CUNITY Conversations: Exploring Sex Work, Harm Reduction, and Housing Rights in NYC with Chelsea Breakstone & Zoë Root

Come join us for the third installment of our discussion series, CUNITY Conversations!

CUNITY Conversations is a discussion series designed to create discussion around a particular topic. The discussion leaders are the Law Review’s Note and Comments student authors, along with professors and practitioners. It is an informal time to get together, hang out, and talk about a relevant social justice issue.

The next installment of the CUNITY Conversation series is Wednesday, March 4, from 6-8pm, in the Community Room, 3/116.

Notes and Comments student author and 3L Chelsea Breakstone will be presenting “Exploring Sex Work, Harm Reduction, and Housing Rights in NYC,” along with Zoë Root, Staff Attorney and Human Trafficking Intervention Court Part Coordinator from The Bronx Defenders.

Join the dicussion on Twitter and Facebook on the hashtag #cunityconvo.

Vol. 17.2

Explore the digital version of  Volume 17.2.

Public Interest Practitioners Section (PIPS)

Notes & Comments 

Tax a Bank, Save a Home: Judicial, Legislative, and Other Creative Efforts to Prevent Foreclosures in New York by Erica Braudy, Staff Attorney at the New York Legal Assistance Group, Housing Project/Mobile Legal Help Center, J.D. CUNY School of Law (2013).

Executive Article

The Chicago Police Torture Scandal: A Legal and Political History by G. Flint Taylor, founding partner, People’s Law Office (PLO).


Discriminatory Maintenance of REO Properties as a Violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act by Stephen M. Dane, of the civil-rights law firm Relman, Dane & Colfax, PLLC; Tara Ramchandani, associate at Relman, Dane & Colfax, PLLC; and Anne P. Bellows, 2013 Relman Civil Rights Fellow.


A Tribute to Justice: Honoring Forty Years of A Conversation with Struggle to Advance Judicial Process for Crimes Against Humanity in Chile with Judge Baltasar Garzón Real, internationally renowned Spanish jurist who issued the first detention request, through Interpol, for former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet on charges of abductions, torture, murder, forced disappearances and terrorism; Sir Geoffrey Bindman, QC, a British attorney specializing in human rights law who represented Amnesty International and Chilean victims’ interests in the case against Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in the late 1990s; and Joan Garcés, a Spanish attorney who has made major contributions to international human rights law in the fight against impunity for heads of government who commit crimes against humanity. Moderated by Almudena Bernabeu, International Attorney for the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA).



Video — The Long Crisis: Economic Inequality in New York City

The City University of New York Law Review presented The Long Crisis: Economic Inequality in New York City, on November 12, 2014, at the CUNY School of Law.

The Long Crisis reflected the theme of the Law Review’s 18th volume, which focuses on the role that economic inequality and injustice play within the context of social justice legal issues and practical solutions lawyers and activists are employing to help overcome the inequality.

The panel featured: Fahd Ahmed, acting executive director of DRUM—South Asian Organizing Center; Tom Angotti, professor of Urban Affairs and Planning and Director of the Hunter College Center for Community Planning and Development; Stanley Aronowitz, Distinguished Professor in the Ph.D. Program in Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center; Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO and executive director of Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies; Shawn Blumberg, legal director of Housing Conservation Coordinators; and Robin Steinberg, founder and executive director of The Bronx Defenders.

Case Comment: United States v. Alvarez (2014)

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Seriously, Let Me See Your GPS.

Warrantless Search of GPS Device Held Constitutional: United States v. Alvarez, 8:13-cr-009 (N.D.N.Y. 2014)

By Rajendra Persaud 1

            Technological advances continue to confound already dense fourth amendment jurisprudence. As modern devices become more powerful, the information stored and accessed within raises new issues that did not exist only a few decades ago. As such, new technological devices have the potential to create cases of first impression upon the courts. Recently, in U.S. v. Alvarez, Judge McAvoy ruled warrantless searches of cell phones unconstitutional in the absence of exigent circumstances or a need to protect officer safety.2 The opinion compared cell phones to modern computers3 that house a wealth of private information within4 (akin to personal residences5). Thus, the smart phones were granted protection similar to computer hard drives6 and all information obtained from the seized phones was suppressed.7

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Vol. 16.2

Explore the digital version of  Volume 16.2.

Public Interest Practitioners Section (PIPS)

The Continued Marginalization of People Living with HIV/AIDS in U.S. Immigration Law by Cristina Velez, Supervising Attorney of Immigration at the HIV Law Project, a non-profit based in New York City.

Challenging the Practice of Solitary  Confinement in Immigration Detention in Georgia and Beyond by Azadeh Shahshahani, director of the National Security/Immigrants’ Rights project at the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Georgia & Ayah Natasha El-Sergany, an attorney based in Seattle, Wash., and 2010 graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Law.

Executive Article

J. McIntyre and the Global Stream of Commerce by Frank Deale, Professor of Law, CUNY School of Law.

Notes & Comments 

Not Guilty By Reason of Gender Transgression: The Ethics of Gender Identity Disorder as Criminal Defense and the Case of Pfc. Chelsea Manning by Madeline Porta, J.D. 2013, City University of New York School of Law.

Because Parents Owe it to Them:Unaccompanied LGBTQ Youth Enforcing the Parental Duty of Support by Maria Roumiantseva, J.D. 2013, City University of New York School of Law and Staff Attorney, The Legal Aid Society, Juvenile Rights Practice.


Work, Work, and More Work: Whose Economic Rights? A conversation between Professors Stanley Aronowitz, Distinguished Professor of Sociology in the Ph.D. Program in Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center and Director of the Center for the Study of Culture, Technology, and Work & Shirley Lung, Professor of Law, CUNY School of Law and former Executive Director of the Center for Immigrants’ Rights. Moderated by Professor Ruthann Robson, Professor of Law and University Distinguished Professor, CUNY School of Law.



VAWA @ 20: Index

VAWA @ 20 – Index

Introduction – Nishan Bhaumik on the history of the Violence Against Women Act’s passage and reauthorization and the goals of the VAWA @ 20 series.

VAWA After the Party: Implementing Proposed Guidelines on Campus Sexual Assault Resolution – Mary P. Koss and Elise C. Lopez of the University of Arizona on the effect of existing and proposed VAWA guidelines on the process for sexual assault adjudication at institutions of higher education.

Roll Back “Prison Nation” – Donna Coker, Professor of Law at the University of Miami School of Law, on VAWA’s contribution to hyper-incarceration.

Raising the Visibility of the Margins and the Responsibility of Mainstream – Marcia Olivo, Sisterhood of Survivors/Miami Workers Center, and  Kelly Miller, Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence, on the need to expand VAWA in order to guarantee protections for marginalized communities.

HIV, Violence Against Women, and Criminal Law Interventions – Aziza Ahmed, Associate Professor of Law at Northeastern University School of Law, on HIV/AIDS and the negative consequences of the criminal law approach to sex trafficking.

Art, Violence, and Women – Yxta Maya Murray, Professor at Loyola Law School, on how visual art can inform the feminist legal process.

The Politics of Pretext: VAWA Goes Global – Deborah M. Weissman, Reef C. Ivey II Distinguished Professor of Law, University of North Carolina School of Law, on VAWA International (I-VAWA), Congress’s attempt to expand U.S. influence in the realm of violence against women as a matter of foreign policy.

Building the Knowledge Base: Research Funding through VAWA – Claire M. Renzetti, of the University of Kentucky, Rebecca M. Campbell, of Michigan State University, and Allison Adair, of the University of Kentucky, on the substantial increase in empirical studies of the causes and consequences of violence against women, as well as research on responses to both victims and perpetrators.

Stalled at 20: VAWA, the Criminal Justice System, and the Possibilities of Restorative Justice – Leigh Goodmark, Professor Law at the University of the Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, on restorative justice and the failure of VAWA to provide abuse survivors with alternative venues for seeking justice.

The Mainstreaming of the Criminalization Critique: Reflections on VAWA 20 Years Later – Mimi E. Kim, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, California State University, Long Beach, on the troubling collaboration between feminists and the criminal justice system represented by VAWA’s attachment to the Crime Bill of 1994.

A Disappearing Act: The Dwindling Analysis of the Anti-Violence Movement – Kerry Toner on the failure of VAWA to address the complex social phenomenon of domestic violence and the complete experiences of survivors.

VAWA in the Lives of Battered South Asian Women in the United States – Shamita Das Dasgupta, Ph.D., DVS, Manavi, on the experiences of battered South Asian immigrant women under VAWA.

The Gender Justice Movement: The Fullest Expression of the former Battered Women’s Movement, and the Domestic Violence Movement – Tiloma Jayasinghe, J.D., Executive Director, Sakhi for South Asian Women, on the New York City Gender Justice Taskforce and her work leading the Sakhi for South Asian Women, an anti-domestic violence agency.

VAWA and Welfare Reform: Criminalizing the Most Marginalized Women – Ann Cammett, Professor at CUNY School of Law, on how national welfare reform legislation and the rising rate of female incarceration undermined VAWA’s goals for poor women.

Improving Civil Legal Assistance for Ending Gender Violence – Elizabeth L. MacDowell, Associate Professor of Law and Director of the Family Justice Clinic at the William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada Las Vegas, on necessary reforms to VAWA to expand civil remedies for domestic abuse survivors.

Gender Violence and Civil Rights – Julie Goldscheid, Professor, CUNY Law School, on the need for a renewed civil rights initiative in light of Morrison striking down VAWA’s original civil rights remedy.


VAWA @ 20: Introduction


Nishan Bhaumik

 In 1994, Congress passed the most comprehensive response to what Congress had identified as a disturbing trend of violence against women. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994 was a result of decades of hard-fought, strategic advocacy highlighting the legal and public neglect of violence against women, both inside and outside of the private home.

In 2014, on the 20th anniversary of VAWA, CUNY School of Law reflects upon the progress of VAWA. Our VAWA@20 Symposium first examines VAWA’s past political struggles and legal battles and then considers its future role in eliminating gender-based violence. Footnote Forum collaborated with the VAWA@20 Symposium to present a collection of cutting-edge analyses by scholars and practitioners on VAWA’s role in eliminating gender-based violence.

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VAWA @ 20: VAWA After the Party: Implementing Proposed Guidelines on Campus Sexual Assault Resolution

VAWA After the Party: Implementing Proposed Guidelines on Campus Sexual Assault Resolution

Mary P. Koss and Elise C. Lopez

University of Arizona

The 20th anniversary of the passage of the Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”) and its reauthorization in 2013[1] merits celebration and marks a time to contemplate the future legislative and policy agenda. This commentary considers the effect of existing and proposed VAWA guidelines on the process for sexual assault adjudication at institutions of higher education. The focus is several documents including the US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights “Dear Colleague Letter”[DCL],[2] DCL clarification,[3] and the Proposed Guidelines for the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization as disseminated for comment in the Federal Register of June 20, 2014.[4] We aim to establish that taken together, these documents: (1) blur the distinctions between campus misconduct resolution and criminal justice process;[5] (2) lack scholarly analysis of sexual assault justice on campus;[6] and (3) clash with contemporary values and practice standards of student affairs professionals.[7] This commentary identifies enhancements derived from restorative justice principles [RJ] and situates them within misconduct resolution framework while maintaining consistency with DCL and VAWA required elements. RJ offers a range of formats that are relevant to the student body at large as well as to individuals involved in sexual misconduct of varying severity and can be implemented at multiple time points in case processing. We draw upon many sources that collectively express desire for policy guidance that supports evidence-based innovations intended to increase congruence with victims’ perceptions of what constitutes justice, raise the likelihood that offenders will be held responsible by sanctions proportional to the harm done, and augment the extent to which institutional responses deter future sexual misconduct.[8]

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VAWA @ 20: Roll Back “Prison Nation”

Roll Back “Prison Nation” 1

By Donna Coker2

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) represents an unprecedented federal focus on violence against women, both in terms of money allocated and in terms of changes in federal law.    VAWA dollars have increased services for victims including civil legal representation, shelters, and youth prevention programs.   The substantive law changes in VAWA include relief for some immigrant victims, expanded tribal court jurisdiction over certain instances of gender violence that occur on Native American land, and the provision that protection orders in one state are enforceable in another state.  While VAWA has made these important positive changes in civil law and remedies, the most significant changes and the most significant dollars have been in the area of law enforcement.  More than 50% of the current VAWA allocation is directed to training and support of police and prosecutors.

VAWA was part of the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Bill (“Crime Bill”) of the Clinton administration. This legislation did much to ratchet up what Beth Richie refers to as the U.S. “prison nation” and what Marie Gottschalk refers to as the “carceral state.”3The Crime Bill allocated nearly $10 billion for new prison construction, expanded the death penalty, added mandatory life sentences for federal offenders with three violent priors, required states to maintain sex offender registries or risk losing federal money, and made admissible prior sex abuse offenses of a defendant in both criminal and civil cases involving charges of sex abuse.4

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VAWA @ 20: Raising the Visibility of the Margins and the Responsibility of Mainstream

Raising the Visibility of the Margins and the Responsibility of Mainstream

Marcia Olivo, Sisterhood of Survivors/Miami Workers Center

Kelly Miller, Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence


The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) originated over twenty years ago from a movement lead by predominately white, middle class, educated women in a strong capitalist economy, who were outraged at the lack of response to violence against women and who looked to the criminal justice system as the solution. The federal legislation has been the foundation for addressing gender based violence in our country. In recent years, there is a growing understanding that the criminal justice system as the primary mechanism to end gender based violence is a false solution. Decades of mass incarceration of African American men and men in other communities of color have resulted in the “New Jim Crow” and the school to prison pipeline. Instead of helping youth get their lives back on track, incarceration in a juvenile facility is the greatest predictor of adult incarceration and adult criminality. The criminal justice response assumes that violence against women is an individual aberration and ignores the complexity of violence and the structural oppressions that sustain it. It also heightens the potential for state control of marginalized communities through police surveillance and interventions utilizing the criminal justice system.

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