April 26, 2019
Students in the Federal Litigation and Appeals Clinic have scored hard-earned victories on behalf of clients in two cases.
3Ls Adam Bluestein and Sydney Melillo won asylum for a native of Ghana who faced tremendous perils there as a gay man and a Muslim.
The man’s partner had been killed in a gruesome murder, and the students’ client faced considerable dangers in his homeland.
The outcome reflected hard work on the part of Bluestein and Melillo, according to Katelyn Hufe, ‘11, co-director of the clinic and a partner at Gian-Grasso, Tomczak, & Hufe, PC.
“Adam and Sydney worked tirelessly to build trust with our client and help him find the courage to tell his story to the immigration judge,” Hufe said. “Through strong legal advocacy and dedication, they were able to win an asylum case in court for a man who quite literally had a reward out for his capture in his home country due to his sexual orientation. Seeing the culmination of their hard work unfold by watching the overwhelming relief and gratitude on our client’s face as the judge announced his decision was truly one of the highlights of the year in the clinic.”
The clinic also prevailed in a disability benefits case that six students had worked on over the course of three years.
Professor Richard Frankel, who directs the clinic, said several sets of students had advocated for a Philadelphia man who had been denied Social Security benefits, despite both mental health and physical disabilities.
After the client’s benefits were denied from the application he’d made in 2010, ‘14 alumni Irene Lehne and Joe McGinley succeeded in overturning that decision and triggering a new review of the case. This led to a determination in July 2015 that the man qualified for benefits, but only as of that month, depriving him of five years’ worth of benefits, Frankel explained. ‘16 alumnae Angie Frederickson and Alexis Talbot then took on the case and did foundational work on a second appeal. They passed the case to ‘18 alumni Travis Aldous and Andrew Ho, who advocated for the client to receive full benefits dating to 2010, a decision that an administrative law judge approved in April 2019 after a federal court agreed with their arguments and sent the case back for a third review.