From the Managing Attorney
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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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)".
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
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."
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
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.
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
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
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
The Center for Civil Rights offers a warm welcome to the newest members of our family.
Bethan 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.
We'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.