Siyuan An, 3L
Siyuan An, 3L, From a young age, Siyuan An’s grandparents told her stories of being humiliated and beaten up by the Red Guards during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Despite the violence against them, her grandparents did not blame the Red Guards.
“Although such atrocities may be part of the unfortunate reality of human society and nature, I do not agree that they should happen in the first place or, that they should happen again,” she said. “As a law student, I am firmly convinced that law can be used as a tool to protect and improve human rights.”
“They always said they were innocent young students who were manipulated by others,'” said An. “I’ve always wondered who are the ‘others’? Shouldn’t they be liable for the sufferings caused to kind people like my grandparents?”
An hopes to find some of those answers while working on real-life cases in USC Law’s International Human Rights Clinic. Bringing justice to victims of the tragedies in Rwanda and Cambodia and helping prevent such collective cruelty from ever happening again greatly interests her.
When An studied law in China, she participated in the research project, “Society and Law.” She and fellow law students tried to understand how the development of the rule of law in China since the 1980s has reshaped Chinese society and influenced the political, economic and social rights of Chinese citizens.
“China still has a long way to go to establish the rule of law; however, I was encouraged to find that the progress achieved so far has helped to build up a better institutional framework for the protection of human rights,” she said.
An began as an L.L.M. student at USC Law and transferred to the J.D. program.
Zach Crowley, 3L
Zach Crowley saw the effects of slavery firsthand while interning in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. A group of women had been smuggled into the United States from Southeast Asia, and quickly forced into prostitution.
“The women were kept in a decrepit apartment building and forced to have sex with customers as a way to pay off debt for coming to the United States,” he said. “It was my first encounter with human trafficking, and seeing those women made a tremendous impact on my goals for a future legal career.”
Although his initial interest in human rights work centered on human trafficking, he has since become more interested in international legal systems.
“The more I learn about the international court system, the more I believe it represents our best hope to combat the gravest human rights violations,” he said. “The International Criminal Courts and the special tribunals are an important step in addressing global human rights violations, they are also a new and fragile area of law.”
Crowley believes that the best way to combat human rights violations is to prosecute the most severe violators, and to shed light on those atrocities that have been hidden for so long.
Crowley worked at USC Law’s Post Conviction Justice Project where he learned to connect with clients in difficult circumstances and also interact with opposing attorneys and the prison administration.
“My time at PCJP has been invaluable. I am also fascinated by the open, developing nature of international human rights law, and I am grateful to be involved in its progress in the future.”
Jennifer Ehrlich, 2L
On a bus trip from Vietnam to Cambodia four years ago, Jennifer Ehrlich remembers seeing the dramatic disparity between the countries as the bus crossed the border.
“As a child, I was stunned and horrified that the world had stood by and allowed six million of my people to be murdered,” she said. “These atrocities continue and I want to do what I can to fight against this.”
“The economic growth of Vietnam was so apparent: the highway was lined with small stores and the road was newly paved,” she said. “When we crossed the Cambodian border the gravel gave way to a potholed dirt road and the stores transformed into wooden shacks. Although Cambodia and Vietnam were both devastated by historical events in the latter half of the 20th century that killed massive numbers of their populations, Vietnam has begun to recover in a way that Cambodia has not.”
After visiting the former prisons and killing fields of Cambodia, Ehrlich realized that the promise of “Never Again,” which she learned in Hebrew School, has not been fulfilled.
Putting international legal systems in place that are able to respond when genocide happens may prevent future atrocities, Ehrlich said. She also believes that Cambodia deserves the economic and social stability that Vietnam enjoys.
Ehrlich is particularly interested in how the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia have retrospective and prospective significance.
“Holding the leaders of genocide accountable not only gives catharsis to the victims of genocide, but also signals to future genocide leaders that the international community will not passively tolerate the abuse of their people,” she said.
This past summer, Ehrlich interned for a judge at the Court of International Trade in New York. She believes that working with USC Law’s International Human Rights Clinic will complement her experience, and expose her to a different area of international law that still has a litigation focus.
“While I have found my time at USC Law to be very academically stimulating, I am looking forward to applying the skills that I have learned this year to real cases through the work the clinic does,” she said.
John Flynn, 3L
Even though international human rights law has interested John Flynn since college, it wasn’t until he attended a presentation at the USC Shoah Foundation Institute that he decided to get personally involved.
“We were challenged to get involved to fight against human rights abuses,” Flynn said. “It really hit me, and I knew that I wanted to do something. The International Human Rights Clinic presents a wonderful opportunity to do meaningful work in an area about which I have been interested for a while now.”
As an undergraduate at University of Wisconsin, Flynn completed course work in international law and international human rights. He wrote an honors paper on two decisions from the ICTR and ICTY to understand how the Tribunals considered the genocidal intent of military and political leaders. Under a theory of cumulative radicalization, he looked at how the genocide evolved as a situation on the ground outside of the leaders’ control.
“I am excited about working for the clinic because it is a fantastic opportunity to do some real work in a subject about which I am very passionate,” he said. “I truly enjoyed studying genocide and international law in undergrad, but I honestly never thought I would have such an opportunity to actually get involved and make a real difference. I dedicated a large part of my undergraduate career to international law and the laws of war. To find a practical application for all that theoretical work appeals to me greatly because this subject matter interests me.”
At USC Law, Flynn is active in the International Law and Relations Organization, currently serving as an executive board member. He is also on the executive editorial board of the Southern California Review of Law and Social Justice as a content editor.
Lisa Foutch, 2L
When Lisa Foutch graduates from USC Law, her goal is to advocate for victims of human trafficking in Japan as well as lobby for stronger human trafficking laws and enforcement. Raised in Japan until she was 10 years old, Foutch is determined to help Japanese victims of human rights atrocities find justice.
“I look forward to expanding my knowledge of international criminal and human rights law and hope to contribute fresh ideas and critical thinking to seek justice on behalf of victims through the International Human Rights Clinic at USC Law.”
“I know that with the direction and guidance that the International Human Rights Clinic can provide me, combined with my enthusiasm and experience, this goal can become a reality,” she said.
As an undergraduate at UC Irvine, Foutch double-majored in psychology and criminology, which provided an interdisciplinary foundation for working with victims of crimes.
As a 1L, she worked at the Barrister’s Domestic Violence Clinic, helping clients win temporary restraining orders against their abusers.
“These experiences helped me prepare for the responsibilities involved in working directly with victims of human trafficking and understanding how difficult it can be for victims or witnesses testifying at trial before international tribunals “, she said.
Foutch has also developed strong analytical writing and researching skills as a legal assistant at an immigration law firm. Working in a firm that specializes in Japanese clients required her to translate client documents from Japanese to English and to use that information in persuasive legal writing, making her very familiar with the process of utilizing documents in foreign languages.
More recently, Foutch established the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) at USC Law as a founding member and Administrative Vice President, of which Professor Garry is the faculty advisor. IRAP is student organization dedicated to assisting Iraqi refugees escape from harm and persecution by providing legal representation and policy advocacy on behalf of Iraqi refugees through partnerships with local law firms, and helping them navigate the rules and process of resettlement to the U.S.
“My interest and appreciation for various cultures combined with my passion for justice make me a highly motivated addition to the IHRC. I look forward to expanding my knowledge of international criminal and human rights law and hope to contribute fresh ideas and critical thinking to seek justice on behalf of victims through the International Human Rights Clinic at USC Law.”
Dorna Moini, 3L
Dorna Moini dual citizen of the U.S. and Iran, Dorna Moini entered law school with the goal of becoming a human rights lawyer and addressing the many injustices she had seen during her life. “Living in the United States,” says Moini, “we take our justice system for granted, and my goal after law school is to help countries around the world develop their legal systems; one of the first steps is punishment for those who have committed atrocious harms in the past.”
“Living in the United States,we take our justice system for granted, and my goal after law school is to help countries around the world develop their legal systems; one of the first steps is punishment for those who have committed atrocious harms in the past.”
As an undergraduate at New York University, where Moini received a full academic scholarship, she worked at the Open Society Institute’s Justice Initiative, receiving a grant from the institute to travel to Mauritania. There, Moini worked with SOS Esclaves, an anti-slavery NGO, to draft an anti-slavery law into their civil and penal codes.
“I was there for about four months, and we successfully passed the law and accompanying enforcement measures in the National Assembly. This was huge step for the country,” she said.
While in New York, Moini also worked at One World Research, a human rights and public interest research firm. She helped research and write on several human rights issues, including sectarian violence in the Af-Pak region in 2009 and aiding and abetting liability under the Alien Tort Statute for several corporations operating in West Africa.
At USC Law, Moini worked with the Post-Conviction Justice Project, where she represented inmates serving indeterminate sentences for murder. She represented inmates at their parole hearings and challenged unfavorable decisions through writs of habeas corpus.
“Clinical programs are the most educational and personally fulfilling experiences in law school,” she said. “I have complete responsibility over my cases. At PCJP, I met with my clients and made all the strategic decisions in their cases, arguing for them at hearings and researching and writing their habeas petitions.”
“I am devoted to using my skills and experiences to help others. Working as a human rights advocate, it is crucial to separate your emotions from your work, but the heartbreaking stories are what keep me going,” Moini said.
Moini is Fluent in English, French and Farsi.
Christine Parkins, 3L
Christine Parkins became interested in human rights work in 1994, when her flight from Nairobi was delayed due to evacuation of foreign workers from Rwanda by the United Nations.
“I had a chance to talk to United Nations peacekeepers about their work and hear their thoughts about the genocide in Rwanda,” she said. “I decided, then, that I would use my professional skills to improve people’s lives.”
Up until law school, Parkins worked on human rights issues as a public health specialist. After earning a MS in public health from Harvard University, she worked on a federal HIV grant at the Center for Health Training.
Now she plans to combine her public health and legal training to make a difference overseas. “I believe that health is the foundation for humans to achieve their maximum potential,” she said. “My general goal is to contribute to public health by ensuring that vulnerable populations, such as children and the indigent, have legal access to health care and are afforded the basic human rights that affect health.”
While at USC Law, Parkins has developed her legal research and writing skills. She held a summer internship with a general counsel, an externship in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and currently serves as editor-in-chief of the Interdisciplinary Law Journal. She learned to write persuasively as well as analyze and apply legal precedents and concepts in unfamiliar areas of the law.
“I have learned that I am most happy when I am engaged in intellectually stimulating and challenging pursuits,” she said. “I am very comfortable working with people from different cultures and backgrounds.”
Parkins has lived throughout the world Ã¢â‚¬” she was raised in London, attending an international school, and spent a month living in Bangladesh learning about local public health interventions.
“I am extremely excited about the International Human Rights Clinic, and am particularly excited about potentially working with survivors of human trafficking” she said.
Alisa Randell, 2L
Alisa Randell believes that USC Law’s International Human Rights Clinic offers “an unparalleled opportunity to become involved in some of the most important human rights issues today.
“To me, international human rights advocacy means not only seeking justice for victims, but also ensuring defendants are guaranteed the right to a fair trial.”
“I look forward to expanding my knowledge of international criminal law by working directly with the judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. I think the Clinic is unique in that it gives students the ability to engage in substantive work on truly historic cases,” she said.
As an undergraduate at New York University, Randell double majored in International Relations and French. During her junior year of college, she spent a semester abroad in Paris, where she studied international political institutions from both an American and French perspective. She wrote her senior honors thesis on the relationship between incomplete democratization and transnational terrorism.
After graduating from NYU, Randell interned at the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University School of Law and worked as a paralegal for a criminal defense attorney in Manhattan.
“My work as a paralegal made me particularly sensitive to the importance of respecting the rights of the accused. To me, international human rights advocacy means not only seeking justice for victims, but also ensuring defendants are guaranteed the right to a fair trial.”
While at USC Law, Randell has worked at General Relief Advocacy Project, performing onsite advocacy at the Los Angeles County Department of Social Services to help clients receive the benefits to which they are legally entitled.