The Pillar: Clinical Year 2000-2001 September 2000 Newsletter of the Center for Legal and Social Justice

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The Pillar: Clinical Year 2000-2001 September 2000 Newsletter of the Center for Legal and Social Justice


St. Mary's University School of Law, Center for Legal and Social Justice


Grupo de Mujeres Imigrantes offers new beginnings, Human Rights Students File Precedent Setting Case for Mexican Workers, Clients Served by the Civil Justice Clinic, Advanced Cross Examination Techniques, BICLA Project Headed by Award Winning Faculty, Immigration Clinic Helping Residents of EL Cenizo, Clinical Courses Will Help you pass the Bar and Get a Job, Announcements, Calendar


Center for Legal and Social Justice


St. Mary's University School of Law San Antonio Texas, St. Mary's University School of Law, Center for Legal and Social Justice




Kathy Worthington, Alfonso Otero, Kathy Wemhaner, Tate Gorman, Marisa Santos, Norma Ortiz, Amy Kastely


Copyright to The Center for Legal and Social Justice


The Pillar











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The bi-monthly newsletter of the

St. Ma 's Universi

School of Law Center for Le a/ & Social ustice
works through such issues and explores viable
solutions, Brother Charles Lohrenz, a
semi-retired Marianist brother, continues to work
the soil and plants with the season, keeping the
dream alive.

The Center Welcomes New
Students, New Professors!!!


The Community Development Clinic ("CDC" or
"Clinic") has worked with the women since the
fall of 1998. The Clinic saw this as an opportunity
to work with a population that is underserved
legally, economically, and sociologically. Since
the support group members are already clients of
one or more of the other Center clinics, this
was an ideal way to tie in the Clinic's particular
expertise with a specific population that was
heretofore overlooked from a community/
business outlook. The Clinic will continue to
offer guidance while the women strive to create
solutions that will lead them to a successful
gardening enterprise.

Grupo de llujeres
lmigrantes offers new
Human Rights Students
File Precedent-Setting Case
for Mexican Workers
Clients Served by the Civil
.Justice Clinic


Advanced CrossExamination Techniques
BICLA Project Headed by
Award Winning Faculty


Immigration Clinic
Helping Residents of El
Clinical Courses Will Help
You Pass the Bar and Get a

"Hey, Is That A Garden?"
(or "Are Those Tomatoes I see?")
by Kathy Worthington

If you have been curious enough to poke around
the Center and the grounds in the short time that
you've been here, you might have nOOced the
garden on the south side of the building. Yes, a
garden. The community garden is a project
begun by Grupo de Mujeres lmigrantes, a

The garden has undergone changes in the past
year. Traditionally, community gardens are
located in a particular group of residents' own
neighborhood for ease of planting, maintenance,
and harvesting. Community gardens are for the
use of and by the residents because perhaps
they don't have sufficiently large enough yards of
their own or other landscaping limitations.
Gardens create a sense of community, foster a
sharing spirit (ideas, as well as fresh produce!),
and instill the confidence and pride of having
grown your own food (at least some of it!). The
original purpose of the women's' gi:lrden was to
provide not only items for their own tables, but to
lay the groundwor1< for a small business venture a market garden. Market gardens take the
community garden one step further. It has the
potential to not only prOIIide a small income, but
will aii<MI the women to develop business skills
that will transfer to other life experiences. There
have been challenges along the way. For
example, the women have found it difficult to
garden here at the Center since many of them do
not have their own cars and rely on public
transportation to travel here fran their own
neighborhoods. Also, given that the majority are
single mothers. juggling work and family
responsibilities, they often don't have the energy
to deal with another task. MoreoYer, striving to
overcome the effects that years of physical and
mental abuse have had on them, as well as
resolving their legal issues, can sometimes prove
to be enet'Vating. Fortunately, while the group

Boman menrs Stndents me
Pretedent-senme t:ase lor MeXIcan
WOrkers by Alfonso Otero

On July 3, 2000, students in the International
Human Rights Clinic filed a 108-page petition
(with over 100 pages of exhibits) with the
National Administration OffiCe (NAO) of the U.S.
Department of Labor. The complaint was filed
on behalf of 25 Mexican workers of Auto Trim
and CustomTrim!Breed Mexicana, U.S. backed
finns located in Matamoros and Valle Hermoso.
Tamaulipas, Mexico. The workers charged that
they had work-related injuries and that Mexico
failed to enforce environmental and labor laws
which would have prctected the workers. On
September 1, 2000, the NAO announced the
agency liad accepted the workers' complaint,
and that there would be an investigation. It is
expected that the Department of Labor will
hold hearings in San Antonio in December.
The NAO was organized when the governments
of Mexico, Canada, and the United States
entered into an international agreement. The
North American Agreement for Labor

Cooperation (NAALC), in response to Mexican
and American grassroots groups that opposed
the passage of the North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA). The organizations in the
United States were particularly concerned with
labor and environmental practices in Mexico, due
to gCM:!ITlment corruption and lack of
enforcement of labor laws. In each country there
are NAO units established to hear worker

Clinic had to closely follo.v all these changes and
modify their complaint accordingly. Students
incorporated into their arguments international
law analysis. They spent two years gathering
affidavits and other documentation to support
the workers' allegations. The students' hard wor1<
represents the first complaint on health and
safety issues presented to the NAO. It is a
landmark with potential to open awnues for
better worker conditions in Mexico.

The NAALC provides for a dispute resolution
process in cases in which one of the participating
countries fails to enforce its CM'TI labor laws.
There are three levels of sanctions which may be
imposed, from ministerial consultations to
monetary trade sanctions up to $20,000,000.00.
Monetary sanctions may be imposed against a
gCM:!ITlment which has failed to enforce health
and safety laws.

Former students of the International Human
Rights Clinic continue to work on the case in
preparation for the December hearings.
H~. the students need helping raising the
funds necessary to cover travel expenses and
accommodations for the students traveling to
the border to prepare clients, and for the workers
who will come to San Antonio to testify at the
NAO hearings. Donations can be sent to:
Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras (CJM),
530 Bandera Road, San Antonio, Texas 78228.
Please make checks payable to "CJM" and
designate the check is for "NAO." Donations are

Mexico has long.provided opportunities to U.S.
companies looking for !em-wage wor1<ers and lax
enforcement of labor laws. NAFTA increased
those opportunities. In 1998, the International
Human Rights Clinic under the direction of
former Clinical Professor Monica Shurtman
began investigating the claims of workers at the
Mexican plants which manufacture steering
wheels and knob shifts for some of the most
recognized car makers in the world: BMW,
Mazda, Chevy, and Forcl. The production
process includes the use of hazardous
substances such as benzene, toluene, acetone,
xilene, toxic glues and citric solvents. Mexican
labor law mandates employers provide
employees with training, information, and
protective gear regarding all toxic substances.
H~. the evidence gathered by the
International Human Rights Clinic demonstrates
that the Mexican gCM:!ITlment failed to enforce
labor laws, particularly those regarding health
and safety issues. Moreover, Mexico failed to
properly adjudicate disability payments to
workers who haw suffered serious injuries
due to indiscriminate exposure to these
chemicals. Wor1<ers suffer from serious
conditions, including chronic headaches, skin
allergies, throat allergies, and respiratory
complications. Many female workers suffered
miscarriages, still-born children, and children
born with anencephalia
Research was not an easy task. Mexican laws
haw changed rapidly in an effort by the Mexican
gCM:!ITlment to adapt its labor and health laws
to NAFTA and foreign investment interests.
Students in the International Human Rights



Clients Served by the Civil
Justice Clinic by Kathy wemhaner

There is not a really typical day working in the
Civil Justice Clinic. Each day brings its CM'TI joys
and sorrOIIIIS. Our clients come from an
oppressed population. People who, due to
poverty, lack of opportunities, or circumstances
beyond their control, slip out of the mainstream
and into intolerable situations. Many of our
clients are unsophisticated, uneducated, and
poor. All of these situations make it difficult for
them to maintain contact with their attorneys and
make it difficult for them to understand the legal
Our clients' circumstances can change radically
from day to day. One day they may haw housing
and the next day find themselves on the street or
in an emergency homeless shelter. Our class
went on a tour of several of these shelters. At a
shelter a person loses privacy, a safe place to
leave their belongings, and (I am sure) their
dignity. But a bed in a shelter is better than a
night spent on the street. The shelters do provide
a clean bed, a place to shONer, and a hot meal.
The shelters also haw social workers who kno.v

what steps to take to return a homeless person
to home of their CM'TI. Some shelters offer
transitional housing that consist of small
furnished apartments where the rent is based on
the person's total income. This at least the
homeless person a way to start regaining what
has been lost.
Many of our clients need help with family matters
- they may have been married and separated
for many years. Some of our clients do not even
kno.v ho.v to locate their spouses. If these
clients had financial resources to pay for a
divorce, the problems caused by a missing
spouse would never haw occurred. Even the
poor need to execute a will. Their possessions
may be limited but making sure that are divided
in a manner consistent with their wishes is still
Many clients need to name a guardian for their
minor children in their wills. Also, it seems that
many of our clients do not haw the support of a
family, making it necessary (in some cases) to
execute a Durable PONer of Attorney.
The poor haw limited access to the legal system
but haw as equal a need for legal assistance as
citizens with full access to the system. I feel
privileged to be able to address ewn a tiny
fraction of the needs of the poor in Bexar County.

Advanced Cross-ExamiDation Techniques
featuring Roger Dodd by Tate Gorman
As a student attorney with the Criminal Justice
Clinic, attending a lecture at the Justice Center
on Tuesday, September 26th, was a
requirement. Having to dedicate my afternoon to
listen to an old lawyer from Georgia was not an
exciting thought. H~ no.v that I reflect on
the experience, I am happy that I attended the
Roger Dodd is a very enthusiastic man who is
able to be funny while also informative. Although
he made as many references to his ex-wives as
he did to the science of cross-examination, Mr.
Dodd delivered what he promised he would:
techniques. He went through various tactics on
ho.v an attorney can get a hostile witness to not
only give responsive answers to your questions,
but also give answers tailored to the needs of
the defendant. His focus was manly on the
proper techniques for controlling a hostile
witness. For instance, Mr. Dodd quoted B.F.



Skinner's statement, "Behavior is molded by
consequences," to illustrate the importance of
shONing respect to a hostile witness while
accomplishing your main goal; getting the
witness to say what you want during

leadership positions since she enrolled at St.
Mary's, where she served as the president of
the Women's Law Association and was selected
as a Member of the National Order of Barristers.
Day1a is an extremely committed participant in
any organization she joins.

proposal in her Scholar Article. Another
Immigration clinic student, Nelly Vielma, worked
as a summer clerk at TRLA Laredo and assisted
in establishing the Human Rights Commission, a
combined effort of the St. Mary's Immigration
Clinic, TRLA and the Lawyers' Committee.

All in all - this lecture was extremely interesting
and informative. I am glad that I was required to
attend the lecture because if I was not, then I
probably would not have gone. Although most of
the people who attended the lecture were
attorneys and Clinic students, the students who
attended (probably because they actually wanted
to learn something), left happy knONing that it
was not a waste of an afternoon.

Dayla received her iaN degree from St. Mary's
University in 1998, she has practiced in the
areas of estate planning, probate, guardianships,
family and immigration. Dayla also holds an
undergraduate degree from Southwest Texas
State University.

The Human Rights Commission is composed of
citizens of El Cenizo, city officials, a member of
the clergy, and other community members. The
commission functions as an intermediary
between residents and border patrol, providing
residents a forum to report complains against
border patrol. The commission will provide a
source of documentation in attempting to stop
this pattern of illegal practices by border patrol.

BICLA Project Headed by
Award Wianing Faculty

Dayla will be honored at the 1ath Annual Bexar
County Women's Bar Foundation Bench Brunch
which will be held on Sunday, October 15,2000
at the Marriott Rivercenter. Well done Dayla!!!

Immigration Clinic Helping
Residents of El Cenizo by Norma Ortiz

by Marisa Santos

The Center for Legal and Social Justice of St.
Mary's University School of Law is nCJN housing
the Battered Immigrant Civil Legal Assistance
Project (BICLA) as part of the legal services
outreach program. This project, temporarily
funded through a Department of Justice,
Violence Against Women Act grant has two
purposes. The first being to provide free civil
legal assistance to immigrant victims of domestic
violence; the second is to train law students and
attorneys, through clinical experience and
continuing legal education, on hCJN to represent
immigrant victims of domestic violence.
BICLA is headed by supervising attorney, Dayla
S. Pepi, who has recently been chosen by the
Bexar County Women's Bar Association to
receive the Belva Lockwood Outstanding Young
Lawyer Award. This award recognizes women
lawyers who have made outstanding
contributions to the community, to women in
general and to the status of women in the legal

In addition to Dayla's incredible service at the
Center for Legal and Social Justice of St. Mary's
University School of Law she is also a Director
of the BCWBA, chairing its Mentor/Mentee
program, co-chairing the silent auction committee
this year, and also working on its Pro Bono
Wills Program. She also lent her energy to our
hosting efforts of the 2000 State Bar Annual
Meeting, and serves as a director of Texas
Women Lawyers. Dayla has been active in


El Cenizo is a small municipality located fifteen
miles east of Laredo, Texas. For the last six
years, law students from the Immigration clinic
have been traveling to El Cenizo to assist
residents with immigration related issues. Under
the supervision of Professor Lee Teran, clinic
students conduct interviews, answer questions,
and occasionally take on residents' cases.
Last year, clinic students were also involved in a
"KnCJN your Rights" campaign in collaboration
with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights,
Immigration and Refugee Rights Project. This
campaign is an effort to inform the residents
about their constitutional rights when confronted
with border patrol, and was triggered by random
border patrol stops on residents of El Cenizo.
One clinic student, Norma A Ortiz, developed a
law review article on the random stops by the
border patrol of El Aguila, the county bus that
transported colonia residents to Laredo. The
article was published in The Scholar, St. Mary's
Law Review on Minority Issues last Spring.
Clinic students active role in bringing abusive
treatment to light has resulted in a decrease in
the stops of buses at El Cenizo, but the residents
still experience other interference on by Border
Patrol. Texas Rural Legal Aid in Laredo (TRLA)
has followed up with resident's reports and
assisted them in establishing a Human Rights
Commission to facilitate in reporting border patrol
abuses. The idea for a Human Rights
Commission, also as a citizen's review
board emanated from the clinic student's

Students from the Immigration and Human
Rights clinic are joining forces with MALDEF to
assist the Human Rights Commission in its
efforts. Students will continue their visits to El
Cenizo and serve as a liaison between the
residents and the committee. Students will
also continue to provide legal assistance to the
residents with their immigration iss!Jf"" ...!J"he
immigration clinic has made a comm.. · >~.snt to
practice the kno.vledge attained at St. Mary's
School of Law to aid those in need of legal and
social justice.

CliDic: Ccnuses W'Jll Help You Pass the Bar
iliUI Get a Job by Prof. Amy Kaste/y
Several St. Mary's alumnae and clinic graduates
recently returned to talk about their educational
experiences. They talked about hCJN Clinical
courses had helped them on the Bar Exam and
in their job searches. Here are some of their
"The Clinic helped me on the bar both
substantively and also in a practical way.
Substantively, in the Clinic I was exposed to
many areas of law that they ask you on the bar procedure, evidence, family law, criminal law,
and business associations. These are all things
that you come to understand more when you
work with them, deal with them, apply them to
real situations. You take the course, then work
with the law in the clinic, and then when you .
study it again in the bar review, it makes much
more sense, because this is the third, fourth time
that you studied the information. That really
helped me understand the bar review material,
because its so overwhelming, it really helps to be




~ -~·



The bi-monthly newsletter of the

St Ma 's Universi

familiar with the law on so many levels. In
addition, in practical terms , to study for the bar
you really have to organize your time and be \13fY
focused and students in the Clinic really have to
leam how to do that, to balance your classes,
your cases, just to manage your time. That really
helps on the bar exam." Marisol Perez, '99.

School of Law Center for Le a/ & Social ustice

helped me with the bar examination." Paul
Factors that Affect Success on the Bar

Gonzales, '96.


"The Community Development Clinic really
helped with the Bar Examination, especially
with the essay questions, the business
associations.,~nd real property questions."
Fernando A~, 11"", '00.


Marie Carmen Garza, '96.

"The bar is a matter of sitting down and
cramming a lot of material into your head.
Underlying my approach to the bar was a sense
of realism - I wanted to relate my law degree to
real life. And the clinic helped me feel more
confident going into taking the bar - I knEW that I
could practice and this was a particular hoop that
I had to go through. And I saw, again, how the
different areas of law operate and are connected
because I had the concrete experience of
practicing while I was in the Clinic." Joe Berra,

"The Immigration Clinic put theory into practice. I
worked with Family Law, Criminal Law,
procedure, and those experiences helped me
understand those areas of law for the bar exam."

50.00% ~

"When I went for the interviEW, I was able to talk
a lot about what I learned from the Clinic and that
really helped me out a lot. The hiring attorney has
actually told me that that was one of the main
reasons they chose me, because of my Clinic
experience." Monica Barron, '99.

"The Clinic made concrete for me how I could be
effective as a laNyer and what direction I wanted
to take in my prclessional career ... The
experience, support, and contracts that I got in
the Clinic got me into the small but significant
human rights community. And that has lead to
my current job." Joe Berra, '97.

"The Clinic work really helps you build your
confidence, your self-esteem ... I see a lot of my
fellow students really doubting themselves, really
doubting whether they can pass the bar, and
while I don't know if I will test well, I do know that
I will be a good lawyer." Juan Francisco Tamez,
3rd Year Student.
"There is a part of the bar exam where you haw
to draft a legal document. My experience with
motions and legal documents in the clinic will
help me a lot on that part." Nelly Vielma, 3rd Year

40.00% ~

30.00% +
20.00% ,.
10.00% y

"The work that I did in the Clinic helped me get a
job . .. [and I could see] hCNV the partners and
the associates at the firm treated me because I
had those skills, practical skills, research skills,
writing skills. They realized that because of the
Clinic experience, I was ready for practice. As
one cl the partners said it. 'you are really able to
hit the ground running.'" Juan Francisco Tamez,
3rd Year Student.

"The Clinic experience definitely helped me on
the bar examination. I don't take multiple choice
tests very well, but I knEm all the contracts
questions. And it helped me with the essay
questions. Also, in the Clinic you learn hCNV to
focus on what the client needs, what the client
wants to know, and that helped me write the
essay questions, because it helped me to focus
on just what the question asked and write a
focused answer." Erin McAuDife, '98.

60.00% t

"When I started looking for jobs, eYel)'one asked
me about the Clinic experience. Everyone wanted
to knCNV specifically what I did, because it stands
out. It stands out that you actually have practical
experience. The other courses teach you a lot of
theory but not a lot cl practice, but for those of us
who haw gotten out cl school recently, we
understand that you need some practical
experience, because its too fast paced out there
to learn on the job. I could shCNV them documents
that I had drafted, point to companies I had
worked with, people I had helped."

0.00% •


Bar Courses

From St. Mary's University School of Law
Bar Passage Study Committee Final Report,
p. 14.


Clinic Birthdays' Celebration, 4:15 p.m.2nd floor lounge. Contact Maria Sampson
@ #431-5743.


Wills Clinic, Sponsored by the Bexar
County Women's Bar Assoc., St. Mary's
law School & Women's law Assoc., 8:30
a.m. - 3:00 p.m. at ClSJ. Contact Prof.
Dayla Pepi@ #431-5766.

Board of Advocates Fall 2000 Mock
Trial Finals, 6:00 p.m. ClSJ Court Room

C.l.E. Workshop- Battered Immigrant
Women & Children: Remedies
Available Under Family and
Immigration laws, 8:30a.m. - 4:30
p.m., CWC Room 410. Contact Prof.
Dayla Pepi@ #431-5766.


AMNESTY International from Italy
on the Death Penalty- Reception &
Presentation, 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. at
ewe. Contact Prof. larry Hufford @


THANKSGMNG Holiday. Center closed.

Erin McAuDife, '98.


"My time in the Civil Justice Clinic was
invaluable. My work involved rules of procedure
and evidence as well as the substantive areas of
family law, criminal law, and wills and trusts . ..
The Clinic experience reinforced and gave
substance to basic law school concepts and

Unknown Factors
Law School GPA




Center for Legal and Social Justice, “The Pillar: Clinical Year 2000-2001 September 2000 Newsletter of the Center for Legal and Social Justice,” St. Mary's Law Digital Repository, accessed May 25, 2018,

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