Arthur Liman Public Interest Fellows Named

The Arthur Liman Public Interest Program at Yale Law School has selected five Liman Fellows for 2005–06.

The Liman Program supports fellowships for Yale Law School graduates to work full time for a year in any area of the legal profession devoted to the public interest.

This year’s Fellows are Jorge Baron, Kim Pattillo Brownson, Eliza Leighton, Holly A. Thomas and Sofia Yakren.

Jorge Baron, of Bogota, Colombia, will work with New Haven Legal Assistance on a project to train immigrants and criminal defense counsel on the immigration consequences of a criminal conviction and how to mitigate those consequences. His work is part of a larger national effort among legal services providers to deal with the intersection of criminal, civil and immigration law. He completed his law degree in 2003.

Kim Pattillo Brownson, of Los Angeles, California, begins her fellowship in late fall with the ACLU of Southern California in Los Angeles. Her work will involve enforcement of a settlement in Williams v. State of California, a class action that challenged California’s failure to provide adequate classrooms and educational materials. Brownson completed her degree from Yale in 2002.

Eliza Leighton, of Washington, D.C., will spend her fellowship year with CASA of Maryland, a community organization originally established to help refugees from Central America that now reaches out to all immigrants in need. Leighton will work in Langley Park, a community primarily composed of low–wage immigrants. CASA of Maryland recently helped organize groups of tenants, mobile food vendors and day laborers. Leighton will help those groups identify common legal problems and assist them in devising advocacy strategies. Her fellowship begins in September 2005, following her graduation from Yale this spring.

Holly A. Thomas, of Spring Valley, California, will work in the New York office of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, where she will focus on the issue of juveniles serving sentences of life without parole. Her project will center on two states, Louisiana and Mississippi, both of which allow juveniles as young as 15 to be sentenced to life without possibility of parole, and both of which have a history of racial disparity in sentencing. Thomas will gather sentencing data for a media campaign and public education about this issue and develop a litigation strategy challenging the appropriateness of such sentences. Her fellowship begins in September 2005. She graduated from Yale Law School in 2004.

Sofia Yakren, of Queens, New York, will spend her fellowship year at the Urban Justice Center in New York. Using the Americans with Disabilities Act, she will address the New York City Human Resource Administration’s failure to permit the mentally ill to use public assistance and Medicaid benefits to cover mental health services. Her project builds on preliminary work already underway at the Urban Justice Center. A 2004 graduate of the Law School, her fellowship begins in October 2005.

The Arthur Liman Public Interest Program was established at Yale Law School in 1996 to honor the late Arthur Liman, a 1957 graduate of the school and a partner in the New York City law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. In addition to his work at the firm, Liman had a long and distinguished career as a public servant, including positions on the New York State Special Commission on Attica, the Legal Aid Society of New York, the Neighborhood Legal Services of Harlem, the Legal Action Center of New York City and the New York State Capital Defender’s Office. He also served as special counsel to the United States Senate Select Committee on Secret Military Assistance to Iran and the Nicaraguan Opposition, also known as the Iran–Contra Committee.

Judith Resnik is the Arthur Liman Professor of Law at Yale Law School and Deborah Cantrell is the director of the Arthur Liman Program.

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