By Ty Nagamatsu
I believe the last time I wrote, I was in the throes of fall semester finals. Well, I survived as did the family. My husband and I took Sloane back East for the holidays where Sloane rode her first Mack truck and explored the New Hampshire sugarhouses of my youth.
We had a great time, but we were eager to get back to Colorado’s warmer weather. Have you been enjoying this early taste of spring? It has been lovely, but it certainly makes it difficult to stay indoors for class. It helps that I’m taking such great classes this spring!
This semester, I am taking Multiculturalism, Race, & the Law, Administrative Law, and the Live Client Seminar I wrote briefly about last time. As part of an interdisciplinary certificate in Human Rights, I am also taking Multinational Corporations at the Korbel School of International Studies. Additionally, I am externing at RMIAN (Rocky Mountain Immigration Advocacy Network). I’m enjoying all of these courses—even Admin Law!
In Multiculturalism, Race, & the Law, our class is exploring the history of race and diversity in the U.S. legal system. We have looked closely at the colonization of the U.S as well as the evolution of the naturalization process through case law.
Thus far, it has been a fascinating exploration of the racism embedded in our laws and how this reality came to be. Over winter break, Sloane got her own taste of race and the law when she attended her first post-Ferguson protest in Boulder.
Multinational Corporations has also been a captivating course. Although my classmates are all Master’s students, the course is taught by Professor Josiah Hatch, a practicing attorney. While class discussions are not quite as energetic as those in Multiculturalism, the content of the course is situated very close to my career aspirations. This semester, we have been trying to determine what sorts of obligations a multinational corporation(MNC) has—a corporate social responsibility to the international community and countries in which it operates, or merely a fiduciary duty to its shareholders, or some combination of the two? The second and more difficult question we have been attempting to answer is this—If an MNC bears a legal obligation to the international community, what does this obligation look like? What substantive laws (either domestic or international) ratify this obligation? If the case law is not clear, how might corporate social responsibility advocates make the law stronger? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I am energized by the exploration of them.
Although I wouldn’t have guessed it when I was registering last semester, my Administrative Law class and my immigration externship overlap a good deal. Most of the case law I am reading at my externship is generated by the Board of Immigration Appeals—which, as some of you may know is an administrative appellate body within the Executive Office for Immigration Review of the U.S. Department of Justice. On a weekly basis, I encounter things at my externship that we’ve covered the week before in Admin law! When I’m not researching and writing on substantive immigration and asylum issues, I am helping with client intakes at the Aurora-based GEO detention facility. Pictured here is an aerial view of the facility.
During my first visit, I was startled at the similarities between the GEO facility and the Arapahoe County Detention Center which I frequented during my summer as a public defender extern. In response to my concern, I was informed that the accommodations at GEO are so stark because it is a temporary holding facility. But as it turns out, some individuals have been detained in Aurora for nearly two years! You can read more about the privatized facility here. Although the Aurora facility is not a family detention center, you can read more about families in detention in the U.S. here.
As for the Live Client Seminar facilitated by Professors Justin Marceau and John Campbell, I truly can’t say enough about one of the richest educational opportunities in which I’ve had the privilege of participating. Last semester, our class traveled to D.C. to help with the final preparations of an appellate reply brief. We spent three days at a law firm in Dupont Circle furiously working into the wee hours of the morning whilst subsisting on coffee and take-out. (.) Such an amazing group of peers!
This semester, my classmates and I will be traveling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit to observe oral arguments, and in March, we will be traveling internationally to meet directly with plaintiffs! You can learn more about our fascinating case here, and you can read the reply brief here.
Thanks for reading about my time in law school! Stay tuned for more to come.
Ty Nagamatsu is a 2L at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. Nagamatsu, a native New Englander, graduated in 2008 from Gordon College with a degree in political science. Before coming to Denver, she served with AmeriCorps for two years in Minnesota.
Editor’s note: We asked four 1L law students—two from Colorado Law and two from Denver Law—to submit articles for our new column, “Law Student Chronicles,” twice per year for five years. We will follow them through their educational journey, as well as join them as they venture out into the legal field.
- Aurora Detention Center: http://www.cpr.org/news/story/immigrant-detainees-colorado-suing-prison-company-over-labor-practices
- Fascinating case: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/sludge-match-chevron-legal-battle-ecuador-steven-donziger-20140828?page=3
- Reply brief: http://stevendonziger.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Reply-Final.pdf
- Families in Detention Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/08/magazine/the-shame-of-americas-family-detention-camps.html?_r=0