Thursday, March 10, 2016


Liman Fellows Announced; Colloquium Scheduled

The Arthur Liman Public Interest Program announced the appointment of seven new fellows for the 2016-2017 academic year. The incoming Liman Fellows bring the number of Yale Law School graduates who have received Liman Fellowships since the Liman Program began in 1997 to 115. In addition to the new appointments, the Liman program will provide extensions to six of the current fellows.

The 13 Fellows will work in Alabama, California, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Washington, and the District of Columbia on a wide-ranging set of projects. The Liman Fellows bring a remarkable array of commitment and skills to solve problems and are all concerned with how inequality affects the justice system. 

Some fellows will focus on improving access to counsel for immigrants, workers, asylum seekers, and indigent criminal defendants. Others will press for better policing policies, less pre-trial detention, and for limits on the use of court fines and fees for those who cannot afford to pay them.

Two fellows will work to help people in detention, from incarcerated children needing education to prisoners with disabilities placed in solitary confinement. Additional fellows will work to end housing and employment discrimination for people returning from prisons to their communities. For more information on the fellows, visit the Liman website.

The fellowship announcement comes one month ahead of the annual Liman Public Interest Colloquium, which is scheduled for March 31-April 1, 2016 at Yale Law School. This year’s colloquium will bring together scholars, fellows, faculty, and students to examine reforming the criminal justice system. The colloquium will consider how reform agendas are formulated, gain currency, and result in changes in laws and practices that produce consequences, whether generative or harmful. To learn more about this year’s colloquium, visit the Liman website.

The Arthur Liman Public Interest Program supports the work of Yale law students and Yale law school graduates through Liman Fellowships as well as undergraduate students from Yale College, Barnard College, Brown University, Harvard University, Princeton University and Spelman College, all of whom work to respond to problems of inequality and to improve access to justice.

The Liman Project provides an opportunity for Yale Law students to work together with faculty on research and advocacy around specific issues related to detention and access to justice. Students may also participate in the Liman Public Interest Workshop, which meets weekly in the spring to discuss emerging issues of theory and advocacy.

New Liman Fellows

Trinity Brown ’15 will join the Louisiana Center for Children's Rights in New Orleans, where she will work to ensure that children incarcerated in secure care facilities have access to a meaningful education. Through direct representation of individuals as well as community organizing, Trinity will seek to improve the availability of high school credits and special education services for those in care. Trinity is a 2008 graduate of Duke University, where she was a Reginaldo Howard Memorial Scholar, and a 2015 graduate of Yale Law School, where she was active in the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic and the San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project. Currently, Trinity is clerking for the Honorable Myron H. Thompson of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama.

Dwayne Betts ’16 will join Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, where he will work to decrease the collateral consequences of criminal convictions by providing support for residents seeking to have records sealed through executive pardons. In addition, Dwayne will work on enacting new legislation to create a mechanism to automatically seal misdemeanor convictions after a period of years if a person has no new convictions. Dwayne is a member of the Yale Law School class of 2016 and has been an active participant in the Criminal Justice Clinic. He received a B.A. from the University of Maryland and an M.F.A. from Warren Wilson College’s M.F.A. Program for Writers. Dwayne has authored  three books, Bastards of the Reagan Era (2015); A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison (2010); and Shahid Reads His Own Palm (2010).

Kory DeClark ’15 will spend his fellowship year at the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, where he will join the new Pretrial Release Unit, focused on challenging the unnecessary pretrial incarceration of indigent defendants. Kory earned a B.A. in philosophy at the University of California, Davis and a Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Southern California. His dissertation, On Being Bound: Law, Authority, and the Politics of Obligation, focused on the nature of authoritative relationships between states and citizens. Kory graduated from Yale Law School in 2015, where he was a student co-director of the Criminal Justice Clinic, and is now clerking for the Honorable William A. Fletcher of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Corey Guilmette ’16 will join the Public Defender Association in Seattle, where he will be involved in litigation and advocacy to reform trespass policies in the Seattle metro area. Corey will also work to prevent the discriminatory enforcement of trespass policies, which often target communities of color and the homeless. Corey is a member of the Yale Law School Class of 2016 and graduated from Wesleyan University in 2013. During law school, Corey participated in the Criminal Justice Clinic, the Liman Project, and the Green Haven Prison Project.

Devon Porter ’15 will spend her fellowship year with the ACLU of Southern California. Although criminal defendants have constitutional rights to state-provided lawyers, many counties impose fees – to be paid after the services have ended. Devon will aim to lower these economic barriers through advocacy and litigation.  Devon graduated from Reed College in 2011 and from Yale Law School in 2015, where she worked with the Liman Project to gather national data on solitary confinement in prison systems across the country.  She is currently clerking for the Honorable Richard A. Paez of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Abigail Rich ’16 will join East Bay Sanctuary Covenant in Berkeley, California, to provide legal services that are integrated with mental healthcare for refugees with histories of trauma. Abigail will develop partnerships with mental healthcare facilities to serve asylum seekers with post-traumatic stress disorder; provide direct legal representation to asylum seekers; and create educational materials to assist in serving refugee clients dealing with trauma. A member of the Yale Law School class of 2016, Abigail has participated in the Immigration Legal Services Clinic, the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic, the Landlord Tenant Clinic, and the International Refugee Assistance Project. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2009.

Jonas Wang ’16 is joining Equal Justice Under Law, based in Washington, D.C., which aims to stop practices that result in putting people in jail because they are too poor to pay fines and fees. Jonas will gather information in Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia on the effects of criminal justice fines and will work on litigation challenging their inappropriate imposition. A member of the Yale Law School class of 2016, Jonas participated in the Veterans Legal Services Clinic and served as an Articles Editor of the Yale Law Journal.  Jonas graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College in 2012 and received the Ames Award for service.

Fellowship Extensions

With the substantial support of the host organizations, the Liman Program is able to offer extensions to the six current Fellows.

Caitlin Bellis ’14 will continue her work at Public Counsel in Los Angeles, where she divides her time between representing detained immigrants in deportation proceedings and helping to build a community coalition to establish a publicly-funded program that would provide counsel to detained immigrants in California. Caitlin is a 2014 graduate of Yale Law School and a 2010 graduate of Reed College, where she studied Spanish and Anthropology. During law school, Caitlin participated in the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic. Prior to beginning her Fellowship, Caitlin clerked for the Honorable Richard A. Paez of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Jamelia Morgan ’13 will spend a second year with the ACLU’s National Prison Project in Washington, D.C. Her focus is on limiting solitary confinement in American prisons. Through litigation, administrative advocacy and community organizing, she is building awareness of the particular challenges that prisoners with physical disabilities face when placed in solitary confinement. Jamelia’s report on these issues is to be published next fall and implementation of its findings will be part of her work thereafter.  Jamelia graduated from Stanford University in 2006 and from Yale Law School in 2013; she was a member of the Criminal Defense Clinic and the Detention and Human Rights Clinic.

Freya Pitts ’13 will continue with Disability Rights Advocates in Berkeley, California, where she works on behalf of young people with mental health and special education needs who are confined in California’s county juvenile halls. Through monitoring, structured negotiation, litigation, and individual representation, her project seeks to expand access to special education and mental health services and to reduce the use of solitary confinement.  Freya graduated from Yale College in 2008 and Yale Law School in 2013. She clerked for the Honorable Judith W. Rogers of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and the Honorable Jon S. Tigar of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. While in law school, she was a member of the Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic, the Immigration Legal Services Clinic, and the Advocacy for Children and Youth Clinic.

Ryan Sakoda ’12 will spend a second year at the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) – Massachusetts’ public defender agency. At CPCS, he is helping individuals who have been involved with the criminal justice system to keep or obtain public and subsidized housing. In his second year, Ryan will develop an attorney referral system to provide indigent criminal defendants with a sustainable source of representation on housing matters. Ryan graduated from Yale Law School in 2012 and is a Ph.D. candidate in economics at Harvard; his research focuses on the empirical analysis of crime and criminal justice policy. Prior to law school, Ryan was a Fulbright Scholar at the London School of Economics and a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2003.

Ruth Swift ’15 will continue her fellowship with the Community Law Office ­– the public defender’s office in Birmingham, Alabama – as an immigration consequences specialist. In her second year, Ruth plans to extend her work from the Birmingham office to the six other public defender’s offices in the state. Ruth trains defense attorneys on the intersection of immigration and criminal law to ensure that members of Alabama’s growing immigrant population are well served when brought into the criminal justice system. Ruth graduated from Yale Law School in 2015 and from Hastings College in 2012. During law school, she participated in the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic for five semesters.

Mary Yanik ’14 will continue for a second year at the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice, where she provides legal support for guest workers along the Gulf Coast. Mary seeks, through administrative advocacy and litigation, to protect workers at risk of retaliation for reporting violations of workplace safety rules.  Mary graduated from Yale Law School in 2014, where she was in the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic. Before law school, she was an organizer for United Students Against Sweatshops. She attended the University of Maryland and graduated in 2011. Mary clerked for Judge David F. Hamilton on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.