Friday, October 15, 2010


Mr. Quigley won't be able to make it this Wednesday to give his talk on Social Justice Lawyering.  We hope to reschedule, but nothing has been decided yet.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Social Justice Lawyering: A Talk by Bill Quigley

Bill Quigley is the Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and Janet Mary Riley Distinguished Professor of Law at Loyola University New Orleans School of Law

The talk with be on October 20th at 4:30 in G90.
A reception will follow.

This event is co-sponsored by GPSAFC and is open to the community.

Mr. Quigley is an extraordinary lawyer who has dedicated his life to social justice issues, from his exemplary post-Katrina legal work to his work on voting rights, death penalty, civil liberties, constitutional rights and civil disobedience. He is the author of Ending Poverty As We Know It: Guaranteeing A Right to A Job at a Living Wage and Storms Still Raging: Katrina, New Orleans and Social Justice and has also been an active volunteer lawyer with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. He is currently the legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and is the Director of the Law Clinic at Loyola University. Bill is the recipient of the Stanford Law School National Public Service Award in 2006; the NLG Ernie Goodman Award that same year; the SALT Teaching Award in 2004; and the Pope Paul VI National Teacher of Peace by Pax Christi USA in 2003.

Mr. Quigley is truly a lawyer in the best sense-- don’t miss this inspirational individual.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Election Results

Please welcome our new 1L Representatives:

Sergio Rudin
Mahats Miller
Brianna Serrano

And our Events Committee members:

Meghan Bowman
Cheryl Blake
Andrew Cashmore
Ashley McGovern

Thanks to everyone who came out to the meeting. It's gonna be a great year!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Great Juan Cole Post Decoding Hasbara About Hamas, Gaza, and the So-Called Withdrawal

"Gazans have no state. What the Israelis deign to call the ‘Hamas regime’ is no such thing because it lacks sovereignty, over its borders, air, sea, imports and exports. (The idea that Israel is ‘at war’ with its own occupied territory is laughable.) The Israeli ‘withdrawal’ of 2005 simply removed a few thousand colonists and withdrew troops, usually, to the borders. But it did not allow the creation of a sovereign state. Gazans are excluded from a third of their own farmland by Israeli restrictions on where people can live. That so many Gazans are unemployed, that their industries have collapsed, that they are food insecure, and that malnutrition is causing stunting in 10% of children– all these outrages derive from their lack of a sovereign state to look out for their interests."

The rest of the post is here.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Israel's Attack on the Aid Flotilla Bound for Gaza

[I'll probably be posting updates to this---as things go on. For a much more comprehensive article from a much better and much more qualified writer, see Glenn Greenwald's here.]

What happened on May 31, 2010 was absolutely terrible. While this event was far from the first atrocity committed by the Israeli government against the Palestinians and their supporters, it is perhaps the most significant since the egregious "Gaza War" [read: massacre/stranglehold] in 2008. My condolences to all who lost love ones yesterday. Hopefully they will not have died in vain.

The accounts given by the IDF, AIPAC, etc. generally indicate that the Israeli soldiers used live fire only after being fired upon by what it calls "terrorists" (note that the IHH is on neither US nor European lists of terrorist organizations---they are a humanitarian group). Based on the videos they themselves posted, this order of events doesn't seem possible. First, if the passengers really fired first, isn't it odd that not even the IDF video (loading slow, but accessible from the link) released was able to document it? Isn't it also strange that AIPAC claims that only metal rods and pipes were used against the elite Israeli forces? Of course, they also claimed that the use of metal rods and knives left them with no choice but to retaliate with lethal force. All of the passengers claim that the Israeli soldiers began firing shortly after boarding.

Although reports do show that passengers eventually fired upon the soldiers using guns they took away from the soldiers, such action definitely doesn't constitute "firing first", and the fact that no Israeli soldier died further indicates that the passengers had no interest in anything other than self-defense and preservation of their humanitarian cause.

Is it a good thing that humanitarian activists are arming themselves with pipes and knives because of fear that Israel will attack and attempt to kill them? Absolutely not. Is it understandable? Yes. Is there any reason to think it will change? Absolutely not. Israel has vowed to use more force in the future--they're basically telling the activists to arm themselves more heavily if they have any hopes that the food and supplies they plan to transport will ever reach the people who need them.

There are those out there who argue that "the situation is complex" or that "there are too many competing narratives for us to have any idea what really happened". Those people would have the rest of us feel sad for "everyone involved"---even the poor, heavily armed, elite Israeli commando unit whose illegal actions deliberately provoked a non-lethal response so they could make an example out of the crew by massacring them. The worst part is that Israel vows to use more force next time a ship traveling in international waters violating no international laws tries to bring food and humanitarian and building supplies to Gaza.

In light of the aforementioned hasbara that's floating all over the place, three legal points:

1. Israeli soldiers invaded the flotilla in international waters, breaking international law (UN Convention on Law of the Seas, Art. 3), and, in killing civilians, committed a war crime (the only countries who disagree about this are the United States and Israel, but the UN Conv. is clear). The counter-claim that the soldiers responded to some sort of imminent threat should be dismissed immediately---such disproportionate force is not justified when dealing with civilians using non-lethal force--especially when the soldiers illegally boarded their ship.

2. Israel has no right to control Gaza’s sea as its own territorial waters and to stop aid convoys arriving that way. In doing so, it proves that it is still in occupation of the enclave and its 1.5 million inhabitants. And if it is occupying Gaza, then under international law (Geneva Convention IV, arts. 55, 59-60), Israel is responsible for the welfare of the Strip’s inhabitants, and should thus be ensuring that they are adequately supplied with food, water, energy, supplies, etc. Of course, their blockade would also violate those same international laws--a nation cannot blockade a nation under its occupation.

3. Israel approved the boarding of these aid ships by an elite unit of commandos. They were armed with automatic weapons to pacify the civilians onboard, but not with crowd dispersal equipment in case of resistance. Whatever the circumstances of the confrontation, Israel must be held legally responsible for sending in soldiers and recklessly endangering the lives of all the civilians onboard, including a baby.

The only positive things to come out of this incident are Egypt's removal of its blockade on Gaza and Turkey's (a NATO member) strong condemnation of Israel's actions as a violation of international law, pulling of its ambassador from Israel, and its cancellation of further cooperative military exercises with Israel.

However, these slightly positive results came at far too high a price.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Kagan Will Move the Court to the Right

Here's immediate past-president of the National Lawyers Guild Marjorie Cohn's excellent article in CounterPunch on how Obama's cowardice in nominating Elena Kagan to fill Justice Stevens's spot on the Supreme Court will shift the Court even further to the right.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Elections Results!

We had our elections for our new board yesterday and the results are fantastic!

President: Chuck Guzak
Vice-President: Sarah Pruett
Treasurer: Randa Adra
2L Rep: Ann Eisenberg
3L Rep: Joanna Chen
3L Rep: Laura Sedlak

Congrats to the new officers!

Monday, April 12, 2010

National Lawyers Guild Calls for Value Shift in Supreme Court Nomination

Check out this call for a progressive nominee to the Supreme Court from the national office of the NLG:

"With President Obama poised to select his second Supreme Court nominee, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) advocates for a return to justices worthy of the title—ones who will put the interests of the downtrodden above those of transnational corporations, who will not compromise on the rights of women to reproductive justice, who will stand for true racial justice rather than the “blind justice” that preserves the status quo of white privilege, and who will protect the people against a government that cloaks itself in secrecy and invades the most private aspects of their lives.

In replacing Justice John Paul Stevens, whomever President Obama nominates will be reviled by many as a radical, socialist, activist judge. Stevens, a conscientious and principled jurist, has been labeled “left” only because, as he himself asserts, the Court has, over the last two generations, moved so far to the right. In that time, due in significant part to a number of Supreme Court decisions, economic inequality has increased dramatically. Most recently, the Court expanded the rights of corporations, which have no attributes of living, breathing, sentient beings, the right to freedom of speech. In addition, school integration – and thus the opportunity for poor African-Americans and other people of color to attend better schools – has come to a grinding halt. And the Chamber of Commerce’s priorities dominate the decisions of the Supreme Court and routinely deprive workers of their rights.

The NLG will not be satisfied with the nomination of a centrist, mainstream justice who will do little or nothing to reverse the routine elevation of corporate interests over individual rights. For example, potential nominees such as Elena Kagan, who calls for indefinite detention of terrorist suspects without trial and defines terrorism to include protected speech, are unacceptable.

President Obama will not nominate the kind of justice the times call for without a unified demand from the people. NLG President David Gespass said, “The right-wing demagogues cannot go unchallenged in defining the debate. There will be at least one voice saying a centrist is not good enough and that a moderate is no liberal. Our views will prevail because we speak for the interests of the people of the United States and the world.”

The National Lawyers Guild was founded in 1937 and is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state. "

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Hey everyone,

Come join us for NLG Elections this Thursday at 4:00 PM in the Saperston Student Lounge. We will be filling the positions listed below. Hope to see you there!

Vice President
3L Reps
2L Reps


NLG E-Board.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Modern American Slave Trade -
Human Trafficking in the US and Abroad

A discussion with Laura Murphy, Free the Slaves representative.

Friday, April 2nd at 12:20 in Saperston Student Lounge
Lunch will be served

Co-Sponsored by: NLG, SALSA, CLSA and GPSAFC
Open to the Graduate Community

There are 27 million people who are enslaved in the world today. 14-17,000 people are trafficking into the US each year to be made slaves. This talk will address the growing numbers of vulnerable people in the US and abroad, the means by which this illicit trade is affected, and the work we can do to abolish slavery once again. Free the Slaves is a non-profit organization that supports on-the-ground projects that help to free enslaved people and to rehabilitate them once liberated. Laura Murphy is a professor of English at Ithaca College and the regional point person for Free the Slaves.

Here's the website if you want more information.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

No recusal where the judge in a death penalty case is sleeping with the prosecutor?

"Charles Dean Hood was sentenced to death in 1990 by a Texas judge who
had been sleeping with the prosecutor in his case. It took Mr. Hood
almost 20 years to establish that fact.
But he finally managed to force the two officials to testify about their rumored affair in the fall of 2008. They admitted it.

Texas’s highest court for criminal matters, its Court of Criminal
Appeals, considered all of this and concluded that Mr. Hood should be
executed anyway."

The full article is here.

For a more entertaining article on the same topic, see the AboveTheLaw article here.

Sign a Petition to Stop the Execution of Troy Davis!!

"Troy Davis has been scheduled for execution three times without ever having a hearing on evidence that he may be innocent. On August 17, the US Supreme Court finally granted him that hearing. While this is welcome news, we must continue to let Georgia authorities know that we support full justice for Troy Davis. Sign the petition today!"

Go here to sign the Amnesty International petition to stop the execution of Troy Davis!

Death Penalty Week starts next week!

Final Event of Death Penalty Week-See you there!

The Death Penalty & Morality: Is it Wrong?  An Informal Discussion with Professors Johnson and Heise
Part of NLG's annual Death Penalty Week
Friday, March 5th, 12:20 in the Student Lounge
Refreshments will be provided
Co-sponsored by: GPSAFC
Open to the Graduate Community

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Death Penalty Week Events, continued

"The Death Penalty & Innocence: An Exonerated Death Row Inmate Speaks"
A talk by Joseph Amrine, former death row inmate, sentenced to death in 1986, and exonerated in 2003.
Part of NLG's annual Death Penalty Week
Thursday, March 4, 12:20 in the Lounge
Refreshments will be provided.
Sponsored by NLG, Co-sponsored by GPSAFC, CLSA, and the Death Penalty Project
Open to the Graduate Community

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

American Concentration Camps - 68 Years Later

"Over the next eight months [after President Roosevelt signed Executive Order no. 9066 on February 19, 1942], 120,000 individuals of Japanese descent were ordered to leave their homes in California, Washington, Oregon, and Arizona. Two-thirds were American citizens, representing almost 90 percent of all Japanese Americans. No charges were brought against these individuals; there were no hearings; they did not know where they were going, how long they would be detained, what conditions they would face, or what fate would await them. They were told to bring only what they could carry. Many families lost everything." - from Geoffrey Stone, Perilous Times (New York: W.W. Norton, 2004)

This all, "despite the fact that not a single documented act of espionage, sabotage, or fifth column activity was committed by an American citizen of Japanese ancestry or by a resident Japanese alien on the West Coast." (Personal Justice Denied, report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, established by Congress in 1980)

It's truly outrageous that this happened and it's even more outrageous that I don't believe I learned about it in the public school system. If I did, it certainly didn't sink in until law school. (The only time I think it might have come up was when Mr. Greenburg's textbook of choice in 10th grade was Zinn's A People's History, but I really don't remember much from that year). Thankfully, I've learned about the mass detention of Japanese Americans twice in law school now. Korematsu v. United States--the case President Ford called a "tragedy"--was a part of Constitutional Law and is now a reading for National Security Law. Part of the shock is that our American narrative, found in school history books and heard on news programs, leads us to believe that we were the innocent saviors of WWII. We were the ones who reluctantly joined in the fray, and we were the ones who saved the world from the evil Hitler. I'm not saying we shouldn't have participated in the war--I don't know enough about history to even begin that argument--and I'm obviously more than glad Hitler was stopped--and I'm truly thankful for those who risked their lives for a just cause. I am saying that I wish our narrative was more honest and reflective. I think it's important to know that America was not entirely innocent and it's important to reflect on why these mistakes happen so that we can prevent them from happening again. Part of growing up is seeing the complexities in every moment. As we hear chants of "USA USA USA" for the olympics, please keep in mind that our history is not entirely without mistakes.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

No one likes Citizens United

According to a recent poll by the Washington Post, everyone hates the Citizens United ruling. Ok, maybe not everyone, but 85% of Democrats, 76% of Republicans, and 81% of independents are opposed to it.

So yeah, pretty much everyone. For more, go here.

Cheney Torture Confession

"I was a big supporter of waterboarding," Cheney confessed.

See this article for a brief enumeration of the various crimes (in addition to torture) he's committed and confessed to.

<<"Speaking with a sense of impunity, he casually negated a key line of defense that senior Bush officials had hidden behind for years – that the brutal interrogations were approved by independent Justice Department legal experts who thus gave the administration a legitimate reason to believe the actions were within the law.

However, on Sunday, Cheney acknowledged that the White House had told the Justice Department lawyers what legal opinions to render. In other words, the opinions amounted to ordered-up lawyering to permit the administration to do whatever it wanted.">>

How has he not been indicted?! For a pretty good article on how blatantly he's admitted to being involved in torture, covering up torture, and obtaining illegitimate authorizations of torture, go here.

Also, please click here to sign a petition urging Attorney General Holder to prosecute Dick Cheney for torture and war crimes.

This is absolutely disgusting.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Upcoming Events

"The Death Penalty & Empirical Data: The Transformation of Capital Punishment"
With Professor Eisenberg, Henry Allen Mark Professor of Law and Adjunct Professor of Statistical Sciences
Part of NLG's annual Death Penalty Week
Tuesday, March 2 at 12:20 in Room 390
Snacks will be provided.
Co-sponsored by GPSAFC, Cornell National Lawyers Guild, and CLSA
Open to the Graduate Community

"The Death Penalty & Sentencing: Telling a Life Story, Saving a Life"
A talk by Ms. Caryn Platt Tatelli, AM, LCSW, an independent mitigation specialist for death penalty-eligible defendants.
Part of NLG's annual Death Penalty Week
Wednesday, March 3 at 3:45 in the Lounge
Snacks will be provided.
Co-sponsored by GPSAFC, Cornell National Lawyers Guild, and CLSA
Open to the Graduate Community

Caryn Platt Tatelli, AM, LCSW, is an independent mitigation specialist for death penalty-eligible defendants.  Defense teams hire her at the outset of a case and work with her through sentencing or until the client becomes death penalty ineligible.  As part of her work, she interviews the defendant and the defendant’s family, friends and other key witnesses, such as teachers, neighbors, employers, and correctional officers in order to piece together the defendant’s life story.  She conducts a complete investigation into the defendant’s biopsychosocial developmental life history with a thorough review of education, medical, psychiatric and employment records.  She seeks out the most effective expert witnesses on the issues that are most relevant to the particular defendant.  Ms. Tatelli assists the defense team in determining which mitigating factors are most compelling and strategizes with the defense team regarding the best ways to present the mitigating evidence at sentencing.  Ms. Tatelli has worked exclusively on capital cases for 15 years and has worked on cases in both federal and state jurisdictions, in all phases:  pre-trial, post-conviction and clemency.  She authored the Simmons clemency petition which ultimately resulted in the elimination of the death penalty for juveniles across the country.  She has also worked extensively with victims' families in an effort to simultaneously meet their needs and achieve a favorable outcome for her client.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hiring Death Squads is Coming Back to Haunt U.S. Companies

"Dole Foods and Chiquita may be on the verge of facing justice for 'pacifying' their work force, suppressing labor unions and terrorizing peasant squatters in Colombia."

Find the full article here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle

From Harper's Magazine Online: When President Barack Obama took office last year, he promised to “restore the standards of due process and the core constitutional values that have made this country great.” Toward that end, the president issued an executive order declaring that the extra-constitutional prison camp at Guantánamo “shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than one year from the date of this order.” Obama has failed to fulfill his promise. Some prisoners are being charged with crimes, others released, but the date for closing the camp seems to recede steadily into the future. Furthermore, new evidence now emerging may entangle Obama’s young administration with crimes that occurred during the Bush presidency, evidence that suggests the current administration failed to investigate seriously—and may even have continued—a cover-up of the possible homicides of three prisoners at Guantánamo in 2006.