Tag Archives: Civil Rights

Charlotte School of Law Launches Homelessness Prevention Clinic


The Charlotte School of Law has created a new practice ready program designed to assist low income individuals facing eviction. The Homeless Prevention Clinic (HPC) would be a joint venture of the Charlotte School of Law (CSL) and Legal Aid of North Carolina – Charlotte (LANC).

The purpose of the HPC is three fold. First, the HPC will advance Charlotte School of Law’s public service mission pillar by representing low-income tenants in Mecklenburg County both in court and through providing legal advice in order to avoid evictions, for which there is an overwhelming need. In Mecklenburg County, approximately thirty-seven thousand (37,000) small claims actions are filed every year and about ninety-five percent (95%) of those actions appear to be summary ejectment of residential tenants. The vast majority of tenants in these actions are not represented by counsel. In addition, only a small percentage of these cases are appealed to district court (465 appeals in 2011, 577 appeals in 2012, and around 590 appeals in 2013). The local homeless services agencies reported increases of between 21% to 36% in homelessness among families with children each year from 2009 to 2013.

The LANC-Charlotte office receives around 20 to 40 new calls per day from tenants threatened with eviction. Currently, the LANC-Charlotte office only has three full-time staff attorneys, one paralegal, and a part-time call screener to handle eviction cases. Due to the large volume of calls and limited resources available to LANC, the LANC-Charlotte office is sometimes forced to close intake for tenants in conventional housing and only accept calls from tenants who receive federal rent subsidies. Tenants who receive a rent subsidy are far more likely to become homeless when facing an eviction because being evicted will almost always result in those tenants also being terminated from the subsidy program that they rely on to pay their rent.

Second, the HPC will assist Charlotte School of Law’s commitment to producing practice ready, public interest law students by creating a rigorous academic experience that will teach them the substantive and procedural rules of landlord-tenant laws; teach them about the federally subsidized housing programs; and expose students to interviewing skills, case analysis, evidentiary strategy, negotiation, trial preparation, and representation of clients in administrative hearings and trials.

Third, the HPC will provide CSL the opportunity to develop an extensive and long-lasting partnership with LANC that will expand opportunities for both organizations to advance meaningful change in the community for low/no income tenants.

CSL has hired Brian O’Shaughnessy to teach and supervise the HPC students which began in the fall semester of 2015. Prior to joining CSL, Professor O’Shaughnessy served as a Staff Attorney for 4 years at the Winston-Salem office of Legal Aid, where he frequently represented low-income tenants in administrative hearings, small claims and district court, negotiated settlement agreements with landlords, and conducted community outreach on landlord-tenant issues. He also served a one-year fellowship in the Gastonia office of Legal Aid following his graduation from the Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law at Campbell University in 2010, where he also practiced landlord-tenant law. While in law school he participated in the Elder Law Clinic. “I benefited greatly from my Clinic experience while in law school, and I look forward to working with the Clinic students to not only help them develop their litigation skills in furtherance of CSL’s commitment to producing practice ready lawyers, but also to share my passion for helping the most vulnerable members of our community.”

Reprinted with permission from the Charlotte School of Law Civil Rights Clinic Blog.

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Law Day 2013 – Realizing the Dream: Equality for All


May 1st is Law Day, a national day to celebrate the rule of law and its contributions to the freedoms that Americans enjoy. The day also provides an opportunity to recognize the role of courts and in our democracy and the importance of jury service.  In 1957, Charles S. Rhyne, President of the American Bar Association lobbied for a day to celebrate our legal system.  President Dwight Eisenhower established by proclamation the first Law Day in 1958 to mark the nation’s commitment to the rule of law. In 1961, Congress issued a joint resolution designating May 1 as the official date for celebrating Law Day, which is subsequently codified (U.S. Code, Title 36, Section 113). Every president since then has issued a Law Day proclamation on May 1 to celebrate the nation’s commitment to the rule of law.

Law Day programs are designed to help people understand how the law keeps us free and how our legal system strives to achieve justice. These programs are conducted by various groups including local bar associations, courts, law libraries and schools. For example, the Library of Congress will be holding a panel discussion on the movement for civil and human rights in America. Carrie Johnson, Justice Correspondent for National Public Radio will be moderating the discussion.

This year’s theme “Realizing the Dream: Equality for All” provides an opportunity to explore the movement for civil and human rights in America and the impact it has had in promoting the ideal of equality under the law.  This year marks the 150th anniversary of the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation, handwritten by Abraham Lincoln to end slavery in the United States and promote the idea of freedom and equality for all men. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  The Civil Rights Movement brought progress in eliminating discrimination based on race, religion, gender, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability and sexual orientation. This year’s Law Day provides an opportunity to focus on the work that still needs to be done to ensure equality for all.


~Betty Thomas~

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3rd year practice rule established by CSL students

The Charlotte School of Law students enrolled in Assistant Professor Jason Huber’s Civil Rights Capstone class have made a significant contribution to the local federal rules of civil procedure for the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.

Charlotte School of Law meets its commitment to providing experiential learning opportunities to students through a variety of means including capstone experiences.  Students in the Civil Rights Capstone class were charged with creating what is now Charlotte School of Law’s Civil Rights Clinic.  In studying the myriad of pedagogical and substantive issues related to building a civil rights clinic, the students discovered that the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina did not have a local student practice rule.

As a result, the students researched the various state and federal student practice rules and drafted a proposed rule.  They then submitted the proposed rule to the district court for review.  Chief Judge Conrad and the Board of Judges for the Western District directed Magistrate Judge David Cayer and the Clerk of Court Frank Johns to work with Professor Huber and his students on the proposed rule.  After some discussion and editing, as a result of the efforts of everyone on this project, the Western District adopted its first ever student practice rule on June 24, 2010, and is expected to be enacted this fall. As a side note, in order for students to practice at the state level, with a supervising attorney, they must comply with the rules governed by the NC State Bar.  Under those rules, students must complete a law school certification form and a certification regarding the rules of professional conduct. More information can be found at the NC State Bar website.

The students (or former students, now graduates) responsible for this rule-making success are John Arco, Kevin Beck, Tanea Hines, Jeffrey Ellingsworth, Kevin Vidunas, Hector Henry and Brian Chapman.

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Charlotte Celebrates Black History Month

To celebrate Black History Month, here are some activities in and around Charlotte:

*Celebrate Black History Month by participating in the 12th Annual Charlotte Black/African-American Heritage Tour and Pilgrimage 2010.

This is a professionally-guided motorized-tour that includes over 50 sites and covers over 30 miles of historic terrain in Charlotte and Huntersville! This tour is only offered once a year during the month of February- Black History Month!

February 27, 2010

Saturday 10:00 am- 4:30 pm

*Visit the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro, site of Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in 50 years ago.

*Blood Done Sign My Name

Wednesday, February 17

7:00 p.m.

Don’t miss this special one night only theatrical performance of Tim Tyson’s award-winning Civil Rights era memoir

Held at the McColl Family Theater at ImaginOn, 300 E. 7th Street, Charlotte

Duke University playwright Mike Wiley performs his acclaimed adaptation of the story of a 1970s murder in Oxford, NC, seen through the eyes of young Tim Tyson at the Museum Of The New South. Wiley and Tyson himself, now professor of history at UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University, will be on hand for a “talkback” with the audience after the performance. Recommended for ages 15 and older.

*Visit www.plcmc.org for more information on these programs sponsored by the public library:

Lessons from the lunch counter

Before Rosa: The Unsung Contribution by Sarah Mae Flemming

-Jamie Sunnycalb-

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