“Rutgers clinical law students don’t simply study the law; they often make it.”

Clinical law students and faculty have established important national and statewide precedents in advancing justice for underserved persons, groups and communities at the highest levels. Highlights of those precedents include:

U.S. Supreme Court:

Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648 (1979) (establishing in the U.S. Supreme Court that random highway police stops of motorists for license and registration checks are unconstitutional) 

Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S. 103 (2000) (establishing in the U.S. Supreme Court the right of SSI and Social Security disability benefit claimants to access to the federal courts to raise legal arguments on federal court judicial review of adverse agency decisions that were not first raised in the informal, non-adversarial administrative proceedings)

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit:

Paton v. La Prade, 524 F.2d 862 (3d Cir. 1975)  (establishing in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit that FBI “mail covers” involving recording of exterior of all mail to the Socialist Worker’s Party and some labelling as “subversive activity,” potentially caused cognizable harm from such labelling to a 16-year old high school student seeking information on socialism for a high school class, and can be the subject of an implied cause of action under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution for damages against FBI officials)

Tomkins v. Public Service Electric Gas, 568 F.2d 1044 (3d Cir. 1977) (One of the nation’s first United States Court of Appeals decisions recognizing sexual harassment as a form of gender discrimination in employment that is actionable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) 

New Jersey Public Citizens’ Group v. Edison Tp., 787 F.2d 1250 (3d Cir. 1986) (establishing in the Third Circuit that municipal ordinances which prohibit door-to-door solicitation by non-profit organizations prior to nine in the evening and which require that their canvassers be fingerprinted, violate the First Amendment)

Newark Branch NAACP v. Town of Harrison, 940 F.2d 792 (3d Cir. 1991) (establishing in the Third Circuit that municipal residency requirements for employment in municipalities with few African-American residents which produces a racially disparate hiring impact, violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and requiring that employment opportunities be made available to African-Americans in the regional labor pool)

Sykes v. Apfel, 228 F.3d 259 (3d Cir. 2000) (establishing in the Third Circuit that the Social Security Administration’s policy of sole reliance on the administrative notice doctrine and the “grid framework” to deny claimants disability benefits in cases involving combined exertional and non-exertional limitations is unlawful and resulting in a change of policy for thousands of claimants in the Third Circuit region through a rare SSA Acquiescence Ruling, SSAR 01-1(3))

Jama v. Esmor Correctional Services, Inc., 577 F.3d 169 (3d Cir. 2009) (establishing in the Third Circuit that attorney’s fees under Section 1988 of the Civil Rights Act, may be awarded where a plaintiff only recovers nominal damages on federal civil rights claims, but where either the civil rights legal issue decided is significant and the litigation served an important public purpose, or where non-nominal damages are awarded on interrelated pendent state law claims)

Thomas v. Commissioner of Social Security, 625 F.3d 798 (3d Cir. 2010) (establishing in the Third Circuit that in social security benefit program cases, when an ALJ’s decision is vacated and remanded by a court for further proceedings on the ground that the ALJ’s decision lacked sufficient reasoning and articulation and was therefore beyond meaningful judicial review, fair process requires notice and an opportunity to be heard and not merely additional ALJ reasoning and articulation on the remand proceedings). 

G.L. v. Ligonier Valley Sch. Dist. Auth., 802 F.3d 601 (3d Cir. 2015) (establishing in the Third Circuit that the courts’ authority under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to remedy denial of the right to a free and appropriate education to children with disabilities, is not limited to compensatory education and other relief covering the two-year limitations' period for filing a complaint from actual or constructive knowledge of the violation but extends to the entire period of the proven rights’ violation)

N.J. Supreme Court:

Essex County Welfare Bd. v. Department of Institutions and Agencies, 75 N.J. 232 (1978) (establishing in the NJ Supreme Court that New Jersey County Welfare Boards lack authority to appeal and seek judicial review of agency fair hearing decisions benefitting AFDC claimants and other welfare program claimants)  

Right to Choose v. Byrne, 91 N.J. 287 (1982) (establishing in the NJ Supreme Court that the NJ Constitution requires the state to pay for therapeutic abortions for indigent women, even though Congress may withhold federal Medicaid funding under the U.S. Constitution)

In re: Exec. Comm’n on Ethical Standards Re: Appearance of Rutgers Attorneys, 116 N.J. 216 (1989) (establishing in NJ Supreme Court that state university law school clinical faculty and law students can represent clients before state agencies or against the state without violating conflict of interest prohibitions) 

Frank v. Ivy Club, 120 N.J. 73 (1990) (establishing in the NJ Supreme Court that the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination prohibits all-male, gender-exclusionary private university-affiliated eating clubs, such as those at Princeton University)

New Jersey Coalition Against War in the Middle East v. J.M.B. Realty Corp., 138 N.J. 326 (1994) (establishing in the NJ Supreme Court that the free speech provisions of the state constitution exceed those of the First Amendment and protect the right of non-profit advocacy organizations and political candidates to distribute literature and gather petitions at the state’s privately owned shopping malls)

Raleigh Ave. Beach Ass’n v. Atlantis Beach Club, Inc., 185 N.J. 40 (2005) (establishing in the N.J. Supreme Court that under the public trust doctrine, the public is afforded reasonable access to privately-owned beaches including a suitable area for recreation on the dry sand)
New Jersey Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. N.J. & D.R., 204 N.J. 36 (2010); In re: D.C. and D.C., 203 N.J. 545 (2010) (establishing in the NJ Supreme Court the right of siblings placed in foster care to have their important interests in continued sibling association weighed in their placements)

State in re V.A., 212 N.J. 1 (2012) (establishing in the NJ Supreme Court a stricter standard of review of prosecutorial motions to try minors as adults in criminal court rather than as juveniles in family court)

Mazdabrook Commons Homeowners Ass’n v. Kahn, 210 N.J. 482 (2012) (extending in the NJ Supreme Court the free speech protections of the New Jersey Constitution to protect residents of private homeowner associations)  

Sussex Commons Assocs., LLC v. Rutgers, The State University, 210 N.J. 521 (2012) (establishing in the NJ Supreme Court that state university law school clinical program client case files and related materials are exempt from state open public record act and common law public disclosure requests)

H.S.P. v. J.K., 223 N.J. 196 (2015) (clarifying the role of the Family part judges and establishing in the NJ Supreme Court  that when making predicate factual findings for a juvenile seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status and potential for relief from deportation or lawful permanent resident status, NJ family court judges are required to apply New Jersey law, rather than the law of a foreign nation and to render factual findings as to whether reunification is viable, due to abuse, neglect, abandonment or something similar, as to each parent even if the child is living with the non-offending parent)

State in re N.H., 226 N.J. 222 (2016) (establishing in the NJ Supreme Court that because of the critical nature of proceedings to waive youth to adult court, and to ensure fairness at the waiver stage, the prosecution must disclose all discovery in its possession prior to the waiver hearing)

State in re C.K., 233 N.J. 44 (2018) (establishing in the NJ Supreme Court that mandatory, lifetime inclusion of youth on the state's sex offender registry violated substantive due process under the State Constitution)

State in the Interest of A.A., 240 N.J. 341 (2020) (establishing heightened protection for youth in custodial interrogations by police, including a requirement that the police afford children an opportunity to consult privately with their parents before asking them to waive their Miranda rights)

In re Request to Modify Prison Sentences, 242 N.J. 357 (2020) (ordering the state’s juvenile courts to schedule hearings on motions for early release of youth within five days of filing; issue decisions within three days of the hearings; and to consider and accord weight to the impact of COVID-19 in making its decisions on early release)

State v. Carrera-Lopez, 245 N.J. 596 (2021) (rejecting presumptive pretrial detention of non-citizens under the N.J. Criminal Justice Reform Act due to possibility of removal by the U.S. Immigration Enforcement officials, and requiring individualized assessment of risks of non-appearance for trial, as in cases with citizens)