Immigration Clinic Awarded Attorney Fees & Post-Grad Clerkships Under EAJA

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In a remarkable constellation of successes involving the federal government, a U.S. District Court judge ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement to pay the Immigration Clinic over $16,500 in attorney fees and three U.S. District Court judges and the Immigration Court awarded post-graduation clerkships to three Clinic students.

Under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), federal courts can order the U.S. government to pay attorney fees and costs at the end of a civil case. In the case Jeune v. Candemeres, students won their client the right to a bond hearing after she was held for over a year in immigration detention. After granting the case, U.S. District Court Judge Cecilia Altonaga ruled that the government’s position was not “substantially justified” and ordered that the U.S. government pay EAJA fees.

“I really enjoyed working on the case because it provided me with the opportunity to apply the skills I learned in the classroom—research, writing, and problem solving—to a real case,” said third-year student Mandeep Sehmbi. Her clinic partner, Daniel Nenkov, JD ’14 added: “It is great to know that the long hours Mandeep and I spent working on the motion paid off and that the Immigration Clinic will receive a substantial amount of money. What brings me even greater satisfaction is the fact that the case may play a role in leading to positive changes in immigration law and policy that will affect the lives of many immigrants.”

“This incredible victory was the result of the hard work and dedication of the Clinic students--from Ian Shaw, JD ‘14, Ross Militello, JD ‘14, and Lindsay Adkin, 3L, who first crafted the legal argument that Ms. Jeune was entitled to a bond hearing, to Mandeep and Daniel, who wrote the winning EAJA fee motion,” said Romy Lerner, Immigration Clinic Supervising Attorney, who supervised the fee motion. “The attorneys’ fees award will help the Clinic continue to pursue its dual mission to train law students for future practice and protect the rights of our immigrant community.”

In a string of successful bids for post-graduation clerkships, Immigration Clinic students have landed clerkships in federal and administrative courts. Joshua Truppman, JD ’14 will clerk for the Honorable Judge Ursula Ungaro of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in 2016. Alexander Vail, JD ’14, Truppman’s former Clinic partner, has started a clerkship in the Orlando Immigration Court. Current clinic fellow 3L Adam Hoock has secured back-to-back clerkships with the Honorable Judge Darrin P. Gayles and the Honorable Judge Paul C. Huck, both of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Reflecting on how his clinical experience has prepared him for his clerkship, Hoock said “I am immensely grateful to Professors Lerner and Sharpless for the training and professional support they have given me. My work on a wide variety of cases, legal issues, and policy matters will prove invaluable as I begin my legal career. In particular, I feel prepared for my federal clerkships because the Clinic has helped me hone my writing, research, and analytical skills.”

“I’m incredibly proud of our students,” said Immigration Clinic Director Rebecca Sharpless. “They possess the talent, drive and temperament to excel in the legal field. I look forward to watching them advance in their careers.”