By Andrew Cohen
At a luncheon April 19, Atteeyah Hollie ’10 received the Brian M. Sax Prize for Excellence in Clinical Advocacy. Established in memory of Sax ’69, the annual prize is awarded to the graduating Berkeley Law student who has best displayed excellence in advocacy and professional judgment on behalf of clients while participating in a legal clinic.
Hollie was jointly nominated by the Death Penalty Clinic and the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC), as well as by several fellow clinical students. A faculty committee selected her from a group of nominees from the law school’s various clinics.
At EBCLC Hollie worked in the Clean Slate Practice, which provides free legal services to low-income clients with criminal records who are attempting to fully reenter society as productive members. Supervisor Eliza Hersh ’05 describes her as “very smart, hardworking, unfailingly reliable, and always professional,” and says she “effectively and ethically advocated for her clients.”
At the Death Penalty Clinic, Hollie worked under director Elisabeth Semel on an Alabama capital murder case. Her assignments focused on developing a claim against the prosecutor for using the majority of his peremptory challenges against prospective women jurors.
“I knew coming into the clinic that discrimination in jury selection was unconstitutional,” Hollie says. “What I didn’t know was how to make this rule work for a client whose capital trial was tainted by discrimination. I soon found myself working on a number of unfamiliar fronts to show that our client was entitled to a hearing, and hopefully a new trial.”
Semel says Hollie was “undaunted, resourceful, and professional in dealing with the bureaucratic challenges” as well as “unfailingly level-headed and focused” in pushing to find solutions.
Three other students received Sax Prize honorable mention: Suzanne Martindale ’10 for her work defending evictions and promoting housing rights at EBCLC’s Housing Practice, Maile Padilla ’10 for developing a client’s life history at the Death Penalty Clinic, and Shane Witnov ’10 for his accomplishments regarding law enforcement surveillance of social networking sites and online media privacy at the Samuelson Technology Law & Public Policy Clinic.
In her acceptance speech, Hollie, who will work at the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta after graduation, made a point to turn the spotlight back on her clinical supervisors. “You provided the most supportive and inspiring work environments a lawyer-to-be could wish for,” she said. “Your commitment and tireless drive in working for equal justice is infectious.”
Photos by J im Block4/20/2010