Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR) Clinic


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Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR) Clinic



The CLEAR Clinic is a continuation of the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR) project of Main Street Legal Services, Inc., which was founded in 2009 by CUNY School of Law faculty and students to support movements and address legal needs within Muslim, Arab, South Asian, and all other communities in the New York City area and beyond that are affected by government policies and practices justified in the name of “national security” and “counterterrorism.” Law enforcement agencies’ use of informants, undercover officers, predatory prosecutions, watch lists, passport confiscations, “security holds” in immigration processing, and denaturalization, alongside broad surveillance, human mapping, and data collection without concrete suspicion of criminal wrongdoing has diluted the basic rights of many and damaged community life and civic participation. These issues affecting U.S. Muslims and, increasingly, other groups, including (non-Muslim) Black Lives Matter organizers, anti-war groups, environmental activists, and journalists are among the defining civil rights struggles of the 21st century. CLEAR uniquely combines legal representation (nearly 450 clients served since 2009) and complex litigation with public education and advocacy (nearly 300 know-your-rights workshops at nearly 100 different community sites so far), as well as research and other work in support of movement-building initiatives and to promote change in current policies and practices. Because CLEAR handles challenging, cutting-edge cases with no easy solutions, they become “impact” cases, and a breakthrough in one case can have ramifications in dozens of others nationwide. CLEAR students and supervising attorneys have developed expertise in handling sensitive and challenging advocacy on behalf of clients and partner communities. For more details, visit Pedagogy and Learning Outcomes: Accordingly, CLEAR is committed to a philosophy of movement lawyering that dictates holistic support driven by community aims and priorities. CLEAR exposes law students to the unique challenges of supporting and representing movements, communities, and clients who find themselves in the crosshairs of the sprawling U.S. security state. It is a unique application of movement lawyering theories taught in our curriculum. And it provides opportunities for the acquisition and development of fundamental and transferable lawyering skills and habits. Each student who enrolls in CLEAR is expected to represent and counsel clients, including in complex litigation matters; to facilitate rights awareness workshops at community sites; and to participate in movement building and organizing support work that arises. Students in CLEAR are required to attend and participate in “Plenary” seminars as well as separate supervision meetings with their colleagues and supervising attorneys, client meetings, formal appearances before courts and agencies, workshops, and organizing meetings. Plenary is devoted to clinical rounds and lawyering simulations, with critical discussion of doctrine, legislation, regulations, policy, and trends on many of the following topics, among others: - Law enforcement policies and practices in relation to security and “counterterrorism;” - Movement lawyering; - Over-policing of communities of color; - Surveillance and its societal effects; - Federal watch lists; - Material support statutes and predatory - Delays, denials, and other actions taken on purported security grounds in the immigration system; and- Exporting the U.S. security state.CLEAR students acquire and hone fundamental and transferable lawyering skills and habits, including many of the following:- Professional responsibility;- Digital security best practices for lawyers;- Movement lawyering / law and organizing;- Interviewing and counseling clients, including individuals who are approached for questioning by law enforcement, clients who are watchlisted without due process, and ones whose applications for immigration benefits are pretextually delayed or denied on purported security grounds;- Fact development and investigation;- Legal research and analysis;- Oral and written communication;- Case strategy;- Advocacy in court; in relation to grand jury investigations; in administrative agency contexts; with city, state, and federal elected officials; and with the media;- Requests and litigation under freedom of information statutes;- Negotiation;- Working with interpreters;- Cross-cultural and cross-class lawyering;- Time management; and- Collaboration in law practice through their client and project work.

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