Category Archives: Post-Graduate Fellowships

Update on BLF fellow Michael Geoghegan’s Food Justice Project

BLF 2010-2011 postgraduate fellow Michael Geoghegan writes with an update on his project, which he has expanded to support the work of  Clean Greens:

The work of the Food Justice Project is coming into full swing as summer arrives in the Northwest.  The Clean Greens Farm and Market Project is harvesting food from their 22-acre farm and selling the produce at open air markets in the heart of Seattle’s Central District.  The Central District has long been a hub for Seattle’s African American community and houses the main office of the Black Dollar Days Task Force (BDDTF), the nonprofit that oversees the Clean Greens project.  This year, BDDTF entered into an agreement with Fork and Frame, a Seattle bicycle collective, that will deliver boxes of produce by pedal power to households participating in Clean Greens community supported agriculture (CSA) program.

BLF’s fellowship provided funding for the Food Justice Project to take on BDDTF as an organizational client, providing legal support to structure contracts and solidify the organization’s legal structure.  In the long-term, the relationship between BDDTF and the Food Justice Project holds potential to enter new areas.  BDDTF’s future plans include a center for teaching local youth job skills related to healthy food preparation and opening a year-round store front selling healthy, chemical free produce at affordable prices.  By providing legal assistance, we hope to ensure BDDTF is successful in achieving the goals of its Clean Greens project of food self-sufficiency, job creation, and promoting community health.

BLF fellow Daniel Redman continues the Del Martin Memorial LGBT Elder Advocacy Initiative at NCLR

BLF 2010-2011 postgraduate fellow Daniel Redman writes with an update on his project:

In 2010, the Berkeley Law Foundation awarded me a fellowship to start my project, the Del Martin Memorial LGBT Elder Advocacy Initiative.  Housed at the Elder Law Project of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Del Martin Initiative fights discrimination against LGBT elders through litigation, legislative advocacy, and outreach.

In just a year, because of BLF’s help, I’ve been able to represent clients across the country in disputes with state and federal benefits agencies, officials who disrespected their life-planning documents, and long-term care facilities.  I’ve worked with LGBT aging activists across California and the country to push for better implementation of laws protecting LGBT elders that are already on the books and for new laws to extend protections further.  The outreach component has included presentations, articles, and publications to promote LGBT elder empowerment.  After publishing two articles with Aging Today on LGBT elder issues, I was invited on to the masthead as a contributing writer.  I’ve made nearly a dozen presentations to academics, service providers, and elder groups, spoken about LGBT elder issues on KALW’s “Cityvisions” program, and plan to finish publications on the needs of low-income LGBT elders and funeral rights issues by the end of the summer.  The BLF fellowship makes this work possible.  Without your support, this project could not have gotten off the ground.

The Del Martin Initiative has received additional funding, and will be an ongoing project at NCLR.

BLF fellow Caitlin Barry writes about the impact of Padilla v. Kentucky

BLF’s 2007-2008 postgraduate fellow, Caitlin Barry, writes with an update on the impact of a recent Supreme Court decision on her work at the Philadephia Defender Association and Nationalities Services Center:

On March 31, 2010 the Supreme Court issued its decision in Padilla v. Kentucky, holding that defense counsel are required to provide accurate and competent immigration advice to clients regarding the deportation consequences of pending criminal charges. The Defender Association of Philadelphia had signed on to a brief before the Court in Padilla as amicus curiae, and welcomed this decision.

At the Defender Association, we advise every noncitizen client of the immigration consequences of the pending criminal charges before trial to ensure that each client is able to make an informed decision in her or his case. Our office believes that this advice is an integral part of our ethical duty in representing clients in criminal proceedings. Although we have been providing immigration advice to clients for several years, the decision in Padilla has had a significant impact on our work. We have conducted trainings and provided support to other offices throughout the state of Pennsylvania, and in November 2010 we will be conducting our first statewide training for public defenders on the immigration consequences of Pennsylvania crimes. We have also completed the Guide to Representing Noncitizen Criminal Defendants in Pennsylvania, which is available through the Defending Immigrants Partnership.

In the context of my work as a part-time Staff Attorney at Nationalities Service Center, I continue to represent clients who are facing deportation due to past criminal convictions, and many of my clients have been able to challenge the validity of those convictions because they were never advised of the immigration consequences of their charges. Nationalities Service Center also continues to work with criminal defense counsel in individual cases to ensure that every step is taken to avoid potential deportation consequences.