A contingent of 30 Fordham University Law School students are in New Orleans though Jan. 6 to help the city’s public defenders with a backlog of criminal cases caused by Hurricane Katrina’s ravaging floods in 2005.
Fordham is one of 12 universities that have sent more than 345 student volunteers during the winter break for weeklong stints to help with the backlog that is estimated to be as high as 6,000 cases. As part of the project, students are interviewing indigent defendants in jail, some of whom have been waiting to see a lawyer for months. The students are being supervised by Ian Weinstein, J.D., professor of law and director of clinical education, and Martha Rayner, J.D., associate clinical professor of law.
The volunteers are part of the Katrina-Gideon Interviewing Project in which law schools from throughout the country send teams of students to provide behind-the-scenes assistance in an effort to help get Louisiana’s courts moving again, and the Student Hurricane Network, a national association of law students and administrators dedicated to providing long-term assistance to communities affected by Hurricane Katrina.