Pottinger Volunteer Page

Welcome ...
Thank you for your interest in helping to protect basic constitutional rights of homeless people within the City of Miami. These rights are protected by the Pottinger consent decree.

The Pottinger consent decree was approved by the federal district court in Miami in 1998, and modified somewhat in 2014. It resulted from a lawsuit brought in 1988 by the Greater Miami Chapter of the ACLU.

The Pottinger consent decree puts limits on police power to arrest homeless individuals for certain minor offenses, and protects homeless people’s property from being arbitrarily seized. It has been hailed as “the gold standard” in civil rights litigation to protect the constitutional rights of homeless persons. (More background here.)

The HOPE Public Interest Resource Center is seeking volunteers to assist Professor Schnably and a team of ACLU cooperating attorneys in monitoring the City of Miami’s compliance with the Pottinger rules.

How can I get involved?
If you are interested in volunteering in the Fall 2014 semester, please send an email by noon on Monday, September 8, 2014 indicating your interest to the HOPE Public Interest Resource Center. The email address is umhope@law.miami.edu. Please include your resume.

Only second or third year JD students or LLM students at the University of Miami may volunteer. Recent graduates of the law school are also welcome. In the Fall 2014 semester we will have a relatively small group of volunteers (about 5) to get the monitoring project off the ground, with the aim of expanding the program in subsequent semesters. The project will continue into the Spring 2015 semester and the 2015-2016 year. You don’t have to commit to volunteering beyond the Fall 2014 semester, though longer-term involvement is welcome.

The HOPE Public Interest Resource Center will let you know soon after September 8 if you have been selected to be a volunteer.

If selected you will need to attend a training session given by the Pottinger attorneys and the Miami Coalition for the Homeless on Friday, September 19, at 2:00 p.m.

Important Dates:

What work will volunteers do? How much time will it take?
The work involved may be somewhat heavier in some weeks than others, but should come to roughly 5 hours a week through the end of classes.

The monitoring work includes:

  • communication with the clients, including
    • interviewing people who are currently homeless and living on the streets or in shelters
    • taking statements to document any violations of the Pottinger rules
    • distributing informational flyers on the Pottinger rules
  • reviewing City records (including arrest records) related to the Pottinger rules
  • monitoring facilities and services provided to homeless people downtown as they relate to the Pottinger rules
  • occasional drafting (e.g., Public Records Act requests) or legal research


How can I stay informed about what’s going on with the project?

  • Look for announcements about upcoming events in the HOPE Public Interest Newsletter, which comes out weekly.
  • Bookmark this page and check back periodically for current information about activities.
  • Check the MiamiLaw HOPE Facebook page


How can I get more information about the Pottinger Consent Decree?
Read up on the Pottinger Consent Decree on the Background page.