Summer Service Snapshots 2015
More than 100 Touro Law students spend their summers working as public interest fellows or through work study. These students work in various offices and pro bono agencies across the country, gaining hands-on experiences in broad areas including immigration rights, municipal law, disaster law, children’s rights, matrimonial law, and so much more. Our Summer Service Snapshots give a glimpse into these placements from a student’s perspective.
Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office
Barney Giannone worked in the Suffolk County DA's Office. He started in January with the criminal prosecution clinic and had his practice order extended into the summer. At DA's office he was tasked with conducting multiple hearings regarding probable cause, identification procedures, voluntariness of statements, refusal to submit to chemical tests and indigency hearings. He conducted direct and cross examinations and appeared on the record daily. Investigations, interviews and motion practice was also part of his daily routine. While in court, he would not only run the calendar, but make offers, negotiate deals, and make various applications to the court, including orders of protection on behalf of domestic violence victims.
South Brooklyn Legal Services in the LGBT & HIV Unit
Paula McFarlane worked with South Brooklyn Legal Services in the LGBT & HIV Unit where she assisted her supervising attorneys in providing legal assistance to both low-income and HIV positive individuals in areas such as housing, welfare benefits, and SSI/SSD. Work included: legal research, drafting of orders to show cause and motions, drafting and sending non-compliance complaint letters to HRA, shadowing attorneys at hearings and in housing court, attending trainings, meeting/corresponding with clients, assisting with client intakes, drafting an affidavit with a client, corresponding with client caseworkers, fair hearing agency representatives, landlord attorneys, and marshals. She said that the most memorable of her experience there was helping to conduct her first Medicaid Fair Hearing. The client was an 80 year old women who was getting personal care assistance to help her with her daily tasks due to her medical issues. HRA (Human Resources Administration) was trying to cut down her hours from 12 hours/week to 9 hours/week. Based on Paula's research and review of her medical records there was no valid argument to why they should cut down the clients hours since her illness had declined, rather than getting better. Paula argued this at the Fair Hearing and they were able to get the clients Personal Care Aid hours reinstated. Paula was gratified being able to help advocate for the client in a way that she was unable to do for herself. It also solidified that litigation is definitely something she wants to do.
Mariama H. Sidique
Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation
Mariama Sidique '17 worked this summer at the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation, a non-profit organization that provides legal services to individuals in the upper Manhattan area. There she had the opportunity to work with attorneys in the landlord-tenant practice. She reports that one of the most rewarding experiences she had was working directly with clients and present compelling arguments on their behalf to New York City administrative agencies and courts in order to maintain the clients’ housing and benefits.
U.S. Army Judge Advocate Generals Corps
Anthony Avitable '16, worked this summer as an intern with the U.S. Army Judge Advocate Generals Corps, assigned to the Staff Judge Advocate’s Office in Ft. Bliss, Texas, where he provided legal assistance to soldiers, assisted counsel in the trial of General Courts Martial, and wrote articles on legal subjects for the post newspaper. He also got the opportunity to participate in training exercises (photo 1) and received a Certificate of Appreciation for exemplary performance (photo 2). The certificate concludes, “His dedication and contributions reflect great credit on him, the 1st Armored Division, the Judge Advocate General’s Corps and the United States Army.
Jose A. Rojas
Suffolk County Human Rights Commission
Jose Rojas '17 worked this summer at the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission located in Hauppauge, NY. He helped people who were discriminated against due to their race, age, disability, pregnancy (sex and disability), color, national origin and many other basis. The agency covers employment, housing, public accommodations, education, credit and they help people file internal complaints against the Suffolk County Police Department for discriminatory violations. Jose reports that it was great to be able to help 3 cases get resolved by conciliation agreements, and it was great to work many other cases that are pending in the process but where justice may be given to those people whose rights were violated.
Honorable John J. Leo
Kimberly Siegel ’17 is spending the summer working for the Honorable John J. Leo, a matrimonial judge in Suffolk County Supreme Court. Kimberly has had the pleasure of observing matrimonial court trials, hearings, and pretrial conferences, where she has been able to witness testimonies, oral arguments, and the differing techniques of attorneys. She has also had the opportunity of conducting research on matrimonial legal issues, calculating maintenance and counsel fees awards, and assisting in drafting judicial decisions and judgments.
Arielle Montoro and Shannon Sullivan
Nassau County District Attorney's Office in the District Court Bureau in Hempstead
Arielle Montoro '17 and Shannon Sullivan '17 both worked in the Nassau County District Attorney's office in the District Court Bureau in Hempstead. District Court deals with misdemeanors and violations. Arielle reports she was able to speak on the record in court numerous times while conducting plea allocations. She was able to conference cases daily with the judge and Legal Aid, and she worked on legal research and wrote numerous motions that were submitted not only to defense counsel, but also to the court.
Transportation Security Administration
Jaclyn Imperati, also a Corporal in the USMC, has worked with the Transportation Security Administration since August of 2013 as an Officer. She remains constantly vigilant of the Transportation Security Laws in order to remain knowledgeable about any issues that might occur with the public. When she returned from Touro Law's Vietnam Summer program, she was transferred to the Federal Air Marshal division where she has been working as a Program Assistant. She was placed in charge of all workers compensation claims, and she has consulted with the Chief Counsel Attorney in order to assist with any legal research required.
Alexandros E. Tsionis
Family Law Clinic
Alexander Tsionis was a awarded a Berg Fellowship to enable him to continue the work he started last fall in the family law clinic. He engaged in client intakes, researched statutes and case history, drafted petitions and subpoenas, and litigated and settled many cases. He reports that he has settled and litigated many cases all with favorable outcomes for his clients.
Nassau County Supreme Court, Matrimonial Center
Claire Persico has been working this summer in the matrimonial center - Nassau County Supreme Court, with the Honorable Stacy Bennett. The Matrimonial Center is a unique facility that houses all of the dedicated Matrimonial Parts for the Supreme Court, including the Model Custody Part. There are courtrooms for six Justices assigned to the Matrimonial Center, along with hearing rooms for Judicial Hearing Officers and Special Referees, all handling matrimonial matters. She has assisted with legal writing and research and she has observed various court proceedings.
Suffolk County District Attorney's Office
This summer Kathleen Garveson worked at the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office in the Vehicular Crime Bureau. She helped the Assistant District Attorneys in that bureau with tasks such as legal research for memorandums, preparing discovery packets to turn over to defense attorneys, preparing different types of warrants, and attending court and chamber conferences. In addition, she was able to observe a homicide trial from opening statements through closing statements. She also participated in a DWI data project for the Bureau Chief and District Attorney.
Rockland County’s Surrogate’s Court
Deena Rosenblatt worked in the Surrogate Court of the Rockland County Courthouse for the Honorable Thomas E. Walsh II. She reviewed cases, drafted orders, decisions, orders to show causes, and motions pertaining to Surrogate and Supreme Court issues. She conducted legal research, analysis, and assess related causes of action. Often times she conferred with litigants about cases and sit in on conferences. Additionally, she had the opportunity to observe all sorts of hearings and trials relating to criminal and civil matters.
Stephanie M. Hibbert
Senior Citizen Law Program
Stephanie Hibbert worked this summer for the Senior Citizen Law Program at the Law Center where she interviewed elderly clients who lacked financial resources, were somewhat marginalized and needed legal assistance. Legal Assistance was needed in issues relating, but not limited to Torts, Social Insurance, Public Assistance, and Trusts and Estates. Client Intake Memorandums were prepared and legal research conducted. Legal Research ranged from Power of Attorney issues to Probate/Administration. She says that it was valuable knowledge and a unique experience because insight was gained on the realities of aging in our society while honing legal skills such as interviewing and legal research.
Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office
Michael Giammarusco '16 worked this summer in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, District Court Bureau in Central Islip. He reported that every day he got to work closely with the Assistant District Attorneys in the office preparing cases for disposition or trial. His day to day includes answering discovery demands, preparing Rosario packets, investigating cases, responding to defendants motions, drafting memos, interviewing and prepping witnesses, conferencing cases with defense attorneys and legal aid, and second seating his ADAs at hearings and trials. He wrote, "Assistant District Attorneys have the best job in the world. They go into work every day and do the right thing. I have such a strong passion for justice and the experience I have gained by working here has been unparalleled. I am going to continue working here in the District Court Bureau as a Law Assistant through Touro Law Center’s Clinic Program."
Law Offices of the Public Advocacy Center
Tyasia Chance is spending the summer with the Law Offices of the Public Advocacy Center which she describes as nothing short of amazing. She assisted in many cases, mainly including landlord/tenant issues and uncontested divorces. While assisting in landlord/tenant cases, she has helped in drafting documents such as Attorney Affirmations and Orders to Show Cause and has had the opportunity to accompany the staff attorney to the Second District Court as well as Third, Fifth and Sixth Districts. While in court, she learned how to fill out Notice of Appearances as well as Stipulation forms. When handling divorce cases, she has assisted in drafting Affidavits and going to the Supreme Court across the street to file them with the Clerk. She has sat in on meetings with clients, set up appointments with them and interviewed them over the phone to see if they qualify for the uncontested divorce project. She has also assisted in drafting a Supplemental Needs Trust as part of the Last Will and Testament for a client. She has also participated in the restorative justice “circles” through the Center for Restorative Practices at the PAC.
Thomas Tlockowski, 2L, part-time student
The Permanency Legal Assistance Needs Project (PLAN)
This summer Thomas Tlockowski is working at Nassau Suffolk Legal Services. He is pictured here at Family Court submitting a Child Support Modification Petition. He is assigned to the Permanency Legal Assistance Needs Project (PLAN) which provides legal assistance to individuals and families affected by every type of cancer to cope with legal, financial and medical issues, including permanency planning. The Project includes a focus on clients with breast cancer. He explains that permanency planning consists of assisting families to develop a legally enforceable long-term plan for the care of children, and to assure that the client’s own wishes regarding end of life decisions are carried out through the designation of health care proxies, advance directives, powers of attorney and wills. The Project also handles problems with Medicaid, Medicare and private health insurance, and depending on resources, may be able to assist with SSI and Social Security Disability matters, long term disability problems and issues involving public assistance. There are no financial eligibility guidelines, but cases are prioritized based on urgency and program resources. Most recently, a collaborative grant with the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) has made it possible to launch a new medical legal partnership effort based at the Stony Brook Medical Group in East Setauket. Legal services are also provided to referred patients of Stony Brook’s Primary Care clinic in Patchogue and Good Samaritan’s Dialysis Unit. He works with a Law Services attorney together with the clinic staff to serve the clinic patients.
Dana Mangiacapra is working this summer at the Narcotics Bureau in the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office where she has worked on various projects for ADA's in the bureau. Throughout the month of June, she researched various issues including the proper way to authenticate a ledger or account book that has been seized through a search warrant and whether or not a squatter, who is renting from another squatter, has any standing to bring a claim based upon unreasonable search and seizure. Her latest project involves reading through the Search Warrant Manual that ADA's use and "shepardizing" the cases to make sure they are still applicable. Additionally, she is working for the Breaking Barriers Pro Bono Assistance Project helping individuals apply for certificates of rehabilitation so that they may be eligible to apply for certain jobs.
Anthony DiChiara '16, is a summer 2015 Berg Fellow who is working in the Disaster Relief Clinic at Touro. He has helped the Clinic hold public outreach sessions in order to inform homeowners of their rights in the FEMA re-application process, and he has helped the staff attorneys resolve varying homeowner issues resultant of Hurricane Sandy. For example he helped identify the effects of a homeowner obtaining an incorrect elevation certificate. These certificates are used to assess whether a particular home falls within a flood hazard area and allows insurance companies to determine the insured’s premium. An incorrect elevation certificate, in turn, could have the effect of classifying a home as a flood risk and therefore erroneously heightening insurance rates. He reports that the experience gained working with the Disaster Relief Clinic is unparalleled. Day in and day out he says he has had the privilege of working with individuals who strive to achieve the common goal of assisting homeowners still facing the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy.