‘Know Your Rights’ presentation at Parkland among pro bono projects

‘Know Your Rights’ presentation at Parkland among pro bono projects
March 03
00:00 2016
Photo by Todd Luck
Wake Forest  Law Student Stephanie Jackson makes a “Know Your Rights” presentation at Parkland High School last week.

By Todd Luck

The Chronicle

Parkland High students learned what their rights are during police encounters in a presentation by the Wake Forest Law School Pro Bono Project last Friday.

Wake Forest University law students from the Pro Bono Project explained to Parkland students what their rights are when talking to an officer and also during detentions and arrests. The Pro Bono Project allows WFU law students to get Pro Bono hours while serving everyone from children to senior citizens. Though it’s not required of law students, nor do they receive class credit for it, 66 percent of the 550 students in the law school participate in the Pro Bono Project.

“This is an opportunity for getting in the habit of doing things for the community,” said Judge Denise Hartsfield, a coordinator with the project.

Hartsfield was acting as supervising attorney during the “Know Your Rights” presentation at Parkland. Hartsfield, who sees many juveniles in court, said she thought the presentation would help deter the young audience from getting into trouble and help them to not escalate situations with law enforcement.

“It’s to help people to understand not having bad encounters with law enforcement, with SROs (student resource officers), is to everyone’s advantage,” said Hartsfield.

Stephanie Jackson opened the program by asking students what they wanted to be. She said being convicted of a crime, or even just charged with one, could prevent them from achieving their goals since criminal records are considered in everything from employment to housing.

“Know Your Rights” has been held at several different locations including on the WFU campus and at the YWCA. There are presentations at other local high schools planned. It’s just one of many Pro Bono activities Jackson does, having accumulated 200 Pro Bono hours with the project.

“I think it’s one of the best things a law student can do and should be doing while in law school,” said Jackson.

The project lets law students provide a variety of free services to the community while under the supervision of a licensed attorney. In the Lawyer on the Line program, they do research to help with Legal Aid cases. In Teen Court, they defend juveniles in an alternative to the court system. In the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, they provide free tax preparation services.  They regularly hold clinics on preparing wills as well as advanced directives, which spell out a patient’s wishes for end-of-life care. They also advocate for the educational rights of students with learning disabilities and provide legal assistance to veterans.

The project also holds expungement clinics, which lets people expunge convictions from their record, at places like Experiment in Self Reliance and Green Street Methodist Church. During one held recently at Samaritan Ministries, law students saw about 150 people.

Upcoming Pro Bono Project events

Expungement clinics:

Experiment in Self Reliance

3480 Dominion St.

3-6 p.m. today, March 3

Samaritan Ministries

414 East Northwest Blvd.

5-7 p.m. on March 29

Advance directives:

Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center

1-2 p.m. and 2-3 p.m. on March 11 and 25

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

2-3 p.m. and 3-4 p.m. on March 18

Downtown Health Plaza

1200 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive

1-2 p.m. and 2-3 p.m. on March 18

Shiloh Baptist Church

916 E. 12th St.

6:00-7:00 p.m. on March 17

Wills and Advanced Directives:

WFU campus,

Worrell Hall, Room 1308

12:00-4:00 p.m. on March 25


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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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