This year’s Citizenship Day held on Saturday April 14th attracted a record number of applicants from the Jacksonville community. The Citizenship Skills Lab with the help of student clinicians in the Immigration Rights Clinic planned, set up and successfully held this annual event initiated by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”).
Volunteering at the event this year were 40 attorneys from the Jacksonville area, students from Professor Kara Roberts’ Citizenship Skills Lab, 15 clinicians from the Immigrant Rights Clinic, 35 other law students, and 12 interpreters from a local non-profit organization. Students as well as attorneys were dedicated to the cause and to making this event a success. Prior to the event student clinicians helped the Citizenship skills lab conduct pre-screens of interested members of the community. This helped filter out candidates with more complex issues who may not be a good fit for Citizenship Day, also allowing things to move more swiftly on the day of the event. Some students and faculty dedicated their entire day to the event, starting as early as 8 AM and leaving the event well after 6 PM. The stories from the community were diverse and heartwarming. It means so much to these individuals that with the help of FCSL students they were able to take the final step on the path of becoming American citizens.
Students were able to assist 100 people from the Jacksonville community file their citizenship applications. Several other individuals whose applications needed more attention are being referred to local attorneys for pro bono representation. The applicants who attended were from various countries. Some of the countries represented at the event were: Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Russia, Vietnam, Sudan, Panama, Liberia, Costa Rica, and a few European countries.
The community came out in great number and expressed gratitude for this life changing event put on by Florida Coastal School of Law.
Consumer Law Clinic student Zena-Melissa Sabell had a true taste of what it feels like to practice law last week. She had three hearings in one week: one in circuit court, one in county court, and one in small claims court.
In circuit court, she thought she was going in to argue a complicated motion to compel. But when we arrived at the hearing, we learned that the client had hired a new attorney and that he was planning to argue the motion to compel. We then had to address the procedural issue of what to do when two attorneys are counsel of record and they do not agree on what discovery is relevant.
In county court, Zena argued what should have been straightforward motion to dismiss in a debt collection case. However, the clinic students learned about judicial discretion and that despite was the rules may say, the judge has the final say on what is sufficient to state a cause of action.
And finally, in small claims court, Zena appeared at a pretrial conference to argue another motion to dismiss in a debt collection case. Most of the other clinic students were able to attend these hearings as well and share in the experience of litigating in state court!
Immigrant Rights Clinic student Anshul Krishn presenting at last month's Interpreter Training
Last month Immigration Rights Clinic students Shavae McKnight and Anshul Krishn organized and conducted an interpreter training event for students. The event which drew quite a large crowd, was attended by bilingual students interested in volunteering their time to help student clinicians communicate with their non-English speaking clients. This is significant since the clinics depend on student volunteers for interpreting. The training also attracted students who are not bilingual but recognize the need for interpreters in our growing multicultural society, as well as the importance of accurate communication in legal representation. Also stressed in the presentation were possible ethical duties involved in using interpreters in legal practice as well as the rules of professional responsibility triggered by its use.
Thanks to the training, the clinical program was able to expand its interpreter database significantly. It garnered interpreters in a wide range of languages: Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, Turkish, French, Polish , Urdu, Farsi and a few other languages.
Okay, I don’t know if it’s actually going to be lucky, but I’ll put that thought out there. Court this a.m. to set a case for jury selection. . .of course it’s set for May 14th. Oh well. Hard to tell the Judge that I’ll be a little short of students that week. And we have another jury selection set for April 16th which should go. So, a bit of juggling going on, but it’s all good. Issues keep popping up: admissability of 911 calls, reverse Williams rule, stand your ground. And you thought evidence class was just an esoteric exercise. See, there is a reason to pay attention in class!