On Sunday, March 25, 2018, Linda Brown of Topeka, Kansas, passed away at age 75. Brown was an educational consultant, civil rights activist and public speaker. But to many she was also the face of a historic decision on desegregation in public education.
In 1950, then seven year old Linda Brown asked her father, Oliver, why she had to make a long walk across train tracks and a busy street to catch a bus to an elementary school across town, when the Sumner Elementary School, attended by her friends from the integrated neighborhood in which she lived, was just four blocks from her house. Oliver Brown promised his daughter he would try to change that. Topeka’s high schools and junior high schools were already integrated, but its elementary schools remained segregated. On the advice of the NAACP, he took her to Sumner to enroll, but they were turned away. Oliver Brown then agreed to be a plaintiff in a suit against the Topeka Board of Education. That suit led to a landmark decision from the United States Supreme Court outlawing so-called separate but equal discrimination in public education. By the time of the 2004 ruling, Linda Brown was enrolled in an integrated junior high school.1https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/03/26/597154953/linda-brown-who-was-at-center-of-brown-v-board-of-education-dies
On the 50th anniversary of the Brown decision, I wrote an essay for Philadelphia’s newspaper serving the legal community, The Legal Intelligencer. On the occasion of Linda Brown’s passing, I am republishing that essay about the case her father brought to fulfill a promise to her.
I was in The Hague for a meeting of the Association of Defense Counsel at the International Courts (ADC-ICT). This was my last day in The Netherlands before heading home and it was snowing.
With images of Hendrick Avercamp’s impish 17th century paintings and childhood memories of Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates (book and movie) dancing in my head, I set out for the “centrum” to fill the last afternoon of my vacation. However, that snowy, frozen canal climate is long gone from this country. Unused to so much snow in a short period of time the Dutch city was, if not paralyzed, substantially slowed down. Continue reading “A snowy December night in The Hague”
On October 25, 2017, Popper & Yatvin partner, Alan L. Yatvin, addressed law enforcement and civil society representatives from West Africa (Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Senegal) on police reform experiences and strategies. The program was part of the United States Department of State’s, Study Tour to Review Use of Force and De-escalation Training, Enhance Community-policing Practices, and Strengthen Interagency Coordination in the Sahel.1The Sahel is a semi-arid tropical savanna eco-region in Africa, which forms the transitional zone between the Sahara Desert to the north and the more humid savanna belt to the south known as the Sudan (not to be confused with the country of the same name). The Sahel stretches from the Atlantic Ocean on the west, eastward through northern Senegal, southern Mauritania, the great bend of the Niger River in Mali, Burkina Faso, southern Niger, northeastern Nigeria, south-central Chad, and through the nation of Sudan to the Red Sea coast. Co-presenting with Yatvin was Carlton L. Johnson, a former Chief of the Philadelphia City Solicitor’s Civil Rights Unit, now with the law firm of Archer & Greiner.Continue reading “Yatvin addresses West African delegates at U.S. State Department program”
The Sahel is a semi-arid tropical savanna eco-region in Africa, which forms the transitional zone between the Sahara Desert to the north and the more humid savanna belt to the south known as the Sudan (not to be confused with the country of the same name). The Sahel stretches from the Atlantic Ocean on the west, eastward through northern Senegal, southern Mauritania, the great bend of the Niger River in Mali, Burkina Faso, southern Niger, northeastern Nigeria, south-central Chad, and through the nation of Sudan to the Red Sea coast.
Today we write to recommend an essay by our long-time friend and colleague, Marc Bookman. Marc is the co-director of the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation, a non-profit agency helping adults and juveniles facing severe punishments.
In 2008, Popper & Yatvin partner Alan L. Yatvin filed an administrative complaint under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) on behalf of Emily R., a second grader in the Ridley School District, in suburban Philadelphia. On March 30, 2017, after two previous appearances on this case in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Yatvin was again before the Court for oral argument. Continue reading “Court of Appeals agrees with Yatvin on student’s right to attorney’s fees”
“How can you represent those people?” In three decades as a criminal defense attorney, I had heard that question many times — at cocktail parties and from prosecutors, police, victims, law students, and once even from a judge. It comes with the territory. I understand that people accused of crimes are often automatically condemned, while their lawyers are regarded with contempt. However, as I walked along that steamy January afternoon, I was shocked by the source of the question. This time it was my wife, Laura, prompted by a just completed hour-long audio tour of a former fruit orchard on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Continue reading “Yatvin essay published in The Champion magazine”
On May 12, 2017, Popper & Yatvin partner Alan L. Yatvin presented at a continuing education program sponsored by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP). Alan attended the program in Harrisburg as a representative of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU-PA), to speak to the audience of county solicitors on Selected Civil Rights Issues: The ACLU Perspective. Continue reading “Into the Lion’s Den”
The Super Lawyer distinction is given to only a very small percentage of Pennsylvania‘s attorneys each year. Attorneys are only considered for inclusion in the list of top rated attorneys if they have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement across 12 indicators. Lawyers cannot buy their way onto the list. The selection process, recognized as legitimate by bar associations and courts across the United States, is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations. Only attorneys who can be retained by the general public are considered. Honorees are selected annually for each state and practice area.
In other news, Martindale-Hubbell has again recognized both Yatvin and Popper & Yatvin partner Howard D. Popper with the highest possible level of professional excellence – AV Preeminent. This peer review rating reflects a combination of achieving the highest General Ethical Standards and Legal Ability ratings.
One of the unintended consequences of the proliferation of charter schools is that, unlike public school districts, they can easily go bankrupt or lose their charter and close. While such closures are painful for all the enrolled students and their families, already vulnerable students with educational disabilities are especially exposed. Not only must they often find an alternative placement on short notice, but there will frequently be a lag in provision of services at their new school. Because these closures are rarely telegraphed in advance, timing often renders the option of other charter schools or special admission public schools unavailable.
Another consequence of such closings is the complicating of avenues for challenging decisions of those school that continue to dog special needs students. If a charter school makes an agreement with a parent, then disappears, what is the parent to do? If a charter school fails to identify or inadequately identifies a child’s disability, or owes a child compensatory education for services not provided, how does a parent pursue the traditional administrative processes for relief? And how do parents without resources get a lawyer to help them?