Hawaii Bar Journal
December 2011 #1.
Pro Bono Attorney Profile: Clare Hanusz
Hawaii State Bar JournalDecember 2011Pro Bono AttorneyProfile: Clare Hanuszby Lois PerrinThe American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii ("ACLU") is an organization dedicated to defending and expanding the civil liberties of all people.The ACLU engages in direct litigation (through the ACLU of Hawaii Foundation), public education, informs the media and educates and lobbies the legislature and other governmental bodies. The work of tiie ACLU is performed on a small operating budget (consisting of donations only) and a staff of six members. The extensive statewide work of the
ACLU could not be done without the talent and skills of those who generously volunteer their time and resources to assist in our cause. Volunteers come to the ACLU in a variety of ways; perhaps the greatest compliment is when one of our clients later becomes one of our volunteers.
In 2001, attorney Clare Hanusz was an ACLU client. As a demonstrator during the meeting of the Asian Development Bank ("ADB"), Clare and a handful of others stood up for their First Amendment rights: they went to court, with the ACLU's help, and won - establishing new rules and guidelines that continue to shape the City and County of Honolulu's treatment of demonstrators today.
Hanusz, who credits her parents for teaching her the importance of speaking out on social issues, had been very active long before ADB. She continues her advocacy on a number of issues today: she took a leading role in the "Save Our Schools" group that occupied the Governor's of office two years ago; she represents dozens of the Thai nationals at the heart of the Aloun Farms human trafficking investigation; and several of her causes have landed on the desk of Senior Staff Attorney Daniel Gluck, who jokes that Hanusz is so active in the community that she "could single-handedly fill up tiie ACLU's entire docket."
The ACLU has been extremely fortunate that Hanusz has decided to be a cooperating attorney with us: together, we are involved in a series of Fourth Amendment cases involving allegations of warrantiess, non-consensual home entries by federal law enforcement agents, putting the ACLU on the cutting edge of Fourth Amendment litigation and leveraging our expertise to address immigration issues throughout the State.
Hanusz is a sole practitioner who focuses on immigration and nationaJity law. In the fall of 2009, she got a series of disturbing calls from prospective clients - from both Oahu and the neighbor islands, none of whom knew one another - recounting very similar stories: that federal immation agents (from Lnmation and Customs Enforcement, or "ICE") were showing up at people's homes early in the morning and simply walking through the front door - without having a search warrant, and without getting any residents' consent. Once inside, the cUents explained, the ICE agents claimed to be looking for someone who had never Uved at that address or had not Uved there in years, but then interrogated the current residents as to their immigration status. Such actions would, of course, violate not only the residents' Fourth Amendment rights (to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, including warrandess home entry and race-based seizures) and Fifth Amendment rights (to be free from coercive interrogation tactics, including having federal agents baie into your home and interrogate you in your pajamas), but also a host of federal regulations prohibiting such conduct. The clients were now facing deportation proceedings, and, in some cases, could be separated from their young children without quick legal intervention.
As Hanusz recalls, "when I first started getting calls about ICE raids, an inner voice said, 'This stinks. Something should be done.' The problem was that, as a solo practitioner with limited resources, I wasn't sure how to attack some of these systemic problems." Recalling her ADB days, Hanusz contacted the ACLU. Together, Hanusz and the ACLU of Hawaii Foundation have filed suppression motions in a series of cases (asking the immigration judge to suppress all the evidence acquired as a result of the alleged constitutional violations, then end the proceedings altogether). Nearly two years later, after hundreds of hours of witness interviews, court appearances, and research into relatively untested legal waters, all of these cases remain pending.
While immigration cases require traditional litigation skills, they also require a carefiil appraisal of what it means to be an effective advocate - as non-litigation methods may be more efiective for the client. This past summer, the Department of Homeland Security instructed its field offices to re-prioritize to focus only on violent criminals, rather than wasting resources trying to deport individuals with no criminal records. That decision opened a window for some of Hanusz's clients to seek reHef through prosecutorial discretion, rather than an outright victory in court. As Gluck explains, "Clare is very good at what she does. She sees the big picture - understanding that you can win the batde but lose the war - and looks to negotiate a strategy that is best for both the dients and the cause."
Through it all, Hanusz has been an unwavering advocate of our clients' constitutional rights. As Hanusz explains, "it's been a great partnership. We have been able to combine my community contacts and knowledge of immigration law with the ACLU's constitutional law expertise, and we have been able to advance strong...