Civil Legal Assistance Clinic Students Provide Legal Advice to Durham, NC, Community Group

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Civil Legal Assistance Clinic students, 3Ls Shana Moore and Christopher Byrd provided legal advice for a community group called Durham Neighbors United (“DNU”). DNU residents are experiencing problems with Duke University students who live in their neighborhoods and engage in disruptive behavior, such as operating unauthorized fraternity houses, hosting loud and rowdy parties late at night, and trespassing on DNU residents’ property. Shana and Chris conducted extensive interviews with DNU members to determine the scope of these problems. They drafted a comprehensive report explaining the various legal rights DNU members could potentially assert against the landlords who rent to the students and against Duke University. They concluded by presenting their findings at a community meeting for DNU residents. A story in the Duke Chronicle highlighted the work done by Chris and Shana, and included this excerpt:
civil clinic students
Civil Legal Assistance Clinic students, Shana Moore (top row, fourth from left) and Chris Byrd (top row, third from left) appear with members of Durham Neighbors United.

DNU has recently worked with the Civil Legal Assistance Clinic at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law to explore potential legal solutions to the group’s problems, [Alisa] Johnson, [English professor at Meredith College and one of DNU's leaders,] said.

Erika Wilson, an assistant professor of law at UNC who worked with DNU at the clinic, explained that both the group itself as well as individual residents might be able to bring a private nuisance claim against the landlords or particular students for violating the legal right to enjoy their property.

Johnson said the goal of a lawsuit would not be financial recompense, but rather to get students to cease their disruptive behavior.

Although DNU does not currently have any plans to pursue legal action, Johnson said that many frustrated community members are continuing to look for potential solutions.

“This is a situation that has been ongoing, and there are a lot of people who are deeply disturbed by it,” she said. “Legal remedies are there as a potential way to push it to a head. It wouldn’t surprise me as we move forward if we see a lot of people come up with creative ways to sue around this issue.”

Posted by Erika K. Wilson on Thu. December 10, 2015 2:13 PM
Categories: Civil Legal Assistance Clinic
UNC School of Law | Van Hecke-Wettach Hall | 160 Ridge Road, CB #3380 | Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380 | 919.962.5106

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