Category Archives: News

CharlotteLaw Southern Regional Black Law Students Academic Retreat – “Gearing for the Climb”

The CharlotteLaw Southern Regional Black Law Students Association (SRBLSA) hosted an Academic Retreat October 30-31, 2015 on campus.  The retreat, titled “Gearing for the Climb”, was organized by CharlotteLaw 3L and SRBLSA Board Member Iris DeWitt and the CharlotteLaw BLSA chapter.

The theme, “Gearing for the Climb” was derived from the 2015-2016 SRBLSA theme, “Ascending to New Heights: From Leadership to Legacy.”  The retreat’s objective was to equip members with the “tools necessary to ascend to new heights as you enhance your leadership skills both on and off campus” according to Iris DeWitt’s opening letter.  Workshops topics included exam readiness and tips for beginning a solo practice.

CharlotteLaw BLSA’s faculty mentor, Assistant Professor Christie Matthews commented, “The SRBLSA Academic Retreat was a wonderful opportunity for students to engage with local attorneys and judges, gain insight on how to best prepare for the rigors of law school and the profession, and reflect on their academic and professional goals. CharlotteLaw 3L, Iris DeWitt, and our BLSA chapter are commended for organizing such practical and insightful programming.”

Congratulations to Iris and the BLSA chapter for a successful event!

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Congratulations to the CharlotteLaw Immigration Clinic for Their Recent Victory!

Asylum Oct 15

On October 22, 2015, a judge granted asylum to four members of a family from Honduras.  The family had fled the country after being persecuted by a gang, leading to a death in the family and on-going death threats.  The family’s case was referred to the Immigration Clinic by a local nonprofit and our students, under the supervision of Fernando Nunez, worked on the case for over a year.

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The 50th Anniversary of The Civil Rights Act of 1964

With less than a month left on the Library of Congress’ exhibit “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom”, it seemed appropriate to remind everyone who may be traveling to D.C. in the next few weeks that it’s their last chance to view this exhibit, which recognizes the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 .  This post originally ran in November of 2014.  

In case you are visiting Washington, DC in the coming year, plan a visit to the Library of Congress’ new exhibit “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom.” The exhibit which recognizes the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is open to the public Monday-Saturday 8:30 am- 4:30 pm until September 12, 2015.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (PL 88-352, 78 Stat. 241, enacted July 2, 1964) outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.  It provided injunctive relief against discrimination in public accommodations and segregation in public education. It enforced the constitutional right to vote, ending unequal voter-registration requirements. The law is a landmark piece of civil rights legislation.

The Library of Congress’ free exhibit “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom” highlights the legal and legislative challenges and victories leading to its passage. The exhibit highlights the individuals, both prominent leaders and private citizens, who participated in the process. The exhibit contains more than 200 items from correspondence to photographs, newspapers, legal briefs, drawings and posters. It also includes audio-video stations throughout the exhibit showing film clips of dramatic events related to the civil rights era such as protests, sit-ins, boycotts and other public actions. An introductory film narrated by Julian Bond focuses on the significance of the legislation.  Another video explores the impact of the Civil Rights Act. There are six themes in the exhibit: Prologue, Segregation Era, World War II and the Post War Years, Civil Rights Era, Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Impact.

Much of the exhibit’s documentation comes from NAACP Records in the Library’s Manuscript Division and the Prints and Photographs Division. The audio-visual materials come from the Library’s American Folklife Center’s Civil Rights History Project and the Library’s National Audio-Visual Conservation Center.  Newman’s Own Foundation with additional support from HISTORY® provided funding for the exhibition. Further details about the exhibit can be found at


~Betty Thomas~

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Charlotte School of Law’s Immigration Law Society to Host Pulitzer Prize Winner Sonia Nazario

Every spring, Charlotte School of Law’s (Charlotte Law) Student Bar Association (SBA) hosts a Law Week event. Law Week is executed by various student organizations through the sponsorship of the SBA. Each student organization is given the latitude to organize an event centered on a theme selected by the SBA. This year’s Law Week, scheduled for April 6-10, is themed: Practice Ready. Practice readiness is a central pillar of Charlotte Law’s mission. SBA President, 3L William “Marlowe” Rary II, M.Ed., selected this theme because he felt that “it [was] important that students [were] prepared to practice law upon entrance to the bar.” Through Marlowe’s efforts, this year’s Law Week consists of over ten student organizations representing a variety of practice areas. Some of the practice areas include: international, business, property, sports & entertainment, criminal, and immigration. Out of the plethora of events scheduled for that week, there is one event that is gaining traction from students and prominent members of the city of Charlotte’s greater community. This event is a podcast event hosted by Charlotte Law’s Immigration Law Society (ILS) featuring Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and author of national bestseller, Enrique’s Journey, Sonia Nazario.

Nazario is an award winning journalist who spent over 20 years reporting and writing about social issues for various U.S. newspapers.  Nazario originally wrote about Enrique’s Journey as a series in the L.A. Times, which won her the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 2003. Random House turned Enrique’ Journey into a book that became a national bestseller. In 2014, when there was an influx on unaccompanied minors at the border, Nazario went to Honduras to report on the crisis and her article was published in the N.Y. Times. Nazario consequently addressed the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Nazario has received various awards such as the George Polk Award for International Reporting, National Association of Hispanic Journalists Guillermo Martinez-Marquez Award, and Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. Nazario has been featured on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, NBC’s Meet the Press, and Anderson Cooper 360. Most recently, Nazario was named a 2015 Champion for Children by First Focus, and the 2015 Golden Door winner by HIAS Pennsylvania.

Carol Naples, 3L and President of ILS, was introduced to Enrique’s Journey in fall 2014 as a student in the Honorable Holmes-Simmons, “Undocumented Children and the Law” course.  Judge Holmes-Simmons is currently a sitting judge for the U.S. Immigration Court in Charlotte.  Naples, an aspiring North Carolina and New Jersey Immigration Law attorney, was so touched by Enrique’s Journey that she emailed Nazario to express her gratitude. Naples informed Nazario that her book was being used for her class and told Nazario about her desire to have Nazario visit Charlotte School of Law. Nazario immediately agreed and was willing to reduce her standard speaking fees to make this request a reality.  Despite Naples’ unrelenting efforts, Naples and the ILS were unable to secure enough funding to bring Nazario to the law school. However, Naples’ efforts did not end there. Naples again reached out to Nazario and proposed a podcast option. Nazario recognizing Naples’ efforts, agreed to host a one hour podcast without charge.

This event is reserved solely for Charlotte Law administration, faculty, staff, students and immigration stakeholders in the community. Naples hopes that this event will encourage Charlotte Law to bring notable individuals, like Nazario, to Charlotte Law and the local legal community. Enrique’s Journey allowed for “open discussions centered on immigration, our legal system, and how we, as new attorneys, can become involved,” said Naples. “For those who have no desire to work in Immigration Law, I hope that this event will give them a glimpse of the humanitarian aspect of Immigration Law and possibly provide some insight into a field of law that encompass and influence other areas of law such as criminal and family law,” Naples said.

Charlotte Law thanks Nazario for her willingness to contribute to the successful implementation of SBA’s 2015 Law Week through the Immigration Law Society.

If you are an immigration stakeholder in the Charlotte community interested in attending this event, please contact Carol Naples at to RSVP by April 7.

For more information regarding Charlotte Law’s Law Week events, contact SBA President Marlowe at

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Court to Review Gay Marriage Laws this April


In a Charlotte School of Law blog published on November 18, 2014, the question was raised as to whether the U.S. Supreme Court would review America’s gay marriage laws this year?  The U.S. Supreme Court has since agreed to review four lower Court cases on the subject.  Specifically, the Court will address the following questions:

  1. Does the 14th Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?
  2. Does the 14th Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between 2 people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?

The Charlotte Observer said on January 17, 2015 that the consolidated cases to be heard this spring will be from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and the cases are from the following states: Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.

The petitions for writs of certiorari were granted to the following cases from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals:

  1. OBERGEFELL v. HODGES – Ohio Docket No. 14-556
  2. TANCO v. HASLAM  – Tennessee
  3. DEBOER v. SNYDER – Michigan, 14-1341, 2014 BL 314380 (6th Cir. Nov. 06, 2014) Copy of Appeals Court decision which was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. 
  4. BOURKE v. GREGORY – Kentucky

A copy of the full Opinion from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals can be found at

(The case that was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court from the 6th Cir. Court of Appeals).

U.S. Law Week summarized the opinions of both the majority Judges and the one Dissenting Judge from the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in their November 11, 2014 edition of. U.S. Law Week written by Kimberly Robinson.

Below are excerpts from Ms. Robinson’s published article:

 Same-Sex Marriage Bans Upheld in Sixth Circuit Appeals Court Opinion (excerpts with Analysis) provided by Kimberly Robinson

Regardless of when—or if—the Supreme Court does agree to hear the case, the Sixth Circuit’s divided decision makes it the first federal appeals court to uphold a state same-sex marriage ban since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in United States v. Windsor, 81 U.S.L.W. 4633, 2013 BL 169620 (U.S. June 26, 2013).

Writing for the majority in the Sixth Circuit’s 2-1 decision, Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton said that the issue is “not whether American law will allow gay couples to marry; it is when and how that will happen.”

The court detailed the claims brought by the 16 gay and lesbian couples, noting that all the suits “seek dignity and respect, the same dignity and respect given to marriages between opposite-sex couples. And all come down to the same question: Who decides?”

The court concluded that the matter is reserved for the “less expedient, but usually reliable, work of the state democratic processes,” rather than for federal courts.

The judiciary’s role is limited to the question of whether the 14th Amendment prohibits “a State from defining marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman,” the court said, not “whether gay marriage is a good idea.”

After applying rational basis review, the court answered that question in the negative.

“A dose of humility makes us hesitant to condemn as unconstitutionally irrational a view of marriage shared not long ago by every society in the world, shared by most, if not all, of our ancestors, and shared still today by a significant number of the States,” the court said.

In particular, the court said that the states could justify their bans on the procreative purpose of marriage.

“By creating a status (marriage) and by subsidizing it (e.g., with tax-filing privileges and deductions), the States created an incentive for two people who procreate together to stay together for purposes of rearing offspring,” the court said.

“That does not convict the States of irrationality, only of awareness of the biological reality that couples of the same sex do not have children in the same way as couples of opposite sexes and that couples of the same sex do not run the risk of unintended offspring.”

The appeals court also upheld Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee laws that prohibited recognition of same-sex marriages validly entered into in other jurisdictions.

Judge Deborah L. Cook joined the majority opinion.

Betrayed Oath?

Dissenting, Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey criticized what she called the majority’s “false premise—that the question before us is ‘who should decide.’ ”

“In the main, the majority treats both the issues and the litigants here as mere   abstractions,” she said.

“Instead of recognizing the plaintiffs as persons, suffering actual harm as a result of being denied the right to marry where they reside or the right to have their valid marriages recognized there, my colleagues view the plaintiffs as social activists who have somehow stumbled into federal court, inadvisably, when they should be out campaigning to win ‘the hearts and minds’ of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee voters to their cause.”

Daughtrey also appeared to accuse the two judges who signed on to the majority opinion of betraying their judicial oath, saying: “More than 20 years ago, when I took my oath of office to serve as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, I solemnly swore to ‘administer justice without respect to persons’ to ‘do equal right to the poor and to the rich,’ and to ‘faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me … under the Constitution and laws of the United States.’ ”

“If we in the judiciary do not have the authority, and indeed the responsibility, to right fundamental wrongs left excused by a majority of the electorate, our whole intricate, constitutional system of checks and balances, as well as the oaths to which we swore, prove to be nothing but shams.”

A follow-up blog will be posted once the U.S. Supreme Court has issued its opinion which should be sometime between April and June this year.

~Jane Fraytet~

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