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Ms. Julia Harumi Mass ID for Immigrants after Disaster
ACLU of Northern California

San Francisco, CA
After disasters, immigrants and others face particular obstacles to receiving benefits due to lack of personal identification. This paper will examine Hurricane Katrina as an example of this problem, discuss discrimination faced by immigrants in that context, and assess the legal implications of such discrimination on a state and national level as well as in the area of international human rights law.
Topic on Waiting List
Mr. Frank Housh Does the Use of the Animal Barbituate Pentobarbitol in Lethal Injection Cocktails Constitute Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Law Offices of Frank Housh

Buffalo, NY
As the United States is isolated as the only western nation and only democracy with capital punishment, supplies for lethal injection are in short supply. No domestic sources exist for the traditional fast-acting barbituate sodium thiopental and the animal medication pentobarbital is being substituted. As this narcotic is not used on humans and outside of the experience of contemporary medical science, does pentobarbital's use constitute an Eighth Amendment violation?
Topic Available
Ms. Miriam Nemeth A Litigant's Opportunity to be Heard & 14th Amendment Due Process
Law Clerk, Federal District Court

Royal Oak, MI
In general, a litigant must be afforded notice and an opportunity to be heard prior to being deprived of his constitutionally protected interest in a job. However, there is a little law on what defines the contours of the opportunity to be heard. In one case, a litigant argued that he had been deprived of his opportunity to be heard because the agency submitted false statements to the hearing board that were attributed to him and this prejudiced and undermined his later testimony before the board. Was he deprived of his opportunity to be heard?
Topic Available
Mr. Mark Wasacz Disaster Preparedness For Foster Youth In California: Lessons Learned From The Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina
Wasacz Hilley & Fullerton LLP

San Francisco, CA
This project examines the issues faced by foster youth following Hurricane Katrina and the failings of the various local, state and federal agencies charged with assisting them. This project will also research the disaster preparedness plans that were in place prior to and following Katrina, as well as plans used by other state and those suggested by private child welfare/advocacy organizations in order to analyze plans currently in place in California.
Topic Available
Mr. Stephen Ronfeldt Due Process Rights In Disaster Relief
The Public Interest Law Project

Oakland , CA
Whether federal and state due process laws require that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provide pre-termination review of terminations of housing assistance granted to persons displaced by disasters due to restrictive rules such as the shared household rule and, if so, what type of review or hearing must be provided? The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal held that due process does not apply absent FEMA rules or policies providing a reasonable expectation of continuing assistance but other Circuits and states, such as California, have different due process standards. Please analyze the caselaw and applicable FEMA rules and policies.
Topic on Waiting List
Mr. Stephen Leonard Collier Disaster Law and Single Room Occupancy Hotels
Golden Gate University School of Law

San Francisco , CA
There are approximately 19,000 San Franciscans who live in Single Room Occupancy Hotels (SROs). For the residents of SROs, SROs are the only “affordable” housing. However, SROs lack some of the legal protections that come with leasing an apartment or house. What are the potential legal hurdles residents will face with accessing aid during a disaster? How will FEMA determine the “household” size? What legal rights exist should the SROs become uninhabitable or destroyed? What changes would you propose, and what advice would you offer to SRO residents in preparation and in response to a disaster?
Topic Available
Mr. Michael A. Murphy Multi-employer trust fund participation agreements: Mandatory or Permissive
Glenda Pittman & Associates

Austin, TX
May an employer refuse to bargain over binding itself to a participation agreement to a health benefit plan trust fund established pursuant to LMRA Section 302(c)(5) if the participation agreement contains liquidated damages, and attorneys fees clauses for collection of delinquent fund contributions?
Topic Available
Mr. jahan sagafi Protecting employee-plaintiffs from waiving future opportunities in settlement
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein

san francisco, CA
Defense-side corporate employment lawyers often include a dangerous provision in settlement agreements that is against public policy and perhaps should be deemed unenforceable. Specifically, they require that in exchange for payment of compensation as part of a settlement, the employee-plaintiff must agree not to apply to work for the employer-defendant in the future. These restrictions impose a huge burden on employee-plaintiffs, limiting their opportunities for future employment. Have courts or legislatures ban this practice? Could they?
Topic Available
Mr. Scott J. Richard The Effect of Citizens United on State Judicial Races


Chicago, IL
Citizens United v. FEC struck down the federal ban on corporate independent expenditures in elections and much has been written about the deleterious effects that this will have on the electoral system as a whole. While corporations may not see a benefit in using their general treasury funds in expensive and unpredictable congressional and executive races, they may find that relatively small expenditures in state judicial races can have a palpable effect for their interests. Concentrating on one or more states and their judicial elections, what will be the impact of Citizens United on state judiciaries?
Topic on Waiting List
Ms. Sharon Lin Sullivan The New Student Loan Overhaul: Can it Protect Vulnerable Seniors?
Legal Counsel for the Elderly

Washington, DC
As the economic recession worsens, vulnerable, low-income seniors are struggling with student loans (their own or loans co-signed for grandchildren). Most of these loans are impossible to discharge. But, with the student loan overhaul in the health care reform bill, are there new means to assist the elderly saddled with these loans? Or, are the elderly still disadvantaged by the student loan business? How will the overhaul protect/injure/ignore low-income elderly citizens?
Topic Available
Mr. Michael Curtis Is there a right to rely on advances in scientific evidence
Michael Curtis, Attorney

Portland, OR
Commonly in post-conviction attacks on criminal convictions and sentences, including on death sentences, courts look to what information was available to trial counsel at the time of trial. I wish to frame an argument that petitioners in post-conviction proceedings can rely on scientific advances that have occurred between the time of conviction and the time of the post-conivction hearing. Given recent developments in the forensic science community, and given advances in a number of relevant fields, this proposition, if accepted, could have significant impact.
Topic Available
Mr. Richard E. Johnson Can civil rights plaintiffs be made to pay defendant's attorney fees?
Law Office of Richard E. Johnson

Tallahassee, FL
Can a plaintiff who loses a federal civil rights case be made to pay the defendant’s attorney fees under state law? Assume a defendant wins summary judgment on both federal and state-law claims that share a common nucleus of operative fact. Federal law only allows for prevailing plaintiffs to recover attorney fees, but state law provides for prevailing party fees on an equal basis for plaintiff and defendant alike. Defendant claims 50% of fees since the hours on the state and federal claims are inseparable. Is there an argument that the defendant’s inability to receive fees on the federal claim preempts the defendant’s ability to recover fees on the related state claim? What are the policy implications of state tort reform on longstanding federal civil rights law?
Topic Available
Is Prolonged Solitary Confinement Cruel and Unusual Punishment?
ACLU
The question of whether solitary confinement per se constitutes cruel and unusual punishment has been litigated, and generally answered in the negative. However, modern psychological research has shown that prolonged solitary confinement has profound permanent effects and sometimes has been compared to torture. Is solitary confinement becomes cruel and unusual under our evolving standards of decency? Is there a point at which, even if it is generally acceptable, prolonged solitary confinement is cruel and unusual?
Topic Available
Mr. Shahid Ali Buttar When senior U.S. officials are complicit in enhanced interrogation techniques that some describe as torture, what is the potential impact on the international legal regime?
Bill of Rights Defense Committee

Northampton, MA
Despite international commitments to investigate allegations of torture, and the Nuremberg precedent requiring prosecution throughout the chain of command, senior U.S. officials confront neither prosecution nor investigation for potential war crimes (including torture) violating international treaties, federal statutes, and the Constitution. Can the international legal regime founded after WWII survive violations by the nation that pioneered it? Does a limited investigation of junior level players ratify the legality of torture, even if repudiated as a policy matter? Will it invite further torture in the future? And does it threaten the legitimacy of the criminal justice system generally?
Topic on Waiting List
Mr. Shahid Ali Buttar Do police stops for the purposes of domestic surveillance / intelligence collection implicate Fourth Amendment protections?
Bill of Rights Defense Committee

Northampton, MA
Law enforcement authorities increasingly stop law-abiding Americans for searches or interrogations without suspicion of criminal activity, for the purposes of collecting intelligence information for retention, datamining, and dissemination to other agencies. When police officers interact with an individual on such grounds, should they be constrained according to a formalistic understanding of the Fourth Amendment operable only in the context of criminal law enforcement, or should a functional standard (recognizing the powerlessness of the individual relative to the officers) apply? What is the meaning of the Fourth Amendment under the preventive paradigm?
Topic on Waiting List
Ms. Amy Radon Gender Equity in Community Athletic Programs
Public Justice, P.C.

Washington, DC
Many non-school baseball leagues that are administered through community programs prohibit girls from playing baseball. We would like to know if, or under what circumstances, these baseball leagues may be subject to either Title IX or the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibit gender discrimination by state actors. This issue requires looking into whether community baseball leagues (i.e., baseball programs that are NOT offered by schools) might be considered "state actors" by virtue of the fact that they use public resources, receive public funding, etc.
Topic Available
Mr. Reilly Morse What can Mississippi housing advocates take from the recent ADC v. Westchester County Fair Housing decision to challenge Mississippi's analysis of impediments to fair housing in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina?
Mississippi Center for Justice

Biloxi, MS
When state and local governments accept federal funding for housing and community development from Housing and Urban Development, the grantee must certify to HUD that it will affirmatively further fair housing as a condition of receiving funds. Uncertainty about what constitutes "affirmatively further", the requirement to consider the impact of race, and what action is required if race-related impediments exist, continues after a recent federal case in the Southern District of NY. Mississippi Center for Justice seeks research on the applicability of recent case law on the analysis of Mississippi's identified impediments to Fair Housing.
Topic Available
Ms. Linda Rigsby Legality of disparate medical costs charged to insured and uninsured people
Mississippi Center for Justice

Jackson, MS
The uninsured pay far more for the same medical care and procedures than people with insurance. A doctor treating an insured patient may get $5,000 for a rotator cuff surgery while her uninsured patient pays over $20,000 for the identical procedure. In Mississippi, the primary reason families are forced into bankruptcy and lose their homes is the grossly differentiated medical costs for the uninsured. We welcome an analysis of prior efforts to litigate the fairness of the differential, and an assessment of the viability of state and/or federal court litigation in Mississippi in the future.
Topic Available
Ms. Beth Orlansky Ensuring rights for unmarried partners under Mississippi's Worker's Comp Laws
Mississippi Center for Justice

Jackson, MS
Under the Mississippi Worker’s Compensation statute, there is no provision for recovery by a live-in girlfriend/boyfriend when the worker dies as a result of a job-related activity. There are many instances where an unmarried significant other is the sole dependant of the deceased, but cannot recover We would like to introduce legislation this year to broaden the beneficiaries of the Worker’s Comp proceeds in case of death. We would like research on other state statutes to see if similar language has been adopted elsewhere and draft proposed legislation.
Topic Available
Mr. Andrew C. Simpson Could U.S. v. Denedo represent an opportunity for a broad expansion of the right to coram nobis relief?
Andrew C. Simpson, PC

Christiansted, VI
Coram nobis is a writ that allows a federal court to alter a judgment in a federal criminal conviction long after the defendant has served his sentence. In the recently decided U.S. v. Denedo case, the primary issue was whether coram nobis relief is available in military courts. In Denedo, the Court held that military courts can entertain writs of coram nobis. Can Denedo be fairly interpreted to represent a vast expansion of the availability of coram nobis relief in non-military, federal criminal cases? What is the potential impact of such a reading? What policy considerations are in play?
Topic Available
May a Criminal Defendant Consent to be Tried by a Jury that is not Impartial?

Many criminal defendants waive the right to a jury trial before pleading guilty, but what about a defendant who does not waive the right to be tried by a jury, but does waive the right to be tried by an impartial jury? E.g., the defendant fails to object when he finds out about the bias of a juror who ends up serving on the jury. The circuits are split on whether a defendant may consent to be tried by a jury containing a biased member.
Topic Available
Mr. Joshua A Tepfer Competency of defense witnesses and the Sixth Amendment
Northwestern University School of Law

Chicago, IL
Do any courts or legislation argue that the question of a defense witness' competency is irrelevant for purposes of admissibility -- i.e., perhaps that the defendant's sixth amendment right to present a defense trumps any question of competency for admissibility purposes? Is this argument reasonable?
Topic Available
Ms. Lael E Robertson ADA AA and its Fair Housing Act Implications
Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis

Minneapolis, MN
The passage of the ADA Amendments Act in 2008 significantly expanded the definition of disability and thereby provides persons with disabilities more protection under the three titles of the ADA. The Fair Housing Act has many protections for persons with disabilities within the housing context. However, nothing in the ADAA has expanded its new protection to the FHA. How will the changes to the ADA AA affect cases under the FHA? If there is nothing specifically in the ADA AA regarding its effect on other substantially similar laws, how are they affected?
Topic on Waiting List
Mr. Reilly Morse Consumer protection for contractor fraud post-Katrina
Mississippi Center for Justice

Biloxi, MS
Many Mississippians fortunate enough to receive post-Katrina homeowner assistance grants and insurance proceeds on the Mississippi coast had the cash they needed to repair their homes. Unfortunately, the scarcity of skilled workers enabled scam artists and unscrupulous "contractors" to take large deposits before work began and either disappeared or did such shoddy work families ended up worse off than when they started. Mississippi statutory law provides few, if any, consumer protections against this kind of fraud. What should the Mississippi Center for Justice legislative agenda be? What legal protections have worked effectively in other states?
Topic Available
Mr. Jim Neuhard Are state constitutional rights that aren't found in the U.S. Constitution enforceable in federal court?
Michigan's State Appellate Defender Office

Detroit, MI
Under what circumstances, if any, can federal courts enforce rights that are explicitly guaranteed in state constitutions but not in the federal constitution? Can the process by which states were admitted to the union or the state’s constitution itself allow federal courts to hold states accountable for granting specific rights not guaranteed under the federal constitution? For example, the Michigan Constitution specifically guarantees the right to an appeal, yet the Federal Constitution only infers that right from the 14th and 5th amendment’s right to due process.
Topic Available