Jennifer Williams, legal assistant in the Indian Legal Clinic, has completed the two-day exam for Certified Legal Assistants or Certified Paralegals. Passage of the exam allows Williams to use the professional credential of CLA or CP. She is among 1,081 paralegals in the State of Arizona and 15,652 paralegals nationwide who have attained this goal.
Indian Legal Clinic Files Amicus Brief in Fifth Circuit Religious Freedom Case
The ASU Indian Legal Clinic and Quarles & Brady filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas in A.A. v. Needville School District. Indian Legal Clinic Student-Attorney Daniel Lewis, Quarles & Brady attorney Katea Ravega, and Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee prepared the brief.
The school district appealed a permanent injunction issued by the Southern District of Texas prohibiting the district from enforcing a regulation that would prevent a Native American kindergartner from wearing his hair in braids at school in violation of his constitutional rights of freedom of expression and religion. The school district’s policy prevents boys from wearing their hair long, and specifically provides that a boy’s hair “shall not cover any part of the ear or touch the top of the standard collar in the back.” Because of the policy, the student was placed in in-school suspension. The student believes “that his long hair is not only an expression of his ancestry and heritage, but also a sacred symbol of his life and experience in this world.”
The amicus brief addressed the Lipan Apache tradition of wearing hair long for both expression of identity and religious purposes and requested the Fifth Circuit to affirm the lower court’s decision.
The Indian Legal Clinic and Sacks Tierney filed an amici brief in the above-reference case regarding the constitutionality of the Section 5 preclearance requirements. Indian Legal Clinic Student Attorney Nikki Borchardt (3L), Adjunct Professor and ASU Alum Judy Dworkin and Professor Patty Ferguson Bohnee prepared the brief.
Brief of the Navajo Nation, Anthony Wounded Head, et al. Amici are concerned that if the Court declares that the reauthorization of Section 5 is unconstitutional, American Indian voting rights will be significantly impacted and result in a reversal of the strides made in recent years to ensure greater Indian voter participation. This would negatively impact many American Indian voters who only recently secured the right to vote, continue to face discrimination in voting, and who cannot shoulder the financial burden to bring lawsuits under Section 2 of the VRA.
ILP students co-author ‘Arizona Attorney’ article
Indian law should be added to the Arizona State Bar Examination for practical and professional reasons, according to an article written by two students in the College of Law’s Indian Legal Program and published in the May issue of Arizona Attorney.
“State and tribal interactions are increasing at an exponential rate,” wrote authors Brian Lewis (Choctaw) and Raymond Campbell (Gila River Pima), third-year students at the College of Law who are working in its Indian Legal Clinic. “In Arizona today, attorneys need to have at least a modicum of Indian law knowledge to serve their clients competently. And learning at least some Indian law will ensure that Arizona’s attorneys meet the requirements of the Arizona Rules of Professional Conduct.”
Many Indian law issues may arise in Arizona, from the adoption of Indian children and probate of real property on tribal lands to auto accidents on reservations that may involve complex jurisdictional dilemmas, Lewis and Campbell wrote in the article, “Indian law: A needed addition to the Arizona Bar Exam.”
The magazine invited the students to write the article, because a proposed Arizona Supreme Court rule change would include Indian law as a topic to be tested on the Bar exam. The comment period on the proposal ends May 20.
In 2003, New Mexico became the first state to include Indian law on its Bar exam, followed by Washington state in 2004, and other states are working to add it, Lewis and Campbell wrote. Arizona, the state with the largest percentage of Indian lands in the country, should not fall behind, they wrote.
To read the full article, click here.
President Crow today notified us that Patty Ferguson Bohnee has been selected to receive the 2009 President’s Medal for Social Embeddedness for the Arizona Native Vote — Election Protection Project. This honor recognizes the Indian Legal Clinic, Arizona Indian Gaming Association and the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona project’s superior accomplishment in identifying a community need or issue and developing mutually-supportive partnerships between ASU and Arizona communities to advance successful solutions.
The Arizona Native Vote — Election Protection Project helped strengthen the ties between the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and ASU with tribal communities. The Indian Legal Clinic was able to bring ASU, the College of Law, and the Indian Legal Program students, faculty, staff and alumni to tribes across Arizona by setting up volunteers on numerous reservations, a direct response to a need identified by the tribes. Throughout the election season, the Native communities of Arizona knew that the ASU Indian Legal Clinic was the principal resource for voting questions and assistance.
The ASU Indian Legal Clinic, lead by Professor Patty Ferguson Bohnee, assisted the ACLU of Texas in its effort to enjoin a Texas school district from enforcing a regulation that would prevent a Native American kindergartner from wearing his hair in braids at school in violation of his constitutional rights. The policy prohibits boys from wearing long hair so the family applied for a religious exemption, which the school district denied. Because of the policy, the student was placed in in-school suspension. The student believes “that his long hair is not only an expression of his ancestry and heritage, but also a sacred symbol of his life and experience in this world,” and the requirement that boys’ hair “shall not cover any part of the ear or touch the top of the standard collar in the back” violates his sincerely held religious belief.
Last semester, Student-Attorneys Joe Sarcinella and Mike Carter assisted in drafting the complaint to include provisions regarding the importance of hair and hair’s religious significance to Native Americans. The Student-Attorneys also helped to identify ASU Professor James Riding In as an expert witness for the preliminary injunction hearing. On January 20, 2009, the Southern District of Texas permanently enjoined the School District’s dress code exemption policy, and the student is allowed to attend and participate in regular classroom activities.