Category Archives: National Equal Justice Library

In re Gault research portal

50 years ago today, on May 15, 1967, Supreme Court Associate Justice Abe Fortas delivered the landmark United States Supreme Court opinion in Application of Paul and Marjorie Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967), which held that juveniles accused of crimes in a delinquency proceeding must be afforded many of the same due process rights as adults, such as the right to counsel, the right to confront witnesses, the right against forced self-incrimination, and the right to maintain a record of the proceedings.

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Source: Record Group 267: Records of the Supreme Court of the United States, 1772 – 2007 Series: Appellate Jurisdiction Case Files, 1792 – 2010, File Unit: Case File 116, October Term 1966, In Re Gault. The link to the catalog record for the digitized case file can be found in the “archival materials” section of the research portal.

To mark in re Gault @ 50, we have launched a new research portal that offers links to archival materials documenting the case, as well as references to selected scholarship analyzing the history of the case and the state of due process in juvenile court.

Economic Opportunity Act, signed August 20, 1964

President_Johnson_08201964_UPI_NEJLFifty Years ago today, on August 20, 1964, President Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act into law, creating the Community Action Program, Job Corps, and Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA). A legislative history of the Economic Opportunity Act is available via HeinOnline’s Taxation and Economic Reform in America series.

1991 oral history interview with Hillary Rodham Clinton focusing on her career in legal services now available online

H_Rodham_Clinton_1991_NEJL_OHIn the videotaped interview, which was conducted by Victor Geminiani in 1991 on behalf of the National Equal Justice Library Oral History Project, Hillary Rodham Clinton recalls her education and career working for legal services from the late 1960s until the early 1980s. Ms. Rodham Clinton got involved with legal services while she was a law student at Yale, where she started volunteering for the New Haven Legal Services organization, one of the first Ford Foundation “Gray Area” model projects. After graduating in 1973, she started working full time as a lawyer for the Children’s Defense Fund, which was founded by Marian Wright Edelman, a fellow Yale graduate whom she had met during her first months in law school. Hillary Rodham had interned for the Washington Research Project, CDF’s parent body, during law school. At CDF, she worked on education and juvenile justice law reform, allowing her to combine her “legal interests and public policy interests.”

In early 1974, Hillary Rodham accepted an offer by John Doar to work on the President Nixon impeachment inquiry staff in Washington, D.C. along with several other young lawyers. After President Nixon’s resignation on August 8th, 1974, she followed Bill Clinton, whom she had been dating, to Arkansas, where he had started teaching at the University of Arkansas Law School in Fayetteville. She got a job at the same law school, and started teaching in the fall of 1974. The dean had asked her to teach criminal law, run a legal aid clinic, and a project providing legal assistance to prisoners in the federal and state penitentiaries. In the interview, she recalled the efforts to gain support for the school’s legal aid program from the Arkansas Bar Association, and the difficulties that legal aid programs in Arkansas faced at the time. After gaining better support for the school’s legal aid program from the Bar Association, she submitted an application to receive federal funding through the Legal Services Corporation. The application was successful, and the program eventually became the Ozark Legal Services. In 1975, she was appointed to the Arkansas State Advisory Committee for the LSC, where she worked on the state-wide expansion of legal services. President Carter appointed Mrs. Rodham Clinton to the LSC Board in 1977 (both she and her husband had worked on Carter’s campaign), and she succeeded Roger C. Cramton as Chairperson of the LSC Board in 1978 and served in this capacity until 1981.

During her tenure at the LSC, the budget increased from $96 million during the President Ford administration to over $300 million. The board oversaw the LSC under the presidents Thomas Ehrlich and Dan Bradley during the rapid expansion of legal services into many previously underserved areas, building a broad, yet solid infrastructure. Tied to the expansion, the board worked on improving access to legal services, and focused on quality, ensuring that delivery systems were the best ones available. During this period, the LSC oversaw the 1007 (h) study, which was mandated by Congress to research the access problems of particular constituency groups such as Native Americans, and initiated the Delivery Systems Study, which analyzed a variety of different systems for the delivery of legal services.

The real strength of the program has been the way it “responded to a very significant need in society,” but did so in an “effective and professional manner,” Rodham Clinton emphasized, so that it was able to withstand the political pressures the federally funded program faced throughout much of its history. She concluded the interview by expressing the hope that the program will continue to grow, and that there will be a lot of room for new people and new ideas, while legal services advocates continue to ask the hard questions: “What’s our purpose, how are we doing it, are we doing it the best way we can, are we meeting our clients’ needs?”

The original interview was recorded on VHS. The full-length digitized interview, which also includes a transcript, is part of the NEJL oral history collection.

Reflections on a Bibliography, Fifty Years Later

[Reposted from the NEJL blog]

By Elisa Minoff

“Selected Readings in Law and Poverty” is a remarkable document. bellow_titleGary  Bellow compiled the bibliography with the help of several law students in 1964, for a course he was teaching at Georgetown Law called Poverty and the Administration of Justice. At the time, Bellow was a young public interest lawyer working at the Legal Aid Agency of the District of Columbia. Bellow would later work at two other organizations funded the United Planning Organization (a community action agency in DC) and California Rural Legal Assistance (a pioneering legal services organization serving California’s farm workers)—before leaving legal practice for academia, where he helped found modern clinical legal education.

In 32 well-organized and quickly-digestible pages, the bibliography transports us back in time to those heady early days of the War on Poverty. It reminds us that what we have come to think of as the intellectual influences on the War on Poverty amount to only a sliver of the popular and scholarly writing on poverty at the time. And it gives us a taste of the ambition of practitioners like Bellow who were considering how to use the law in the fight against poverty.

midstofplenty

Ben Bagdikian. In the Midst of Plenty: The Poor in America. Boston: Beacon Press, 1964.

Part I of the Bibliography, “The Elements of Poverty,” is most interesting to the general historian and reader. In it, Bellow and his fellow contributors list some of the most influential works on poverty from the early 1960s. Notably, the list does not stop at Michael Harrington’s The Other America or Ben Bagdikian’s In the Midst of Plenty. Bellow wanted to stimulate “law students in becoming more concerned with the legal problems of the poor and the urban condition,” as he wrote in the introduction. Accordingly, the selections tend to focus on the underlying causes of poverty, especially urban poverty, and the structural conditions that account for its persistence. Subsections on politics, race, class structure, and psychology include works by Saul Alinksy, Seymour Martin Lipset, Herbert Gans, Oscar Lewis, Ralph Ellison and Charles E. Silberman. These books were not low-circulation editions read by a handful of academics and poverty experts, but trade (and in some cases mass-market) paperbacks that became part of the larger public discourse about contemporary social problems.

newcomers

Oscar Handlin. The Newcomers. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1959.

As a historian of migration and social welfare, I was particularly excited to see Oscar Handlin’s The Newcomers listed among the “General Considerations.” Handlin was a prolific historian of immigration who had written the pulitzer-prize winning The Uprooted in 1951. In the late 1950s, he had turned to the study of contemporary internal migration. In The Newcomers, Handlin chronicles the experiences of Puerto Ricans and African Americans who had recently moved to New York City. When Handlin published The Newcomers, popular commentators had begun to blame migrants for the struggles of America’s inner cities, and social workers had come to believe that helping migrants “adjust” or “assimilate” to urban life was a prerequisite to solving urban poverty. Migration, in other words, was very much a part of the debate about poverty in the years leading up to Lyndon Johnson’s declaration, and Bellow’s bibliography manages to capture this too.

Considering the trends in anti-poverty research over the last several decades, the subsection on “The Psychology of Poverty” is particularly interesting. Psychology is yet another subject that has been largely missing from discussions of poverty, but was very much a part of the debates in the 1960s. Historian Alice O’Connor describes the “behavioral sciences revolution” that infused poverty research in the 1950s and 60s.  During these years, the National Institute of
Mental Health funded a number of influential studies and conferences on poverty. Bellows himself admitted to being especially concerned with the psychology of the poor. As he observed in a fascinating interview in 1964: ”It seems to me that poverty is something more than just economic deprivation. It seems to be characterized by a psychological dimension,
a feeling of hopelessness, of powerlessness, of an inability among the poor as we call them to belong to any institution or feel a part of our society.” (Bellows and others involved in the legal services movement, believed that the law could help the poor combat this feeling of
powerlessness bring them into the fold of American society.) In later years, anti-poverty activists became disenchanted with psychology as a subject that could help explain poverty’s persistence and gravity. After decades of marginalization, however, psychology is once again a part of
the discussion, as researchers have started to unveil the long-lasting repercussions of phenomena like poverty-induced toxic stress in early childhood.

children_of_sanchez

Oscar Lewis. The Children of Sanchez: Autobiography of a Mexican Family. New York: Random House, 1964.

(As a footnote on the subject of psychology and poverty, Bellow includes Oscar Lewis’ book, The Children of Sanchez, in the list of works on psychology. In this book, Lewis develops his idea of a culture of poverty—another concept that has recently enjoyed something of a rebirth).

What is most notable about Part II of the bibliography, “The Legal Problems of the Poor,” is how broadly Bellow conceived these problems. Among the legal problems of the poor highlighted in the bibliography are housing issues, such as urban renewal and relocation, zoning, and landlord tenant disputes; consumer protection issues, such as loan and debt problems and purchasing on credit; criminal justice issues, such as arrest and the right to counsel; as well as, to randomly select just a few: juvenile delinquency, unemployment compensation, and discrimination. Part II, which primarily consists of law review articles, includes much more technical works than Part I, which is populated with books by academics, journalists, and activists written for a general audience. But the technicality does not suggest narrow or small mindedness. Poverty law, a la Bellow, addressed any and all issues that arose in the everyday lives of America’s poor. It was far more than the law of public assistance benefits.

Bellow’s bibliography poses something of a challenge to scholars concerned with poverty today: to think broadly, and ambitiously, about the problems of the poor, and to circulate our ideas widely so that they too may become part of the public discourse—fifty years after the War
on Poverty.

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About the author: Elisa Minoff is a political and legal historian, who will be teaching as an Assistant Professor of History at the University of South Florida beginning in the fall of 2014. She has  conceptualized and developed the collaborative War on Poverty bibliography, which is available as a google doc.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1K7euJxKGRVSxR_A9CTknfmKVSfWPhj66R-rSv2j3c74/edit?usp=sharing

More information about the bibliography can be found on NEJL’s War on Poverty — Legal Services Resources Center website.

Related resources:

Selected Readings in Law and Poverty,” prepared by Gary Bellow for a seminar at Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and the Administration of Justice taught in 1964-1965.

Interview with Gary Bellow on the “Role of the Lawyer and the Problem of Poverty” by Richard D. Capparella, District Roundtable, WWDC, May 9, 1964. Gary Bellow collection, NEJL. The reformatted vinyl recording is available as a streaming mp3 file at: https://repository.library.georgetown.edu/handle/10822/707482

NEJL Launches Blog Marking 50th Anniversary of the War on Poverty

Fifty years ago, in his State of the Union address on January 8, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared an “unconditional War on Poverty in America.” To mark this year’s anniversary of the federal anti-poverty policy initiative, the National Equal Justice Library has set up a new blog, Right On. A particular focus of the blog will be on providing information about the history and critical role of the civil legal aid programs, which eventually became part of the federal anti-poverty efforts. The blog aims to be a combination of historical reflections and analyses, entries featuring relevant resources, collections, and scholarly publications, and announcements of events and programs relating to the 50th anniversary that will be held during this year and beyond.

The first blog entry by Earl Johnson, Jr. begins as series on the emergence of the legal services program as a component of the War on Poverty during 1964 and 1965.   Earl Johnson Jr. highlights that President Johnson did not mention the denial of justice to poor and low-income people in his speech, and writes that it was to prove difficult to introduce a legal services component as part of the “War on Poverty.” Further postings by Johnson will trace the slow movement to establish a viable legal services program over the course of 1964. The entries will be combined with links to selected relevant historical sources and resources from the NEJL and other collections.

Right On, the NEJL blog.

Featured Collection in Honor of World Refugee Day: Haitian Refugee/Alien Rights Collection

In honor of World Refugee Day, the National Equal Justice Library is highlighting its Haitian Refugee/Alien Rights collection.

In the summer of 1981, the U.S. government implemented a policy to detain all undocumented Haitians in the United States in detention centers in six states and in Puerto Rico. In a national class action suit filed by the Haitian Refugee Center in Miami, U.S. District Judge Eugene P. Spellman held that the governmental policy was not adopted in accordance with the requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act. The court then invalidated the detention policy [Louis, et. al. v. Nelson, Commissioner, Immigration and Naturalization Service, et al., Case No. 81-1260-CIV-EPS (S.D. Fla. 1982)]. The approximately 2,000 Haitian refugees who were held in detention centers were then released. While the government announced it would appeal the decision, human rights and refugee rights groups – including the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Lawyers’ Committee for International Human Rights —  organized a campaign to secure pro bono legal representation for the refugees. Lawyers helped at three stages of the process: to prepare asylum requests, to prepare and conduct hearings, and to prepare appeals. The Haitian Refugee/Alien Rights collection documents this significant collective effort. Publicly available materials include newspaper articles, reports, memos, as well as pleadings, briefs and other documents that were filed with the courts. We are currently working on an inventory of the collection. For access to the collection, please contact the NEJL.

Blog entry prepared by Courtney Snelling, LL.M., and Katharina Hering.

 

NEW: Bibliography for the Equal Justice Film Festival

To supplement this spring’s successful Equal Justice Film Festival and encourage further research and exploration, the Georgetown Law Library has compiled a brief bibliography of resources, including books, scholarly articles, and other films on related topics.

You can view or download it in PDF: Georgetown Law Library Equal Justice Film Festival – A Concise Bibliography.

For more information about the films and speakers that were part of the series, see the Film Festival website at www.law.georgetown.edu/library/about/125/filmfestival.cfm.

Equal Justice Film Festival: Gideon’s Army – Friday, April 19

Gideon's Army poster

Please join the Friends of the Law Library, National Equal Justice Library, The Innocence Project, Georgetown Criminal Law Association, the Georgetown chapter of the National Lawyers’ Guild, and Law Docs at the latest co-sponsored Law at the Movies event, part of the ongoing Georgetown Law Library Equal Justice Film Festival:

Movie: Gideon’s Army (2013)
Date: Friday, April 19, 2013
Time: 6:00pm (refreshments & seating), showtime 6:30pm
Location: Hart Auditorium, Georgetown University Law Center

This screening is free and open to the public map and directions.

A 2013 Sundance award winning documentary by Georgetown Law alumna Dawn Porter, Gideon’s Army follows the personal stories of three young public defenders in the Deep South challenging the assumptions that drive a criminal justice system strained to the breaking point. 50 years since the landmark Supreme Court ruling Gideon v. Wainwright that established the right to counsel, can these courageous lawyers and their colleagues revolutionize the way America thinks about indigent defense and make “justice for all” a reality?

After the screening, stay for a discussion of the film and its context, led by:

  • Jo-Ann Wallace, President and CEO, National Legal Aid & Defender Association
  • Abbe Smith, Director, Criminal Defense & Prisoner Advocacy Clinic; Co-Director, E. Barrett Prettyman Fellowship Program; Professor of Law
  • Alec Karakatsanis, Attorney, Special Litigation Division, Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia

For information on other upcoming events in the Georgetown Law Library Equal Justice Film Festival, visit www.law.georgetown.edu/library/about/125/filmfestival.cfm.

To learn more about the Friends of the Georgetown Law Library program and the benefits of becoming a member, visit www.law.georgetown.edu/library/visitors/friends.

Now Open: Equal Justice Collection- General Charles L. Decker Papers

Justice for All Booklet cover

 “For nearly two centuries the lawyers of America have been donating free services to defendants in criminal cases who could not afford lawyers. I submit to you that we have been trying too long in vain to prove the falsity of the old adage ‘you get what you pay for.’ The only way to provide competent representation is to pay for it, and I suggest that the principal source of these funds should be the governmental source.”

(Retired General Charles L. Decker, quoted from handwritten notes for his remarks to the National Defenders Conference, on May 16, 1969.)

The above speech to the National Defenders Conference later prompted testimony to the House Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights, which sought to amend the Criminal Justice Act of 1964. General Decker’s testimony highlighted the early disparities in treatment between Federal Public Defenders and Federal Prosecutors under the original Criminal Justice Act of 1964. The Criminal Justice Act of 1964 arose out of the need to provide public defenders which was epitomized in the landmark case of Gideon v. Wainwright 372 U.S. 335 (1963).The act originally presumed that defense of the indigent would occur out of the generosity of the members of the Federal Bar and all remuneration under the act was considered to be token at best, resulting in widely disproportionate salaries and fees. General Charles Lowman Decker (L’ 1942), as Director of the National Defender Project, testified before congressional committees to the radical concept that if the level of justice was to be equal and fair, that a public defender would need to be offered a salary comparable to that of a prosecutor.

General Charles L. Decker

This testimony is part of the General Charles L. Decker Collection, a collection containing papers related to the National Defender Project, which ran from 1963 through 1971. This project was a Ford Foundation grant to the National Legal Aid and Defender Association and was intended to improve the quality and quantity of public defender offices and to research best practices in this area. The collection includes original documentation regarding grant inquiries, proposals, reports, presentations, congressional testimony, personal correspondence, research materials, brochures and seminar materials, budgetary documentation, journal and newspaper articles, legislative and regulatory materials, and other documentation. Specific topics include public defenders, student defense clinics, the 1964 Criminal Justice Act, prisoner representation, and other indigent defense topics. This collection was donated by General Decker, a Georgetown law alumnus and adjunct faculty member. The collection is available for research and a display of materials will be coming soon. For more information, please contact Special Collections at specl@law.georgetown.edu.

Prepared by Erin M. Page, Esq.

Law at the Movies: Bully – Wednesday, April 3

Bully poster

Please join the Friends of the Law Library, National Equal Justice Library, Outlaw, and Law Docs at the latest co-sponsored Law at the Movies event, part of the ongoing Georgetown Law Library Equal Justice Film Festival:

Movie: Bully (2011, runtime 98 mins)
Date: Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Time: 6:00pm (refreshments & seating), showtime 6:30pm
Location: Georgetown University Law Center – Supreme Court Institute Moot Court Room (Hotung 2nd floor lobby)

Filmmaker Lee Hirsch gives a window into the lives of five school-age children in communities across America, all of whom face regular abuse, ridicule, and intimidation from their peers in this headline-grabbing 2011 documentary. The movie is the centerpiece of The Bully Project, an advocacy movement that spreads awareness of and solidarity against childhood bullying in all forms.

Space is limited, so please arrive promptly to secure a seat.

After the screening, stay for a discussion of the film and the ideas it presents, led by:

  • Kisha Webster – Associate Director of Welcoming Schools, Human Rights Campaign
  • Joseph Wardenski – Attorney at U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division

For information on other upcoming events in the Georgetown Law Library Equal Justice Film Festival, visit www.law.georgetown.edu/library/about/125/filmfestival.cfm.

To learn more about the Friends of the Georgetown Law Library program and the benefits of becoming a member, visit www.law.georgetown.edu/library/visitors/friends.