MESEREAU FREE LEGAL CLINIC by mmcsx

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									                                      “THE MARCH TO LEGAL EMPOWERMENT”
                                                              “KNOWLEDGE IS POWER”



                     MESEREAU FREE LEGAL CLINIC
                                           A subsidiary of the Mesereau Community Legal Foundation
                                            A Non-profit 501c3 Public Benefit California Corporation

                                                                                1st Quarter 2011                              Volume 1, Issue 2

  Special points of interest:
                                        A Salute To The Volunteers
• Federal Judge Wright speaks
                                                   The last clinic day of 2010 for the Mesereau Free Legal Clinic proved to be
• CA Penal Code 296: DNA Database       another busy Saturday despite the holiday season and a day of scattered showers. On
                                        December 18, 2010, the Mesereau Free Legal Clinic held a Holiday Pot-Luck and
• Volunteer Attorney Ibiere N. Seck
                                        awards ceremony to honor its volunteers. Many were in attendance including clinic
  from the Cochran Firm
                                        founder, Attorney Thomas A. Mesereau, Jr. who gave a special thanks to all the volun-
• Couples at Mesereau                   teers for their commitment to the clinic.
• Volunteer of the Year                          The event took place at our new location, Morningside United Church of Christ,
                                        in Inglewood, CA. It began with a “Thank You” speech from the Executive Director,
• Inglewood Thrift Shop                 Sophia E. Harris, J.D. We were then introduced to the Board of Directors and given
                                        insight into our tremendous growth for the clinic such as the attainment of 501c3
                                        non-profit status and upcoming Internet access at our new location. Then, the fun
                                        began...volunteers were presented with certificates and picture boxes for their service
      Inside this issue:                to the clinic, by Renee E. Sanders, Esq., Chairman of the Board, and Catana Sim-
                                        mons, Director of Volunteers. There were three volunteers presented with special
 Volunteer of the Year
 Arthurette Rogers              2       awards and those awards and awardees were….Attorney of the Year - Ibiere Seck,
                                        Community Volunteer of the Year - Arthurette Rogers, and Student Volunteer of
                                        the Year – Justin Ciecka. The ceremony also provided a way for volunteers to get to
 Volunteer Ibiere N. Seck
                                        meet one another, catch up, and even exchange ideas. The upcoming new year
 Attorney-at-Law
                                3       hopes to bring another successful year for the clinic and the community it serves.
 Couples at the Mesereau                        After the certificates were handed out, it was time to eat! There was so much
 Free Legal Clinic
                                4       good food! We were treated to some tasty barbequed and baked chicken, delicious
                                        potato salad, southern style fried fish and shrimp, deli sandwiches, hot and lemon pep-
 Federal Judge Otis Wright              per wings, green salad, veggies, assorted fruit, cake, pie and so much more. As a vol-
 Drug Prosecutions:                     unteer, we are thankful to have participated for it was an event not to be missed!
 Federal vs. State Sentencing   7
                                                  By: Aziz Hasnain, Concord Law School Student and
 Legal Notes: CA Penal
 Code 296                       8                 Caprece Anderson ,West Los Angeles Paralegal Student
 Presentations :
 Valuable Information
 For You!
                                9        A WORD FROM OUR BOARD
 How YOU can Help….
                                12       Executive Secretary & Director of Volunteers—Catana Simmons

                                                                Hello, I am Catana Simmons,                  started volunteering over 20 years ago
                                                              Executive Secretary for the Me-                by joining the community service minis-
                                                              sereau Community Legal Foun-                   try at my church. We would get to-
                                                              dation and Director of Volun-                  gether monthly and take food, clothing
                                                              teers for the Mesereau Free                    and transportation vouchers to the less
                                                              Legal Clinic. I volunteer at the               fortunate people in the community.
                                                              Legal Clinic because I have                    From there, I started signing up for the
                                Hello from the                always had a passion to help                   annual holiday food giveaway and An-
                                    Mesereau                  people especially those in need                gel Tree for Children whose parents are
                            Board of Directors:               or in unfortunate situations. I                                         (Continued on page 2)


                                           MESEREAU FREE LEGAL CLINIC is a 501(C) (3) NON-PROFIT CA CORPORATION
                                  A Word From Our Board
                                  (Continued from page 1)                   teamwork is nothing less than out-        outcome in dealing with their cur-
                                                                            standing. Titus 3:8 says, “the say-       rent situation.
   A subsidiary of the            incarcerated. It is such a rewarding      ing is trustworthy, and I want you to
                                                                                                                      For more information on how
 Mesereau Commu nity              experience for me and to know I           insist on these things, so that those
   Legal Fou ndation                                                                                                  your donation is helping to
  A Non-profit 501c3              have made a difference in some-           who have believed in God may be
                                                                                                                      make a difference in the lives
     Public Benefit               one’s life. Volunteering strengthens      careful to devote themselves to
 California Corporation                                                                                               of so many in our community,
                                  communities by making it easier for       good works. These things are ex-
                                                                                                                      we invite you to visit our Web
                                  good people and good causes to            cellent and profitable for people.” I
                                                                                                                      site at
                                  connect. Volunteering gives you           look forward to the growth of the         www.mesereaufreelegalclinic.com
                                  an opportunity to change lives,           Mesereau Free Legal Clinic and
                                  including your own. A little over a       the endless possibilities to reach                Calling for Articles
                                  year ago, I was invited by Gary           out and help someone by chang-             Want to write an article on a hot
                                  Easley, South West College para-          ing one life at a time. I see won-           topic for our newsletter?
                                  legal student, to come check out          derful things about to happen at
                                  the Mesereau Free Legal Clinic.           the clinic. With the generous                  Email the Editor-in-Chief at
                                  I have been a part of the Legal           support of people like you, we              editor@mesereaufreelegalclinic.com
                                  Clinic since that invitation. The         will be able to help many of these                         for
                                  volunteers are amazing! There is          individuals and families who oth-
                                                                                                                        more information and deadlines.
                                  no task too large or small and the        erwise may not have a pleasant


                                  Volunteer Arthurette Rogers - “Volunteer of the Year”
                                     Arthurette Rogers has been a          neys to provide legal information to the     was also supported in her endeav-
                                   Mesereau Free Legal Clinic volun-       client. “The clinic is dear to me. I re-     ors. By being such a community
                                   teer since the inception of the first   member wasting a lot of money for a          activist, Arthurette was adopted
                                   clinic, formally known as, “MEV         bad attorney with bad advice.” For this              by many other youths that
                                   Free Legal Clinic” (Mesereau-           reason, the “bad” attorney, lost Ar-                 appreciated her involve-
                                   Ephriam-Villaraigosa). The loca-        thurette’s money, her time was wasted                ment with their life’s pur-
                                   tion of the former clinic was at the    and the end result was her money and         suits and welcomed her critical
“Free Legal Services are needed Brookins Community A.M.E.                  property were taken away. “If the Me-        thinking that proved to be a suc-
                                   Church where Arthurette was a           sereau Free Legal Clinic were around         cess for all who heeded to her
  for the neighborhood so they founding member. Arthurette                 then, I would have received legal ad-        suggestions.
                                   heard the legal clinic needed vol-      vice and been awarded a better out-
                                                                                                                        My 5 year plan for the clinic
can understand what is or is not unteers and a “Free Legal Clinic”         come.”
                                   seemed like a worthy cause which                                                              Arthurette would like to
 needed for whatever problem                                                 Arthurette’s mission statement is...
                                   made her interested in volunteer-                                                            see the Mesereau Free
                                                                           Help, Give and with Purpose. When
                                   ing. Giving what you have to the                                                             Legal Clinic conducting
         they may have”                                                    Arthurette was going to college, law
                                   community is a passion for                                                           more outreach legal clinics in
                                                                           was an interest to her, it was a goal
                                   Arthurette. Legal Services to the                                                    various communities. The clinic
                                                                           that she could have pursued. Her hard
                                   community is a necessary re-                                                         would travel to different locations
                                                                           work and diligence to education
                                   source. “Legal Services for free,                                                    to meet the needs of neighbor-
                                                                           awarded her a full college scholarship.
                                   instead of paying for an attorney                                                    hoods. “Some have a need for
                                                                           As she matriculated through college,
                                   with money you don’t have is hard                                                    legal advice, but can not come to
                                                                           she fought for worthwhile causes, then
                                   for most people.” Today, in these                                                    us.” She would also like to have
                                                                           when she moved to California her legal
                                   economic times, being able to                                                        more speakers at the clinics
                                                                           education goals faded while she raised
                                   receive quality legal advice with-                                                   speaking on topics that would
                                                                           her two children and accomplished
                                   out a fee is a great gift. Arthurette                                                benefit clients, and she would like
      Join our Mailing List                                                other pursuits. As a mother, Arthurette
                                   helps to build-up the legal clinic in                                                to have more clinic scheduling to
                                                                           was a big supporter of her son’s
   www.mesereaufreelegalclinic.com any capacity she can. Mainly                                                         meet the needs of the community
                                                                           Crenshaw High School’s football
                                   working at the General Litigation                                                    and their time-lines. Arthurette
                                                                           team— the Crenshaw Cougars. This
                                   In-Take table, she has trained                                                       Rogers is the recipient of the 2010
                                                                           was another community involvement
                                   most of the volunteers how to                                                        Mesereau Free Legal Clinic COM-
                                                                           that Arthurette gave towards whole-          MUNITY VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR
                                   responsibly and thoroughly re-
                                                                           heartily. She became the football            for 2010!
                                   ceive information from clients,
                                                                           team’s “Mother”. Arthurette’s daughter
Page 2                             which in-turn is given to the attor-                                                 Written by: Volunteer Betty Joseph
                     Volunteer Ibiere N. Seck - Attorney at Law
Interviewed by: Clinic Volunteer Justin Ciecka, J.D.



 Q. When did you learn about the Me-           Q. What law school did you graduate                       selections, opening statements, direct
 sereau Clinic?                                from?                                                     and cross examinations, and closing
                                                                                                         statements. Take note of what you think
 A. I learned about the Mesereau Clinic        A. Loyola Law School in Los Angeles
                                                                                                         they are doing right and what you think
 in 2005 while a student in law school. I
                                               Q. Who is your legal mentor and why?                      they are doing wrong.
 was attending an event put on by the
 Beverly Hills Bar Association where           A. My legal mentor is the late Johnnie L.
 Thomas Mesereau was the keynote               Cochran, Jr. He was a phenomenal trial
 speaker. I was one of the scholarship         attorney and is recognized as one the
 recipients that year and after the event,     greatest attorneys of all time. I model my
 Mr. Mesereau and I spoke. That is             career after his because of the brilliance
 when he                                       and his strong commitment to the com-
 told me                                       munity.
 about the                                     Q. Do you have any other community
 wonderful
                                               interests?
 work being
 done                                          A.I am very much involved in various bar
 through the                                   associations including:
 clinic and                                    California State Bar
 asked me if
 I wanted to                                   The Bar of the U.S. District Court, Cen-
 get in-                                       tral District of California
 volved. The                                   The Los Angeles County Bar Associa-
 rest is history.                              tion, American Bar Association
 Q. Why did you want to volunteer your         Consumer Attorneys of California (Board
 time at the clinic?                           Member)
 A. I’ve always been very committed to         Consumer Attorney Association of Los                      “I’ve always been very committed to community
 community service. It was something           Angeles (Board Member).
 that was instilled in me at a very young      Black Women Lawyers (Pro-Bono Chair)                        service. It was something that was instilled in
 age. As a lawyer, I felt like volunteering
 with the Clinic would be an excellent         Langston Bar Association (Scholarship                                me at a very young age.”
 way to use my newly acquired skills to        Committee Co-Chair)
 help the community. I also liked the idea     American Association for Justice                          Ibiere N. Seck
 of working with seasoned attorneys and
 learning more about different areas of        Los Angeles Trial Lawyers Charities
 law.                                          I also get great satisfaction out of the                  The Cochran Firm
 Q. How long have you volunteered at           work The Cochran Firm does at the                         4929 Wilshire Blvd,1010
 the clinic?                                   Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Middle School.                    Los Angeles, CA 90010
                                               Each year, we work with the 8th grade                      Office(323) 931-6200
 A. Since 2005                                 class to put on a debate. The students                     Fax: (323) 931-9521
 Q. What type of law do you want to            love it and the debate is always a suc-
 practice?                                     cess.
 A. Currently, my practice includes prod-      Q. What encouragement can you give to
 ucts liability, personal injury and civil     future law school students and                                                “The Mesereau Free Legal
 rights.                                       paralegals who want to have a success-
                                               ful career?                                                                   Clinic subsidiary of the
 Q. How did you prepare for the bar?
                                               A. Work hard and treat everyone you                                           Mesereau Community Legal
 A. I studied like I had never studied         meet with respect no matter their title or                                    Foundation obtained its’
 before. I spent each morning practicing       their position.
 and reviewing multiple choice questions                                                                                     Nonprofit 501c3 California
 and the afternoons taking practice ex-        Q. What can you suggest to litigants who                                      Corporation status”
 ams (dating back 10 years). In the eve-       will be in court soon?
 nings, I studied the materials (focusing
 on the subjects covered in the practice       A. Watch trial lawyers in trial. Just go
 exam I took on that particular day).          down to the court house and watch jury                                                          Page 3
                                         MESEREAU FREE LEGAL CLINIC is a 501(C) (3) NON-PROFIT CA CORPORATION
                                                           The Mesereau Free Legal Clinic 2011Schedule

                                            January 15th, 22nd, 29th, 2011               June 4th, 11th, 25th, 2011
      A subsidiary of the                   February 5th, 19th, 2011                     July 9th, 16th, 30th, 2011
    Mesereau Commu nity
      Legal Fou ndation
                                            March 12th, 26th, 2011                       August 6th, 20th, 2011
     A Non-profit 501c3                     April 9th, 16th, 30th, 2011                  September 10th, 24th, 2011
        Public Benefit
    California Corporation                  May 14th, 21st, 2011                         October 1st, 15th, 29th, 2011

                                                            COUPLES
                                                      at the
                                                  MESEREAU FREE
                                                   LEGAL CLINIC

                                                     We basically do most things together as a
Ron & Rita Scherr-Wright                          family with our daughter and this is one of        Our interest in volunteering with the
                                                  the rare times that only the two of us do       Mesereau Free Legal Clinic is two-fold.       First-
                                                  something together.                                       Professionally: Our professional careers
                                                  Helping people is some-                                   permit us to work in law enforcement
                                                  thing both Rita and I
                                                                                “Helping others brings and for the Los Angeles County Public
                                                  believe in, and in a way,                                 Defender’s Office. This work has given
                                                  helping others brings us                                                     of              those
                                                                                  us closer together as us a clear picturethe the needs of conse-
                                                                                                            who don’t know        law and the
                                                  closer together as one
                                                  whole, not just two                                       quences that may arise from the lack
                                                  separate individuals.        one whole, not just two thereof. The opportunity to re-educate
                                                  Volunteering at the                                       our community from the smallest to the
                                                  Mesereau Free Legal                                       largest of problems, through a venue
                                                                                 separate individuals.” such as a “Legal Clinic” is awesome.
  The Scherr-Wright’s share an interest in        Clinic physically re-
volunteering at the Mesereau Clinic for a         minds us that at times
                                                  our problems are miniscule; it’s a healthy,        Second-Personally: Seventeen years ago, I
number of reasons. First, and foremost, is                                                        (Sheryl) was a victim of abuse (mental, physical,
the enjoyment of working to help others.          enjoyable break for all of us, and is uplifting
Second, it is gratifying when there are smil-     and gratifying when there are smiling thank- emotional and financial), I needed help. The
                                                  ful people who are elevated by the hope         Harriet Buhai Legal Center, in Los Angeles was
ing, thankful people who are lifted up by the                                                     the only resource available to me. Emotionally
hope the clinic offers. Ron, a recent UCLA        the clinic offers. A lot of people have em-
                                                  pathy for others less fortunate than them,      drained and troubled, without a clue of what to
graduate in Political Science (class 08/09),                                                      do or to expect, I was graciously and profession-
and film score publisher (Ron Wright Music        but that’s where it begins and ends. The
                                                  Mesereau Free Legal Clinic is a “hands-on”      ally received. The Harriet Buhai Legal Center
ASCAP) and composer (since 1980)                                                                  handled my legal matter from start to finish. I’ll
[President - LALA (Los Angeles, Lost An-          legal clinic and we are “hands-on” people.
gels) Records], is planning to attend law         Another way that volunteering and working never forget how they encouraged and in-
school after he takes the LSAT in February        together brings more value to our relation- structed me as to what to do in order to get the
2011. A dream of Ron’s, upon graduation           ship, is that it reminds us to be thankful for work done. Most of all, I remember their con-
                                                  what we have. Volunteering is helping, it       cern and how they cared for my well-being. I
from law school and passing the bar, is to                                                        can honestly say their service “empowered
offer his legal expertise for free for those in   reminds us to not just sit back and relax,
need, when he can. Rita has worked in             there is always something one can do, even me”… and saved my life!! From that day to this
Entertainment law since 1984 and currently        if you achieve your dreams, you must share one, I vowed that when I was able; I would
                                                  them, so that others may have a chance to       make a commitment to give back to that which
is a legal analyst at Sony Pictures Enter-                                                        meant so much to me. Gil’s interest was
tainment. They both have successfully             succeed as well.                                sparked when I shared the experiences of my
undertaken some of their own legal matters
and feel they may have something to offer               Gil & Sheryl Fears                        time spent at Mesereau Free Legal Clinic. More-
                                                                                                  over, Gil wanted the genuine heart-felt, selfless
and much to learn from volunteering at the                                                        service of the volunteers to work at an optimum
Mesereau Free Legal Clinic. Ron and Rita                                                          level. That’s when he really decided that the
have always helped others in need and                                                             Clinic needed someone to ward off the naysay-
“today”, people need legal representation
                                                                                                  ers and charlatans, those that would tend to
or assistance more than ever and the Me-
                                                                                                  undermine the mission of the Clinic. He subse-
sereau Free Legal Clinic provides just that,
                                                                                                  quently offered his services as a Publicist.
                    along with feeling like
                                                                                                                  (Continued on Page 6)
                    we’re with family.
Page 4
                                                         W O R D                       S E A R C H
                             A       W          J           F          X           J           R            S          T          Z          H
                             T       S          U           U          E           G           A            V          E          L          T
      A subsidiary of the
    Mesereau Commu nity      T       L          R           M          D           U           T            U          H          R          M
      Legal Fou ndation
     A Non-profit 501c3      O       B          E           G          Y           G           T            R          O          J          O
        Public Benefit
    California Corporation   R       E          M           O          R           S           E            T          U          K          O
                             N       U          S           I          D           C           M            R          V          S          R
                             E       T          E           T          R           A           P            O          L          A          T
                             Y       S          M           O          Y           S           T            P          S          N          R
                             S       K          V           M          F           E           L            P          S          M          U
                             L       I          N           R          C           Y           Q            U          W          E          O
                             D       V          B           O          T           I           U            S          T          E          C


                                 DIVORCE       CASE             SUIT    COURTROOM               REMORSE           ATTEMPT

                                 GAVEL       SPPORT JUDGE                  ATTORNEYS               TRUST         TORT


                                                                                                                       (See page 6 for answers)




Mesereau Free Legal Clinic supports and•       Jewlery
      encourages you to give to        •       Books
    Inglewood Thrift Shop              •       Computers
520 South La Brea; Inglewood, CA 90301 •       Shoes
            (310) 671-7923             •       Antiques
They accept donations of gently used •         and Collectables
                                                                                                                    Coming Soon
                                                                                                                    Future School Program

                                                                                               The Mesereau Free          Legal Clinic is planning to expand
                                                                                               its service to elementary and high schools. Attorneys and
                                                                                               law students will be visiting our inner city schools to en-
                                                                                               courage students to attend college and law school. Volun-
                                                     Inglewood Thrift Shop                     teers will be speaking against violence, gangs, drugs, bullying
•      Clothing on Hangers
                                                                                               and other forms of negative behavior. The Mesereau Free
                                                    is a 501(3)c Non-profit
•      Furniture                                                                               Legal Clinic wishes to provide mentors and role models to
•      Utensils,                              All donations are tax deductible                 our inner city youth, many of whom face great obstacles in
                                                                                               the course of their development.

Page 5
                                          MESEREAU FREE LEGAL CLINIC is a 501(C) (3) NON-PROFIT CA CORPORATION
     COUPLES AT MESEREAU LEGAL CLINIC continued
                                                                                                                            Volume 1, Issue 2
     interviewed by Betty Joseph—Volunteer and Paralegal Student

(Continued from Page 4)                 We recommend other couples to emu- we occupy.” I also thought the
Gil felt that he could defend        late working together for good causes. Legal Clinic would be a good way to
the defenders, (those                                            We are very start a private practice
who were without reser- “an opportunity to                       compassionate and give deserving and                    Calling for Articles
vations… willing, quali-                                         about       legal needy people good law
fied, and diligent in their                                      services given service at a low price. I        Want to write an article on a hot
service.)                    participate in community            through       the think both of us have been         topic for our newsletter?
  Working together at the                                        Clinic. To see fulfilled!
Mesereau Free Legal                                              a need in our As we are both attor-                 Email the Editor-in-Chief at
Clinic lends us an oppor- work such as this                      community         neys, I don't think we are
                                                                                                                    editor@mesereaufreelegalclinic.com
tunity to participate in                                         filled and to be competitive and we gener-
community work such as together.”                                able to lend a ally and truly wish each                for more information
this together. We also                                           helping hand other the best. However,
work together in partici-                                        that       could we do argue over points                   and deadlines.
pating every year with the           make a difference in so many lives is of law. When we were
KPFK Fund Drive - 90.7 F.M.          worth it all.                                 dating, I complained about
where Gil serves as an assistant                                                   Richard and said that his
and fill-in for Gospel Classics                     Attorneys                      alleged love for me was not being
producer, Ms. Edna Tatum. Gil,                                                     demonstrated. My brother,
                                     Gloria and Richard Mann                                    Charles, laughed and
has been a community activist
for years. He is a former City                                                                  said, “Only two lawyers
                                     I think Richard was                                        would talk about each
Councilman of his home state,
                                     interested in the                                          other that way.”
Lufkin, Texas; he does public
                                     Mesereau Free                                                Our relationship is
relations as an radio announcer
                                     Legal Clinic be-
for the Watts Annual Christ-                                                                    never boring.!!!
                                     cause he is really a
mas Parade; Christmas in July -
                                     social go do per-
The Tom Bradley Youth &
                                     son. He really
Family Center as well as for
                                     cares about people
the FILA-NBA Summer Pro
                                     and he truly enjoys
League. Gil presently volun-
                                     giving
teers as a teacher at the
                                     back
Bethany        Christian    Bible              “Our relationship is never boring!!!”
                                     to
College - Los Angeles, teaching
                                     the
the “Book of Ephesians.” I
                                     community. I, (Gloria), turned 60 and
participate in the various activi-
                                     decided that the Ministers were right —
ties of “Women Ministries” in
                                     “service is the debt we pay for the space
our Church and Community.

WORD SEARCH ANSWERS                                                                    EDITOR IN CHIEF
                                                                                         Betty Joseph
                                                                               West Los Angeles Paralegal Student

 A W      J F X J       R S T Z H
                                                                                      Executive Director-CEO
 T     S U U E      G A V E L          T                                                 Sophia E. Harris
 T     L R M D U T U H R M
 O B E      G Y G T R O J              O                                             Chief Advisor Newsletter
                                                                                   Thomas A. Mesereau, Jr. Esq.
 R E     M O R S        E T U K O
 N U S      I   D C M R V S            R
                                                                                           Mailing Address:
 E T E      T R A P O L A T                                                                P.O. Box 451867
                                                                                        Los Angeles, CA 90045
 Y S     M O Y S        T P S      N R
 S   K V M F        E   L P S      N U                                                       Clinic Location:
                                                                                          8722 Crenshaw Blvd.
 L I     N R C Y Q U W E               O                                                  Inglewood, CA 90305
                                                                                         (323) 751-2LAW (529)
 D V B O T I            U S T E        C                                                                                               Page 6
FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT JUDGE OTIS D. WRIGHT II SPEAKS
Reported by: Clinic Volunteer Justin Ciecka, J.D.


Drug Prosecutions: Disparity of the                 The deterrence effect in the State level has      However, the effect of the statutory scheme
Federal vs. State Sentencing                        been “watered down”. For the first three          did not slow the crack business and Congress
                                                    times a person commits a drug offense, they       realized that they were punishing only the mi-
  On Saturday March 26, 2011 the Mesereau
                                                    will only receive probation. When the of-         nority community. Thus, Congress has now
Free Legal Clinic had the honor and pleasure
                                                    fender is eventually sentenced to prison, they changed the statutory scheme to lessen the
of hosting United States District Court Judge,
                                                    will only be sentenced to a relatively short      disparity. The Federal judges now have greater
Otis D. Wright, II, to speak on the disparity
                                                    time. The message the State courts are giving discretion as to sentencing and the punishment
between drug laws in the State court and
                                                    to the people is that
Federal court systems. The audience – which                                “Another evolvement in the Federal system has been the
                                                    drug offenses are
included attorneys, legal professionals, volun-                            use of the drug court ...the offender will first serve a period
                                                    not a big deal. Sell-
teers, and Los Angeles residents – were en-                                of time in confinement and then do supervised release
                                                    ing drugs is still
thused by Justice Wright’s ability to be a                                 comparable to State probation or parole. .”
                                                    lucrative and when
“real” person, as one spectator put it. He
                                                    analyzed the of-
educated the audience, mainly focusing on the
                                                    fender will conclude that if they get caught      for crack is now being brought down to the
                                   Los Angeles
                                                    nothing will happen. The criminal justice sys- level of powder cocaine. However, there is
                                   residents, on
                                                    tem has created this mindset in the offender still a disparity and the minority community still
                                   the differ-
                                                    due to its minimal punishments at the State       suffers a harsh penalty for drug use by virtue of
                                   ences be-
                                                    level.                                            crack cocaine.
                                   tween the
                                   State and             The Federal prisons are not crowded and           Another evolvement in the Federal system
                                   Federal court Federal punishments for parallel drug offenses has been the use of the drug court concept,
                                   levels. Justice are much more severe. For instances, an            which originated first in the States. In 1989,
                                   Wright ex-       offender will receive a 10 year minimum sen- the State Attorney for Miami-Dade County,
                                   plained that     tence if found with a kilo of heroin, 5 kilos of Janet Reno, came up with the drug court con-
                                   certain mat-     coke, 50 grams of crack, or 1000 kilos of         cept. If a person gets arrested for a drug of-
                                   ters fall in the marijuana. All Federal sentences double if a      fense, they will be offered drug court as a final
exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal courts;       person is hurt in the drug transaction. The       option after all diversion programs have failed.
for instance, certain situations involving          fact that the offender was armed during the       As soon as a person is arrested, they are
Fortune 500 companies, intellectual property transaction is also considered part and parcel placed in a diversionary program. The purpose
rights, and controversies on the seas. How- of the drug offense and will automatically be             is to avoid going to trial and possible incarcera-
ever, the Federal court system does have            tacked on to the drug offense – during this       tion. The offender must plea guilty and be
parallel counterparts to State criminal laws.                              situation, the offender is convicted of the offense. Drug court allows
The main distinction is “federal prisons are not crowded and facing a total of a 15                   for the sentencing to be temporarily suspended
that the penalties for federal punishments for parallel drug year sentence and will for a year while the offender undergoes drug
such offenses are           offenses are much more severe.”                have to do the entire      treatment and intense supervision consisting of
much more severe in                                                        time in Federal prison. weekly meetings and monitored progress. If
the Federal court sys-                                                                                the offender successfully completes the drug
                                                           At the Federal level, Congress in the
tem.                                                                                                  court, the conviction and the arrest are ex-
                                                    past mandated that powder cocaine not be
                                                                                                      punged and treated as if it never happened.
       The reality is that the State prison sys- treated the same as crack cocaine. The rea-
tem suffers from overcrowding. Therefore,           soning was that crack carries with it much             The drug court model has proven to work
an offender may get a sentence of two years more violence. The punishment of 1 pound                  for the States and now the Federal system has
in State prison but will not have to serve the of crack was equal to the punishment of 100 adopted a similar program. The Federal pro-
entire time. The overcrowding in the State          pounds of powder cocaine. Congress was            gram is not quite as advanced as the State sys-
prisons is so inhumane that many offenders          convinced to establish a statutory scheme to tem though. In the Federal program, the of-
have to get released. Moreover, some actual punish crack much more severely in order to                                                (Continued on page 9)
penalties in State court are in fact minimal.       get people out of the crack-dealing business.

                                                                                                                                                 Page 7
                                               MESEREAU FREE LEGAL CLINIC is a 501(C) (3) NON-PROFIT CA CORPORATION
LEGAL NOTES: The California Penal Code 296: DNA Database                                                                    Volume 1, Issue 2
Provided by Betty Joseph— Paralegal Student and Clinic Volunteer


  Many of the clients who come to          to collect DNA from newborns for           mistakes.3
the Mesereau Free Legal Clinic want        medical and future law enforcement
                                                                                                Our clients’ view is that their
to learn more about California’s           purposes.1 The possibility of finding
                                                                                      privacy is invaded when their DNA is
DNA database known as the DNA              the relatives of DNA specimens was
                                                                                      made part of a database that is open to
and Forensic Identification Database and   realized in the recent “Grim Reaper”
                                                                                      law enforcement and government
Data Bank Act of 1998, as amended.         cases2. In these cases, a familial
                                                                                      agencies. Our clients consider their
Cal. Penal Code 295. This program          DNA search concluded that there was
                                                                                      DNA to be part of their person and they
involves DNA taken from individuals,       a partial match from the serial killer’s
                                                                                      have stated they feel violated. While
including juveniles and sex offenders,     son who had his DNA in the database
                                                                                      there is nothing they can do to stop
who have felonies; those who have          while serving a prison term. The
                                                                                      their DNA from being taken from them
been arrested but not convicted of a       search ended by police recovering
                                                                                      while in custody, they want to have
felony; and, in some cases, those who      thrown-out pizza from the father’s
                                                                                      their private genetic information de-
have been accused or convicted of a        trashcan and matching that DNA to
                                                                                      stroyed when they are released from             “provide
                                           the DNA recovered from the bodies of
misdemeanor. Our clients’ inquiries                                                   custody. However, when Proposition
                                           ten women from South Los Angeles
include “What is the DNA database?”                                                   69 came up for a vote, most people          buccal swab
                                           who were murdered by the same per-
and “What is the procedure to get                                                     who supported the bill argued that the
                                           son.2 As a result of the evolution of
their DNA out of the database?” My                                                    public interest of safety and welfare          samples,
                                           DNA technology, a family member’s
research has concluded the following:                                                 outweighed an individual’s privacy
                                           DNA can narrow the search to a
                                                                                      interest.                                          right
      The DNA database, accord-            match. The extent of how DNA will be
ing to CA Penal Code § 296, is a           used in the future is worrisome to our      A person who has a duty to
collection of “buccal swab sam-                                              register as a sex offender is mandated
                                           clients and they would prefer their
                                                                                                                                  thumbprints,
ples, right thumbprints, and a full        DNA to bekept private.            to submit their DNA to the California
palm print impression of each                                                DNA database. However, based on                        and a full
                                               The collection of specimens
hand, and any blood specimens or                                             research, an individual surprisingly
                                    is held in the database to help law                                                             palm print
other biological samples… for law                                            does not have to be convicted of a
                                    enforcement match DNA evidence
enforcement identification analy-                                            felony (which includes an attempt to
                                    with pending and future crimes that                                                            impression
sis.” Many of our clients are con-                                           commit a felony); any adultperson who
                                    need to be solved beyond a reason-
cerned that having their DNA                                                 is merely accused of a felony by way of
                                    able doubt. This is because an indi-                                                              of each
taken from them and placed in the                                            an arrest or filed charges must also
                                    vidual’s DNA is the type of evidence
DNA database will cause some                                                 abide by the mandate to submit their
                                    that definitely confirms the presence                                                           hand, and
harm to them in the future. They                                             DNA to the California DNA database. .
                                    and/or involvement of individuals be-
come to the clinic hoping to hear                                            The accusation of a felony and the
                                    cause human DNA is very unique.                                                                 any blood
that their DNA is in an isolated                                             resultant mandatory submission of
DNA holding database only for the                                            DNA to the database apparently does
case they were directly involved in                                          not pose a problem in the eyes of the                 specimens”
                                               Opposition to Proposition 69
or accused of. While at the other                                            law. . The people of CA have passed
                                    argued that there was a possible 3%
end of the spectrum, some worry                                              this legislation based on reasoning that
                                    error rate in the handling and coding
that their DNA will be erroneously                                           the general public interest outweighs
                                    of genetic material, per a Stanford
matched to a crime that they did                                             individual privacy interests.
                                    University study. For instance, of the
not commit.                         half million citizens from whom DNA                  Collection of an individual’s
                                    would be collected annually, 15,000      DNA occurs before a qualifying court
                                    might have their name associated         case ends. However, , given the busy
          With the evolution of
                                    with the wrong sample. Furthermore, agendas of the courts, this procedure
technology every year, our clients
                                    even if the error rate was significantly is overlooked and the individual’s DNA
fear their DNA are probed for
                                    less -- 3/10 of a percent -- there would will be collected without the argument
other criminal cases besides their
                                    still be 1,500 people associated with that the time-line for the collection of
own case. These types of thought
                                    the wrong DNA sample. It would be        an individual’s DNA has passed due to
processes are not irrational.
                                    extremely difficult for citizens to find the ending of the case.
There are calls from constituents
                                    out about, much less rectify, such                                  (Continued on page 9)
in California and around the nation
                                                                                                                                     Page 8
LEGAL NOTES: The California Penal Code 296: DNA Database                                                                   continued


                                                                                     Proposition 69: A Dangerous Precedent for Criminal DNA
(Continued from page 8)
                                                                                     Data",J.L. Med. & Ethics 8 (2006), P8, para 2..
           Many of our clients do not know what happens to their
DNA after it is collected. Clients ask, “How do I get my DNA out of 2.               Grim Sleeper' Arrest Fans Debate on DNA Use, N.Y. times,
the CA DNA database?” To have an individual’s DNA taken out of                       July 8, 2010, at P1, para 5.
the database in the situation where there was no conviction or
was mistakenly charged, Section 299 of the CA Penal Code al-         3.              Donohue, Proposition 69 Could Threaten Privacy of DNA,
lows a person to request a Petition for Expungement of DNA Pro-                      Center for International Security and Cooperation, August 22,
files and Samples. The defendant must submit that form to the                        2004, at 1, para 10.
trial court of the county where the arrest occurred or that rendered
the conviction or rendered disposition in the case. (CA Pen Code
299 (b)(c)(1)) The form requests to expunge the individual’s DNA
from the database on the following grounds:
 a) No qualifying charges were filed within the applicable period
 allowed by law     following petitioner’s arrest.
 b) The qualifying charges were dismissed before adjudication.
 c) The qualifying conviction has been reversed and the case dis-
 missed.
 d) Petitioner has been found factually innocent of the qualifying
 offense under Penal Code section 851.8 or Welfare and Institu- FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT JUDGE OTIS D. WRIGHT II SPEAKS
 tions Code section 781.5.                                         continued

 e) Petitioner was acquitted or found not guilty of the qualifying             (Continued from page 7)
 offense.
 f) Petitioner’s previously sustained delinquency petition alleging  fender will first serve a period of time in confinement and then do su-
 an offense that would be a felony if committed by an adult has      pervised release comparable to State probation or parole. If the of-
 been reversed and dismissed.                                        fender violates the supervised release, they will be ordered to return to
                                                                     confinement. While on supervised release, the offender will enter the
        Another method for DNA removal is upon written notifica-
                                                                     Federal drug court program in which they will be assigned a team of
tion from a law enforcement agency to the Department of Justice
that a specimen or sample for DNA be removed from the data-          supervisors, ordered to submit drug tests, as well as participate in
bank because the person is no longer a suspect of a criminal in-     group counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy. The objective of the
vestigation. Our clients are strongly encouraged to follow-up with program is to change the offender’s criminal behavior. The Federal
the law enforcement agency if they believe that their DNA is being judges want to see improvement in the offender – they want to see the
held in the DNA database and they are no longer a suspect. Do        offender in school, in supervised housing, etc. Judge Wright points out
we know if the practice of taking DNA out of the database after a    that every one of his drug court participants has had no more than an
suspect is no longer looked upon as being involved in a crime is     11th grade education and their criminal behavior first originated from
accomplished? No, but follow-up with law enforcement agency          marijuana use.
and double checking with the Department of Justice are the keys                The deficiency in the Federal program is that it is “back-
to determining if an individual’s DNA has been expunged. As a        loaded” – there is still a cost to incarcerate the offender in Federal
legal clinic, we will give advice and assist in preparing the appro- prison. The Federal system is not saving any money. Furthermore, the
priate expungement forms to file with the Department of Justice.     State system is far more superior than the Federal system in regards to
                                                                               the drug court program because the Federal courts cannot expunge the
Stay Tuned for more on this topic in one of our up-coming newsletters.         convictions. In the State system, once an offender finishes the drug
                                                                               court they are now more capable of obtaining employment. Whereas
                                                                               in the Federal system, the convictions still remain and are an impedi-
                               Endnotes                                        ment to the offender getting a job. In the end, Judge Wright makes
                                                                               clear that it is up to the people to vote and pass the laws that allow the
1.    Tania Simoncellli, Barry Steinhardt, Edited by: Alice A. Noble
      & Benjamin W. Moulton, Symposium DNA Fingerprinting and                  Federal court system to expunge felony convictions.
      Civil Liberty, Symposium Article - Part 1 "199 California's
                                                                                                                                            Page 9
                                             MESEREAU FREE LEGAL CLINIC is a 501(C) (3) NON-PROFIT CA CORPORATION
                                                           Attorney Reggie Mason and Larry Roberts, J.D.      Volume 1, Issue 2
Volunteers 2011
The Mesereau Free Legal Clinic not only is a
place for legal advice and direction. It is also
                                                                                                                 Our Motto
a place where legal specialists share their
particular knowledge to benefit the well-to-                                                                “We make a living
do, as well as the poor. We welcome Legal
Professionals to help empower members of
the community to become equipped to make                                                                        by what we get,
educated decisions about their court cases
and legal situations.                                                                                       but we make a life

                                                                                                             by what we give!”

                                                                                                              Winston Churchill




        Paralegal student
       Caprece Anderson

                                                                                       Attorney Sandra Jones & Clinic Volunteers
     Want to be on our Mailing
        List? Sign Up at:
   www.mesereaufreelegalclic.com                                                      Attorney discussing case with Volunteer



The Mesereau Way at the Legal Clinic




                                                                                                                Attorney consulting
                                                                                                                with client



Paralegal student (left) and Attorney Joel Teklu (right)

                                                                                                                      Page 10
                       OUR SUPPORTERS                                                         2011 VOLUNTEER STAFF


Mesereau and Yu, LLP                           Los Angeles Commission on Status of            Arthurette Rogers: Legal Services In-take         Jacqueline Ficke: Concierge
                                               Women
Public Counsel                                                                                Gary Easley– Ex Offender Liaison                  Otis Hayes: Law Extern
                                               La Poubelle Restaurant
Black Women Lawyers Association,                                                              Dolisa Colley: Director of Re-Entry Project       Aziz Hasnain: Student Mentor
Los Angeles                                    Zavan Kouyoumdjian
                                                                                              Caprece Anderson: Re-Entry Project                Jose A. Portillo: Director of Field Operations
Families to Amend California Three Strikes     Peter Taglyan                                  Sheryl Fears: Director of Education & Training    Jonathon A. Vigil: Field Operations
(FACTS)                                        Concord School of Law
                                                                                              Justin Ciecka, J.D.: Education & Training         Dr. Dorothy Reed, J.D., PhD
n-Action Family Network                        Loyola School of Law
                                                                                              Tony Moore: Education & Training                  Dr. Adeuwole Umoja
John M. Langston Bar Association               Pepperdine School of Law
                                                                                              Kathy Bryant: Historian                           Prof. John Bowman MA, MS, J.D.
Save Our Sons                                  Southwestern School of Law
                                                                                              Paulette Ward, Esq.: Photographer                 Prof. Barb Holmes-Reynolds
Morningside United Church of Christ            South-West Community College
                                                                                              Philip Reed, Videographer                         Gil Fears: Publicist
Prolab 1 Hour Photo                            Trinity School of Law
                                                                                              Crystal Wammack: Administrative
Copies Plus                                    UCLA School of Law
                                                                                              Assistant to Executive Director
                                                                                                                                                Follow us on Face book
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Corporation                                                                                   Ibiere Seck: Attorney Recruitment
Women of Watts                                 University of West Los Angeles School of Law
                                                                                              Betty Joseph: Newsletter
Emma Alleyene & Karen Downard                  West Los Angeles Paralegal Program
                                                                                              Catana Simmons: Director of Volunteers
                                               Whittier School of Law

                                                                                                                        Volunteers Wanted…
                                             2011
VOLUNTEER ATTORNEYS & ADVSORS                                                                        Attorneys, Law Students, College Students, Activists, and all Others
                                                                                                         interested in serving the community are asked to join us by
Judge John T. Doyle                            Josh Lochman, Esq.                                                                emailing us at:
                                                                                                                     info@mesereaufreelegalclinic.com
Ibiere Seck, Esq.                              Michael Eideson, Esq.

Wesley Williams, Esq.                          Michael Conejo, Esq.

Fakruhdeen Hussain, Esq.                       MaryEtta Marks, Esq.                                                      Donations humbly accepted to continue

Richard Mann, Esq.                             Joan Miller, Esq.                                                                 our work in the community

Gloria Dabbs-Mann, Esq.                        Renee Sanders, Esq.
                                                                                                                             www.mesereaufreelegalclinic.com

Ollie Manago, Esq.                             Hagop Kuyumjian, Esq.
                                                                                                                       BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Ethel Bennett, Esq.                            Joel Teklu, Esq.
                                                                                                Renee E. Sanders: Chairman of Board            Thomas A. Mesereau, Jr.: Director
Reggie Mason, Esq.                             Sandy Jones, Esq.
                                                                                                Larry C. Roberts: Vice Chairman of Board       Sophia E. Harris: Chief Executive Officer &
Sherri Cunningham, Esq.                        John Pierre, Esq.                                                                               Executive Director for Legal Clinic
                                                                                                Catana Simmons: Secretary                      Jerry Jackson: Advisory Board President
Gary Farwell, Esq.                             David Hazelkorn, J.D.
                                                                                                Judge John T. Doyle: Ethics & Compliance
Doron Eghbali, Esq.                            Jerry Jackson, J.D.

Jennifer Rhee, Esq.                            Larry C. Roberts, J.D.

Janette Katz, Esq.                             And many more….                                                                                                            Page 11
                                                        MESEREAU FREE LEGAL CLINIC is a 501(C) (3) NON-PROFIT CA CORPORATION
                                 Presentations Just For YOU!!!!!
•   FEBRUARY 19,2011—                  •   MAY 21,2011—                            •   JUNE-JULY, 2011—                   •   FALL, 2011—
    Learning About Your                    What About My Taxes?                        I Am An Entertainer.                   HMO—Healthcare,
    Credit Situation                                                                   What About Me?                         How Do I Choose
                                                                                                                              What Is Best For Me?

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         or less)                                   • Child Custody Dispute Presentation
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                                                                                                  • And many more presentations...
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