Law students defend OWS protesters

March 14, 2012 2:50:04 PM PDT
Hundreds of Occupy Wall Street protesters have been arrested since the movement began.

Some local law students are going from the classroom to the courtroom to help defend them.

The Occupy Wall Street movement occupied the headlines for weeks, especially when protestors began to get arrested.

"So you needed a lot of lawyers?" asked Art McFarland, Eyewitness News Education reporter.

"A lot of lawyers, early on. It was one of the first working groups that got set up and actually some of the people that were involved in the planning prior to September 17th were lawyers and we were training in that area," said Amin Husain, OWS organizer.

Third-year students from Manhattan's Cardozo Law School helped answer the call.

"Instead of sitting in the classroom and reading books and studying cases that already happened, you have your own cases, and that's where I really think the legal education, the emphasis, should be," said Connor Gleason, a Cardozo Law Student.

They are part of Cardozo's criminal law clinic, set up to handle actual cases, under the supervision of professors.

"You can think of a clinic a little bit like a residency; a medical residency, where students are learning about the law and they're learning the practical skills that they need to implement the law," said Jennie Blasser, Clinic Coordinator.

The National Lawyers Guild recruited legal help.

The Cardozo law students were not only gaining hands-on experience, they feel they were also a part of history.

"Representing clients who were charged with disorderly conduct for exercising their right to protest was definitely a part of that history," said Amy Cross, a Cardozo law student.

"I had a retired woman from upstate, I had a young college student from Columbia, and I had a long term New Yorker who has sort of taken on passionate causes before," said Louisa Schlieben, a Cardozo law student.

Cardozo is well respected for its programs of instruction.

"When you learn about constitution law in the classroom, it's a little bit abstract, but we got the chance, are getting the chance, to actually defend those rights in a real way, which is a great experience," said Elizabeth Langston, a Cardozo law student.

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