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Penn Law School // Daily Pennsylvanian File Photo

Justin Hamano, a third-year Penn Law School student, died over the weekend in his off-campus residence, according to an email sent Monday from Penn Law Dean Ted Ruger and Vice Provost for University Life Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum.

The cause of his death was not immediately clear. 

The spokesperson for the Philadelphia medical examiner's office Jim Garrow said confirmation on Hamano's cause of death is still pending and may take up to 12 weeks to confirm. 

"Pending cases are usually due to additional forensic testing. Depending on the tests, [the length of time] varies," Garrow said in an email.

Hamano, 31, graduated from New York University in 2009 with a degree in English and served as a paralegal and labor organizer before entering Penn Law, according to the email sent by administrators.

Justin Hamano // LinkedIn

At Penn, he served as political director of Lambda Law, a senior editor at the University of Pennsylvania Law Review and senior director of voting rights at the Democracy Law Project. 

Hamano held a master's certificate in labor studies from the City University of New York and showed a passion for labor law throughout his academic career. 

In Feburary 2016, he won a 10-week summer fellowship from the Peggy Browning Fund, which provides "public interest labor law fellowships" to students with a demonstrated commitment to workers' rights, according to a Penn Law press release

He used the fellowship to spend a summer working at the Service Employees International Union in Washington, D.C.

In their email, Cade and Ruger said a support session was held in Hamano's memory in the Levy Conference Room at the Law School today at noon. This email was addressed to members of the Penn Law community and was not sent to undergraduate students. 

Hamano is the fourth Penn student to have died this semester and the sixth to have died this year. 

Wharton senior Henry Rogers died a week ago on Oct. 9, likely from natural causes. Brett Cooper, a student in the School of Veterinary Medicine, died about a month ago on Sept. 13. His cause of death is still not known. Nicholas Moya, who had been a College senior, died by suicide on Aug. 31.

Anyone wishing to contribute a comment to this story should contact Executive Editor Dan Spinelli at 


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