Michael Wishnie is appointed the William O. Douglas Clinical Professor of Law
Michael J. Wishnie, the newly designated William O. Douglas Clinical Professor of Law, focuses his teaching, scholarship and law practice on immigration, labor and employment, habeus corpus, civil rights, government transparency, and veterans’ law.
Wishnie, a 1987 graduate of Yale College and 1993 graduate of Yale Law School, joined the Yale Law School faculty in 2006 and in February 2011 assumed the directorship of the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization, which links law students with individuals and organizations in need of legal help who cannot afford private attorneys. He previously taught for eight years at New York University School of Law. He currently teaches the Worker & Immigrants Rights Advocacy Clinic, Veterans Legal Services Clinic, Advanced 9-11 Clinic, and “Federal Courts: Selected Topics.”
For many years, Wishnie and his students have represented a wide range of community groups, churches, labor unions, and individuals in litigation and other forms of advocacy to defend and advance the rights of working people, immigrants, and — in his newest clinic — veterans. This work has led to a variety of notable cases in recent years, including the representation in Immigration Court and in federal civil rights litigation of the so-called “Danbury 11,” a group of day laborers who challenged the legality of their arrest in an undercover sting operation carried out by local Danbury police officers in 2006; representation in Immigration Court and civil rights litigation of persons arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in a series of home raids in New Haven in 2007, 48 hours after the New Haven Board of Alderman approved the mayor’s proposal to establish an optional municipal I.D. card program, available to all city residents regardless of immigration status; representation of a disabled Navy veteran demanding that the Veterans Administration recognize her same-sex marriage and provide spousal disability benefits; representation of residents, shop-keepers and a church challenging anti-Latino profiling and police violence in East Haven, Connecticut; and representation of Vietnam Veterans of America in a suit alleging the Pentagon wrongfully discharged 26,000 service members since 2001 on the basis of personality disorder rather than post-traumatic stress disorder or other medical conditions so as to avoid having to pay medical and disability benefits to these veterans.
Apart from litigation, in recent years Wishnie and his students have represented an interfaith coalition in its successful effort to secure state legislation providing in-state tuition to Connection residents regardless of immigration status; Hartford community groups in persuading the city’s Common Council to update its living wage ordinance and to enact the nation’s strongest municipal law governing confidentiality of immigration status; other community organizations in convincing New Haven to adopt a policy of non-enforcement of civil immigration laws and to offer the Elm City Resident Card to all residents regardless of immigration status; and St. Rose of Lima Church in urging the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division to launch a major investigation that resulted in the release late last year of detailed findings that the East Haven Police Department has engaged in a pattern of systematic discrimination against Latinos.
Wishnie has received the New York Immigration Coalition’s “Builders of the New New York Award” (the first such award made in 19 years), among other honors, for his legal and advocacy work.