Friday, August 12, 2016

St. Thomas Law Wraps up Summer 2016 with Human Trafficking Academy

On August 1, 2016 over  95 advocates, students, and academics arrived at St. Thomas Law's for the week-long Human Trafficking Academy. The academy, presented by the law school's LL.M./ J.S.D. Program in Intercultural Human Rights, offered 17 intensive and interactive courses, taught by top-level experts and practitioners with long-time experience in working in the field of anti-trafficking.

Founded and directed by Professor Roza Pati in 2011, the academy also focuses on education, research, and outreach. It has affected law, policy and practice in combating human trafficking nationally and internationally. Through its education prong, it has certified over 450 professionals of various disciplines: attorneys, public defenders, prosecutors, judges, law enforcement, social service providers, child protection investigators, health care providers, academics, students, faith-based organizations, and also human trafficking survivors. 
St. Thomas Law's 2016 Human Trafficking Academy

In its outreach function, it has developed relationships with and coached over 7000 individuals locally, nationally and internationally, within the private and public sector. While the research component successfully overseas and supports the development and implementation of relevent publications, doctoral and master’s theses, symposia, seminars and conferences.

Attendees also benefited from the opportunity to share and discuss aspects of their own work experience in combating human trafficking. 


The training materials and expert speakers are priceless.

 “I have to say that in this course, I have been pleasantly surprised how good and engaging all the instructors were. I have never had that experience before! Bravo!!

"The atmosphere allowed great exchange of resources between all the different organizations, lawyers, law enforcement, advocates and good Samaritans. I benefited greatly and will be able to use the tools in our organization and local community in Texas.”

I will highly recommend it to my friends and colleagues working or not working in the field,” 

This Academy has been a God-send!”

"We, at St. Thomas Law’s LL.M./ J.S.D. Program in Intercultural Human Rights are humbled and honored by such appreciation,” stated academy director, Dr. Roza Pati. “Providing our community of professionals with the most up-to-date knowledge, best tools and most effective skills to combat human trafficking is not just our natural profession as educators but, in our Catholic tradition, it is also a noble cause. It is our mission, our calling.”

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Summer of Selflessness - Immigration Law Students Aid Immigrant Families at Karnes Detention Center in Texas

This past summer, a scouting mission led by Professor Lauren Gilbert and three St. Thomas Law students - Cristina Hernandez, Rebecca Tabares, Hiriana Tuch - volunteered at the Karnes Family Detention Center in Texas. The goal of the mission was to assist detained Central American women and children with their asylum claims.

Cristina Hernandez (3L)
The group partnered with the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) a non-profit agency, whose name translates to “roots” in Spanish.

The Karnes Detention Center holds about 500 women and children - mostly asylum seekers fleeing gangs, gender violence and/or state sponsored violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. These women and children, who are seeking refuge in the United States, are detained at the border and placed into expedited removal proceedings. They are subject to immediate deportation if they cannot pass a credible fear interview.

Third-year student Rebecca Tabares stated that working at Karnes Detention Center was an eye opening experience because she was able to connect with women who had just entered the United States in search of the same thing her family once searched for -  freedom and the opportunity for a better life.

Rebecca Tabares (3L)
The asylum process evaluates persons who attempt to enter without proper travel documents but who indicate a fear of returning to their countries and get a credible fear interview (CFI) with an Asylum Officer (AO). They must convince the AO that they face serious harm, targeted at them, and that this harm would be inflicted because of one of five protected grounds: their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or their membership in a particular social group (PSG). If they pass their CFI, they get a full hearing before an Immigration Judge and are eligible for release from detention, usually with an ankle monitor. If they fail the interview, they get a brief hearing before an Immigration Judge, via video-conference. If the judge overturns the AO’s decision, they are eligible for release and a full hearing. If the judge affirms, they can be immediately deported, unless the Karnes team can convince Homeland Security that there was some defect in the process entitling them to another chance to be heard.

Professor Lauren Gilbert
The St. Thomas Law team quickly became a part of the Karnes team and helped dozens of Central American women and children at various stages of the process, from initial intakes, to CFI preps, to IJ reviews. The work was non-stop. Third-year law students, Rebecca Tabares and Hiriana Tuch prepped a Honduran woman, with a two year old daughter, for her CFI. This involved hearing her story, developing a case theory, and preparing her for her interview. Hiriana attended the CFI. Rebecca assisted a woman who had received contraindicated medical treatment at Karnes, drafting a detailed declaration. Cristina Hernandez helped a young Salvadoran woman with a little boy who had failed her CFI. She met with her, drafted her declaration, developed a case theory, and accompanied her to her Immigration Judge Review.

At the last moment, the Immigration Judge reset the case for the following week. Undaunted, Cristina prepared a legal brief for her client, which was accepted by the Court. The following week, all three students learned that these women and their kids were being released.

Karnes Detention Center. Texas
"Participating in the Karnes project allowed me to change the life of one Central American family forever, stated Cristina. "It was one of my most rewarding experiences both in as well as out of law school."

Professor Gilbert has consistently provided hands-on, immersive  experiences and opportunities for her Immigration Law students and, in the process, provides invaluable assistance to immigrant women and children; may of whom fear for their lives and the lives of their children.

Her message has also found a national audience.  Her most recent article, Expedited Removal Process asCold as ICE: A Response to Jeh Johnson, was recently published by The Hill, an online daily publication read by lawmakers and policymakers alike, as a Congress Blog.

Friday, July 29, 2016

St. Thomas Law Welcomes Human Rights Delegation from Thailand

Strengthening Foreign Relations “One Handshake at a Time”

On July 22, 2016, St. Thomas University School of Law hosted a delegation from Thailand during a visit coordinated by the U.S. Department of State and Professor Roza Pati. The distinguished guests were welcomed by Dean Alfredo Garcia. 

The delegation, whose focus is primarily on combating human trafficking, consisted of Assistant Secretary to the Deputy Attorney General of Thailand, the Deputy Superintendent of the Police Special Operations Unit for Region 1, the Chief of Prevention and Suppression of the Anti-Trafficking Center and the Program Coordinator of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Alliance. 

Professor Pati conducted a presentation and discussed the differences in policy and legislation related to human trafficking, as well as the challenges that the anti-trafficking efforts encounter in a country like Thailand that is not only plagued in trafficking internally, but also serves as a destination country for many Burmese and Nepalese migrants that end up being trafficked. The discussion was particularly geared towards issues surrounding investigating and prosecuting trafficking at sea, in fishing industry. 

St. Thomas Law has long been a leader in the fight against human trafficking. We are committed to protecting human rights and social justice—and to teaching, training, and empowering the next generation of human rights advocates and decision makers through our globally unique LL.M. Program; and, committed to original research in the field through our J.S.D. Program in Intercultural Human Rights.

Through programs like our Human Trafficking Academy, we address the cutting edge of global issues of concern and train students to solve these problems responsibly; and through our Human Rights Institute we dedicate ourselves to helping those in need in our own community. 

Locally and globally, we are devoted to shining a light on current human rights issues through annual conferences and symposia, our Intercultural Human Rights Law Review, ranked No. 9 in the world, and our International Moot Court Program.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

St. Thomas Law Alumna Among Newest Judicial Appointees to Federal Immigration Court

St. Thomas Law proudly announces the investiture of alumna, Georgina M. Picos, as a federal immigration judge.

Acting Chief Immigration Judge Michael C. McGoings presided over the investiture ceremony which was held on June 17, 2016 at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in Washington, D.C.

After a thorough application process, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch appointed Judge Picos, along with 14 other judges into her new position.

“We are pleased to welcome these 15 appointees to the immigration judge corps,” said McGoings. “Their arrival brings our immigration judge corps to 273 adjudicators, our highest level to date.”

"The St. Thomas community proudly celebrates our first alumnae to be appointed as an Immigration Judge," stated St. Thomas Law Dean, Alfredo Garcia.  "Judge Picos’s distinguished career as a dedicated public servant will continue as she embarks on this new phase of her legal career."

Judge Picos graduated from St. Thomas University School of Law in 1991. Upon graduation, she joined a private law practice in Miami as an associate attorney; working there until 1994 when she began serving as assistant chief counsel for the Office of the Chief Counsel, Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the Department of Homeland Security.

She is also the first St. Thomas Law graduate to be appointed to the federal judiciary. She will serve in the Houston Immigration Court and is set to begin hearing cases in June 2016.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Alumna Becomes Shareholder in Large South Florida Law Firm

 Viviana Arango Loshak '10
St. Thomas Law congratulates alumna Viviana Arango Loshak on becoming a shareholder in Fowler White Burnett's insurance practice group.

According to Fowler White, in this role, she will be handling a wide variety of coverage and defense issues related to commercial, directors and officers, errors and omissions, automobile and professional liability policies. She will also  also handle general commercial litigation matters and civil disputes, as well as defending and prosecuting matters on behalf of corporations and business entities. 

Vivian graduated from St. Thomas University School of Law in 2010. As a law student, she was a member of the St. Thomas Law Review and the St. Thomas Moot Court team.

Monday, June 6, 2016

St.Thomas Law Graduate, Kyle Teal, Wins Writing Award from the Florida Bar

Kyle Teal
St. Thomas Law graduate, Kyle Teal '12, is co-recipient of this year's Florida Bar Journal Excellence in Writing Award.

The Florida Bar Journal & News Editorial Board selected Kyle B. Teal and Ervin Gonzalez as the recipients for their article, “No Ideas But in Things: A Practitioner’s Look at Demonstrative Evidence,” which was published in the December 2015 issue of the journal.

According to the Florida Bar, awardees are selected based on "writing quality, substance, difficulty, and style."
The article focuses on the the use of demonstrative evidence at trial, and has been cited by a number of legal entities dealing with issues surrounding that topic.

"Kyle is a real professional," stated St. Thomas Law professor Gary Kravitz, who taught Kyle while he was a law student. 

While a student at St. Thomas Law he was also the editor-in-chief of the St. Thomas Law Review and recipient of the 2012 ALI-ABA Scholarship and Leadership Award.

Teal is currently is an associate at the Gunster Miami office. He focuses on property rights litigation, including the representation of owners and businesses in eminent domain, inverse condemnation, regulatory takings, and Bert J. Harris claims. He also assists clients in commercial and insurance litigation, as well as land use, development, and acquisition matters.

Read the award-winning article here

Thursday, May 26, 2016

St.Thomas Law in The Netherlands for Annual Water Law Program

This week, St. Thomas Law Professor Keith Rizzardi and eleven law students travel to Delft, Netherlands, for our annual Netherlands Water Law Program. The week-long program runs from Monday, May 23, through Friday, May 27.

Organized in partnership with the Florida Earth Foundation (FEF), the water law course, led by Professor Rizzardi and  FEF Executive Director, Stan Bronson allows participating students to study water management as experienced in a nation situated below sea-level.

Among other opportunities, students attend lectures at the United Nations Institute for Water Education; learn about Dutch and European legislation; and gain a deeper understanding of the historic context and the magnitude of the future challenges and solutions.

Field trip destinations include the historic windmills at Kinderdijk, the Flood Disaster Museum in Zeeland, and the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Peace matters: St. Thomas Law students tour the Peace Palace in the Netherlands

Exploring the Netherlands and rushing tides at the Oosterschelde surge barrier