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Monday, July 10, 2017

MFIA Clinic Launches New Initiative on Executive Branch Accountability

The Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School has launched a Government Accountability Project that will develop strategies to shed light on potential conflicts of interest within the Executive Branch.

The Project will be led by Charles S. Sims ’76, an experienced litigator who has handled first amendment, copyright, and complex federal litigation. Sims will assume the role of Counsel to the MFIA Clinic.

Working closely with MFIA Clinic co-director David A. Schulz ’78, Sims will spearhead the efforts of the Government Accountability Project.

“It has been widely recognized that the new Administration has extensive financial entanglements at home and abroad, but the extent of those entanglements and the potential conflicts they present are not fully understood,” said Schulz.

“While many groups have begun looking into these entanglements, they have neglected an important source of information— the existing legal records documenting these connections as they have accumulated over the last few decades.”

The Government Accountability Project will enable Yale Law School students to work with Sims in providing pro bono legal services to investigative journalists and other government watchdogs who wish to pursue FOIA litigation, unsealing motions, and related efforts to bring greater transparency to the Executive Branch. 

The MFIA Clinic is a program of the Information Society Project and the Abrams Institute for Freedom of Expression at Yale Law School. It seeks to support robust investigative journalism and to promote government transparency through a number of projects and initiatives.

“We are delighted to have someone with Chuck’s depth of experience and long-standing commitment to First Amendment principles joining our MFIA team,” said Jack Balkin, Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment at Yale Law School, who founded and oversees the Yale Information Society Project.

“Chuck will bring a new dimension to the work of the Clinic and help YLS students gain the skills they need to pursue future careers as advocates for transparency and accountability.”

 “I have known Chuck as a successful New York media litigator for more than two decades, and I am thrilled at the opportunity to work with him in New Haven tackling some truly unprecedented government transparency and accountability issues,” added Schulz. “The MFIA Clinic is blessed with incredible talent and has extended its reach over the past year through the skill of its current Fellows, Hannah Bloch-Wehba and John Langford, and staff attorney, Cortelyou Kenney. With the addition of a senior litigator to the team, the MFIA Clinic will be a powerful voice for openness at all levels of government, and an effective defender of the essential work of newsgatherers.”

Journalists and other newsgatherers interested in working on these issues with the Clinic are invited to submit proposals for projects through MFIA’s website. The clinic’s current docket can also be found online.