Center for Civil Rights Newsletter

Center for Civil Rights Newsletter: Monday, January 14, 2013

From the Managing Attorney

With the new year comes a renewed commitment to engaging our friends, supporters, partners and other social justice advocates across the state and the country in the ongoing work of the UNC Center for Civil Rights. While we know many of you are following our blog and other social media sites, we hope to use the newsletter as a way of expanding the scope of our outreach.

The last several months have been filled with great victories and new challenges for the Center and the communities with which we work, and 2013 promises to be another year of critical litigation and community advocacy. After a landmark victory at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in our Pitt County school desegregation case, we are now preparing for a major trial in that matter this spring. Discovery is proceeding in our environmental justice and fair housing case on behalf of the Royal Oak Concerned Citizens Association, and we recently filed a lawsuit for several members of our longtime community clients in Halifax County seeking refunds of illegally collected property taxes. In addition to this active litigation docket, we continue to represent community based organizations in Moore, Orange, Hoke, Northampton, and Robeson as they organize and advocate against the continuing legacy of race discrimination and for inclusion and equity regarding access to public infrastructure, safe and affordable housing, diverse and high quality public schools, meaningful political participation, and environmental justice.

In addition to our direct community representation, the Center also helped co-author, along with Dean Jack Boger, an amicus curiae brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of UNC-Chapel Hill in Fisher v. University of Texas, the pending case challenging the use of race in college admissions. The Center, working with law students, also sponsored a number of community voter education presentations. This outreach was part of our work with the national non-partisan Election Protection coalition, and culminated with our coordination of the North Carolina Election Protection voter hotline on November 6. Training the next generation of civil rights lawyers through the engagement of law students in the work of the Center remains one of our core goals, and we look forward to helping lead the seventh pro-bono Will Project this spring

Finally, it would be remiss not to briefly mention the continuing and urgent need for funding to support our work. Although the Center is an integral part of the law school's education, research and service mission, we must raise our program expenses and salaries from grants and donations. As we continue to pursue all available funding opportunities, we also hope that individuals and organizations that share our vision of civil rights and social justice can help us continue this work. If you are interested in learning about how you can support the Center, please contact me at 919.445.0174 or dorosin@email.unc.edu. You may also make a secure online donation now at https://www.law.unc.edu/alumni/support/gift/givenow/. To ensure your gift is forwarded to the Center for Civil Rights, please be sure to designate the fund by using the drop down menu to select "Center for Civil Rights Current Use (2741)".

In struggle,

Mark

Recent Blog Posts

It's already been a busy year at the Center for Civil Rights! Here are a few of our most recent blog posts:

Reflections: The NC Racial Justice Act and its Impact on Our State. On Dec. 13, 2012, Cumberland County Superior Court Judge Gregory Weeks issued a ruling under the North Carolina's Racial Justice Act (RJA). The order commuted the death sentences of three murderers and re-sentenced them to life without parole.

Al Corum, John Gresham Speak on Historic Free Speech Claim Against Appalachian State. When Dean of Learning Resources Dr. Alvis Corum protested the university's plan to split up the Appalachian Collection, he was stripped of his deanship. Dr. Corum and his attorney John Gresham brought a successful free speech claim that resulted in a landmark ruling recognizing the right to bring claims directly under the North Carolina constitution.

Center Urges Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools to Prioritize Diversity in New Assignment Plan. Managing Attorney Mark Dorosin urged the board to enhance diversity at each school. "Racial or socio-economic isolation is a known barrier to securing the prerequisites to a quality education . . . Moreover, the idea of "community schools" not only ignores the continuing legacy of residential racial and socio-economic segregation in housing opportunities, but also takes a shortsighted and narrow view of what constitutes a community."

Center for Civil Rights, School of Law, UNC-CH Counsel file US Supreme Court amicus brief supporting racial diversity in college admissions: Mark Dorosin, Elizabeth Haddix, Dean Jack Boger, and the Office of University Counsel filed an amicus brief on behalf of UNC in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. The case challenges the limited consideration of race in admissions and seeks to overturn precedents that diversity in higher education is a compelling governmental interest. UNC's brief emphasizes that its mission is to develop leaders for a diverse state. See also: Fisher Amici speak on Constitution Day panel, CCR, UNC Law Professors perform Fisher arguments.

Center files Extraordinary Writ to Fourth Circuit. The Center for Civil Rights, on behalf of Plaintiffs in the Everett v. Pitt County Schools desegregation case, petitioned to the Court of Appeals for a Writ of Mandamus ordering the District Court in Greenville, NC to comply with the Fourth Circuit's May 2012 ruling regarding the county's 2011 assignment plan. See also: Fourth Circuit COA Rules in Favor of Pitt County Coalition for Educating Black Children.

Center Launches Voter Ed Presentations. Since 2004, the Center has worked with UNC Pro Bono and Lawyers Committee to operate the non-partisan Election Protection hotline. While the hotline preserves thousands of citizens' right to vote, many problems can't be solved because of missed deadlines. The Center and UNC Pro Bono students launched a pre-election voter education program to ensure that every eligible voter can cast a ballot.

Halifax Advocates Mark One-Year Anniversary of Center's Report. Halifax County education advocates continue the struggle for high-quality, racially integrated education for all students as they host a press conference marking the one-year anniversary of the Center's report, "Unless Our Children Begin to Learn Together."

Brandy Creek Residents Sue for Refund of Taxes. The Brandy Creek and Wallace Fork Road community seek a refund from Halifax County, the City of Roanoke Rapids, and Weldon City Schools for three years of illegally inflated property taxes. After an improper valuation, residents' property taxes went up an average of over 800%, as high as 1400%. See also: Center Argues for Refunds of Illegally Collected Property Taxes.

CCR Represents Plaintiffs in Hearing on Royal Oak vs. Brunswick Cty Fair Housing Case: CCR attorneys Elizabeth Haddix and Peter Gilbert, with co-counsel Jack Holtzman of the Legal Aid NC Fair Housing Project defended against Brunswick County's motion to dismiss Equal Protection and Fair Housing claims. Attorney Ray Owens of Higgens & Owens, PLLC is also co-counsel on the case. See also: Brunswick County Planning Board's Denial of Landfill Permit is Final.

We Moved!

The Center for Civil Rights has a new office in the Meadowmont complex.

UNC Center for Civil Rights
323 W. Barbee Chapel Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC 27599

(o) 919.445.0195
(f) 919.843.6748

Mark Dorosin: 919.445.0174
Elizabeth Haddix: 919.445.0176
Peter Gilbert: 919.445.0175
Taiyyaba Qureshi: 919.445.0177
Bethan Eynon: 919.445.0179
Jennifer Marsh: 919.445.0190

Calendar Call

Jan. 25 | Center for Civil Rights receives award at Halifax NAACP Awards Dinner

Feb. 2 | "Punishment and Policing in Our Schools: A Community Forum on Discipline and Student Success in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools" | 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. | Keynote Address by Mark Dorosin | Carrboro Century Center, 100 N. Greensboro St.

Feb. 9 | Dean Jack Boger, Mark Dorosin, Elizabeth Texas speak on Fisher v. Texas | Festival of Legal Learning | 8:00 a.m. | Friday Center

Feb. 9 | HK on J | Downtown Raleigh

Welcome!

The Center for Civil Rights offers a warm welcome to the newest members of our family.

Bethan EynonBethan Eynon is the Center's 2012-2014 Community Development and Community Inclusion Attorney-Fellow. She graduated from UNC Law in 2012 and from Ohio University with degrees in Journalism, Sociology, and Women Studies. As Special Trips Coordinator and the Director of the Pro Bono Program Board, Bethan has been integral in the Wills Trips. Bethan was a summer intern at the Center in 2011, and has also worked for Orange/Chatham District Court Judge Beverly Scarlett, the NC Association of Women Attorneys, and the NC Attorney General's office. Bethan was inducted into the prestigious Davis Society in 2012.

Jennifer MarshWe're happy to welcome Jennifer Marsh as the Center's Director of Research, Community Services, and Student Programs. After years of experience with nonprofit management, Jennifer returned to UNC-Chapel Hill to receive a law degree and Certificate of Nonprofit Management. Prior to joining the Center, Marsh served as Legal Redress Coordinator and Public Policy Analyst at the North Carolina NAACP. Before joining the NAACP, Jennifer served as the Project Manager and Senior Attorney for the Racial Justice Act Study. She has also worked with Disability Rights NC and Democracy NC. While in law school she worked as a summer intern with the Center.


UNC Center for Civil Rights - 323 W. Barbee Chapel Rd., Chapel Hill, NC - 919.445.0195

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