For the Good of the Gulf: UNC Law Winter/Spring Break Pro Bono Project

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

We made it!

Hi everyone! Our amazing team made it to New Orleans on Sunday night. We've enjoyed great seafood and jazz music, but most of all, we've really enjoyed working hard in our respective offices to make sure that New Orleans' citizens rights are protected on both the home and criminal justice fronts. My smaller group has been with the New Orleans Public Defender office for the last two days. Our incredible first-year students are working on the First Appearance project, doing interviews with potential clients to determine indigency and family/community ties. The first appearance is a critical stage in the criminal justice process, as this is an opportunity for the attorney to argue why the defendant should be released pending her next court appearance. Our students are working hard to provide the attorneys with helpful information about the clients to help send them home so they may be with their families, continue their employment, and effectively aid in their own defense. Our second- and third-year students are working one-on-one with attorneys, completing research projects and investigative tasks. Thus far we've had students research important jurisdictional questions, construct an investigation plan for a serious murder case, and examine a client's right to a Speedy Trial under the Sixth Amendment when a warrant sent post-Katrina never reached him. Our students are providing the attorneys with answers to tough legal questions that will aid in their effective and zealous representation of clients as demanded by the Constitution and Louisiana law. Many of these clients are struggling in the aftermath of Katrina--attempting to regain employment, receive government benefits, and resolve old cases where evidence and/or transcripts were lost in the storm. With the help from Seema Kakad, Sonal Raja, Allison Standard, Alicia McClendon, Josh McIntyre, Rob Lamb, Joe Vossen, Claire Sauls, Alex Finamore, Ryan Caban, and myself, the Public Defender office's clients are receiving top-notch representation and protection. I am proud to be a part of this amazing group, and we are all deeply appreciative of your efforts to send us here. We could not do this incredibly important work without your support. Many thanks.


Post a Comment

<< Home