The Puerto Rican Bar Association, and its members, stand in solidarity with those communities saddened by the senseless loss of life that resulted from the fatal encounter between Eric Garner and New York City Police Officers. It is clear that the legal practices, policies, rules, and procedures applied to circumstances like that of Mr. Garner demand reflection and review of our current criminal justice system with a vision toward comprehensive reform. It is important for law and order that public confidence be restored in our justice system.
Historically, the purpose of the Grand Jury was to preserve “justice” by preventing private individuals in power, such as kings and monarchs, from bringing unsubstantiated and/or falsified charges against their people. The Founding Fathers included the Grand Jury in the American system of jurisprudence to prevent our government from enacting practices similar to those European monarchs.
Under the current Grand Jury system in New York State, prosecutors have enormous power and possess broad discretion when making decisions about whom to, and how to, charge a crime in our criminal justice system. When there is a potential for a conflict of interest to arise, such as when a police officer is the subject of a criminal investigation, this discretion becomes problematic since all felony cases must be presented to the Grand Jury. Consequently, under the circumstances, a Special Prosecutor should have been appointed to preside over the Garner Grand Jury proceeding or a special investigative Grand Jury empanelled in order to have maintained the integrity of the New York State criminal justice process.
The Grand Jury hears evidence presented by prosecutors and takes action regarding the evidence and legal charges they are to consider. An action the Grand Jury can take, among others, is to vote for an indictment, a written statement charging an individual with the commission of a felony. In order to indict, the Grand Jury must determine that the evidence presented is legally sufficient and that it provides reasonable cause to believe that the defendant has committed the crime. Otherwise, the Grand Jury dismisses the matter. A Grand Jury’s deliberation, and the evidence presented therein, and how the evidence is presented is not open to the public and the record is sealed in most instances.
In this day in age when transparency is held at such a high premium, why should the Grand Jury process be kept secret from the public? What is the rationale for keeping the proceedings secret when anyone with a television or mobile device has most likely seen and listened to the video of the arrest, the most pertinent evidence of the interaction between law enforcement officers and Eric Garner? This is an important question when so much anger and frustration is understandably directed at the finding of the Grand Jury for Eric Garner.
The result of such secrecy is public outrage, and justifiably so.
When the leaders in our community are asked by the public, “How could anyone looking at the video not find some ground for which to prosecute the Officer for his actions?” The answer is that we, the public, really don’t know. The process has kept us in the dark, creating not only a loss of trust in our jurisprudence system, but escalating our frustration, increasing our sense of helplessness as individuals, and specifically, as minorities, and instilling a sense of fear of government as well. When someone asks what was the reasoning behind the Grand Jury’s decision, the answer is that no one really knows, which leads the public to speculate as to what transpired in the Grand Jury process. Was it a racially motivated decision? If it was, then shouldn’t the District Attorney’s office have avoided this possibility of injustice by changing the venue? If the venue wasn’t changed, do we look into the appropriateness of the dynamic between the prosecution and the officers who testify routinely on behalf of the State? Should not a special prosecutor have been assigned for the Grand Jury?
All these questions are being asked in our community, and we, as leaders, are unable to provide meaningful answers due to the institutional information barrier called the Grand Jury.
And what message does the Grand Jury send law enforcement? We must bring attention to the current culture of law enforcement in our City and State and ask our representatives and community leaders to investigate and support change in police training policies and arrest practices in an effort to prevent such needles tragedy from occurring again.
As such, the Puerto Rican Bar Association calls for the Bar, as a whole, to reevaluate our system of jurisprudence and the policies regarding police procedures and the use of force against its citizens. The Puerto Rican Bar Association and its members are prepared to assist in reforming the New York State penal statutes as well as the rules, regulations, policies and procedures governing our criminal justice system.
The Puerto Rican Bar Association, as always, will continue to endeavor to ensure that Puerto Ricans, Latinos, and other diverse ethnic and racial groups are adequately represented in our legal profession so that the Latino community will continue to have a voice regarding New York State law and policy.
The Puerto Rican Bar Association
This year's honorees will be honored for their significant achievements and advancements in the legal profession and within their communities.
The DBA will be honoring:
Maritza A. Ming
Chief of the Immigration Fraud Unit
Kings County District Attorney's Office
City Chief Procurement Officer and Director of Contract Services
New York City Office of the Mayor
Dr. Marilu D. Galvan
Centro Civico Cultural Dominicano, Inc.
The DBA will also be granting law student scholarships awards to the following scholarship winners:
St. John's University Law School
CUNY Law School
Please support the DBA by joining us at this year's scholarship dinner.
For tickets please RSVP here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/dominican-bar-associations-2014-annual-scholarship-dinner-tickets-13288677793
New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) has been selected by the Attorney General to administer the Fund and will evaluate claims and forward payments to immigrants who received legal services from IIF or IPA. They would like to reach as many potential former clients of IIF/IPA as possible.
People can submit a claim online or submit a printed form via mail, fax or email. The new extended deadline to submit a claim is November 6, 2014, which is quickly approaching. For more information on the Fund, you can also visit: http://nylag.org/ipa.
The DBA will be holding their 11th annual scholarship dinner on October 28, 2014 at beautiful Crowne Plaza Hotel in Times Square.
Tags: scholarship dinner
For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has been our nation’s guardian of liberty, working in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and the laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country. Whether it’s achieving full equality for the LGBT community, establishing new privacy protections for our digital age, ending mass incarceration, or preserving the right to vote or the right to have an abortion, the ACLU takes up the toughest civil liberties cases and issues to defend all people from government abuse and overreach. With more than a million members, activists, and supporters, the ACLU is a nationwide organization that fights tirelessly in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C., for the principle that every individual’s rights must be protected equally under the law, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or national origin.
The Women’s Rights Project is part of the ACLU’s Center for Liberty, which is dedicated to the principle that we are all entitled to determine the course of our lives based on who we are and what we believe free from unreasonable government constraint and baseless stereotypes. The Center for Liberty encompasses the ACLU’s work on women’s rights, reproductive freedom, LGBT rights and the rights of people living with HIV, and freedom of religion and belief.
Founded in 1972 by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Women’s Rights Project (WRP) has been a leader in the legal battles to ensure women’s full equality in American society. WRP is dedicated to the advancement of the rights and interests of women to lead lives of dignity free from violence and discrimination, including discrimination based on gender stereotypes.
WRP focuses on women’s rights in the following priority areas: education, violence against women and employment. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, WRP pushes for change and systemic reform in those institutions that perpetuate discrimination against women.
WRP conducts direct litigation, files amicus curiae briefs, provides support for ACLU affiliate litigation, serves as a resource for ACLU legislative work on women’s rights and seeks to advance ACLU policy goals through public education, organizing and coalition advocacy. The ACLU has been an active participant in virtually all of the major gender discrimination litigation in the Supreme Court, in Congressional efforts to promote gender equality, and in significant communications and public education efforts on behalf of women and girls.
The Summer Legal Internship is full-time and typically requires a 10 week commitment, with a preferred start date of May 26, 2015.
ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Interns will have the opportunity to gain valuable experience by working alongside the Women’s Rights Project team. Interns will gain experience by: Conducting legal and policy research; Drafting memoranda, affidavits and briefs; Researching prospects for new litigation, including both factual and legal claims; Supporting the preparation of expert and fact witnesses for courtroom testimony; Supporting research activities and/or drafting materials for public education; Working on other projects as assigned.
DESIRED EXPERIENCE AND QUALIFICATIONS
The legal internship is open to all law students who will have completed their first year of law school before the internship commences. Desired qualifications include:
Excellent research, writing and communication skills.
Proficiency in Microsoft Office, including internet research.
Demonstrated initiative to see projects through to completion.
Strong interest in social justice and legal issues.
A strong interest and commitment to civil rights and civil liberties issues.
HOW TO APPLY
Applicants should send a letter describing their interest in women’s rights and civil liberties, including any relevant life or work experience gained before or during law school; a resume; the names and telephone numbers of three references; an unofficial transcript; and a legal writing sample of no more than ten pages to hrjobsWRP@aclu.org. Please reference [WRP Summer 2015 Legal Internship/LAT] in the subject line. Please note that this is not the general ACLU email address. This email address is specific to Women’s’ Rights postings. In order to ensure your application is received please make certain it is sent to the correct e-mail address.
Alternatively, applications can be mailed to:
American Civil Liberties Union
Re: [Summer 2015 WRP Legal Internship/LAT]
125 Broad Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
Please indicate in your cover letter where you learned of this internship opportunity.
Students are encouraged to submit applications as early as possible, as decisions are made on a rolling basis.
This posting provides a general but not comprehensive list of the essential responsibilities and qualifications required. It does not represent a contract of employment. The ACLU reserves the right to change the posting at any time without advance notice.
The ACLU is an equal opportunity employer. We value a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture. The ACLU encourages applications from all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, and veteran status.
The ACLU undertakes affirmative action strategies in its recruitment and employment efforts to assure that persons with disabilities have full opportunities for employment in all positions.
We encourage applicants with disabilities who may need accommodations in the application process to contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. Correspondence sent to this email address that is not related to requests for accommodations will not be reviewed. Applicants should follow the instructions above regarding how to apply.
The ACLU comprises two separate corporate entities, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU Foundation. Both the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU Foundation are national organizations with the same overall mission, and share office space and employees. The ACLU has two separate corporate entities in order to do a broad range of work to protect civil liberties. This job posting refers collectively to the two organizations under the name “ACLU.”
Tags: scholarships, ACLU
People can submit a claim online or submit a printed form via mail, fax or email. The deadline to submit a claim is October 23, 2014, which is quickly approaching. For more information on the Fund, you can also visit: http://nylag.org/ipa.
Essays accepted starting December 1, 2014 through April 1, 2015.
o $1,500 - NYS Community College Grand Prize awarded to a student from either
o $1,000 - CUNY Community College Prize
o $1,000 - SUNY Community College Prize
Essay Topic: LGBT: THE ROAD TO EQUALITY. How have the New York
Courts addressed equal human rights for the LGBT Community?
Resources & Guidelines: The Historical Society of the New York Courts has set up a website
with useful links at www.nycourts.gov/history/garfinkel
The 2014 Dominican Bar Association student scholarship awards will be announced at the organization's annual scholarship dinner, scheduled to be held on October 28, 2014, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Times Square.
Visit our Scholarship page to download the application. Please note, students must be DBA members in order to access the scholarship application. Student membership at the DBA is free of charge.
All student applications and required documents should be submitted on or before September 30, 2014. Currently enrolled part-time and full-time law students are encouraged to apply.
Tags: Student scholarship
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