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2001 July - August

About This Issue

Veterans Claim Assistance Act of 2000

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Technology Innovations: Law Help

A collaborative project in New York City, the Law Help site serves as a model portal for client legal information and referrals.

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A History of American Ambivalence

By Daniel P. Lindsey

Review of Lawrence J. Vale's From the Puritans to the Projects: Public Housing and Public Neighbors (Harvard University Press 2000).

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The Rights of Immigrant Children in the Public Schools

An Overview

By Roger Rosenthal

As the immigrant population grows, so does the number of immigrant children in the nation's schools. Many school districts have turned away immigrant children, as well as children they perceive to be immigrant, or put up barriers to school attendance. Various legal handles are available to the advocate (e.g., the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in Plyler v. Doe, that undocumented children had the right to attend free public school and required the school district, in Lau v. Nichols, to provide English language instruction to students not proficient in English).

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Limiting the "Family Necessaries" Doctrine as a Means of Imposing Third-Party Liability for Utility Bills

By Roger D. Colton

Low-income households often face liability for utility services that the household of a separated spouse receives. Advocates may apply effective defenses against the "family necessaries" doctrine, which creditors seeking to impose liability on both spouses invoke.

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Crossing Guards Wanted

Navigating Among the Intersections of Public Mental Health Programs for Youth

By Patrick Gardner

Children's mental illness and the social failure it causes are among society's most difficult challenges. The government's response is poorly coordinated and inadequate. Advocates' collaborative efforts can improve outcomes for at-risk youth.

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The "One Strike" Policy in Public Housing

By Barclay Thomas Johnson

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has encouraged local public housing authorities to implement a "one strike" policy pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1437d(l)(6) and evict tenants for alleged criminal activity by the tenants or their associates, regardless of the tenants' fault, knowledge, or ability to control the activity. Courts have been split, with many refusing to apply strict liability to innocent tenants. HUD's position has been inconsistent, and its policy justifications have been weak. Courts should interpret the statute to contain either a fault, knowledge, or foreseeability requirement or an "innocent tenant" defense, particularly when read in concert with civil forfeiture laws.

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Rucker v. Davis and Its Significance for Tenant Advocates

By Wendy L. Stasell

In Rucker v. Davis the Oakland Housing Authority sought to evict four tenants on the basis of allegations that their household members or guests had engaged in drug-related activity. The ensuing litigation seeking to enjoin the termination of tenants' leases resulted in the Ninth Circuit's ruling that federal statute did not allow for the eviction of innocent tenants. The case, more recent developments, and implications for tenant advocates are analyzed.

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The Department of Veterans Affairs' Obligations Toward Claimants

Analysis of the Veterans Claims Assistance Act of 2000

By Meg Bartley, Barton F. Stichman & Ronald B. Abrams

The Veterans Claims Assistance Act of 2000 eliminates the requirement that to obtain the Department of Veterans Affairs' assistance in developing pertinent evidence, a claimant must first submit enough evidence to make the claim "well grounded." It also imposes a new duty on the department to notify claimants that it owes them veterans' benefits and specifies in detail the assistance that the department must give claimants. The Act will have an impact on new claims for veterans' benefits, on many claims currently pending before either the department or a reviewing court, as well as on some past claims.

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