Gowen Rhoades WInograd & Silva PLLC Blog

Information and insight on today's hot legal topics.

Gowen Rhoades WInograd & Silva PLLC Blog - Information and insight on today's hot legal topics.

Personal Reflection: Memoriam of Former Client Gives Pause, New Energy

About two weeks ago was the memorial service for one of my former clients, Ms. Shirley Riley. I met Ms. Riley through some pro bono work I was doing for her in March 2009 for the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. At that time I was nearly a year into doing pro bono work for the Clinic; but it was through Ms. Riley’s set of circumstances that I became intimate with the functions of the D.C. Department of Human Services (DHS) and its failings with regard to serving those with disabilities in the DC shelter system. It was also through Ms. Riley’s situation that I became even more intimate with the good pro bono legal work can do for individuals and society-at-large.

pro bono imageMs. Riley had impairments that required she have an accessible room and a location with no communal setting. She was placed at one of the city’s main shelters, DC General, which provided neither of these accommodations at the time. Taking the typical course of action, I began using the administrative process to have Ms. Riley moved to a better environment. Unfortunately, my efforts were not initially being responded to by DHS. I even had to go so far as to testify before DHS on Ms. Riley’s behalf to bring its shortcomings to the attention of DHS leadership. Ms. Riley was eventually moved from the shelter to an apartment-style residence and provided a more accommodating environment. In the end, litigation was initiated by Ms. Riley and my colleague at the Legal Clinic, Amber Harding.

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Juvenile Life Without Parole Decision by the Supreme Court

This post by Gowen Group law clerk Brenna Daugherty

 

This past week much attention has been on our nation’s highest court. While most of the attention was focused on the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court also handed down a decision in Miller v. Alabama, a case involving two 14 year-old offenders convicted of murder from Arkansas and Alabama.  Both were sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.  In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Elena Kagan, the Court found that the mandatory nature of the punishment as well as preventing the sentencing authority from taking a juvenile’s ‘lessened culpability’ and ‘capacity for change’ into account, violated the Eight Amendment of the Constitution.

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