austin writes:

Chief, among those adversely impacted by the [eviction] campaign, there have been poor single minority female heads of households, often senior citizens, who are living with their actual or adopted offspring…. The mothers and grandmothers (though sometimes it is a sister, aunt, cousin, wife, or girlfriend) are in general innocent, often even ignorant, of any criminal activity, but are nonetheless held responsible.

June 9, 2014

The Corporation for National Community Service, the government agency which administers AmeriCorps, and the Department of Justice on Friday announced the creation of “justice AmeriCorps,” a new partnership to provide critical legal assistance to children who have crossed the U.S. border without a parent or guardian.  As part of this initiative, 100 lawyers and paralegals will deploy to 29 cities throughout the United States to help unaccompanied minors navigate the immigration courts.

June 5, 2014

Angelica Salceda, a 2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow, sponsored by Fenwick & West LLP, is an advocate for high school students who are also parents.  At her host site, the ACLU of Northern California, she is helping implement the Pregnant and Parenting Student Project for teen parents to receive the adequate resources they need to succeed in their academics.  Below Angelica discusses her important work in the community with Equal Justice Works.

Left: Angelica Salceda, 2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow, discusses student parents’ rights for educational opportunities at the ACLU of Northern California. Photo courtesy of Gigi Pandian.

Q: What inspired you to represent student parents and pregnant students?

A:  As an elected student leader for the University of California system, I advocated in favor of accessible, affordable, and quality higher education for all Californians.  When I spoke with high school students and other advocates, I discovered an overwhelming concern for students not receiving specific college-preparatory courses required for enrollment into a four-year university.

May 29, 2014

Graham Bowman (’13) Helps Champion State Legislation for Minors in Need of Access to Health Care

Less than a year into his 2013 Equal Justice Works Fellowship at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH), Graham Bowman has already contributed to a major legislative victory: the passage of HB 4501, which authorizes minors, ages 14-18, to give consent for non-emergency medical treatments. On May 21, 2014, the bill received unanimous support in the Illinois State House. Graham played a key role and drafted legislative language.  His colleague, CCH Policy Specialist Jennifer Cushman, led the lobbying effort to acquire more than 20 organizations to sign on for the bill’s adoption.

Above (left to right):  Graham Bowman, Telva Urban, Illinois State Senator Heather Steans and Jennifer Cushman in Springfield on May 6, 2014. Photo courtesy of the Chicago Coalition for the Homelessness.