Today I’m very pleased to be able to host a guest blog from the Hon. James V. Menno ‘86, who recently retired after more than two decades of service as an associate justice of the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court.
Despite the number of people sitting on the hard benches in this sunlit courtroom, there is a respectful silence. An ordinary person is sitting in the witness box. She has taken an oath to tell the truth. Her descriptive answers to her attorney’s questions begin to weave together a story. It is a deeply personal story that provides unique insight into her and the children of her fractured family. She tells this story to another ordinary person, me, who also happens to be the judge. We are separated by a bench, a black robe and the roles we play. But we are joined together as co-participants in the daily unfolding of the actual Rule of Law.
Her role is to honestly tell the difficult story that has led to this moment. Tomorrow, her husband will sit in the same chair and do the same. My role is to listen to them as unique individuals, determine which facts are true, and (utilizing the applicable law) make a decision that will allow them and their children to transition from one family to two single-parent families. Whew! What a daunting task this is for both of us, the storyteller and the listener.
As part of BC Law’s Center for Experiential Learning Ninth Circuit Appellate Program, four of our third-year law students prepared briefs and argued today in front of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of indigent clients.
In the Ninth Circuit Appellate Program, supervised law students prepare briefs and argue immigration cases brought by indigent clients who would otherwise be without counsel. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, headquartered in San Francisco and hearing cases arising from Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, and Arizona, screens pro se cases and selects those that present important issues that deserve further development. Past cases have included asylum, withholding, Convention Against Torture claims, questions relating to immigration consequences of criminal convictions, and issues of statutory interpretation that present questions of first impression to the Court.
The Court schedules the opening brief to be filed in October, the reply brief in January, and oral argument before a panel of sitting judges in April of the same academic year. Students travel to the court hearing to present oral argument. The Court then issues its decision based on the merits of the individual cases.
Students develop and apply numerous skills, including client communication, legal research, brief writing, and oral advocacy.
These students have been preparing all year for this day, and you can watch their arguments here:
Editor’s Note: Nirav Bhatt is the incoming President of the Boston College Law Students Association. Much like his predecessor, Nirav embodies the very best qualities that BC Law students have to offer. As his classmate, LSA colleague, and intramural basketball teammate, I can personally attest to the ways he pushes those around him to better both themselves and the BC community as a whole. In keeping with the Drake theme of this post’s title, he is and has been Steph Curry with the shot in all conceivable situations. Without further ado or musical references, I am very pleased to present…
If You’re Reading This You Should Commit to Boston College Law School
by Nirav Bhatt, President, Boston College Law Students Association 2015-16
Well hello, everyone! It’s been a while. Thanks to the record 108.6 inches of snow we’ve been allotted here in Boston (thanks Mother Nature), I’ve had a lot of catching up to do at work, and have also been very busy prepping to defend the SSA’s position in federal court.
A computer, coffee, and the Code of Federal Regulations. What more could I ask for?
Let me back up: This semester I’ve been working as a student in the Semester In Practice: Public Interest program at BC Law. Specifically, I’m an intern in the Social Security Administration’s Office of the General Counsel (let’s just call it OGC) in downtown Boston. Rather than balancing classes I’ve been writing briefs, negotiating, and prosecuting. Oh, and preparing to argue a brief in the U.S. District Court in Portland, Maine…