April 2019: The Clinic researched and produced a report detailing national and state standards and best practices on public defense delivery. The report, titled Forging Ahead: Designing Travis County Public Defense to Meet Standards and Best Practices, explains how the development of a public defender office could help Travis County enhance the quality of representation for all persons accused of a crime, regardless of whether they can afford counsel.
Civil Rights Clinic
Students in the Civil Rights Clinic represent low-income clients in a range of civil rights matters relating to, for example, abusive law enforcement practices, prisoners’ rights, discrimination in housing, employment or public accommodations, and freedoms of speech, religion, and association.
Cases and Projects
The Clinic is co-counseling with the Texas Civil Rights Project to represent the mother of Danarian Hawkins, a Houston man who died by hanging in the Harris County Jail. Plaintiff brings a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act in this federal court lawsuit filed in Houston. Hawkins had a psychiatric disability, and the lawsuit alleges that the County failed to provide him reasonable accommodations, in the form of safe housing and regular monitoring, despite knowing of his elevated suicide risk. Students have worked on document discovery, motions, depositions, and mediation preparation in the case.
The Clinic is co-counseling with the Law Office of Don Tittle, P.C. to help represent individuals who were arrested as a result of being present in the area of a motorcycle club meeting in Waco, after a scuffle broke out in which nine people were shot and killed. Plaintiffs bring claims of false arrest against law enforcement officials because their arrests were based on general arrest warrants that contained no individualized information. The case is in federal court in Austin. Clinic students are working on legal research for motions in the case.