Civil Litigation Clinic
An important lesson learned in any Civil Litigation Clinic is understanding when litigation is not the answer. In the fall of 2018, students in the Civil Litigation Clinic learned that community solidarity and political action are invaluable tools to help clients solve problems. Students collaborated with the Direct Action Team, a grass roots group of volunteers in the Denver community committed to fighting wage theft. The Team takes “direct action” in the form of confronting employers who refuse to pay wages before, or in lieu of, filing a lawsuit. Pictured below (left to right) are three students, Heather Olin, Elizabeth Ashlee Shaw-Gonzales, and Catie Wightman, along with Professor Kuennen, at a wage theft demonstration in Parker, CO on September 28, 2018.
Of course, litigation sometimes is the answer. Students in the Civil Litigation Clinic also represented several low-income workers in court. In addition, they represented clients in civil protection order litigation against abusive intimate partners, acted as guardians ad litem for children who witness abuse, and defended low-income tenants being evicted from subsidized housing. Pictured below are two third year law students, Will Grumet and Mariham Yaft, on either side of their client after trial in Arapahoe County District Court on September 13, 2018.
Whether litigation or “direct action” is the answer, inter-disciplinary perspective always helps. Students working toward their Psy.D in clinical psychology at DU’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology paired up with students in the Civil Litigation this fall for multi-disciplinary client work. Psy.D students Breanne Slay and Dominique Chao and their supervisor Deborah Fishman, a clinical psychologist and adjunct faculty member of GSPP, joined our team for weekly rounds and ongoing consultation.
The Civil Litigation Clinic also happily welcomed Katie Wallat as a Clinical Teaching Fellow in the fall. Katie comes to us from Georgetown University Law Center’s Community Justice Project and brings particular expertise not just in clinical teaching but in the areas of civil rights, employment discrimination and housing litigation and policy work.
Professor Tammy Kuennen continues to speak in the community and nationally. In October, the Colorado Domestic Violence Offender Management Board invited her to present her current scholarship regarding the impact of sociological and psychological constructs of intimate partner violence on law. In September, Professor Kuennen presented her scholarship at the Clinical Legal Writer’s Workshop at New York University Law School. In August, 2018 she trained guardians ad litem on the issue of intimate partner violence in collaboration with the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center and in October the Law Center awarded her for her pro bono work. In July, Professor Kuennen spoke at Centro Humanitario’s Preventing Wage Theft Training at the University of Colorado, Denver. In June, she co-presented Confronting Tensions Between State Involvement in Domestic Violence Cases & Survivor Autonomy at the Colorado Action in Advocacy Conference with Amy Miller, Executive Director, Violence Free Colorado and Jennifer Eyl, Domestic Violence Program Director, Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center.
Professor Tammy Kuennen (right) at the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center awards dinner on October 4, 2018 with Denver Chief County Court Judge Theresa Spahn (left) and Denver Law alumnae Jennifer Eyl, Director of the Legal Program on Domestic Violence at the Rocky Mountain Children's Law Center (center).