After battling on behalf of their clients for an entire academic season, five Harvard Legal Aid Bureau students were wrapping up their final cases before heading to their off-season placements. But when their cases suddenly went into extra innings, these HLAB Trial All-Stars stepped up to the plate, pointed to center field, and hit it out of the park!In the week before commencement, Justine Goeke ’13 represented a single mother (and survivor of domestic violence) in her trial seeking physical and legal custody, child support, and supervised visits against the father. The father had put his mental health at issue in another state by claiming he was incompetent to stand trial because of mental illness; a few of the primary issues at trial were both his mental and emotional stability and the potential and past impact of his mental health on the child.
Dave Barber ’13 also spent the weeks before graduation preparing for and co-counseling a case involving a bedbug infestation of his client’s apartment. The landlord started eviction proceedings against the client after she withheld rent due to the infestation; after a day and a half of the jury trial Dave negotiated and finalized a settlement, obtaining nearly $5000 for his client.
Bradley Jenkins ’13 tried a case in Probate & Family Court in late June and stretching into July, in which he represents a mother seeking to regain custody of her young son. A survivor of domestic violence, the client had previously given voluntary guardianship to a family member of her abusive partner while she worked to regain stability in her life.
Remaining in Cambridge four weeks after his exams ended, Matt Nickell ’14 postponed the start of his summer job to co-counsel a case in Boston Housing Court. He represented a tenant who had claims against her former landlord for significant conditions of disrepair in her apartment. In a jury trial that stretched over three days, Matt’s role included the examination of an expert witness whose testimony about the apartment’s bad conditions proved critical in establishing the landlord’s fault. The jury came back with a verdict for the client.
Chas Hamilton ’13 spent the weeks after exams this spring trying not one, but two cases before juries. After the trials were unexpectedly scheduled several weeks apart, Chas dove into long days and late nights of preparation with his co-counsels and supervisors that involved gathering evidence, developing case strategy, readying witnesses, and writing closing statements. He was able to find time to graduate in between obtaining favorable outcomes for both clients in their trials. (Read more in “Two Trials and a Graduation“.)
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