April is Poetry Month!

As April is poetry month, one would be remiss in failing to mention some excellent poems regarding a seminal state case.

In State v. Gunwall, the Washington State Supreme Court created a list of six factors which it uses to determine when the state constitution provides greater protections than the federal constitution. These factors include:

  1. Language of the state constitution
  2. Differences between parallel federal and state constitutional provisions
  3. History of the state constitution and common law
  4. Pre-existing state law
  5. Structural differences between the federal and state constitutions
  6. Whether the subject matter is of particular state interest or local concern.

Though no longer mandatory (after Woodinville v. Northshore United Church of Christ) it is a good idea to brief the factors whenever arguing that freedoms should be expanded under the state constitution!


April is Poetry Month!

National Poetry Month was started in 1996 by the American Academy of Poets, to be celebrated in April. For more information, check out the American Academy of Poets, home of the “Poem of the Day.” Poetry often makes its way into legal opinions.

Here is an example:

No evidence had I taken
Sua sponte appeared forsaken.
Now my motion caused me terror
A dismissal would be error.
Upon consideration of § 707(b), in anguish, loud I cried
The court’s sua sponte motion to dismiss under § 707(b) is denied.

In re Robin E. Love, 61 B.R. 558, 559 (S.D. Florida, 1968), written by Judge Jay Cristol. This is an excerpt from a 48-line homage to The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe.


Social Justice Monday: Making a 180 in Juvenile Justice

Social Justice Monday–March 21, 2016

Submitted by Jeanna McLellan, Electronic Services Assistant

Every year, thousands of juveniles in King County enter the criminal justice system. They are cut off from their families, their education is disrupted, and they are often exposed to further trauma and violence— which ultimately harms their development and has lifelong negative consequences.  Community-based alternatives to incarceration are much less expensive and more effective in reducing crime and recidivism.

Through a partnership between the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and other community organizations, the 180 Program gives first-time juvenile offenders the opportunity to avoid incarceration and make a 180 turn from the path they were headed. Through a combination of large-group presentations, engaging ice-breaker activities, and small-group personal discussions, workshop participants learn to make better choices.  The program uses an innovative and evidence-based approach where speakers from the youth’s own communities, many who have been through similar situations, inspire them to take a different path.  Seattle University School of Law has been a partner by providing free space for these monthly workshops.  To date, over 1500 youth have been diverted from incarceration by going through the 180 program.

This social Justice Monday King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office Chief of Staff, Leesa Manion ‘96, 180 Program Directors Terrell Dorsey and Dominique Davis, and 180 Program Graduate Cierra Conley, discussed the program and the importance of diverting juveniles out of the criminal justice system. 

Interested in learning more? Here are some related books and a movie available in the Law Library:

Justice for Kids: Keeping Kids out of the JuvenileJustice System

By Nancy E. Dowd

LAW-4th Floor (KF9779.J87 2011)

From the Publisher:

Children and youth become involved with the juvenile justice system at a significant rate. While some children move just as quickly out of the system and go on to live productive lives as adults, other children become enmeshed in the system, developing deeper problems and or transferring into the adult criminal justice system. Justice for Kids is a volume of work by leading academics and activists that focuses on ways to intervene at the earliest possible point to rehabilitate and redirect—to keep kids out of the system—rather than to punish and drive kids deeper.

Justice for Kids presents a compelling argument for rethinking and restructuring the juvenile justice system as we know it. This unique collection explores the system’s fault lines with respect to all children, and focuses in particular on issues of race, gender, and sexual orientation that skew the system. Most importantly, it provides specific program initiatives that offer alternatives to our thinking about prevention and deterrence, with an ultimate focus on keeping kids out of the system altogether. 

Burning Down the House: The end of Juvenile Prison

By Nell Bernstein

LAW-3rd Floor (HV9104.B4243 2014)

From the Publisher:

In what the San Francisco Chronicle called “an epic work of investigative journalism that lays bare our nation’s brutal and counterproductive juvenile prisons and is a clarion call to bring our children home,” Nell Bernstein eloquently argues that there is no good way to lock up a child. Making the radical argument that state-run detention centers should be abolished completely, her “passionate and convincing” (Kirkus Reviews) book points out that our system of juvenile justice flies in the face of everything we know about what motivates young people to change.

Called “a devastating read” by Truthout, Burning Down the House received a starred Publishers Weekly review and was an In These Times recommended summer read. Bernstein’s heartrending portraits of young people abused by the system intended to protect and “rehabilitate” them are interwoven with reporting on innovative programs that provide effective alternatives to putting children behind bars.

The result is a work that the Philadelphia Inquirer called “a searing indictment and a deft strike at the heart of America’s centuries-old practice of locking children away in institutions”—a landmark book that has already launched a new national conversation.

Juvenile Offenders: A Study of Disproportionality and Recidivism

By Nella Lee Washington

LAW-3rd Floor (HV9105.W2L44 2001)

A study published by the State of Washington Sentencing Guidelines Commission. The study is somewhat dated, but the information is still relevant.


Social Justice Monday: Invisible Borders Barriers to Justice in the Workplace for Immigrant and Refugee Workers

Social Justice Monday–March 7, 2016

Submitted by Jeanna McLellan, Electronic Services Assistant

We know that injustice and power imbalances in the workplace can be common. But what if you have come to the US from another country and are unfamiliar with the legal system here? What if English is your second or third language and you cannot communicate your complaints?  What if your supervisor targets you because he or she believes you cannot stand up for yourself?

At today’s Social Justice Monday, attorneys and community organizers discussed unique barriers that immigrant and refugee workers face at the workplace. Today’s panelists included Cariño Barragán Talancon from Casa Latina, Marsha Chien from the WA Attorney General’s Office, Civil Rights Unit; Diego Rondon Ichikawa ’13 from the Washington Wage Claim Project, and Andrés Muñoz ’15, the Seattle University Frances Perkins Fellow at the Unemployment Law Project. Each panelist offered their own insight into the issues discussed below.

Andres Munoz engages in outreach to immigrant and refugee workers. Munoz discussed how the Unemployment Law Project is not the only group assisting immigrant and refugee populations, and how they can get referrals to the many other groups through the Unemployment Law Project. Munoz also discussed how specific areas of law may fall short of helping immigrants and refugees, since administrative judges have discretion to make dicisions.

Cariño Barragán Talancon assists with day laborers and domestic laborers at Casa Latina—which offers classes in ESL and workers rights—program in wage theft. Talancon works as mediator between restaurant workers, construction workers and employers. The program at Casa Latina helps employees recover unpaid wages. Talancon discussed how government agencies ask too much of the workers who have language barriers and immigration barriers. Talacon suggested that workers, documented or not,  have the same rights.

Marsha Chien provided a three point discussion on discrimination and the intersection of immigration and employment law: 1. Immigration law and employment law are inter-connected. 2. Retaliation is real—it is a real fear—employers use this against employees. 3. Policy impacts immigrants—there are so many ways that immigrants lives are not thought of in our system—it impacts immigrants differently. Ie., English only, No hats, etc.

Diego Rondon Ishikawa discussed his work with construction workers who are never paid overtime-pay. Often they are told that they do not get overtime pay because they are undocumented, illegal workers. For restaurant workers, they may get 40 hours on the paycheck and then paid cash for overtime but not at time-and-a-half. The biggest barrier to the workers getting fair pay is fear—they are undocumented. There are laws to protect them, but the likelihood is that they will get fired.

Interested in learning more? Here are some related books and a movie available in the Law Library:

Human rights and refugees, internally displaced persons, and migrant workers: Essays in memory of Joan Fitzpatrick and Arthur Helton

By Anne F. Bayefsky & Joan Fitzpatrick

LAW-4th Floor (KZ6530.H86 2006)

From Publisher:

An extraordinary volume with 28 of the world’s leading refugee and human rights scholars and advocates in a wide-ranging examination of the major issues in the field today: the theoretical challenges of international protection; lessons learned from the field including Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan; jurisprudential responses from courts and treaty bodies on the rights and responsibilities of protection; due process issues from Europe, Canada and the United States, and the special needs of migrant workers. The book brings together a unique group of experts including UNHCR officials, legal academics and practitioners, and uniquely tackles these crucial subjects from the perspectives of theory, legal practice, and advocacy.


Marginal Workers How Legal Fault Lines Divide Workers and Leave Them without Protection

By Ruben J. Garcia

From the Publisher:

Undocumented and authorized immigrant laborers, female workers, workers of color, guest workers, and unionized workers together compose an enormous and diverse part of the labor force in America. Labor and employment laws are supposed to protect employees from various workplace threats, such as poor wages, bad working conditions, and unfair dismissal. Yet as members of individual groups with minority status, the rights of many of these individuals are often dictated by other types of law, such as constitutional and immigration laws. Worse still, the groups who fall into these cracks in the legal system often do not have the political power necessary to change the laws for better protection.

In Marginal Workers, Ruben J. Garcia demonstrates that when it comes to these marginal workers, the sum of the law is less than its parts, and, despite what appears to be a plethora of applicable statutes, marginal workers are frequently lacking in protection. To ameliorate the status of marginal workers, he argues for a new paradigm in worker protection, one based on human freedom and rights.


Bread and Roses

Directed by Ken Loach


Maya is an undocumented worker who has crossed the U.S. border from Mexico to search for her sister Rosa, and to begin a new life. After being reunited, Rosa gets Maya a job with a janitorial service in a large office building. While working, Maya happens upon Sam Shapiro, a muckraking lawyer and union agitator whom the service-workers‘ union has assigned to bring its “justice for janitors” campaign to the building. Appalled at the work conditions and unfair labor practices, Maya and Sam team up to fight her employer.
Originally released as a motion picture in 2000.


Social Justice Monday: “Domestic Dependent Nations” in the Twenty-First Century

Social Justice Monday–February 29, 2016

Submitted by Jeanna McLellan, Electronic Services Assistant

From first contact, Indian tribes have been in danger of losing their separate political and cultural identity, thereby being assimilated into dominant American society. The only thing preventing this has been the tribes’ unextinguished claim to sovereignty – the inherent authority of tribes to govern themselves. Federal Indian law and policy has been troubled from its beginning by recurring paradoxes, inconsistencies, and conflicting national and tribal objectives. Yet tribal cultures remain strong in the face of powerfully adverse political and jurisprudential forces, continuing to gain influence in political spheres.  The current diminished status of tribal sovereignty is taking its toll on the ability of tribes to survive as unique cultural and political communities and is diminishing their contribution to the vitality of our country as a whole.

There are 567 federally recognized Indian tribes in the U.S., most of which have their own sovereign lands, governments, and court systems, and who interact every day with the state and federal government. Yet most legal thought overlooks our sovereign Indian nations and legal heritage. In Indian law we are confronted with the limits of the law, and our study should press us towards figuring out how to take the next step toward problem solving of a different order.  But we cannot do that effectively until we know how Indian law works. One needs to understand the ailment to start to treat it effectively.

Professor Michael Miranda, Adjunct Professor and Faculty Fellow at the Center for Indian Law & Policy and Professor Eric Eberhard, Distinguished Indian Law Practitioner in Residence and Senior Fellow at the Center for Indian Law led the discussion.

Professor Miranda discussed Indian Law’s relevance to social justice through four elements. First, what is studied in Indian Law is at the core of social justice–the interaction of cultures, and acceptance and accommodation. Second, the study of Indian Law allows one to develop the Jesuit values of social justice. Third, the study of Indian Law  provides a window into what real diversity is, and how to build bridges between communities. Fourth, it teaches one the limit of the law to provide social justice, and for true reconciliation we need more than the law.

Professor Eberhart discussed tribal sovereignty in the context of the ability of tribes to effectively govern their homelands, protect their land and cultures and provide for the social and economic well-being of their citizens and all those in an Indian community. As limitations are imposed on tribal sovereignty, as is believed will occur in the current Dollar General case and has occurred in other cases before the Supreme Court, Indian law helps us understand exclusion and the limits of the law.  This understanding then leads us to grasp the need to move beyond the law’s contours to seek cultural and political reconciliation.

Interested in learning more? Here are some related books available in the Law Library:

American Indians and the Law
By N. Bruce Duthu
LAW-4th Floor (KF8210.R32D88 2008)

From the Publisher:

Few Americans know that Indian tribes have a legal status unique among America’s distinct racial and ethnic groups: they are sovereign governments who engage in relations with Congress. This peculiar arrangement has led to frequent legal and political disputes-indeed, the history of American Indians and American law has been one of clashing values and sometimes uneasy compromise. In this clear-sighted account, American Indian scholar N. Bruce Duthu explains the landmark cases in Indian law of the past two centuries. Exploring subjects as diverse as jurisdictional authority, control of environmental resources, and the regulations that allow the operation of gambling casinos, American Indians and the Law gives us an accessible entry point into a vital facet of Indian history.


American Indian Politics and the American Political System

By David E. Wilkins Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark

From the Publisher:

Now in its third edition, American Indian Politics is the most comprehensive study written from a political science perspective that analyzes the structures and functions of indigenous governments (including Alaskan Native communities and Hawaiian Natives) and the distinctive legal and political rights these nations exercise internally, while also examining the fascinating intergovernmental relationship that exists between native nations, the states, and the federal government.


Encyclopedia of American Indian history

By Bruce E. Johansen, (Bruce Elliott), 1950-; Barry Pritzker

From the Publisher:

The story of America’s original inhabitants, their descendents, and immigrants from the Old World is one of cooperation and conflict, promise and compromise, tragedy and endurance. It is an essential, troubling undercurrent in the history of the United States and Canada, running the length of the nations’ history and the breadth of the continent (the names of more than half of the states in the United States and Canada have Native American origins). From continuing debates over the origins of Native Americans to recent issues such as reparations, the provenance of artifacts, and sports team mascots, it is a story that continues to be written.


Security Precautions

Theft can be a problem in any building on campus and we remind you to never leave personal belongings unattended in the library. Remember to take valuable items with you when you leave or ask a colleague to watch valuables if you will be gone for a very short period of time. Study rooms are no exception.

Be sure to secure your laptop even if you plan to just step away for a moment. There are laptop security devices installed on carrels and tables throughout the library to secure your computer. Security cables can be purchased in the bookstore. The library has a limited supply of security cables available for check-out at the circulation desk.


Banned Books Week

Celebrate the Freedom to Read during Banned Books Week September 27th – October 3rd 2015. For over 30 years libraries, publishers, booksellers, journalists, teachers and readers have been coming together during Banned Book Week to explore the issues and controversies around book challenges and book banning. The American Library Association compiles a yearly list of the most frequently challenged books.

The top five most challenged books for 2014:
1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
• Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”
• Available in the Lemieux Library collection 5th Floor-Books PS3551 .L35774 A78 2007
2. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
• Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”
• Available in the Lemieux Library collection 4th Floor-Books PN6747 .S245 P4713 2003
3. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
• Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”
4. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
• Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
• Available in our collection LAW-Culp Collection (3rd Floor-Range 3A) PS3563.O8749B55 1994
5. It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health by Robie Harris
• Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “ it’s child pornography”


Why do we eat hot dogs and watch fireworks?

Everyone knows the 4th of July is Independence Day. Most everyone knows that it is Independence Day because that’s when the Declaration of Independence was signed. But how much do you really know about the Declaration itself? The National Archive houses the Declaration of Independence. It also has an online exhibit that discusses its drafting, preservation and many other fascinating topics related to the document. Law students and lawyers should take a moment to reflect on the Declaration and its relationship to American law . . . and then they should have a hot dog and blow something up.


How do you write a commencement speech? Crowdsource it.

Congratulations to our Seattle University School of Law Graduates and thanks to our wonderful speakers. While many speakers may have peers review their speech prior to the ceremony, a student speaker at Stanford Law School has taken it to the next level – she is crowdsourcing her speech.


Washington State Bicycle Laws

Bike month may be over, but bike laws apply year round. Find out more about bike laws and bicycling in Washington on the Cascade Bicycle Club site.