Aug 05, 2022
Woke New York City public college SCRUBS profile of attorney, 29, who worked on Johnny Depp's legal team after backlash from students before apologizing for publishing the piece that caused 'strong negative emotions'
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Yarleyn Mena, 29, a 2015 graduate of CUNY's Hunter College and a Brown Rudnick LLP associate, was originally touted for her work in helping Depp win a $10.35 million verdict in the heated trial that captured the nation's attention.
The show of support for the graduate, however, went out the door after CUNY said it received concerns from students and faculty over the profile piece as they offered an apology.
'We understand the strong negative emotions this article elicited and apologize for publishing the item,' the public university system said in a statement replacing the link to the story on Mena.
'The article was not meant to convey support for Mr. Depp, implicitly or otherwise, or to call into question any allegations that were made by Amber Heard,' CUNY added.
'Domestic violence is a serious issue in our society and we regret any pain this article may have caused.'
Yarleyn Mena, 29, a 2015 graduate of CUNY's Hunter College and a Brown Rudnick LLP associate, was the youngest attorney on Johnny Depp's legal team
Depp (right) secured the Brown Rudnick team, which included Camille Vasquez (left), who helped the actor win a $10.35 million verdict against ex-wife Amber Heard
Mena (third from the left) shared hugs with her team as they secured the verdict on June 1 in the widely publicized trial. Her inclusion in the team was touted by her alma matter on August 3 before CUNY deleted the story following backlash from students and faculty
In the original article, which was published on August 3, the headline on the CUNYverse newsletter read, 'This CUNY grad was the Youngest Lawyer to Serve on Johnny Depp's Legal Team.'
It included an overview of Mena, the daughter of two lawyers who came from the Dominican Republic, who earned her law degree from Fordham University.
In the article she described her role on the legal team, led by Benjamin Chew, in the Depp v. Heard trial.
'I worked with the team on the opening and closing and was the master of the facts of all the evidence,' Mena said. 'If someone needed pictures or text messages, I would look them up and assist everyone as we went along.'RELATED ARTICLES
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She added that the legal team was incredibly focused on the trial and were mostly unaware of the spectacle it had become, adding that in the aftermath, it was exciting to know that such a big case was the first one she got to appear in trial.
'I am a third year associate and am fortunate to have worked a trial so early in my career. Most cases don't go to trial,' she noted.
'We were focused on the case around the clock and almost lived in a bubble throughout the trial so the pressure from the spotlight didn't affect us as much on a day to day.
'We are a tight knit team that kept each other grounded and fixed on our client's needs.'
The article also included tips from Mena to other students on how to stand out in law school applications and avoid the pressures of college.
Neither CUNY nor Mena immediately responded to DailyMail.com's request for comment.
Pictured: Mena (center) during her graduation from CUNY's Hunter College in 2015 as she's accompanied by her parents, both lawyers who immigrated from the Dominican Republic
Although CUNY claimed it received backlash over the article, the decision to take it down stoked its own wave of criticism, with CUNY Brooklyn College Professor KC Johnson condemning the move.
'Not a good look for CUNY, to put it mildly,' he tweeted.
'One line of the institution's [groveling] apology could even be read as casting doubt on the jury's verdict in the civil case,' he added.
'CUNY's message to talented young grads who go into the law seems to be – we'll celebrate you only if we institutionally approve of your client.'
Despite concluding in June, the Depp v. Heard trial continues to be a hot-button issue after the jury in Fairfax Virginia awarded Depp $10.35 million in damages.
The jury ultimately found that Heard defamed him in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed where she referred to herself as a domestic abuse survivor.
The jury also awarded Heard $2 million in her countersuit that Depp and his representative defamed her following her initial claims against him.
Both Heard and Depp have said they're filing an appeal over the verdicts.
News Source: dailymail.co.uk
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Pol Blames ‘Race Card’ for Backlash to Island Camp for Miami’s Homeless
With a deeply controversial plan to erect a pilot homeless encampment on a remote barrier island in Miami on the ropes, its chief proponent is accusing opponents of “playing the race card” in an ugly new chapter in a local controversy gone haywire.
During a Monday afternoon press conference, Miami Mayor Frances Suarez announced the city’s intention to hold off on pursuing a pilot program to build dozens of “tiny homes” on Virginia Key for at least six months. The “transition zone” program moved forward in a 3-2 vote earlier this month and promptly spurred a furious outcry from every type of Miamian—from environmentalists worried about destroying the island’s ecosystem to advocates for the homeless concerned about the lack of infrastructure in the area off Rickenbacker Causeway to wealthy residents of nearby posh enclaves like Fisher Island.
But before it was the site of a tug-of-war between almost every constituency in Miami, Virginia Key was a Black beach at the height of Jim Crow-era segregation.
On Monday, backer City Commissioner Joe Carollo agreed to pause the pilot program while the city works with Miami-Dade County officials to update the plan. But the Republican wasted no time going after his critics. Calling opponents “elitists” who have strayed into ‘not in my backyard’ (NIMBY)-style rhetoric, Carollo accused some critics of playing the “race card” in light of Virginia Key’s racial history.
“What does this have to do with the historical Black beach?” Carollo said in response to a question at the press conference. “That’s a mile and a half away, the place that we’re looking at. It’s got nothing to do with the historical Black beach, and those that are using that as the final straw to throw at us, they should be ashamed of themselves.”
Carollo did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.
To David Peery, executive director and founder of the Miami Coalition to Advance Racial Equity, Carollo seems to be trying to “trivialize… the racial issues” in his plan to move homeless people to a flood-prone barrier island. Noting that a majority of homeless residents in Miami are Black, Perry slammed the idea of “dumping people” in an area that is miles away from the nearest grocery store.
“This plan inherently has some racial issues, and for someone to say that we are playing the race card when we are talking about the homeless is absurd,” Peery told The Daily Beast. “He fully knows the significance of Virginia Key Beach and the segregation that this place represents for Black residents in Miami.”
Peery noted that this is not the first time Carollo has spurred outrage amongst homeless advocates. Around the time he first proposed the encampment program last October, the city commissioner was also instrumental in the passage of a new ordinance to clear tent encampments, which resulted in an ongoing lawsuit against the city of Miami.
“This is all a distraction against the biggest problem: the whole plan is a racist plan,” he added.
Commissioner Ken Russell, who voted against the plan and was present at a Saturday protest in Virginia Key, claimed victory to The Daily Beast on Tuesday, arguing that “activism built pressure for the policymakers to seek another solution.
“I wouldn’t comment on another commissioner’s statement,” Russell added. “I am happy, however, that the program is not moving forward at this time.”