The University of Virginia School of Law has selected alumnus Clayton “Tex” Pasley ’17 as the 18th Powell Fellow in Legal Services, an honor that will help him protect tenants in Chicago facing eviction over their juvenile records.

The Powell Fellowship, named for Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr., awards $45,000 and benefits to recipients who enhance the delivery of legal services to the poor under the sponsorship of a host public interest organization. The award is made for one year with the expectation that it will be renewed for a second year. Powell Fellows are also eligible for the school’s Loan Forgiveness Program.

Through a fellowship project with the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, Pasley will aid tenants who face eviction because of a family member’s involvement in juvenile court proceedings.

He said landlords seeking to respond to nuisance property ordinances, which require landlords to regulate the conduct of tenants that may be problematic, sometimes illegally use these court records as the basis for eviction.  

Pasley said that although the records are supposed to be confidential under state law, in practice, police often share the records with landlords who are wary of being penalized under the nuisance property ordinances.

His goals at the center will be to educate landlords on confidentiality policies, represent families facing evictions in court, train other pro bono attorneys to take on this kind of representation and pursue reforms to property nuisance laws to protect confidentiality.

“Confidentiality protects the juvenile and also serves the purposes of the juvenile court system, which is really aimed at rehabilitation rather than punishment,” he said. “One of the reasons we [have confidentiality] is because we don’t want collateral consequences to arise for people who get caught up in juvenile court — in terms of their education, or their ability to get a job, or their ability to secure housing.”

A San Antonio native, Pasley is currently clerking for U.S. District Judge Pamela L. Reeves for the Eastern District of Tennessee. He spent one year after graduation in Knoxville as a Robert F. Kennedy Fellow and staff attorney with the Nashville-based No Exceptions Prison Collective, advocating to end bans on in-person jail visits throughout the state.

During law school, he was a member of the Employment Law, Litigation and Housing Law, and Health Law clinics administered through the Legal Aid Justice Center, and was an extern with the organization’s Drive Down the Debt campaign. He was also a co-founder of the Virginia Law in Prison Project, where he and his classmates worked with attorneys from the LAJC and Central Virginia Legal Aid Society to offer educational programs at Piedmont House, a halfway house for men who have been convicted of nonviolent felonies. During Law School he received the Claire Corcoran Award and the Pro Bono Award in recognition of his commitment to public service. Pasley also served as senior executive editor of the Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law.

Amanda Yale, director of public service at UVA Law, said Pasley has been committed to serving indigent and underrepresented communities since entering law school. 

“Tex logged an immense number of clinical and pro bono hours while also being a leader in the Law School’s public service community. His ability is without bounds,” she said. “I greatly admire his commitment and know he will do great things at the Shriver Center.”

Working in UVA Law clinics to end driver’s license suspensions over unpaid court fees piqued Pasley’s interest in how the criminal justice system affects peoples’ lives once they’re released, and how it can create a cycle of poverty.

“I was looking for a project that fused criminal justice and housing together, and was really grounded in local communities,” he said. “The specifics of the project were proposed by Shriver, but they feel like a continuation of the interests and the passions I’ve been developing.”

Recent Powell Fellows

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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