March/April 2010 - an ACLU of Rhode Island Newsletter

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March/April 2010 Newsletter

Volume: XVI, Issue Number: 2

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Newsletter Contents

ACLU Lawsuit Challenges Unconstitutional 
Practices of Rhode Island Truancy Courts: Punitive Court System Denies Children Basic Constitutional Protections

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Rhode Island have filed a class-action lawsuit charging that the state‘s truancy court system is devoid of basic due process protections in violation of state and federal law.

Filed in Rhode Island Superior Court against a number of state family court judges and officials of six school districts including Providence, the lawsuit charges that the truancy courts are frequently punitive in nature, and that truancy court magistrates threaten vulnerable children and their parents with baseless fines and imprisonment, remove children from the custody of their parents without legal justification, and fail to keep adequate records of court hearings. The lawsuit also charges that the court system disproportionately impacts children who have difficulty attending school or doing their schoolwork because of special education or medical needs.

"The truancy court system appears to have thrown the due process clause of the United States and Rhode Island Constitutions out the window and it is imperative that family court administrators and magistrates follow the law," said Robin L. Dahlberg, senior staff attorney with the ACLU. "Pushing kids into the juvenile justice system is not the way to help at-risk youth graduate from high school, and in fact only increases the likelihood that they will ultimately end up in the criminal justice system."

According to the lawsuit, filed on behalf of nine parents and their children, many of the students forced to appear before truancy courts have not, in fact, been willfully or habitually absent from school. Instead they include children unable to attend school regularly due to severe or chronic medical conditions and children whose serious emotional conditions prevent full-time attendance. In some cases, they are children who have missed almost no school days at all, but who have been put into the truancy court system for such infractions as not doing their homework. Some children have been kept in the truancy court system for over two years without ever being given guidelines as to what they must do to be released from the court‘s supervision.

The lawsuit charges that children with severe or chronic illness are forced to attend school against the orders of their physicians, and that parents are subjected to harsh and unnecessary financial burdens by having to take their children to the doctor to document every single absence or needing to take time off work to attend one truancy court hearing after another. As a result of their participation in this system, children have suffered anxiety, stress, humiliation and, in some cases, a deterioration of their grades and behavior.

The J. Joseph Garrahy Judicial Complex, which houses the Rhode Island Family Court.

The court hearings themselves are riddled with constitutional problems, as judicial officials, in violation of the law, fail to adequately inform children of the charges that are filed against them, fail to conduct preliminary investigations into the charges as mandated by law, fail to inform children of their constitutional rights, and conduct off-the-record conversations about the children with school officials and social workers.

"The children of our state need to be afforded all of the rights and protections available to them under the law," said Steven Brown, executive director of the RI ACLU. "We should be working to ensure that all of our kids are given every opportunity to succeed in school rather than simply dumping the most vulnerable of them into a punitive and unconstitutionally implemented court system."

The case of Jeremy Bowen, a 14-year-old at Westerly High School and one of the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit, ex-emplifies the misuse of truancy proceedings against children with disabilities. School officials filed a truancy petition against Jeremy in November, although he had been absent only twice and tardy no more than five times that year. The petition was filed only two months after he was integrated into mainstream classes after previously being in classrooms specifically designated for students with disabilities. When Jeremy‘s mother raised the issue with Westerly‘s truant officer, she was informed that the petition had been filed against her son not because of absences but because of the difficulties he had been having with his schoolwork. In another case, a child who had missed many days of school due to hospitalizations and serious illness arising from his sickle cell anemia was threatened, along with his mother, with arrest and incarceration if they did not attend a scheduled truancy court hearing.

"We are very concerned that so many children are being labeled 'truant' at hearings that deprive them and their parents of the most basic constitutional rights to a fair hearing," said Amy R. Tabor, a RI ACLU cooperating at-torney with the firm of Hardy Tabor & Chudacoff. "It violates the most fundamental notions of fairness and due process to allow the state to conduct what are essentially secret hearings with no stenographic or other record, especially when these are hearings at which children may be ordered into state custody, and at which parents and children are placed in fear by repeated threats of fines and imprisonment for even minor infractions such as skipping detention, not completing homework, acting disrespectfully, or failing to provide a doctor‘s note for every sickness-related absence."

The lawsuit seeks a preliminary injunction requiring an initial investigation of truancy charges before petitions are filed; man-dating the transcribing or reporting of all truancy court proceedings; and barring the truancy court from issuing orders against students and parents over whom it has no jurisdiction. The lawsuit also seeks declaratory and in-junctive relief requiring the court and school officials to abide by basic constitutional and state statutory due process standards.

Three days after the suit was filed, Family Court Chief Judge Jeremiah Jeremiah announced he would be retiring from the bench. Besides Jeremiah, the defendants in the case include the five Family Court judges who handle truancy court cases – Patricia Asquith, Colleen Hastings, Edward Newman, Angela Paulhus and Thomas Wright – and school officials in Providence, Westerly, Woonsocket, North Providence, Coventry and Cumberland.

Attorneys on the case include Dahlberg and Yelena Konanova of the ACLU Racial Justice Program, Deborah N. Archer of New York Law School and ACLU of Rhode Island cooperating attorneys Tabor and Thomas W. Ly-ons. A hearing on the ACLU‘s request for a preliminary injunction is expected to be held in the next month.

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From the Desk of the Executive Director

Our year-long 50th Anniversary Celebration kept us very busy in 2009. The celebration may be over, but the civil liberties violations that have kept us busy for half a century show no sign of abating in 2010.

As you’ll see in these pages, we’ve been busy on all fronts, testifying and lobbying on dozens of bills at the State House, filing lawsuits on  a range of issues, and hosting events throughout the state to help educate the community on various topics.

More than anything, though, our lead story explains the crucial need for a strong ACLU presence. With help from the National office, we have filed a major class-action lawsuit against the Truancy Court. The suit has generated a lot of attention and will, we hope, shake up a system that has committed grievous wrongs against thousands of students and families in the state, denying them some of the most fundamental rights that we would expect a judicial system, of all entities, to respect. We’ve had a great response from others who have experienced Truancy Court first hand and who are grateful for our intervention, made possible by the generous support of our members.  

~Steven Brown

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East Providence School Committee Sued Over Open Meetings Violation

Seeking to halt a disturbing trend by public bodies of unlawfully meeting in private to discuss legal-related matters, the RI ACLU has, for the second time in six months, filed an Open Meetings Act (OMA) lawsuit against a school committee for violating the law’s provisions governing the holding of executive sessions.

The lawsuit, filed against the East Providence School Committee, alleges that the committee illegally met in private on September 8, 2009 to allegedly discuss what it called a “Public Comment Lawsuit.” However, the ACLU lawsuit notes, “there was not and never has been any ‘Public Comment Lawsuit’ filed against the Committee.” In fact, when the ACLU filed an open records request to obtain copies of any documents related to this “lawsuit,” the school committee responded that no such documents existed.

Over the past several years, the School Committee has adopted and revised a series of policies directed at controlling public comment at their meetings. Many residents have raised objections to those policies. In April 2009, the Committee adopted a new policy, requiring people desiring to speak at Committee meetings to submit a formal written request at least one week prior to the meeting. This policy, like previous ones, generated significant controversy in the community.

A few months later, after receiving a letter from the ACLU seeking background documents on its “public comment” policies, the Committee held its mysterious executive session to discuss a “public comment lawsuit” that apparently never existed. The ACLU suit alleges that there was no actual or threatened litigation over the Committee’s “public comment” policy when the executive session was held, as demonstrated by the lack of any documents relating to any such litigation.

The suit was filed by RI ACLU volunteer attorneys Howard Merten and Keith Fayan on behalf of both of the ACLU and East Providence resident and former state legislator Paul Moura, who has been critical of the school committee’s “public comment” policies. The lawsuit, filed in R.I. Superior Court, seeks an order declaring the school committee’s executive session a violation of the open meetings law and directing the school committee to unseal the executive session minutes from that meeting. The suit also seeks an award of attorneys’ fees and imposition of a fine against the school committee for violating the law.

Last August, the ACLU filed a similar suit, challenging a closed meeting the Barrington School Committee held to discuss the merits of instituting a mandatory breathalyzer policy for all students attending school dances. Like East Providence, the school committee relied on the “litigation” exemption to meet in private, when at the time of the executive session there was no litigation pending or threatened and there was not even a specific policy in place that could have been challenged through litigation. Last month, R.I. Superior Court Judge Brian Stern denied the Barrington School Committee’s motion to dismiss that suit.

ACLU attorney Merten said: “This case, much like the Barrington case, challenges the School Committee’s claim that a secret executive session was necessary to discuss litigation that did not exist and has never been filed. The public’s right to observe their elected officials at work is threatened by this type of misplaced reliance on a narrow exception contained in the open meetings statute.”

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Affiliate Intervention Protects Marriage Equality Canvassing Activities

Quick ACLU intervention helped Marriage Equality Rhode Island (MERI) proceed with planned political canvassing activities in Warwick and North Kingstown this past month. In both communities, police officials initially informed MERI that all of its canvassers had to register in advance and obtain permission in order to canvass under local ordinances requiring registration of door-to-door “solicitors.”

The ACLU advised officials in both municipalities that the ordinances were clearly inapplicable to groups like MERI that were not soliciting financial donations. In any event, the ACLU noted, to the extent the ordinances did apply to MERI’s canvassing activity, they were blatantly unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court has made clear, the ACLU said, that individuals have a fundamental First Amendment right to canvass without having to register with the government. After hearing from the ACLU, attorneys for the municipalities agreed that registration was not required. The canvassing by MERI volunteers proceeded in the communities without incident.

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ACLU Objects to Government Efforts to Be Dropped 
from Lawsuit Over Death of Immigrant Detainee

The Rhode Island ACLU has vigorously objected to an attempt by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to be dropped from the federal lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of the family of a detainee who died while in the custody of immigration officials at the Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls. 

Hiu Lui “Jason” Ng, the 34-year-old Chinese detainee, died in August 2008 after complaining for months to prison officials about being in excruciating pain.  Guards and medical personnel at Wyatt continually accused Ng of faking his illness and denied him medical care, and he was only diagnosed with terminal liver cancer and a broken spine less than a week before he died.

The lawsuit claims that ICE had legal custody over Ng and knew of violations of his constitutional rights but did not act to stop them.  At a recent court hearing, however, a lawyer for ICE argued that the agency could not be held legally responsible for the way corrections officers, medical staff and prison officials at Wyatt treated Ng because ICE had contracted out the work to Wyatt and so it was their responsibility to provide care for Ng. 

Fidelma Fitzpatrick, one of the ACLU volunteer attorneys handling the lawsuit, countered that ICE knew, or should have known, about Ng’s medical condition.  In fact, ICE had received a letter from Ng’s attorney on July 14, 2008 explaining Ng’s precarious medical condition and stating that requests for medical treatment had been repeatedly denied. 

The lawsuit claims that,  “Despite his obvious severe and debilitating medical condition, and the actual notice it had received of his health condition, ICE Officials ordered that Mr. Ng on July 30, 2008 travel to Hartford, Connecticut from Central Falls, Rhode Island. Given his serious and obvious medical condition, requiring Mr. Ng to make this trip represented cruel, inhumane, malicious and sadistic behavior on the part of ICE officials. These actions represented calculated harassment unrelated to any legitimate or legal purpose.”  Ng died on August 6th, a week after this trip which, the ACLU believes, was designed to coerce Ng into dropping his complaints.

A decision from U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith on ICE’s motion is expected shortly. 

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News Briefs

City Drops Police Drug Testing Requirement

A day after the RI ACLU sharply blasted a plan announced by Providence Mayor David Cicilline to “institute random drug testing in the Police Department effective immediately,” the City backed down and scrapped the policy. The ACLU had argued that the proposal was “clearly illegal” and called it “sadly ironic” for the Department, “in the name of rooting out illegal activity by officers,” to propose a policy that, if implemented, would itself be a crime.

The Mayor’s proposal followed the arrest of three police officers who were charged in a sting operation with dealing drugs. According to reports, only one of them was suspected to be also using drugs. In order to protect the privacy and dignity of workers, Rhode Island has a very strict state law that authorizes drug testing of employees only on the basis of individualized suspicion of drug use on the job.

Board of Elections Adopts New Recount Eligibility Rules, Dismisses Affiliate Concerns

In case of a close ballot referendum vote, should only people who have spent a significant amount of money on the issue be allowed to seek a recount? That is the upshot of recent regulations adopted by the state Board of Elections over ACLU objections.  The new rules allow individuals and organizations to seek a recount only if they spent at least $1,000 on a local ballot question with fewer than 1,000 votes cast, and up to a minimum of $50,000 on statewide referenda that generate 200,000 votes or more.

In written testimony before the Board, the Affiliate argued that “defining standing to request recounts based upon dollars spent sends exactly the wrong message. It tells the average voter, or the homemaker or young voter who works on a particular issue about which they care deeply, that review of close elections is solely for those with money and influence.” As for local referenda campaigns, the Affiliate noted that the rules could bar anyone from seeking a recount, since individuals or small organizations participating in such referenda were unlikely to spend more than small amounts of money. 

However, the Board rejected the ACLU’s concerns and adopted the regulations. The Affiliate is considering mounting a legal challenge to the new standards before the November elections.

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General Assembly 2010: Mid-Session Update

As this newsletter went to press, the General Assembly was on its spring break, meaning that the final two months of the session are approaching. However, virtually no bills have been voted on by committees yet, making it impossible to gauge what the major civil liberties battles are likely to be. Legislators took an unexpected week off in March due to the flooding, and then the Senate’s rejection just before the break of the House’s “supplemental budget” bill caused another major setback to any timely approach to the session. The week before spring break has usually served as the deadline for most committee action, but as a result of these developments, it seems the Assembly is prepared to hold many hearings and votes well after the deadline.  This is likely to lead to an even more hectic end to the session than usual.  And though the House made fair progress in scheduling hearings, the Senate is lagging far behind.

In our last newsletter, we looked at many proactive civil liberties bills; in this edition we’ll focus on some of the more problematic legislation that’s been heard in committee thus far.

Privacy

Welfare Drug Testing/Fingerprinting.    (H 7733/H 7657) Legislation to stigmatize and humiliate the poor — by requiring welfare applicants to be drug-tested and fingerprinted — was the subject of recent hearings.  The ACLU and others raised a host of constitutional, fiscal and public policy concerns about the bills. Fortunately, there appeared to be little interest in the proposals from committee members.

Criminal Record Checks. (H 7754) The ACLU testified against a bill greatly expanding the scope of criminal record checks performed on Department of Children, Youth and Families employees and volunteers.  Under the DCYF legislation, job applicants would undergo fingerprinting and a nationwide criminal check, which they would have to pay for. In addition, current employees’ past criminal records would be randomly checked and could lead to discipline and termination, no matter how long ago or how irrelevant the record. Further, unlike similar laws on the books which allow the employer only to learn if a person’s record includes a “disqualifying” offense, this bill gives DCYF access to the entire criminal record, including arrests not followed by convictions.

Rights of Young People

“Sexting.” (S 2635/H 7778) Surveys indicate that 20% of teenagers have engaged in “sexting,” the practice of sending nude or semi-nude photos of oneself via cell phones or similar technology. The response: a bill from the Attorney General to drag these teens into Family Court and turn them into status offenders. Though the ACLU agrees that teens should be counseled against this practice, it should not be criminalized. The AG claimed the bill was designed to protect minors from child pornography charges, but the ACLU responded that the solution was to make clear that that law did not apply to this sort of conduct, not to turn it into a separate crime. Committee members seemed sympathetic to the ACLU’s arguments.

Underage Persons in Nightclubs. (H 7404, H 7601) For the second year in a row, there’s a focus on whether to allow 18-20 year olds into nightclubs. These young adults, but adults nonetheless, are currently able to patronize alcohol-serving establishments, in part because the state’s public accommodations law generally prohibits age discrimination against anyone 18 or older. The ACLU has argued that nightclubs that provide live entertainment, dancing and similar activities should not be allowed to discriminate against young adults, and that the clubs have other  measures at their disposal to try to prevent illegal drinking. However, given recent stories of violence at a few downtown Providence establishments, the General Assembly is facing significant pressure from the city to pass a measure aimed at these young people.

Underage Drinking. A liquor store owner who sells alcohol to a minor faces a $250 fine for a first offense. However, a major push is being made to amend the state’s “social host” law to subject teenagers under 21 to a six-month prison sentence if they give alcohol to someone else also under the age of 21. The ACLU argued strenuously against the inequity of these bills. Although they are purportedly designed to address underage “alcohol parties,” the Affiliate noted that there are already a number of offenses that teens can be charged with in those instances. Seeking to impose the same punishment on them as on a 30-year-old who knowingly purchases alcohol at a store to give to a minor is, the ACLU argued, grossly unfair. The fate of the legislation remains uncertain.

Criminal Street Gangs. (S 2644) A bill from the Attorney General’s office has again been introduced and heard this year that would set enhanced and mandatory sentences for “criminal street gang” activity.  Each year the bill is met with strong opposition from the ACLU and the Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM) because of its disproportionate impact on youth of color, and because the broadly defined “criminal street gang” is so all-encompassing that it would easily include non-gang members. Though it has been introduced several years in a row, the bill has never passed out of committee.  

Civil rights

E-Verify. (S 2348/H 7296) A perennial anti-immigrant bill, requiring all nongovernmental employers with more than two employees to enroll in and use the controversial federal E-Verify program, has had its hearing in the House.  The E-Verify system is based on the Social Security Administration’s database that, by its own admission, contains 17.8 million errors.  Furthermore, foreign-born lawful workers are more likely to be falsely identified as not eligible to work, leading to racial and ethnic discrimination.  The hearing was well-attended by the opponents of the measure, including members of the Immigrants United coalition, and the ACLU will monitor the bill as the session continues. 

At this same hearing, Rep. Grace Diaz’s proactive legislation on the same subject (H 7527) was also heard.  This bill would codify various program rules and guidelines in an attempt to prevent abuses of the E-Verify system, and would reverse Governor Carcieri’s executive order requiring all state contractors to participate in the system.

Racial Profiling. (S 2208/H 7112) The House Judiciary Committee held a long but generally positive hearing on Rep. Joseph Almeida’s comprehensive anti-racial profiling bill.  Advocates came out in droves to support the measure which would codify basic police best practices that would be beneficial to all Rhode Islanders, not only the minority population.  The Campaign Against Racial Profiling, a coalition made up of dozens of community organizations, has implemented an aggressive lobbying strategy this session in hopes of making this the year that the 5-year-old bill passes. Additional information about the bill and the campaign can be found on the Affiliate’s website.

Primary Seat Belt Law. (S 2308/H 7085) The Senate heard testimony on a recurring piece of legislation that would allow police to pull cars over solely for seat belt violations. Under current law, police can issue a seat belt ticket only if the driver has been pulled over for another reason. The ACLU and others testified that allowing police to pull over suspected seat belt violators will only increase the extent of racial profiling occurring in Rhode Island.

Open Government

School Committee Meeting Notices. Several bills have been heard this year that attempt to ease the purported financial burden on school departments in paying for school committee meeting notice ads in the newspaper.  Many of the bills would allow school committees to post notices of their meetings on the web in lieu of placing newspaper advertisements. However, the ACLU and others have argued this fails to acknowledge the still-present “digital divide” between households with Internet access and those without. 

This year the ACLU is working to amend a less-problematic alternative bill that would expand the types of newspapers that would be allowed to print the advertisements.

Family Court Records. (H 7760) ACLU attorneys who worked on the recently-filed truancy court lawsuit  (see page 1) were stunned to find how difficult it was to obtain copies of their clients’ Family Court records. Despite having a signed authorization from the putative plaintiffs, the attorneys first had to obtain formal permission from the Chief Judge to view the records. Even with that authorization, the attorneys were told they could only inspect the documents at the clerk’s office, and could not make copies.

A bill introduced by Rep. Michael Marcello would address this problem by explicitly authorizing parents and their attorneys the right to review and copy these files. The ACLU testified in support of the bill at a recent hearing.

Voting Rights

Voter ID. (S 2141/H 7388) The Affiliate and other civil rights groups testified against legislation that would require voters to show identification at the polls.  Studies have shown that a voter ID requirement can serve as a poll tax, disenfranchising eligible voters and posing a particular burden on poor, elderly, disabled and minority voters who may not have the requisite ID or the ability to pay to obtain the necessary documents for one. The ACLU also charged that the bill is an attempt to “fix” a non-existent problem of alleged voter impersonation at the polls. Though the bill did pass the House last year, the Affiliate is hopeful that it will die in committee this time around.

Abortion

The House took up measures on both sides of the abortion debate in March. The RI ACLU and several women’s rights and reproductive rights groups testified in favor of a perennial bill introduced by Rep. Edie Ajello that was being heard for the first time in years.  The legislation would reaffirm Roe v. Wade  by codifying the principles of this landmark court case into state law.  (H 7756)

At the same time, the ACLU and others testified in strong opposition to legislation that would require doctors to perform an ultrasound on a woman who has made the decision to abort and explain, in detail, information about the fetus.  The bill violates doctors’ free speech rights by forcing them to give this irrelevant information to the woman, and is merely an attempt to harass women seeking to exercise their rights to an abortion.   (H 7489)

Criminal Justice

DNA Testing of Arrestees. (S 2138/H 7186) House and Senate committees heard testimony  on dangerous legislation requiring the collection of DNA samples from any person arrested for a felony. Furthermore, if the arrestee is not convicted, the burden of having the sample expunged from a DNA database rests on the arrestee. The legislation undercuts the fundamental presumption of innocence underlying our criminal justice system, and its passage would mark an inevitable step towards creation of a national DNA database on every person. The Urban League of RI, the Public Defender and others also testified against the legislation, but bill sponsors are pushing for its passage.

Internet Subpoenas. (H 7775) Ever since 9/11, the State Police have been fighting to enact a troubling proposal to give law enforcement broad authority to secretly obtain, without a warrant, subscriber information from Internet service providers. This year was no exception.  The measure passed the House last year, but stalled in the Senate.  The RI ACLU will continue to monitor and oppose it.

Ignition Interlocks. (S 2065/H 7111) The Affiliate testified in opposition to bills that would eliminate judicial discretion and require installation of an ignition interlock on the vehicle owned by DUI offenders.  The ACLU argued that the devices amount to an unfair burden on other drivers of the vehicle who have not violated the law, and that they are expensive to install and maintain.   

Marriage Equality Video

To promote the passage of same-sex legislation (S 2589, H 7789), Marriage Equality Rhode Island (MERI) and GLAD have produced a short film highlighting the stories of four same-sex couples — including RI ACLU Board member Judith Anderson and her partner Marcia Blair — who live and work in Rhode Island. The video is posted on the RI ACLU’s website, www.riaclu.org. For more information, visit MERI’s website at www.marriageequalityri.org

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RI ACLU Events

David Mullen and RI ACLU Board member and host Maggi Rogers participate in the lively discussion.

Affiliate Hosts House Party in Pawtucket

On April 12th, the Affiliate hosted its second house party of the year, this time in Pawtucket at the home of ACLU Board Member Maggi Rogers and her husband Dale.

Those who attended had the opportunity to not only hear from ACLU staff about current issues the Affiliate is involved in, but also were able to relay their own experiences fighting for civil liberties.  The Affiliate extends its thanks to Maggi  and Dale for hosting this event and to all those who came out for the evening.

If you would be interested in hosting an ACLU house party in your community, please contact the Affiliate office. The parties offer an opportunity for ACLU members to socialize with each other, and give potential ACLU members an opportunity to learn more about the ACLU’s work. Barrington will play host to the next house party, which is expected to be held in June.  Continue to check our website for more details as the date gets closer.

RI ACLU & Brown University Chapter Host Guantanamo Event

Jonathan Hafetz and RI ACLU cooperating attorney Richard Zacks at the reception held at Attorney Robert Parrillo’s office.

Jonathan Hafetz, an attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project and editor of the book The Guantánamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison Outside the Law, came to Providence on April 19th to speak at Brown University.

Jonathan Hafetz speaking at Brown University.

In his fascinating talk, “Ending Guantánamo: Torture, Illegal Detention, and the Challenges to Restoring the Rule of Law,” Hafetz spoke about the military tribunals, the Bush administration’s creation of the label “unlawful combatants,” the undermining of habeas corpus protections and much more, and then took questions from the very engaged audience.

Earlier that evening RI ACLU Board member Robert Parrillo hosted a reception at his law firm where many of the Affiliate’s cooperating attorneys had a chance to meet with Jonathan Hafetz.

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Tune in to the ACLU’s Monthly Cable Access Show

During the month of May, the ACLU’s cable access show “Rights of a Free People” will feature a discussion of the Affiliate’s recently-filed Truancy Court Lawsuit. Guests will be RI ACLU cooperating attorney Amy Tabor and ACLU plaintiff Rozanne Thomasian. Tune in for an interesting discussion of this important issue.

Showtimes:

  • Channel 13: (Channel 32 on Verizon FIOS)
Tuesdays 10:00pm & Fridays 3:30 pm 


  • Channel 18: (In Providence & N. Providence, Channel 38 on Verizon FIOS) Wednesdays 9:00pm 

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SAVE THE DATE: PrideFest on June 19

Please mark your calendars for Rhode Island Pride’s annual PrideFest, supporting LGBT rights.  This year’s festival will be held on Saturday, June 19, 2010. As the date approaches, check our website for information about the event’s exact location.  Be sure to come by and visit the RI ACLU’s table at the event. If you would like to help at the Affiliate’s table, contact the ACLU office.

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Job Opening Coming Soon

The Affiliate offers its thanks and best wishes to Development & Communications Associate Sharon Mulligan, who will be leaving the ACLU in May to go back to school and obtain a degree in clinical psychology. During her tenure here, Sharon completely revamped the Affiliate’s website, tuned us into Facebook, and helped coordinate many of the Affiliate’s 50th Anniversary activities last year. The Affiliate wishes her the best in her future endeavors. In May, a posting for the position will be up on our web site, so feel free to check there for details. 

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