Well before he decided to go to law school, Chris Franich decided to act on his concern over the unbalanced, and sometimes arbitrary, distinctions drawn in the application of the rule of law; increasingly, the legal system in the United States seems to yield different outcomes resulting largely as a function of the socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds of the parties. These observations compelled Chris to volunteer as a civil engineer with the Peace Corps in Honduras, where he built potable water systems and became fluent in Spanish. In the summer of 2010, Chris served as a HOPE Fellow with the Law Offices of Carlos J. Martinez, Public Defender for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida (PD-11), where he supported assistant public defenders and special assistant public defenders (i.e., volunteer attorneys) in providing legal services to low-income people charged with misdemeanor and felony crimes. In particular, he worked closely with an assistant public defender whose caseload involved indigent clients with mental health issues and conducted extensive legal research for private attorneys participating in the Ensuring Equal Justice Initiative, the unique pro bono project at PD-11.
Nicholas McCallum's dedication to empowering at-risk populations precedes his dream of becoming a lawyer. For his undergraduate degree, Nicholas attended Sacred Heart University, where he was heavily involved in community service activities. His service ranged from volunteering at soup kitchens to establishing a program called "Real Men Read," which promoted literacy and education in schools. To further build on this experience, as a rising 2L in the summer of 2010, Nicholas applied for and received a HOPE Fellowship to intern with PD-11 in order to provide much-needed litigation support to relatively new assistant public defenders, most of whom are recent law school graduates, on pending misdemeanor cases. More generally, in light of the excessive caseloads at PD-11, he sought to enhance the legal services received by indigent clients in criminal cases. Nicholas also had the opportunity to be mentored by Benjamin Reiss, a shareholder in the Miami office of Greenberg Traurig, LLP. As an active special assistant public defender with the EEJI, Mr. Reiss has donated innumerable hours to zealous advocacy on behalf of indigent clients in misdemeanor and felony cases.
To learn more about challenges facing the criminal justice system and indigent defendants in Miami, click here to watch Chris' interview with Public Defender Martinez, in which the Public Defender discusses the value of indigent defender agencies, the impact of prior budget cuts on constitutional duties of the Florida Public Defender, and how HOPE serves as a valuable resource in the delicate balance of justice in Miami-Dade County.
Since coming to Miami, Sarah has worked with the Center for Ethics and Public Service as a Public Interest Fellow at the Community Health Rights Education Clinic (CHRE), an Intern with the Children and Youth Law Clinic (CYLC) and served as a HOPE volunteer. During the summer of 2007, she worked with the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) in Geneva, Switzerland, on the Violence Against Women Program. To learn more about Sarah's experiences, click here.
Joy Purcell has been committed to community service for many years and fully intends to pursue a career in public interest law after graduation. During the summer of 2007, Joy interned at the Harlem Community Office of the Legal Aid Society in New York. She was selected as an intern at the Harlem Legal Aid Office because of her knowledge and experience working with clients who are either HIV positive or those who have been diagnosed with AIDS. To learn more about Joy's experiences, click here.
Jake brings with him Peace Corps experience as a Small Business Development Volunteer for a year in Haiti and two years of service in Burkina Faso, West Africa. During the summer of 2007, Jake worked for the Institute for Justice and Democracy/Bureau des Avocats Internationaux in Haiti, where he focused on prison conditions, as well as the impact of USAID projects throughout the country. To learn more about Jake's experiences, click here.
For Sara's summer placement through the HOPE Fellowship, she spent six weeks working for MidPenn Legal Services which is a non-profit public-interest firm dedicated to providing equal access to justice to low income persons and survivors of domestic violence in central PA. The second part of the summer Sara worked for the Berks County Public Defenders Office. To learn more about Sara's experiences, click here.
Ryan worked at the Atlanta Legal Aid Society in the Health Law Department. In addition to his general responsibilities as an intern, Ryan will undertook a project involving outreach and education about housing rights for people with HIV/AIDS. To learn more about Ryan's experiences, click here.
Niya worked during the summer of 2007 for the Council for Children's Rights, which provides direct legal assistance to children in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg and surrounding counties. Although most of the clientele are low-income and underserved, the Council recognizes that a child's inherent state of vulnerability transcends race and socio-economic status. Therefore, the Council provides services to any child who is in need. To learn more about Niya's experiences, click here.