Two diplomas, then two decisions
From the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
A ruling in August against lenders in Bank of New York v. Bailey agreed with Harvard Legal Aid Bureau student Jennifer Tarr ’11, who argued the case last fall, as noted in the Summer Bulletin. In a 6-0 ruling, which has been called pivotal, the state’s high court found that lenders trying to evict people after foreclosure carry the burden of proving the foreclosure was valid. It also held that the state housing court has jurisdiction to hear a challenge to an already completed foreclosure when the challenge is brought in an eviction case.
“I was incredibly excited when I heard about the decision,” said Tarr, which she describes as the result of months of collaboration with other members of the Legal Aid Bureau, the legal services community across the state, City Life/Vida Urbana and her client.
“One of the main focuses of my time at HLAB was fighting for former homeowners to make sure that the bank seeking to evict them actually did own their home,” added Tarr, who is now working at the Environmental Law & Policy Center in Chicago. “I’m hopeful that the case will make a difference in the legal services community’s ability to protect homeowners like my former clients from sloppy foreclosure practices.”
From the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit
A ruling in July by Judge Richard Posner ’62 cited an article written by Ryan Park ’10 when he was a law student on proving genocidal intent in international law. Posner was ruling on the appeal of a class action brought on behalf of children who worked in Firestone Natural Rubber Co.’s Liberian plants.
Park, who is clerking for Judge Robert Katzmann on the 2nd Circuit, described his reaction when he learned his article—which began as a paper he wrote as an intern in Cambodia—had been cited: “After the initial ebullition … there was, to be honest, a tense period of about 30 minutes while I closely parsed Judge Posner’s opinion with my heart in my stomach, trying to gather its import and implications.”
Posner agreed with the lower court decision to dismiss the case, but he found that the law supports corporations being held liable under the Alien Tort Statute.
“In retrospect,” said Park, “I guess I was worried that my work had been used to further a purpose with which I disagreed, though the reality was quite the contrary. I think the opinion, in addition to being characteristically brilliant, offers the most cogent … argument in support of corporate ATS liability of which I am aware.”
In October, the Supreme Court granted cert on another corporate ATS case, and its decision is expected to resolve a split on this issue in the lower courts. The HLS International Human Rights Clinic filed amicus briefs in the SCOTUS and 7th Circuit cases. Park, along with clinic faculty and students, will be watching.
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