Citizens Review Board & Professor Huber Spotlighted in Observer

May 22, 2015

On May 15, 2015, our very own supervising attorney (and soon-to-be an Associate CSL Dean for Experiential Education!), Jason Huber, and the Clinic were spotlighted in the Charlotte Observer for our work with Charlotte’s Citizens Review Board (CRB). As our faithful readers are probably aware, the CRB has been a long-standing project here at the Clinic.

The Observer shares the story of David Dardon-Strickland who states that his home was illegally searched by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) officers. The charges officers cited him for after the search were eventually dropped, but his allegations of police misconduct were never addressed. Until now.  The CRB voted to have the first hearing under the new structure that the Clinic, Professor Huber, and other community leaders advocated for and the City Council adopted.

Professor Huber is quoted: “If we get down the road and we see … the results are still the same, then there may need to be some more changes,” Huber said. “I think it’s important to be patient and let the new system play itself out and then take a hard look at the results.” Congrats to the Clinic and Professor Huber for all of their work on this thus far!

To access the article, click here.

FREE Resource from Clearinghouse Community

April 21, 2015

Law students interested in the real world of public interest law practice are invited to join the Clearinghouse Community, the new free resource from the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law.

The Clearinghouse Community follows on the rich tradition of Clearinghouse Review: Journal of Poverty Law and Policy and covers—in a practice-oriented way—developments in a wide range of poverty law topics of interest to students in the Civil Rights Clinic. For example, this month the Clearinghouse Community is featuring content on criminal records: an article on expungement as a gateway to workan advocacy story on preventing commercial background screeners from reporting expunged cases, and a Google+ Hangout on Air scheduled for April 29 with a professor and student in the Record Clearance Project at San José State University. Students may also want to check out curated collections of articles on criminal records, racial justice, and fair housing.

In fact, the Clearinghouse Community archives include an advocacy story by Charlotte School of Law’s own Prof. Jason Huber on the Civil Rights Clinic’s successful Ban the Box campaign.

The Shriver Center no longer requires a subscription to access these materials. Readers can simply register on the site (see the link in the upper right hand corner). Be sure to sign up to receive a monthly email linking to all of that month’s new content.

Clinic Efforts Featured in the NACOLE Review!

February 24, 2015


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.

The Ultimate Practice Ready Exercise

November 5, 2012

One of our school’s mission pillars, and one of the reasons I chose to attend Charlotte Law, is the school’s commitment to making students practice ready. Practice ready assignments have many benefits. But it was not until my 3L year that I was able to experience the ultimate practice ready assignment – actually representing a client in court – through the Civil Rights Clinic and the use of the North Carolina Student Practice Certificate.

A student is eligible for a practice certificate if they have completed 45 credit hours, are in good academic standing, and supervised by a licensed attorney. All it takes is filling out a few forms (found on RUFUS) and submitting them to the North Carolina State Bar. With a practice certificate, a student can take on the role as lawyer – doing everything from offering legal advice to trying a court case.

My experience as part of the Civil Rights Clinic was to work with a defendant on a criminal misdemeanor. Under the supervision of Prof. Jason Huber and a local criminal defense attorney, I was able to meet with the client, work on case strategy, meet with the District Attorney, and actually represent our client in court – handling everything from pre-trial plea negotiations, cross-examining witnesses, giving a closing argument, and negotiating sentencing. The whole experience was the ultimate combination of class lectures I have attended. Being in the courtroom just feels right – as if it is where I belong. I am lucky enough to have had this amazing educational experience. The Student Practice Certificate is absolutely the ultimate practice ready exercise and I think every student should have this experience.

More information about the Student Practice Certificate is available on RUFUS.

By: Rachel Davis

Students of the Civil Rights Clinic and the Law & Rhetoric Course Come Together.

October 1, 2012

Classical rhetoricians like Aristotle, Quintilian, Isocrates, and Cicero, were concerned with “preparing young men for the roles as citizens by teaching them to be skilled persuasive speakers in various situations,” writes Professor James M. Dubinsky of Virginia Tech in his article, “Service-Learning as a Path to Virtue: The Ideal Orator in Professional Communication.” The lawyer has always been in a unique and privileged position in our society. As legal writers, we strive to produce our best arguments in hope of serving our clients to the best of our capabilities. This is where rhetoric is most useful to us, as a tool for legal analysis. The study of rhetoric enables us as lawyers to determine the best ways to organize our reasoning, to determine our best strategies, and to tell our clients’ story in way that is most persuasive and beneficial. It requires us not only to be great lawyers, but great public servants. The skills that the study of rhetoric teaches us, allows us to be more effective in taking on the legal challenges lawyers face. Because of a lawyer’s unique position in society and the power we possess to implement change, rhetoric is more important to us than most.

According to Aristotle, the study of rhetoric enables individuals to discover “in the particular case what are the available means of persuasion.” Aristotle, Rhetoric. Philosophers who came after Aristotle such as Cicero extended this concept, noting that “the orators’ importance lies in their ability to bring help to the suppliant, to raise up those that are cast down, to bestow security, to set free from peril, to maintain men in their civil rights.” Dubinsky, “Service-Learning” pg.61). Professor Erin Kane’s Law & Rhetoric (L&R) course and Professor Jason Huber’s Civil Rights Clinic (CRC), both at the Charlotte School of Law (CSL) are working together this semester with the aim to help students hone in on these important rhetorical skills. This unique collaboration will help students in becoming more effective in their verbal communication and writing, making them into better advocates to serve society.

Aristotle, author of Rhetoric

We live in world where we can communicate instantaneously to almost anyone, making the study of rhetoric more important than ever. Videos and posts now go viral and can spark unprecedented change. From a man in Tunisia who set himself on fire in protest of his oppressive government which sparked demonstrations across the Arab world and what is now called the Arab Spring, to groups on Facebook who started an on-going revolution in Egypt: rhetoric is all around us.

Aristotle’s three persuasive audience appeals, EthosPathos, and Logos are rhetorical devices that we use every day and most often don’t even realize. Known as the Rhetorical Triangle, ethos means character; it is the convincing through credibility. When we have ethos, we are projecting our authority over a certain subject, conveying to the audience that we are someone worth listening too, such as a lawyer. Pathos refers to the persuasion of an audience through emotional appeal. Logos is the means of persuading through reasoning, it is most likely the most important for a lawyer, for it is our reasoning that we use to justify our arguments. When these three are in balance that is when we are most effective in our discourse.

In law school, students lack the time for an in-depth study of rhetoric. Professor Kane’s unique law school course allows her students to have the opportunity to provide rhetorical analysis concerning the projects the CRC will be working on this semester.

Professor Kane requires her students to do “service-learning” projects throughout the semester. These projects allow them to practice the rhetorical analysis they learn through real ongoing projects and at the same time become involved in the community. Beside’s working with the CRC, Professor Kane’s students are engaged in other service-learning projects like the Charlotte Men’s Shelter and local youth mentoring programs. Service-learning allows students to become involved in their communities and at the same time become modern rhetoricians. As lawyers, we are all “advocates,” the question remains, how effective we are at it, Professor Kane’s L&R course is as much about an in-depth study of rhetoric as it is realizing how effective we can be as orators and writers. Such collaboration between the CRC and the L&R course at CSL demonstrates an undertaking in which rhetoric will be used to make better lawyers by implementing the importance of civic values through service-learning.

Community involvement seemed to be essential to classical rhetoricians, for they emphasized using practical skills for the common good to the young men they were teaching. Dubinsky, “Service-Learning” pg.61). Such emphasis is becoming essential to many lawyers today. The Legal Ease Blog shows us the importance for lawyers to be involved in the community as well as its practical benefits. Lawyers helping their communities benefit from word of mouth, making traditional lawyer advertising unnecessary according to a post by Noble McIntyre, a personal injury lawyer in Ohio. The “highest point of contribution” students can make to society involves a balance between their talent, passion, and what’s available in the marketplace. The CRC students are indeed passionate about their work; just attend one of their meetings or meet one of them and you’ll see. The students of the L&R course are in collaboration with their passionate CRC colleagues to help them obtain their “highest point of contribution,” as well as obtain their own “highest point.”

While sitting in Professor Jason Huber’s CRC at CSL, one can easily see the importance of rhetoric in their work. The CRC exists to advocate for citizen civil rights causes. As advocates, the students have opportunities to implement important change to further protect the civil rights of its local community. While at a CRC meeting, one instantly recognizes Professor Huber’s unique facilitating style. The Clinic can get loud, really loud, ideas and laughter bouncing back and forth around the room: Professor Huber’s style, more appropriately his rhetoric, encourages and persuades his students to be effective and better advocates.

Regarding Bill Clinton’s speech at the DNC this year, CNN’s David Gergen wrote “Wednesday’s talk was the best and most influential he has given since leaving the White House a dozen years ago.” After the DNC, President Obama’s poll numbers bounced in his favor, showing the value of good rhetoric in today’s society.

The CRC is accomplishing great things. Great things like their work at this year’s Democratic National Convention, documenting protester arrests and making sure their civil rights were not infringed. There work with “Ban the Box,” a grassroots campaign in Charlotte aimed at encouraging employers to end employment discrimination based on past criminal records, advocating for another chance for these individuals to become revitalized members of the community. Also, the Rehabilitation Certificate project which focuses on advocating and obtaining court orders which issue certificates to these individuals showing that these citizens have been rehabilitated following a criminal conviction which in turn will help them secure better employment opportunities and improve their lives. The CRC also created a program which trains students to be hearing officers at Charlotte Housing Authority hearings’. Every week, the Charlotte Housing Authority holds Section 8 termination hearings to determine whether a participant’s voucher to affordable housing will be terminated. The students are trained to determine such issues, and by being involved in such a sensitive and important socio-economic issue, these students are diving into the realm of civic duty that classical rhetoricians in the past have written about. Such projects require law students to be engaged in the community, and the study of rhetoric will aid students of the CRC in their important endeavors by helping them in their effectiveness as society advocates.

This exciting new relationship will allow students from both the Civil Rights Clinic and the Law & Rhetoric course at the Charlotte School of Law to become modern day rhetoricians. Stressing the balance of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos and the importance of rhetorical analysis as a legal tool for our writing and verbal communications, as well as the civic duty lawyers carry in shaping our society.

By: John Hanna

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