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Hofstra Law Clinics Achieve Legal Victories

Students from the Maurice A. Deane School of Law’s Criminal Justice Clinic and Asylum Clinic recently achieved legal victories in two separate cases on which they had been working for over a year.

On October 18, 2013, Criminal Justice Clinic students Max Sullivan 3L and Lenore Furlong 3L, under the supervision of Professor Elizabeth M. Nevins, triumphed on behalf of their client in a three-day criminal trial before Judge Helen Voutsinas in Nassau County District Court. The case charged their client with one count of contempt in the second degree, a misdemeanor, for allegedly violating an order of protection when he went to his son’s track meet while his wife was also in attendance.

“Max and Lenore’s work epitomizes the clinic’s ideal of client-centered advocacy,” said Nevins. “They worked incredibly hard, conducted themselves very professionally and got a truly just result on the client’s behalf.”

The students managed all aspects of the case, both in preparation for trial and at the trial itself, including voir dire, opening, direct and cross-examination of seven witnesses, and closing. The success was a victory for the entire Criminal Justice Clinic. Past clinic students Justin Barbetta ’12, Jasmine Johnson ’12 and Yusuf Sattar ’12, under the supervision of Professor Jacob L. Stevens, had laid the groundwork for the case, investigating and litigating it from fall 2012 through spring 2013.

“Just to be able to bring this case to trial and to give our client his day in court where his voice could be heard was huge, but then to win was like the cherry on top,” said Furlong. “I learned, most importantly, that bringing a case to trial is a team effort — from your colleagues back in the office who are helping you do last-minute research to the witnesses who are willing to spend the time to prep with you. It’s a group effort and it’s a group win.”

On September 26, 2013, the Asylum Clinic was delighted when a client received her legal permanent residency through a same-sex marriage petition. The Asylum Clinic was representing the client in an asylum case but also filed a family petition for her — the petitioner being her U.S. citizen wife — before the Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor. The petition was denied in early 2013 but was reopened shortly after the decision in Windsor was issued. The client was one of the first people in the United States to receive her green card following a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services adjustment interview based on a same-sex marriage.

Past Asylum Clinic students Ana Getiashvili ’12 and Sophia Eckert ’12, had worked on the case, under the supervision of Professor Lauris Wren, during their third year of law school.

“This is a wonderful couple, together for 14 years, married with a beautiful baby,” said Wren. “The immigrant spouse is from a country where gays and lesbians are persecuted, and they would have been in grave danger there. They will now be able to live safely and without fear here in the U.S.”

About Hofstra Law’s Clinical Program

The Maurice A. Deane School of Law’s Clinical Program began more than 30 years ago in a second-floor walk-up above a fish store in the center of Hempstead. The Clinic moved from the fish store to a trailer, and then in 1997, to its current site in Joan Axinn Hall. This permanent, state-of-the-art facility, made possible through the generosity of Joan Axinn ’76 and her husband, Donald, has greatly enhanced the Clinical Program’s operations. The clinical mission, however, has stayed the same: teaching students lawyering skills and analytic methods through the provision of quality legal representation to clients in need. Today, the program boasts 11 live-client clinics and clinic practicums. Learn more