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Professor Penny Venetis, Co-Director of Rutgers Constitutional Litigation Clinic, Appointed Judge Debevoise Scholar

October 04, 2012 – 

Clinical Professor Penny Venetis, Co-Director of the Constitutional Litigation Clinic at Rutgers School of Law–Newark, has been named the Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise Scholar.

Judge Debevoise & Venetis
Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise and Clinical Professor Penny Venetis at the law school’s formal announcement of her scholar title.

“In 18 years teaching and supervising the work of students in the Rutgers Con Lit Clinic, Penny Venetis has recorded a considerable number of advances in important civil rights and international human rights cases,” said Associate Dean for Clinical Education Jon Dubin.“It is most fitting, therefore, that her new scholar title honors a courageous judge who has issued so many important decisions advancing justice for disadvantaged persons and groups in his distinguished career on the federal bench.”

The Honorable Dickinson R. Debevoise, Senior Judge, United States District Court, District of New Jersey, has been a pillar of the Newark legal community for nearly 60 years and a member of the federal bench since his appointment by President Carter in 1979. Among his many former law clerks are the current Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, Stuart Rabner; the first African-American Attorney General of New Jersey, Peter Harvey; and Clinical Professor Penny Venetis.

Prior to joining Rutgers Law School in 1994, Venetis practiced law for four years with the firm of O’Melveny & Myers. While there she worked on complex commercial litigation as well as human rights projects.

At Rutgers she specializes in civil rights and international human rights impact litigation. The work of Venetis and her students in Jama v. Esmor Correctional Services, Inc., which successfully challenged inhumane conditions of detention for immigrants seeking asylum or refugee status in a New Jersey detention facility and recovered damages for the plaintiffs, received the 2008 Clinical Legal Education Association’s award for best clinical case or project.

In the past year Venetis supervised litigation to ensure the integrity of electronic voting machines in New Jersey; drafted and coordinated amicus work in the U.S Supreme Court in the Alien Tort Statute human rights case of Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum; and published three law review articles: “Making Human Rights Treaty Law Actionable in the United States: The Case for Universal Implementing Legislation” (63 Ala. L. Rev. 97, 2011), “The Broad Jurisprudential Significance of Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain: An Honest Assessment of the Role of Federal Judges and Why International Law Can  Be More Effective Than Constitutional Law for Redressing Serious Abuses (21 Temp. Pol. & Civ. Rts. L. Rev. 41, 2011), and “The Unconstitutionality of Oklahoma’s SQ 755 and Other Provisions Like It That Bar State Courts From Considering International Law” (59 Clev. St. L. Rev. 189, 2011).