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Fair Housing ‘Testing’ to be Focus of April 3 Fair Housing Conference

March 04, 2008

DETROIT (March 4, 2008) – Since 1990, fair housing “testing” has resulted in an excess of $130 million in financial payments to plaintiffs in fair housing litigations. In an effort to explain why this legal technique is so significant, Wayne State University Law School and the Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit are proud to offer a day-long Fair Housing Testing Conference from 8:15 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. on April 3, 2008, at Wayne Law’s Spencer M. Partrich Auditorium.  

The conference will feature national experts who will provide answers to the following and many other fair housing questions:

  • How is “testing” accomplished?
  • In what circumstances can it be used most effectively?
  • What impact can it play in successful plaintiff recoveries in court actions?
  • How does one select and instruct testers?
  • What legal challenges regarding evidence can be anticipated and how should one respond to efforts to exclude such evidence?

Wayne Law Professor Emeritus Otto J. Hetzel, Co-Director of the Law School’s Fair Housing Education Program and a current practicing attorney in Washington, D.C., will serve as the conference moderator. Before coming to Wayne Law, Professor Hetzel served as Associate General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development where he was responsible for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. In that role, he was a principal drafter of Title VIII, the 1968 Fair Housing Act. As this April marks the 40th anniversary of the enactment of that landmark legislation, Professor Hetzel will share some of his experiences in development of the legislation and achieving passage of that Act enacted only after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. 

Wayne Law Professor John Mogk, Co-director of the Law School’s Fair Housing Education Program, will welcome conference participants and also participate in the conference. The Honorable Avern Cohn, Senior Judge, Eastern District of Michigan, who has presided over a number of fair housing cases in which testing evidence was introduced, will be the luncheon speaker. The Honorable Victoria A. Roberts, Judge, Eastern District of Michigan, will provide a summation in the afternoon.

A group of national experts associated with private, local, non-profit fair housing centers will share their thoughts about the “testing” practice and how to utilize testing. These experts include: 

  • Fred Freiberg, Field Service Director, Fair Housing Justice Center of HELP USA, New York
  • Ann Marquart, Executive Director, Project Sentinel, Palo Alto, Calif.
  • Vince Larkins, President and CEO, Fair Housing Center of the Greater Palm Beaches, Fla.
  • Pamela Kisch, Executive  Director of the Fair Housing Center of Southeast Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich. 

Experienced litigation attorneys will also share their experiences in utilizing testing evidence in housing discrimination lawsuits. They include

  • P. Rivka Schochet and Michelle Crockett from the law firm of Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, PLC
  • Judith Levy, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan
  • Liam J. Garland, Director of Litigation, Housing Rights, Center, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Stephen Tomkowiak, Southfield, Mich., and an Instructor for the National Fair Housing Training Academy
  • John Obee, Senior Partner, Wood Kull Herschfus Obee and Kull
  • Angelique Strong, Vice President and Corporate Counsel, The Handleman Company, Inc.
  • Jeffrey Taren, Partner, Kinoy, Taren and Geraghty, Chicago 

The FHC-Detroit Board Chair and Attorney Noel Saleh and FHC Executive Director Cliff Schrupp will also be participating, as will FHC Legal Services Coordinator Michael Olshan.

THERE IS NO CHARGE TO ATTEND THE CONFERENCE. However, the noon box lunches and the attendee packets for the conference will be limited to those who have pre-registered for the conference by March 20, 2008. Interested persons can pre-register by contacting Michael Olshan at the FHC office (313) 963-1274 or fhcdet@mail.com

Wayne State University Law School has served Michigan and beyond since its inception as Detroit City Law School in 1927. Located in Detroit’s re-energized historic cultural center, the Law School remains committed to student success and features modern lecture and court facilities, multi-media classrooms, a 250-seat auditorium, and the Arthur Neef Law Library, which houses one of the nation's 30 largest legal collections. Taught by an internationally recognized faculty, Wayne State Law School students experience a high-quality legal education via a growing array of hands-on curricular offerings, five live-client clinics, and access to well over 100 internships with local and non-profit entities each year. Its 11,000 living alumni, who work in every state of the nation and more than a dozen foreign countries, include leading members of the local, national and international legal communities. For more information, visit www.law.wayne.edu.

Advocating for justice, serving the community, revitalizing Detroit and Michigan