A contingent of 30 Fordham University Law School students traveled to New Orleans in January to help the city’s public defenders with a backlog of criminal cases caused by Hurricane Katrina’s ravaging floods in 2005.
Fordham was one of 12 universities that sent more than 345 student volunteers during the winter break for weeklong stints to help the backlog that is estimated to be as high as 6,000 cases. As part of the project, students interviewed indigent defendants in jail, some of whom had been waiting to see a lawyer for months. The students were 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 were part of an initiative known as the Katrina-Gideon Interviewing Project, in which law schools from across 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.
By Victor M. Inzunza