The Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois (HLAI) presented John Marshall Law School Clinical Professor Damian Ortiz with its Community Service Award for his outstanding efforts in protecting civil rights and fair housing laws.
The presentation was made at the association’s annual reception on May 16, 2013.
Ortiz is a national and international commentator on foreclosure, housing and lending laws.
Ortiz has been a faculty member at The John Marshall Law School since 1998 working at the Fair Housing Legal Clinic. He has mentored dozens of students teaching them how to interview clients, prepare a case and argue before a court or regulatory body. Oftentimes, Ortiz has used his Spanish language skills when working with clients.
His efforts in a 2004 case Sullivan-Lackey v. Godinez helped change the law when the Illinois Appellate Court agreed with Ortiz that U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Housing Choice Vouchers, formerly Section 8 vouchers, should be considered as a “source of income” under Chicago’s Fair Housing Ordinance. The decision had a major impact on persons displaced from Chicago Housing Authority properties who were trying to use the voucher for rent payments. Cook County is also putting the “source of income” stipulation into law this year.
Another major settlement Ortiz was able to reach was on a nine-year-old federal case. In 2012, Ortiz won a settlement of $25,000 and damages of $75,000 for an African-American woman who was denied a sublease on a Chicago apartment because of her race.
Ortiz, who serves on the board of directors of HLAI, was part of a delegation that traveled to Mexico City in summer 2012 to meet with Mexican Supreme Court justices and other government officials. The delegation discussed the current Mexican court process, and advised Mexican officials on how best to improve the system.
Ortiz received a JD degree in 1997 and an LLM degree in Real Estate Law in 2004 from The John Marshall Law School. He received a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University in 1990.