Congrats to Daniel Melo, Former Clinic Student!

May 12, 2015

Daniel Melo, recent December 2014 CSL graduate and past Justice Leaguer (that’s what the Civil Rights Clinic calls itself in hushed tones to one another), recently joined the Gorman Law Firm in Charlotte after successfully passing the February 2015 bar. Daniel is joining two other attorneys, lending his bilingual skills to working on immigration matters, particularly business visas, as well as criminal defense, traffic, and civil suits. Daniel hopes to continue working alongside the League in pursuing justice for the underserved populations of Charlotte. Check out the Gorman Law Firm here.

Congrats on your success, Dan!


Clinic Efforts Featured in the NACOLE Review!

February 24, 2015

logo

In the most recent issue of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement’s quarterly publication, the Review, our Clinic was featured! Clinic alumni Isabel Carson and Celia Olson wrote an article with Professor Jason Huber for the Review that highlighted our Clinic’s efforts on the Citizens Review Board (“CRB”) project. The CRB was established to bridge community-police relations here in Charlotte, and our Clinic has worked diligently over the years to create transparency within the CRB. We have had so much success with this project here in our community and continue to advocate for transparency across North Carolina.

To read the article in its entirety, click here and scroll on over to page 5: NACOLE_2015_WINTER. To find out more about our work on this project, click here, here, here, and here.


Immigration, Legislation, and the Tension Between the Two

February 19, 2015

By: Edith Hinson

Since the beginning of November, when it was confirmed that President Obama was going to speak on the issue of immigration, pundits from both sides began speculating as to what he would say. After all – what could he say? The proposed immigration legislation had been stalled in the House for over a year by that time; and yet the need for that legislation was ever-increasing, as more and more migrant children were crossing into the U.S. on their own. The call for immigration reform was roaring, but the legislators were giving it a deaf ear. In an exercise of his executive power, the President decided to take the problem into his own hands and make swift decisions about how to prioritize enforcement of our current laws in a way that is realistic, progressive, fair, and legal.

cns

Photo courtesy of http://cnsnews.com/.

 

“Our immigration system is broken…” [1]

The President chose these words as his opening remarks, and the truth of the statement is blatantly obvious. No matter which side of the issue you fall on, the fact that the current set of laws are being neither followed by the people nor enforced by the agencies demonstrates that the current system is not effective. Whether it is because the people breaking the rules are not being punished or because the conditions of the immigrants’ home countries are getting so volatile, the result is the same. Non-citizens are here in America, and we can either ignore it, or deal with it.

“A bipartisan bill [passed] in the Senate, but…the House refused…to vote [on it.]”

Immigration reform was a key objective of Obama’s platform for election. Pursuant to his promise to make it a priority, he advocated for the DREAM Act [2], which would have granted a pathway to citizenship for certain young immigrants who are seeking education and self-improvement. After intense debate in the Senate, members of both parties came up with a draft they could all live with. Once the Senate passed it, they sent it over to the House of Representatives. Key leaders in the House have since stalled the bill, refusing to allow it to go to a vote. The President, facing intense opposition from the GOP-held House of Representatives, chose to take immediate action in an attempt to alleviate growing tensions across the board.

The Executive Order

With intense pressure from both sides of the aisle to do something about the immigration crisis, and with the refusal of Congress to act in such a way that allowed for progress, the President chose to announce new enforcement priorities rather than hold his breath until the House stopped bickering with each other.

Under Article II, Section I, of the United States Constitution, the President is not able to write laws per the executive order clause. Rather, he or she has the authority to review the framework of the current laws and announce to lower enforcement personnel how the law should be applied. Think about the states where marijuana has been legalized. The federal government could identify the purveyors and users of the illegal drug and arrest them, but they have made the executive decision that it is not currently a priority to do so. They would rather target big-time traffickers of heavy narcotics than non-violent marijuana smokers. This is simply an example of members of the executive branch exercising their constitutional right to enforce the laws within their own discretion. [3] Just like it’s not realistic to indict every pot-smoker, the President’s executive order on immigration recognizes it is similarly unrealistic to deport every immigrant. 

The Reason We Allow for Discretion

It all comes down to the bottom line: money. We simply don’t have the money, or the resources, to enforce every law on the books to the “T.” Therefore, the executive branch of the government must decide how to best enforce the laws we have with the resources that are available.

The President summed this up very succinctly in his speech on Nov. 20 when he said, “Let’s be honest—tracking down, rounding up, and deporting millions of people isn’t realistic.” We just simply don’t have the resources and personnel to do such a thing. But when our laws require something that we are literally not able to do, shouldn’t we amend them? This seems to be a logical answer, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes laws are so archaic, it is obvious that they shouldn’t be enforced; and when everyone agrees to not enforce them, it doesn’t necessarily make sense to spend time and money amending them. Additionally, sometimes the timeline of the legislative process is not keeping pace with the escalating need. The latter situation is what’s true here. Therefore, the President had to do something to give consistent direction to the enforcers of our laws on how to best do their jobs.

 The Plan

 The President laid out a clear plan to reform immigration by:

  • Enforcement personnel on the border will be allotted more resources.
  • High-skilled immigrants who demonstrate a clear benefit to our economy will have an easier time getting to the U.S. than those with fewer skills to offer.
  • Non-criminal immigrants with American children who have been in the U.S. for more than five years and are paying taxes will receive temporary stay from deportation.

What does this plan really mean? President Obama explained: “If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.” 

The Impact

What then is the message? To law enforcement personnel within the country, the message lets them know that they can spend their time and energy locating criminals and removing them from the country. This message also lets the border enforcement know that they are going to get more money to keep up the hard work. After all, since Obama has taken office, border crossings have been cut by more than half. With more resources headed their way, illegal crossings will be further stemmed. And with direction given to the internal enforcement personnel, criminals will be deported and the country will be safer.

It is important to recognize that nothing that President Obama announced on November 20 is written in stone. The relief from deportation that he gave to non-criminal immigrants is contingent on their staying out of trouble, expires in three years, does not lead to permanent residency or citizenship, and is revocable at the will of the executive who is elected into office next year. It is nothing more than an announcement of the priorities that law enforcement officers are to follow, as recommended by the top law enforcer in the nation.

In a way, calling the President’s announcement “reform” is a misnomer. In no way does it reform our system, but perhaps it will be instrumental in reforming our way of thought. Without identifying the problems, we are unable to draft a workable solution. Therefore, once the President’s enforcement priorities are put into practice and we are able to measure the positive and negative changes that transpire, we will be able to take a more educated and progressive step on immigration. Absent action by Congress, however, the piece-meal approach as effected by executives will be the best bet we have to modifying the system to meet our current needs.

[1] The full-text speech is available at http://heavy.com/news/2014/11/president-obama-immigration-reform-speech-full-text/.

[2] DREAM is an acronym for “Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors.”

[3] U.S. Constitution, Art. II, Section I.


Register NOW for the CSL Law Review Symposium!

February 6, 2015

RevisedPoster

Charlotte Law Review is hosting another Hot Topic CLE this year! Please join us Friday, February 13th for a Symposium on the Right to Privacy. We will have two panels – a morning panel including some of your favorite CSL professors, professors from other law schools, and Chief Judge Whitney, and an afternoon panel consisting of both prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys. The Symposium is worth 5.0 total CLE credits and is offered to CSL Alumni at the reduced rate of $90 for those who pre-register. General public and students are also welcome! This is an awesome chance to network with both educators and practicing attorneys in the area. Please visit www.charlottelaw.edu/cle for more information or contact sasnetta@students.charlottelaw.edu.


Clinic wins FIVE Successful COR Petitions!

February 3, 2015

Today, the Clinic made history!  Judge Karen Eady-Williams granted FIVE Certificate of Relief (COR) petitions for our clients today at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse!  Claire Donnelly, Gatlin Groberg, and Tierra Ragland represented the clients under the supervision of our wonderful supervising attorney, Jason Huber.

Gatlin Groberg, Jason Huber, Claire Donnelly, and Tierra Ragland, advocates for our COR petitions today.

Gatlin Groberg, Jason Huber, Claire Donnelly, and Tierra Ragland, advocates for our COR petitions today.

Our faithful followers to this blog are probably well aware of the COR project that the Clinic has been working on over the past few years.  For those not so familiar, a COR petition is a rehabilitative measure created by the legislature in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-173.2 that allows qualified petitioners “relief” from their past criminal conviction.  CORs are particularly helpful in advancing employment and furthering education.  After a judge grants a petition, the successful petitioner can present it to prospective employers as proof that they have made amends for their past actions.  Because these individuals may previously have been turned away from jobs due to their criminal record, a COR provides many exciting opportunities.  Each of our clients today were very deserving and are incredibly grateful for this opportunity.

One of the cases today presented a very complicated issue of law, to which even the Assistant District Attorney remarked that there was “no precedence or guidance for the Court.”  The issue regarded whether a Prayer for Judgment Continued (PJC) counted as a disqualifying conviction under the COR statute.  Tierra submitted a brief and made a compelling legal argument on behalf of her client explaining why a PJC should not count as a disqualifying conviction.  Judge Eady-Williams found the argument very convincing and the COR was granted!

Congrats to the Clinic on the FIVE successful petitions, and the effective advocacy on a matter of first impression!

Several new Clinic members came for moral support!

Several new Clinic members came for moral support!


Why Entrepreneurs Need a Feasibility Study before a Business Plan

January 29, 2015

By: Kathy S. Magee

Successful entrepreneurs are often described as tenacious, passionate, flexible, and natural risk-takers.[1]  They are visionary thinkers, confident, and tolerate ambiguity.  Even if an entrepreneur possesses all of these character qualities, a successful business venture requires a viable business concept and a realistic plan.

Student attorneys in the Entrepreneurship Clinic meet many clients who possess the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs but who lack a viable business concept or realistic plan to implement the concept into a working small business.  Clients, though passionate about their business idea, often do not think about the costs associated with starting and maintaining a business, marketing their business to consumers, state and city compliance and regulation issues, or the time investment that a small business requires.  As attorneys are bound by ethical rules in advising clients, attorneys should encourage clients to complete a feasibility study and business plan before assisting client in their small business venture.

2

A feasibility study serves “as a filter, screening out ideas that lack potential for building a successful business, before an entrepreneur commits the necessary resources to building a business plan.”[2]  A business plan, on the other hand, is a “planning tool for transforming an idea into reality.  It builds on the foundation of the feasibility study but provides a more comprehensive analysis of the business.”[3]  While a feasibility study and a business plan overlap in some information and insight that they provide to the entrepreneur about his or her business concept, they each serve an important but separate purpose in the business start-up process.  Both can also serve to assist the entrepreneur with information gathering to assess the business concept, including legal compliance requirements, costs, and marketing.

For example, a potential client comes to the Entrepreneurship Clinic with a creative business concept for an ice cream sandwich business using a push-cart.  After reviewing compliance requirements for this type of business, it would be determined that the business idea is not viable because of state and city regulations of ice cream businesses.  Had the client created a feasibility study, the client would have learned that regulations prevent ice cream from being stored in a home, and that push-cart businesses are only allowed to sell pre-packed items.  Luckily, she had not made purchases for her business idea or invested other financial resources into the business that does not meet compliance requirements.  However, this is not typical of entrepreneurs who often make purchases for their business before determining viability through a feasibility study, then move forward solely based on their business idea.

Feasibility studies should be encouraged—even required—for entrepreneurs because they help determine the workability and profitability of a business venture.  A feasibility study that determines a business is not viable could save an entrepreneurship client money, time, effort, and resources of a failed business venture.  However, if a feasibility study determines that a business concept is viable, the entrepreneur can be advised effectively on how to move forward to create a business plan to implement the business concept into a working business venture.  As future attorneys, we can assist our clients in open discussions of feasibility of their business concepts.  We can encourage clients to conduct a feasibility study and complete a business plan before advising them to expend money, time, and energy into starting a business that is not in compliance with state laws or will not produce the profits the client wants to achieve.

[1] Joe Robinson. The 7 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs. (Accessed October 9, 2014) http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/230350.

[2] Chapter 4: Conducting a Feasibility Analysis and Crafting a Winning Business Plan. http://www.prenhall.com/behindthebook/0132294389/pdf/Zimmerer_CH04.pdf at 123.

[3] Chapter 4: Conducting a Feasibility Analysis and Crafting a Winning Business Plan, p. 123. http://www.prenhall.com/behindthebook/0132294389/pdf/Zimmerer_CH04.pdf (Accessed October 5, 2014).


Professor Turowski Published in Renowned National Journal

January 26, 2015

One of our highly esteemed professors, Professor Carol Turowski, was recently published in The Champion.  The Champion is the renowned journal of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ (NACDL).  Professor Turowski’s article, “Capital Cases,” provides insight on lethal injections and is very interesting read.  The following excerpt made us all want to keep reading more.  Congratulations, Professor Turowski!

“The recent spate of botched lethal executions in Oklahoma, Ohio, and Arizona has many legal experts in the country questioning whether methods used for carrying out these killings violate the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Over the years, states have used various methods to carry out these deaths from public hangings, to the electric chair, to the gas chamber, to firing squads, and, starting in the late 20th century, to death by lethal injection. The majority of states that still allow capital punishment use the lethal administration of drugs because it is considered the most humane and cheapest method for killing a human being — or is it?”

Originally published in The Champion magazine. (c) National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

 

The CRC would like to thank The Champion for allowing us to post this excerpt.  To find out more about The Champion and to access Professor Turowski’s article online, click here.  To download the article, click: Turowski Article 1 and Turowski Article 2.

 


%d bloggers like this: