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Notable Cases

Hong Yen Chang

More than a century after a New York lawyer was denied the opportunity to practice law in California because of state laws that barred Chinese immigrants from most careers and opportunities, UC Davis law students are seeking his posthumous admission to the California State Bar.

The students in the UC Davis School of Law Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA) are asking the State Bar of California, and eventually the California Supreme Court, to admit Hong Yen Chang, who was denied a license to practice law in California in 1890.

The UC Davis School of Law California Supreme Court Clinic is representing APALSA in the case. It has formally requested the State Bar to support the project and will file a petition with the California Supreme Court seeking Chang’s admission.

Rastafarian's Rights

Students in the Prison Law Clinic worked on a case to defend a Rastafarian life-term prisoner’s refusal to cut his long hair for religious reasons. The prisoner, who otherwise had a record of good behavior, was punished for violating the prison grooming standards, which forbid hair longer than three inches. The students contended that this religious act is protected under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, signed into law in 2000 by President Bill Clinton. The case was resolved in early 2006 by a rule change which eliminated the restriction on a prisoner’s hair length and the punishments suffered by the prisoner.

Singh v. Holder

Legal textbooks are being rewritten after a stunning victory by Immigration Law Clinic students who challenged due process violations against detained immigrants.

In Singh v. Holder, clinic students represented a man who was being held in a remote detention center near Mojave, California for nearly four years on a minor conviction – even though he was appealing his removal order.  His removability was based on a minor, theft-related offense.  Mr. Singh has four U.S. citizen children and a U.S. citizen wife and has lived in the United States for decades as a lawful permanent resident.  Students wrote briefs and presented oral argument before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  As a result of their advocacy, the Court held in a unanimous decision that, to justify the detention, the government has the burden of showing by clear and convincing evidence that an immigration detainee is a danger or flight risk.  Before this opinion, the courts had given the government wide discretion in determining standards for detaining noncitizens.