Andrew Hemmer, a third-year student at Chicago-Kent College of Law, has been selected as a 2016 Equal Justice Works Fellow. During his two-year fellowship period, Hemmer will work for Cabrini Green Legal Aid in Chicago, where he will establish a program that represents individuals whose vehicles have been impounded by the Chicago Police Department after they were arrested.
Each year, the Chicago Police Department seizes thousands of vehicles allegedly used in the commission of a crime. To get their vehicles back, individuals must go through the difficult process of proving that their vehicles were not used for criminal activity or pay up to thousands of dollars in fees, depending on the circumstances.
The new advocacy program—the Civil Asset Forfeiture Defense Project—will help people get their cars back. During the first six months, Hemmer plans to develop a system of referrals from other legal aid and social service agencies in Chicago, establish case acceptance criteria and begin accepting cases. He will create guides and pamphlets to help pro bono attorneys and individual car owners navigate city and state proceedings. He will also train volunteer attorneys from United Airlines, Inc. and Seyfarth Shaw LLP, both of which are sponsoring his fellowship.
Hemmer began working with Cabrini Green Legal Aid in summer 2014 as a legal intern, returning for a second internship in summer 2015. He also externed for the Honorable Ruben Castillo of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and worked in the Law Offices of Chicago-Kent’s Criminal Defense Clinic. Hemmer most recently served as an extern in the Homicide Task Force Division of the Cook County Public Defender’s Office.
Hemmer will graduate from Chicago-Kent in May 2016 with a J.D. degree and certificates in criminal litigation and public interest law. Before law school, Hemmer earned a bachelor’s degree in integrative biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Equal Justice Works is a national leader in creating public interest opportunities for law students and lawyers. Equal Justice Works Fellows, who receive funding from law firms, corporations and private foundations, design two-year projects in conjunction with nonprofit organizations that have first-hand knowledge of the most critical needs in the communities they serve.