New partnership connects the City and students to fight blight
By Michael Waddell
Memphis files more lawsuits against owners of blighted and neglected properties than any other city in the U.S., and to combat that problem the City of Memphis Law Division and the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law have launched the Neighborhood Preservation Clinic to expose law students to the complex legal issues surrounding property abandonment, neglect and blight.
“The Neighborhood Preservation Clinic is the perfect partnership to provide future attorneys with real world experience in litigating some of the toughest cases to handle,” says Mayor A C Wharton, Jr. “The social, economic and safety issues involved make these cases very compelling. The students will gain valuable experience at the same time they are giving back to the City through their work on actual cases in Environmental Court.”
The goal of the partnership is to overcome legal challenges in the fight against blight in neighborhoods across Memphis.
Professor Danny Schaffzin and City of Memphis Staff Attorney Steve Barlow will oversee students who will investigate property ownership and conditions, communicate with field code-enforcement professionals, prepare civil lawsuits, and prosecute neglectful owners seeking compliance with property maintenance and other housing and building standards.
The students will partner with the City of Memphis Attorney’s Office to handle cases before the Shelby County Environmental Court, a special jurisdiction court aligned with the Tennessee Circuit and Chancery Courts for the prosecution of blight cases that pose a public nuisance and seek either an order of compliance or the appointment of a receiver to abate the nuisance.
This article originally appeared in the January 14, 2015 edition of High Ground News.