"David Carliner was a tremendous advocate for human rights. He was ahead of his time and met incredible resistance for the work he did. We have all benefitted from his courageous work."
- Cathleen Caron, 2010 recipient of the Award
The American Constitution Society's David Carliner Public Interest Award was established in memory of one of the great public interest lawyers of the 20th Century, David Carliner (1918-2007), a champion of justice in his native Washington, D.C. and on the national stage. A tireless, innovative litigator, he also played a leading role in building institutions devoted to protecting civil and human rights and combating injustice on a systemic basis. A pioneering immigration lawyer, an ardent foe of Jim Crow, and a leading champion of full political rights for citizens of the District of Columbia, he also was the founding chair of the American Civil Liberties Union-National Capital Area and the International Human Rights Law Group (now GlobalRights). For more information on David Carliner click here.
The Award recognizes outstanding public interest lawyers whose work best exemplifies its namesake’s legacy of fearless, uncompromising and creative advocacy on behalf of marginalized people.
David Carliner (1918-2007)
The Award consists of:
- A cash prize of $10,000 to one recipient each year plus transportation and lodging, in full, to the ACS National Convention in Washington, DC to accept the Award in person
- An award of $2500 will be given to the recipient's organization, or if the recipient is employed by a government entity, to an organization of the recipient's choosing
- An award of $2500 will be given to a finalist if the judges choose one
To be considered for the 2015 Award, applicants must:
- Have graduated from law school between May 2003 and May 2008;
- Have demonstrated a passionate commitment to public interest law throughout their career and be employed at a nonprofit organization, government entity, or law firm whose mission supports and furthers the causes for which David Carliner stood; and
- Receive an annual salary of $110,000 or less.
Applicants will be evaluated on the extent to which their accomplishments exemplify David Carliner’s passionate commitment to one or more of the causes for which he worked: civil rights in a broad sense, civil liberties, international human rights and immigrants’ rights. Successful applicants will have pursued these causes with unwavering determination, creativity and effectiveness and be dedicated to working in the public interest throughout their careers.
Applicants whose work has focused on policy advocacy or litigation will be looked on with equal favor.
In keeping with the legacy of David Carliner, whose career was devoted to achieving a just and inclusive society for all, women, people of color, people with disabilities and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are encouraged to apply.
Finalists may be announced at the discretion of the judges. Applicants will be informed of their status in the spring.
To apply, please submit the following:
- A cover sheet that can be downloaded here and should be emailed with the other materials;
- A resume or CV;
- An essay, written by applicant only*, of no more than 1500 words double spaced setting forth the applicant's qualifications for the award and including a statement that the applicant’s annual salary is $110,000 or less; and
- A letter of recommendation from a person familiar with the applicant's work and the criteria for the Award. The most helpful recommendation letter will explain and describe the applicant's creativity, boldness, and effectiveness in the context of the area of law, policy, or social movement in which he or she works. Applications should not include more than one letter of recommendation.
- All applications are due by March 16, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. EST.
Applications must be submitted via email to CarlinerAward@ACSLaw.org. All four documents must be in PDF form and attached to a single email message. Incomplete applications and nominations will not be considered.
*If you do not qualify for the Carliner Public Interest Award, but know someone that does, please encourage him or her to apply and submit a personal essay for him or herself. We will not accept essays written by third parties.
In determining the recipient of the 2015 Award, ACS will be advised by a panel of judges including:
- Nan Aron, Executive Director, Alliance for Justice
- Tomiko Brown-Nagin, Daniel P. S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law, Professor of History, Harvard University
- Thomas Buergenthal, Lobingier Professor of Comparative Law and Jurisprudence, George Washington University Law School
- William Fletcher, Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- Deborah Carliner, Attorney; President, ACLU-NCA
- Sarah Remes, Attorney, DC Volunteer Lawyers Program
The 2013 Award Recipient: Kara L. Hartzler, Attorney, Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc.; Member, Board of Directors, ACS San Diego Lawyer Chapter
Kara L. Hartzler is an appellate attorney at the Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc. She specialized in the immigration consequences of criminal convictions while working as Legal Director and Criminal Immigration Consultant at the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project in Arizona and is the author of Surviving Padilla: A Defender’s Guide to Advising Noncitizens on the Immigration Consequences of Criminal Convictions. In 2008, Hartzler testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Immigration on the detentionand deportation of citizens and other due process violations in the immigration system. She is also an active playwright whose plays have been performed and published in the United States and internationally. At the Convention’s Carliner Award announcement, Hartzler said, “Immigration law is not just about people coming to the United States, it’s about how we treat them once they get there. And in that respect we still have a long way to go.”
Kara Hartzler reflected on the award at ACSblog and in the interview below.
The 2012 Award Recipient: Janson Wu, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders
Janson Wu serves as the Staff Attorney at the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) in Boston, MA. He is a member of the legal team litigating GLAD’s two cases challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act, one of which won a judgment from a federal appeals court that DOMA is unconstitutional, and was lead attorney on a variety of successful cases involving transgender rights.
The 2012 Finalist was: Kate Mogulescu, Project Director, Trafficking Victims Legal Defense & Advocacy Project at the Legal Aid Society NY, Criminal Defense Practice.
The 2011 Award Recipient: Dori Rose Inda, Watsonville Law Center
Dori Rose Inda founded the Watsonville Law Center in 2002 after identifying a critical gap in legal services in the Watsonville, Calif. area. She has since developed an innovative health access project to ensure low-wage workers injured on the job receive legally required health and financial benefits.
The 2010 Award Recipient: Cathleen Caron, Global Workers Justice Aliance
Cathleen Caron, founder and director of Global Workers Justice Alliance, was
recognized in 2010 for her important work to combat worker exploitation and to promote transnational "portable justice" for workers around the world.
The 2010 Finalists were: Guillermo Mayer, Public Advocates Inc.; Belinda Helzer, ACLU Foundation of Southern California; Marco Simons, EarthRights International; Janson Wu, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders.
The 2009 Award Recipient: Tim Freilich, Legal Aid Justice Center
Tim Freilich serves as Legal Director of the Immigrant Advocacy Program at the Legal Aid Justice Center in Charlottesville, VA. Under his direction, the program works to support day laborers and other low-wage immigrant workers in the region and promotes justice and fair treatment in the workplace.
The 2009 Finalists were: Ahilan Arulanantham, ACLU of Southern California; Mónica Ramírez, Southern Poverty Law Center; Shirin Sinnar, Asian Law Caucus; McGregor Smyth, The Bronx Defenders.
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"David Carliner; Active in Unpopular Causes," The Washington Post (Sept. 23, 2007)
"David Carliner, Lawyer and Immigration Advocate Is Dead at 89," The New York Times (Sept. 22, 2007)
"Immigrant Advocate Freilich Wins Public Interest Award," Daily Progress (June 21, 2009)
"Seeking Lawyers Who Get the Dirt Out," ACSblog, guest post by Jacob Remes (January 17, 2012)