Quechan Wills Clinic

Kris Beecher (3L), Blair Tarman (2L), and Irvin Williams (3L) worked with ILP alumni to present the Quechan Wills Clinic on Feb. 28 and 29. The Wills Clinic, led by Faculty Associate Helen Burtis (’08), was part of this semester’s Indian Legal Clinic’s course. The student attorneys met with Quechan Indian Tribe members individually to discuss the member’s estate planning needs. Each student attorney then drafted a member’s will, which was executed the next day. Jim Palmer, Jr. (’04), Simon Gertler (’18) and Margaret Hirchak  (’12), all ILP alumni and attorneys at Rosette, LLP, provided supervision and mentorship to the students and also provided estate planning services to Tribal members. Thanks to the Wills Clinic, 14 members received wills that covered their allotments, trust personalty and other non-trust property. 

ASU Indian Legal Clinic in D.C.

On Feb. 11, Kris Beecher (3L), Jasmine Blackwater-Nygren (3L) and Blair Tarman (2L) accompanied Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee to the House Subcommittee on Elections Hearing on Native American Voting Rights: Exploring Barriers and Solutions

ILC students and Native Vote Fellow Torey Dolan (’19) helped to prepare the testimony that was delivered to the Subcommittee. Additionally, Navajo Nation Attorney General and ILP graduate Doreen McPaul (’01) testified on behalf of Navajo Nation. Congratulations to all involved!

You can view the testimony, which was recorded live in Washington, D.C., here.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez gave a hearty acknowledgement to the ILC. Read the post here.

Ferguson-Bohnee and McPaul were also quoted in a Cronkite News article about the Native Vote hearing on Feb. 11. Read the article here

Ferguson-Bohnee and McPaul were also quoted in a Cronkite News article about the Native Vote hearing on Feb. 11. Read the article here

Pechanga Band Wills Clinic

Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law’s Indian Legal Clinic partnered with the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians Tribal Leadership and the California Indian Legal Services on Sept. 23 and 24 in an extremely successful Indian Wills Clinic for the members of the Pechanga Band. At the event, free legal services were offered to members of the Band who wished to create wills for bequeathing their allotments. The Pechanga Indian Reservation includes a mix of trust lands, fee lands and lands owned by the Band, individual Indians and non-Indians.

Eleven members of the Band met with
three Indian Legal Clinic students on the first day of the Clinic to discuss
their estate planning needs. The students then drafted an Indian will that was ready
for execution on the following day for each of the individuals. Jennifer
Parisien, Tribal Treasurer Department Financial Analyst, coordinated the event
while Michele Fahley, Deputy General Counsel for the Band, and Mica Llerandi,
staff attorney with California Indian Legal Services, supervised the student
attorneys.

“Ensuring tribal members have
access to legal services in preparing Indian wills has been a long-term
priority for my office,” said Steve
Bodmer
, JD ’06, the Band’s General Counsel. “When our Tribal Secretary and Tribal
Treasurer reached out to me regarding adding wills to the Pechanga financial
education series, my thoughts turned immediately to the Indian Legal Program as
a possible resource to make this project a success.”

Robyn Delfino, Pechanga Band Tribal Treasurer,
explained that the Wills Clinic was part of a larger initiative sponsored by
the Tribal Treasury Department and Tribal Leadership with an aim of assisting
members by providing education about financial management and legal tools for
planning for the future.

“The amazing work that was performed
in the Wills Clinic is evidenced in the reaction of the Band’s membership,”
said Bodmer.

“The feedback from members was
extremely positive,” added Delfino, “which resulted in multiple tribal members
contacting us to ask when the next clinic would be held. The partnership
between the Tribal Leadership, California Indian Legal Services, and the Sandra
Day O’Connor College of Law’s Indian Legal Clinic was a win-win situation where
tribal members gained very valuable services while students gained very
valuable educational experiences.”

The students involved in the Wills
Clinic were universal in their appreciation for the learning opportunities the
program provided.

“I am thankful for the rewarding and
humbling experience of working with clients to prepare their wills from start
to finish,” shared Cynthia Freeman,
JD candidate ’20, “I am grateful for the first-hand practical experience, which
is a great contribution to my overall legal education.”

Cora
Tso
, JD candidate ’20, said “creating a will is a
proactive step for members to take to protect their families for generations to
come. It was an amazing experience to be able to help them with their endeavors.”

Shayla
Bowles
, JD candidate ’20, was happy for the
experience in counseling clients.

“From a practical standpoint, I
learned how to conduct an interview while acknowledging the very sensitive and
personal nature of estate planning,” said Bowles. “Because drafting Indian
wills is a specialty, I feel blessed to have this knowledge to apply in my
legal future.”

“The students did a tremendous job of
building the clients’ trust in the limited amount of time available to them,” said
Helen Burtis, JD ’07, the faculty associate
overseeing the students’ participation in the Wills Clinic. They prepared for
the Wills Clinic by learning about fractionalization of allotments and the
American Indian Probate Reform Act.

“Drafting Indian Wills is technically
complex, and the students were dedicated to getting the clients’ estate
planning wishes accurately incorporated into the documents,” Burtis added. “On
behalf of the Indian Legal Clinic and the Indian Legal Program, I would like to
thank Pechanga Tribal Leadership and staff as well as the members who agreed to
work with students for letting our students take part in this valuable program.”

Happy #NationalVoterRegistrationDay!

Happy #NationalVoterRegistrationDay! Have you registered yet? Here’s a #throwback to when Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee and the ILC helped Agnes Laughter, a Navajo elder become a registered voter in 2008. “All of my heartache has changed as of this day,” said Laughter, who was 77 at the time. “I have an identity now. My thumbprint will stand. I feel fulfilled.” 💛 Register today to be #VoteReady

Successful Pechanga Band Wills Clinic

On Sept. 23 and 24, Indian Legal Clinic students Cynthia Freeman (3L), Shayla Bowles (3L) and Cora Tso (3L) took part in the Pechanga Band Wills Clinic, led by Professor Helen Burtis (’07). The ILC partnered with the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians Tribal Leadership and the California Indian Legal Services to offer free legal services to the members of the Pechanga Band who wished to create wills for bequeathing their allotments.“The students did a tremendous job of building the clients’ trust in the limited amount of time available to them,” said Burtis. “Drafting Indian Wills is technically complex, and the students were dedicated to getting the clients’ estate planning wishes accurately incorporated into the documents.”

Read the full article on our blog here.

Native Vote Roundtable

 
On Sept. 13, ILP hosted the Maricopa County Native American Voting Roundtable at the Beus Center for Law and Society. This event is part of the 2019-2020 Roundtable Project in which the county and the Elections Department are bringing in voter’s voices into the conversation of what needs to change in the election and voting process in underrepresented communities. 

Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee kicked off the event and started the discussion by asking questions on what needs to be changed and how those changes be implemented to improve access to voting from Native American voters.

Several students, staff and faculty attended the event, including Professor Ferguson-Bohnee, ILC Program Coordinator Bari Barnes, Torey Dolan (’19), Brian Garcia (2L) and Hilary Edwards (1L). Edwards commented on her experience at the roundtable.

“We are participating in shaping the future of our communities by voting,” Edwards said. “I was intrigued by the purpose of the roundtable project, which is to keep an open line of communication between protected groups, underrepresented communities and the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office. It’s incredible that the MCRO has created a space to be with these various groups of people to ensure that they have a clear understanding of the changes that ultimately impact them.” 

Barnes helped coordinate the roundtable, “I think these meetings are important because it’s a forum that provides communities direct access to those who shape the process for fair and equitable elections; at the same time it’s an opportunity for those governing the process to meet the folks they represent.”

Ferguson-Bohnee receives national appointments from Lawyers’ Committee, ABA

Patty Ferguson-Bohnee

Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, Faculty Director of the Indian Legal Program, was recentlyappointed National Commissioner for the Commission on Voting Rights by the organization Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under the Law.

According to the Lawyers’ Committee, the Voting Rights Commission is dedicated to the struggle to achieve equality and protect advances in voting rights for racial and ethnic minorities and other traditionally disenfranchised groups.

Ferguson-Bohnee was also recently appointed by the American Bar Association (ABA) to the Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice and named Vice Chair of the ABA’s Committee on Native American Concerns of the Individual Rights and Responsibilities Section.

Ferguson-Bohnee has substantial experience in Indian law, election law and policy matters, voting rights, and status clarification of tribes. She has testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and has represented tribal clients in administrative state, federal, and tribal courts, as well as before state and local governing bodies.