Focus on Faculty
Prof. Barbara Moses, Visiting Clinical Professor Civil Rights & Constitutional Litigation Clinic
Professor Moses is no stranger to complex litigation, nor to Seton Hall Law. From 2002 to 2011 she was a principal of the New York law firm of Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Iason, Anello & Bohrer (where she remains counsel), handling complex business disputes in state and federal courts nationwide, in arbitration, and in administrative proceedings. Before that, she was a partner at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, both in San Francisco and in New York. Her past clients include a number of high-profile corporate executives—chief among them Martha Stewart—and well-known businesses, such as Verizon Wireless and the New York Post. Professor Moses’s pro bono docket included working with the Brennan Center for Justice to prepare amicus briefs in national security/civil liberties cases. In her most recent case, Amnesty Int’l USA v. Clapper, 638 F.3d 118 (2d Cir. 2011), the Second Circuit agreed that plaintiffs have standing to challenge the 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (conferring expanded warrantless wiretapping authority on the government) on First and Fourth Amendment grounds. Professor Moses is also President-Elect of the New York County Lawyers’ Association, which advocates for systematic improvements to the court system and promotes access to justice for all New Yorkers.
From 2007 through 2009 Professor Moses served as an Adjunct Professor at Seton Hall Law, teaching Persuasion and Advocacy. She then spent two years as a Lawyering Professor at New York University School of Law before rejoining Seton Hall Law in the fall of 2011 as a Visiting Professor in the Civil Rights and Constitutional Litigation Clinic. “I have always enjoyed the challenges of complex litigation,” said Professor Moses, “and teaching gives me the opportunity to help students meet those challenges skillfully, enthusiastically and ethically.” She added, “What I love about this job is that I can follow both of my avocations simultaneously, while making a real difference in the law and in the lives of our clients.”
To illustrate this point, Professor Moses points to one of the cases that the Civil Rights and Constitutional Litigation Clinic completed in her first semester. The client, an Uzbeki Muslim, was improperly designated a “danger to national security” by the Board of Immigration Appeals. Even after the Third Circuit reversed that ruling and ordered that the client’s immigration status be upgraded, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau continued to subject him to oppressive “conditions of release,” including an electronic ankle bracelet and a strict curfew.
Clinic students Alex Briggs '12 and Lauren Winchester '12 worked on this issue all semester—using a combination of formal and informal advocacy—until finally the government agreed to remove the ankle bracelet and lift the curfew. Winchester observed, “This case was an object lesson in client advocacy and the importance of follow through. The Third Circuit win wouldn’t have been a win for the client unless we were able to right the wrong in the concrete terms of his everyday life. By getting the government to remove his ankle bracelet and restrictive curfew, we reversed an egregious wrong.”
Since returning to Seton Hall Law, Professor Moses’ caseload has been both robust and varied. In another noteworthy case, a teen-aged girl was detained by the Newark Police Department after she used her cell phone camera to videotape two on-duty police officers interacting with a passenger on a public bus.
That case has garnered considerable media attention, giving Professor Moses an opportunity to show her students how to manage media and technology along with more traditional litigation tools. In September, Rahool Patel '12 and Kathy Trawinski '12 helped prepare the client for an appearance on the John Stossel Show and accompanied her to the Fox TV studios in Manhattan for taping. In October, they researched and wrote a brief in opposition to a motion to dismiss a portion of her complaint. In November, they argued the motion—and won—in New Jersey Superior Court, establishing that a modern cell phone is in fact a “computer” within the meaning of the New Jersey statute, making it unlawful to tamper with or destroy data in another person’s computer. Professor Moses noted, “The judge really put Rahool and Kathy through their paces at the oral argument. But they handled the hearing with grace and conviction, and won an important ruling on a question of first impression for New Jersey.”
Later in November, Patel and Trawinski prepared and served discovery demands on the City of Newark and the police officials involved in the incident. And shortly before the end of the semester, the case was referred to mediation by the court. On December 23, the students spent the day explaining the mediation process to their client, conducting an organizational conference call with the mediator, and working with the client to plan her discovery responses. Patel noted, “From media to mediation, discovery to oral argument and everything in between—this case had us practicing the lawyer’s craft. Professor Moses and our co-counsel at the ACLU let Kathy and me take the lead. It was truly our case— and it was a fantastic experience.”
In another case, in which the Clinic represents immigrants subjected to warrantless pre-dawn home raids by ICE, one of the strategic challenges involves overcoming an adverse ruling by the Third Circuit on an issue of supervisory liability. Students Erica Salerno '12 and Sebastian Sanchez '12 did not merely work on this issue from a litigation perspective; they were also asked to guest-teach a section of Professor Rachel Godsil’s Constitutional Law course. Professor Moses commented, “Every teacher hopes that some of her students will eventually become teachers themselves. But I didn’t expect it to happen so soon!”
And finally, in a long-running federal case involving post-sentence detention, the Center has challenged the State of New Jersey on its failure to provide constitutionally adequate therapeutic and rehabilitative services. Although the case had come to a proposed settlement earlier in the year, it took two students, involved throughout the semester, to finalize that settlement with opposing counsel and with the Center’s clients. Those students, Desi Grace '12 and Becky Garibotto '12, met repeatedly with the clients—behind bars—to explain the settlement, obtain input regarding additional provisions, and ultimately obtain client consent to the final settlement terms.
Professor Moses commented, “Desi and Becky did a terrific job of breaking down a complex settlement agreement into its key components. They not only explained how the settlement would work; they also helped the clients understand what it would mean for them on a day-to-day basis.” She added, “But this of course is only one of the essential steps in an extremely complex and protracted litigation.” Students enrolled in the Clinic for the spring 2012 semester are already working on pushing the settlement through a procedurally complex set of court hearings.