PIPS Piece: Off The Clock, Off The Line: The Role of Legal Services in Workers’ Organizing

Editor’s Note: As part of its Fall 2009 Public Interest Practice Section (“PIPS”) series exploring the role of legal services in worker organizing, the New York City Law Review conducted the following interviews with Nadia Marín-Molina, [FN1] Executive Director of the Workplace Project, and Jaime Vargas, [FN2] Organizer, on September 23, 2009, at the organization’s Long Island office in Hempstead, New York. Ms. Marín-Molina has worked for the Workplace Project for thirteen years, and Mr. Vargas for seven years. The following is an edited transcript of the interviews, conducted by PIPS Associate Editor Jonathan Harris and Managing Articles Editor Shirley Lin.


Q: Tell us about the Workplace Project. When was it started? How did it begin? What kind of community needs does the Workplace Project serve?

A: The Workplace Project started in 1992. It was created as a response to a need that Jennifer Gordon [FN3] identified while working with the Central American community. Many workers had complaints related to wages. Many workers were Central American. Workers were being exploited; they were being mistreated or didn’t get paid wages. It was too much for the community of Salvadorans, Hondurans, and Mexicans. So, from that moment an organization began to form. Continue reading

Volume 2.2 (Summer 1998)

Full Issue


Does Gideon Still Make a Difference?
Thomas F. Liotti
On the twenty-fifth anniversary of the United States Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, it has never been more important to reaffirm a commitment to the protection of indigent defendants in the criminal justice system. In this article, Liotti explores the historical significance of Gideon, including the cases and atmosphere that led up to the decision; New York’s statutory response to Gideon; several cases that might spur current litigation surrounding the rights of indigent defendants; the quality of representation of indigent clients in New York; and the United States Supreme Court’s treatment of indigent defendants, with special emphasis on equal protection doctrine. Liotti concludes with a general litigation strategy for those who fight for equal justice for the poor and marginalized.

The Right to Work and Earn a Living Wage: A Proposed Constitutional Amendment
William P. Quigley
The right to work and earn a living wage is one of the fundamental principles built into the fabric of our society. In this article, Quigley proposes a constitutional amendment that would commit this nation to providing a living wage employment opportunity for all of society. Though cautious not to address the implementation of such a constitutional amendment, this article outlines the basic framework of how a guarantee of employment at a wage substantially higher than the current minimum might work.


Gender Inequality in In Vitro Fertilization: Controlling Women’s Reproductive Autonomy
Melissa E. Fraser
This article offers a critique of developing reproductive technologies, namely In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), by suggesting a two-step analysis which (1) analyzes how IVF technology can create inequitable power structures for women who turn to it, and (2) places IVF technology within a larger pattern of attempts to control all women’s reproductive autonomy. Fraser argues that it is necessary and essential to question the development and proliferation of reproductive technologies to gain control of them and utilize them for the benefit of all women.

Volume 2.1 (Spring 1998)

Full Issue


The Penile Code: The Gendered Nature of the Language of Law
Matthew A. Ritter, Professor of Law, California Western School of Law
Written language has contributed to patriarchy by allowing men to monopolize writing – including law, as law is almost universally in written language – and thereby place themselves in the position of authority intended for the law itself, by defining rights and liberty in terms of male values, and by manipulating language so that the roles of men as subjects (in the grammatical sense of the word) and women as objects are reinforced as constantly as people speak, write and read. Working toward equality will require women to not only write, but to write as women, so that the monopoly is broken and the power of authorship is shared. Men must write as men rather than as abstract authors, so as to be under the law and equal with women, rather than equal to the law and above women.

Beach Erosion and Hurricane Protection in the Second Circuit: The Statute of Limitations as a Government Nemesis
Barbara Affedlt, J.D., City University of New York School of Law, 1997
A critique of statute of limitations rulings by the Second Circuit in regard to claims against the federal government for beach erosion damages in Long Island. The author contends that permissive interpretation of accrual and tolling standards will lead to excessive and expensive litigation, and discourage the government from undertaking projects that will protect the environment and shore property. The author proposes an accrual standard more akin to that of medical malpractice.

(REACT): Remote Electronically Activated Technology Stun Belt
Kevin C. Pyle, an illustrator and comix artist whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times, and The Village Voice
An artistic piece about “electronic restraint belts,” devices that are placed on some prisoners for travel to court or other locations outside of correctional facilities. A remote control, carried by a correctional officer or marshal, is used to administer an electrical impulse to torso muscles that renders the wearer immobile, similar to a TASER, if the prisoner attempts an attack or escape. The piece juxtaposes the banal advisory document given to prisoners who are to be placed in the belts with a depiction of the pain and domination the belts inflict.

The Current Scope of the Public Safety Exception to Miranda Under New York v. Quarles 
Alan Raphael, Professor of Law, Loyola University Chicago School of Law
A review of case law interpreting New York v. Quarles, 467 U.S. 649 (1984). This ruling permits admission of defendant responses to police questioning without a Miranda warning if the question is in regard to an imminent threat to public safety. The defendant, accused of raping a woman at gunpoint, was captured in a supermarket after a brief chase and found to be wearing an empty gun holster. Officers asked where the gun was and the defendant directed them to it. The author submits that many subsequent rulings have exceeded the narrow scope intended by the Supreme Court for such questioning by admitting statements obtained in situations with doubtful threats to public safety.


What Justice Requires: A Case of Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
Mary Ross, J.D. Candidate, City University of New York School of Law, 1998
A piece on the responsibilities of defense attorneys and features of successful ineffective assistance of counsel appeal. The topic is presented through the lens of a successful effort to overturn a murder conviction on ineffective assistance of counsel grounds.


Volume 1.2 – 1996

Full Issue


Outlaw Judiciary: On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: The Florida Supreme Court Deals with Death Row Claims of Actual Innocence
Michael Mello
In his note, Mello discusses the similarities between a law review article and a good United States Supreme Court brief. Aiming to cater to the busy litigator or judicial clerk who might make use of his scholarship, Mello attempts to write “plagiarizable” work by publishing unmediated pleadings and correspondence.

A Critique of the Second Circuit’s Analysis of New York and New Jersey Joint Venture Law in Arditi v. Dubitzky and Sagamore Corp. v. Diamond West Energy Corp.
Robert Steinbuch
Steinbuch identifies various analytical tools used to detect valid joint ventures and assesses the differing views courts have taken on what constitutes a joint venture, ultimately recommending that the Second Circuit revisit its approach and avoid re-writing state law.


The Independence of the Judiciary?
Edward I. Koch
Ex-Mayor of New York City, Edward Koch, writes on the importance of maintaining an independent judiciary, which he says requires assuring the judiciary that its appointments will be made without regard to political affiliations and obligations, and stresses the importance of assurances that reappointments will come to those found deserving by the two committees assigned the responsibility of making such decisions.


The Contract with America: The Crystallization of the GOP’s Racial Agenda
Edward J. Rymsza
Using empirical evidence, Rymsza explains how the Contract, either on its face or in its effect, furthers a racial agenda; also advances the notion that in an ideal society, the percentage of minorities on welfare and under the auspices of the criminal justice system should reflect a cross-section of the population as a whole.


Canvassing ‘Points Outs’ and Police Suggestion: A Comment on People v. Dixon
Geoffrey T. Raicht
While People v. Dixon will have little effect on police practices, proceedings that have grown out of United States v. Wade, and become known as the “Wade hearings,” will likely be conducted more often that they have ever been. This shift will result in decreased misidentifications and increased reliability of Wade hearings.

Book Review

A Review of Haig’s Commercial Litigation In New York State Courts
Walter M. Schackman
In an effort to restore New York as the center of commercial law in the United States, Schackman emphasizes the importance of this treatise for use in commercial law, stressing its unparalleled utility to the Commercial Division and to all New York courts faced with issues in commercial law.

Volume 1.1 – The Inaugural Issue

Explore the complete digital version of of our Inaugural Issue, Volume 1.1, In Memory of Hayword Burns and Shanara Gilbert with Foreword by Hon. George E. Pataki.


Introduction: A Journal of Law in the Service of Human Needs by Jonathan D. Libby, Todd David Muhlstock, Emily Barnes Cole & Anthony H. Mansfield


Law as a Foreign Language: Understanding Law School by Ken Vinson, Professor of Law, Florida State University College of Law

Positive Political Theory and the Study of U.S. Supreme Court Decision-Making: Understanding the Sex Discrimination Cases by Lee Epstein, Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science, Washington University in St. Louis, and Thomas G. Walker, Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science, Emory University


Juvenile Justice Gone Awry: Expulsion Statutes Unjustly Deny Educational Rights to Students by Anthony H. Mansfield, J.D. Candidate ’96, City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law

Mbanmiri v. BUM Oil Co.: A Hypothetical Case of International Environmental Torts by Okechukwu Athanasius Duru, J.D. Candidate ’96, City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law