The facts and objective materials are interwoven throughout our blog with our assumptions, some of which include:
1) UW Law is a school concerned about diversity and social justice, as is the King County Prosecutor’s Office. And yet UW Law is an institution that can be a hostile environment for many, perhaps especially people of color. At this time UW Law cannot generate a prosecution clinic conscious enough to fight social injustice in the form of racial disparities as it claims.
2) The money the administration and the prosecutors would use for this project could be more efficiently spent on wider-reaching, more efficient practices aimed at making UW Law and thus the profession more just (see the “Goals” page for some ideas).
3) We assume that the clinic will not train students to understand and apply the federal immigration consequences of state court convictions. (We have asked that the Clinic not prosecute anyone at risk of immigration consequences.) That area of law involves a technical and complex application of federal law to state law, and it has a tremendous impact on people’s lives down the road–many people plead guilty to misdemeanors rather than go to trial because it offers a way to get out of jail and back to their families. Many have expressed that they would have gone to trial if they had understood the specific immigration consequences of their plea. Prosecutors and public defenders alike have to understand these real world impacts and we have no guarantee this Clinic will bear in mind this aspect of criminal law which could have family-separating consequences.
4) This clinic is not about racial disparities. In defense of the clinic, the administration often says that it has at its core a goal of promoting racial justice. Looking through the emails we see no mention of racial disparities from the first email on Feb 25 till a revised MOU on March 22nd. I trust that the administration honestly hoped to provide UW students with a great opportunity for trial advocacy, but this is not the best way to promote an understanding of racial justice and we shouldn’t claim that it is, when our students have for years advocated for a tenured critical race theorist (CRT) and a diversity plan (DP).
5) After years of student advocacy for a CRT and a DP, this clinic was sped into creation after less than 2 months of emails between administrators and prosecutors. It was intentionally placed on the faculty committee’s consent agenda when it had no business being there.
In an April 1st email, Prof Maranville wrote:
“The agenda for Wed. will include on the consent agenda a proposal for a Criminal Prosecution Clinic. It’s on the consent agenda because we were able to build on the course number/description for the old criminal law clinic, which makes the bureaucratic aspects simpler. But happy to talk about it at the faculty meeting and I don’t want anyone to think we’re trying to pull a fast one.”
She did pull a fast one; so fast that no students could speak up; and so fast–we are told–that few professors even knew this was coming. We believe this belies a lack of transparency at UW Law, though not intentionally opaque maneuvering. Do we think it was a hurried decision? Yes. Do we think it was intentionally placed there to facilitate the Clinic’s rapid existence? Yes. Do we think Prof. Maranville and the administration should have known better? Yes! It looks like she knew that it deserved explanation at least.
We further assume that its placement on the consent agenda might have silenced potential opposition (unintentionally) as its being on the consent agenda engenders the feeling that it was consented to by many already, perhaps by powerful players in the law school hierarchy.
To us, this is an especially saddening part of the process and is itself reason enough to call off the clinic. In response to this assumption, the administration has said that no more processes should be put in place; they offered the hypothetical that when the Race and the Law Course went on hiatus for a few years that its reinstatement was expedited in the same way as the clinic, by using the previous course’s information. This new Prosecution Clinic was sped through using the course information of an old criminal justice clinic that did not have a prosecution component. Put simply, Race and the Law was still Race and the Law years later, but a defense clinic is not even close to the same as a prosecution clinic and given this distinction, should not have been on the consent agenda. In fact, the clinic should not exist. For ideas on what should exist, see our Goals section.