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James Forman Jr. to provide a critical look at the criminal justice system

Photo by: Harold Shapiro

The University of Mississippi will host James Forman Jr., author of the acclaimed new book “Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America,” for a series of lectures and events Tuesday (Nov. 14) on campus.

Forman, a professor at the Yale Law School, will speak at the UM School of Law’s Weems Auditorium at 12:45 p.m., followed by a book signing. He speaks again at 5:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics, with a reception following. All events are free and open to the public.

Forman teaches and writes in the areas of criminal procedure and criminal law policy, constitutional law, juvenile justice, and education law and policy. He is particularly interested in schools, prisons and police.

“I’ve known James for all of my professional career as a lawyer,” said Tucker Carrington, UM assistant professor of law and director of the George C. Cochran Innocence Project. “I was fortunate to be his colleague when we were both public defenders in D.C.

“Professor Forman will downplay his talent, but he was a superb trial lawyer – whip-smart, personable, thoughtful and deeply passionate about his clients and their plight. Juries got it immediately; they loved him. He has brought those same qualities to his teaching and to the subject matter of his new book: the complex reasons behind our national problem with over-incarceration.”

For the Overby Center program, Carrington will conduct a conversation on social issues with Forman.

“We believe it will be a provocative program and a strong way to wind up our fall series,” said Curtis Wilkie, the university’s Overby fellow.

After graduating from Brown University and Yale Law School, Forman clerked for Judge William Norris of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit and then for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the United States Supreme Court. He then joined the Public Defender Service in Washington, D.C., where for six years he represented both juveniles and adults charged with crimes.

During his time as a public defender, Forman became frustrated with the lack of education and job training opportunities for his clients. In 1997, he, along with David Domenici, started the Maya Angelou Public Charter School, an alternative school for dropouts and youth who had previously been arrested. The school has since expanded and is run inside D.C.’s juvenile prison.

“Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017) argues that law enforcement initiatives by black officials have had devastating consequences for black communities. The book has been listed on the National Book Award Longlist, among other critical praise.

Forman’s book will be available for purchase at the Law School Tuesday. For more information, contact Carrington at 662-915-5207 or carringw@olemiss.edu.

By Jordan Thomas

© 2015 Barrett Photography: Michael & Dianne ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
www.barrettphotography.com

Ed Stanton, former United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee will speak at the University of Mississippi School of Law on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at 12:45 p.m. in Weems Auditorium as a part of the 2017-2018 Student Bar Association Speaker Series.

Mr. Stanton currently practices at Butler Snow in Memphis, and formerly served as Senior Counsel in the litigation department at FedEx.

“Mr. Stanton forged his own path: from law school to FedEx to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Now, as a partner at Butler Snow in Memphis, Tennessee, he has shown me that my legal career does not have to be linear,” says Allison Bruff, President of the Student Bar Association. “I am very excited for the student body to get to hear Mr. Stanton speak. Whether civil defense, criminal prosecution, or corporate litigation is your goal, this event is for you.”

Stanton is a graduate of the University of Memphis – Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, where he was a member of the Moot Court Board, Vice President of the Student Bar Association, and President of the Black Law Students Association, as well as a recipient of the Dean’s Outstanding Service Award.

Since law school, Stanton has practiced in both small and large private firms. At the age of 33, he received the Memphis Bar Association’s annual Sam A. Myar Jr. Award, the highest honor the MBA gives for a lawyer under the age of 40 for outstanding legal and community service.

In 2010, President Obama appointed Stanton to be a United States Attorney. As the chief federal prosecutor for the Western District of Tennessee, Stanton oversaw the prosecution of cases involving violent crime, financial & health care fraud, racketeering, international drug trafficking, terrorism, child exploitation, and cybercrime.

In March 2017, Mr. Stanton joined the Ridgeland, Mississippi-based law firm Butler Snow as a partner in its Memphis, Tennessee office. He is a member of the White Collar, Compliance & Government Investigations team and its Commercial Litigation Practice Group. This year, Mr. Stanton received the Best of the Bar Award in the category of Public Service by the Memphis Business Journal.

The Student Bar Association invites all students, faculty & staff, and member of the Oxford-University community to this event.

The National Sea Grant Law Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law has received funding of $125,000 through a national aquaculture competition to conduct research and outreach on legal barriers to shellfish aquaculture around the country. The funding comes from a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which recently awarded $9.3 million for 32 projects.

According to NOAA, “The grants were awarded through two competitions to help spur the development and growth of shellfish, finfish, and seaweed aquaculture businesses. The projects include basic and applied research to improve efficient production of seafood, permitting of new businesses, management of environmental health issues, and economic success of aquaculture businesses.”

For more information on the National Sea Grant Law Center’s project, visit the center’s website. For more information on the competition and other projects fund, click here.

About the National Sea Grant Law Center: The National Sea Grant Law Center’s mission is to encourage a well-informed constituency by providing legal information and analysis to the Sea Grant Community, policy-makers, and the general public through a variety of products and services. The National Sea Grant Law Center was established in 2002 at the University of Mississippi School of Law to “coordinate and enhance Sea Grant’s activities in legal scholarship and outreach related to coastal and ocean law issues.”

The University of Mississippi School of Law will host a lecture by Paul Fitzgerald Wednesday, November 1 at 12:45 p.m. Fitzgerald is a member of the Canadian Transportation Agency and a Professor at the McGill Institute of Air and Space Law. His talk on Aviation is entitled “Introducing A++, A Global Mega Airline You’ve Never Heard Of.”

“It’s an exciting opportunity for our students to have someone of Dr. Fitzgerald’s international reputation come to Ole Miss to not only speak to our students and faculty, but also to run a workshop in one of our Aviation courses,” said Professor Andrea Harrington, Associate Director of the Air and Space Law LL.M. Program.

UM Law has a Concentration Program in Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law for JD students, an LL.M. program in Air and Space Law for advanced students, and is home to the National Center for Remote Sensing, Air, and Space Law. It is currently the only law school in the country to have a program in Aviation.

Fitzgerald is an expert in Aviation Law. He will speak to students and faculty in Room 1115 in the Law School. Refreshments will be provided.

For more information on Fitzgerald, visit https://otc-cta.gc.ca/eng/members#fitzgerald. For more information on the Air and Space Law program at Ole Miss Law, visit http://www.spacelaw.olemiss.edu/.

The University of Mississippi School of Law recently participated in the Bicentennial Celebration of Mississippi’s judiciary and legal profession Wednesday, September 27, in Jackson, Mississippi. As part of the event, Ole Miss Law students, James Blake Kelly and Meredith Pohl, coached by professor Chris Green, competed against Mississippi College School of Law students in a moot court competition and won.

According to Professor Green, the competition featured the largest panel of chief justices and chief judges in our state’s 200 years.

“It was a huge honor to be able to work with students as hard-working, bright, creative, and with such appellate-litigation talent as Meredith and James,” Green said.

Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr. presided over the competition and watched as Ole Miss students successfully defended the convicted plaintiff in the fictional “Millstone v. United States” case by proving that a man was falsely convicted of criminal negligence.

“The opportunity to argue a case before such a distinguished panel of judges was incredible,” said Kelly. “They asked very challenging questions which required us to think about and respond to a broad range of issues.”

Pohl believes that her moot court experiences have prepared her for a future career in appellate litigation.

“Appellate litigation is my chosen career path, and to have this kind of experience at 23 years of age is more than I could ever have dreamed,” she said.

The competition can be viewed online at https://livestream.com/supremecourtofms/Bicentennial-MootCourt. For more information on the Bicentennial Event, visit https://law.olemiss.edu/um-law-school-participates-in-bicentennial-event/.

Wednesday, in the Jackson suburb of Pearl, Mississippi, Youth Court Judge John Shirley resigned under pressure, and the Pearl Municipal Youth Court was permanently closed in the wake of demands made by the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law on behalf of their client who was deprived of contact with her four-month-old child until she paid court-imposed fees.

According to Cliff Johnson, Director of the MacArthur Justice Center’s Mississippi office, Judge Shirley entered an order on August 22, 2016, prohibiting Johnson’s client, referred to as “Mother A” due to strict youth court confidentiality laws, from having any contact with her baby until she paid court fees in full. Despite the fact that those fees have not yet been paid, an order was entered on Wednesday reversing Judge Shirley’s earlier decision and returning custody to “Mother A.”

Judge Shirley’s “no contact” order was in place for 14 months, and the child is now 18-months-old. “Mother A” was not represented by a lawyer in the Youth Court proceedings. Mississippi law allows youth court judges to appoint counsel for parents in youth court matters, but Johnson says that rarely happens.

Johnson expressed disbelief concerning Judge Shirley’s order, “As a civil rights lawyer in Mississippi, I am no stranger to injustice, but for a judge to prohibit an impoverished mother from having any contact with her baby until monetary payments are made is shocking and repugnant. Such orders are tantamount to judicial kidnapping.”

In August 2016, “Mother A,” an African-American resident of Jackson, was traveling through Pearl while looking for employment. She was a passenger in a friend’s car, and her child rode with them in a car seat. When the car was stopped for a minor traffic violation, it was discovered that both adults had outstanding warrants for routine misdemeanor offenses. Upon arresting the women, the officer contacted DHS claiming that the child was “abandoned” as a result of the women being detained. The baby’s grandmother arrived on the scene within minutes, yet the officer still insisted that the child be taken before Judge Shirley at the Pearl Youth Court. Less than half an hour later, Judge Shirley awarded custody to the baby’s grandmother. An order was later entered prohibiting “Mother A” from having any contact with her baby until court fees were paid in full.

“Mother A” contacted the MacArthur Justice Center last week, and Johnson immediately conducted an investigation and contacted Pearl officials to inform them of Judge Shirley’s order and his belief that Shirley has issued similar orders in several other cases conditioning custody or visitation on payment of money. After receiving Johnson’s demands, including that Judge Shirley be fired and the Youth Court closed, an emergency meeting of the Pearl Board of Aldermen was scheduled for Wednesday evening. The agenda items for the meeting were “threatened litigation by the MacArthur Justice Center” and a vote on whether to close Pearl’s youth court.

At that meeting, Judge Shirley resigned from both his Youth Court and Municipal Court positions and the Board voted unanimously to close the Youth Court permanently. Pearl was the only city in Mississippi with its own youth court. All other youth courts operate at the county level. Matters previously handled by the Pearl Youth Court now will come under the jurisdiction of the Rankin County Youth Court.

“As a Mississippian with deep roots in this state that I love, I am deeply troubled by the many ways in which poor Mississippians, especially African-Americans, are victimized by Mississippi’s legal system,” Johnson added. “We have litigated matters involving excessive bail, illegal jailing of misdemeanor offenders for unpaid fines, and the refusal to provide poor criminal defendants with counsel, and now we see that not even the right to raise one’s children is beyond the reach of the injustice that befalls poor Mississippians. All of these abuses are imposed by judges who are either openly hostile to poor people or completely insensitive to the unconstitutional disparity between how the Mississippi legal system deals with those who have money and those who don’t. Judges of good conscience and Mississippians who believe in equal justice for all must demand more from our judiciary.”

The University of Mississippi School of Law recently announced that beginning this fall, veterans eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill Yellow Ribbon Program will have their tuition paid in full.

By using a combination of funds from the Department of Veteran Affairs, the VA’s Yellow Ribbon Program, and the University of Mississippi, veterans who served at least three years in active duty since September 11, 2001, and who attend law school full time, can have their tuition and fees fully covered.

“We are honored to participate in this initiative to fund law school for our veterans,” said Susan Duncan, dean of the law school. “We owe a great debt to those who have served, and we feel this is the least we can do to honor their commitment to this country.”

According to The University of Mississippi’s Assistant Director of Veteran and Military Services, Andrew Newby, the opportunity to utilize the Yellow Ribbon Program is available for any student veteran who has been accepted to the Law School who meets the criteria for 100% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. For those student veterans accepted to Ole Miss who qualify for any other chapter of the GI Bill, they will be eligible for a non-resident tuition scholarship that will pay the out-of-state portion of their tuition.

“There is no limit to the number of students that can use the Yellow Ribbon Program, and no limit for students using the non-resident tuition scholarship,” said Newby.

For more information, contact Newby at (662) 915-5021 or andrew@olemiss.edu.

University of Mississippi School of Law alumni have a new way to feed their competitive side while giving back to their alma mater with the school’s newest initiative. The UM Law Firm Challenge has been created to challenge 20 Mississippi law firms to reach 100% giving participation from alumni within the firm.

“During my time as Dean, it has been evident that Ole Miss law alumni are very loyal and supportive of the law school, so I know that they will respond well to this initiative,” said Susan Duncan, dean of the law school. “We are excited to see which firms come out on top.”

The goal of the competition is to increase the giving rate among the school’s 7,000 alumni, which is currently at a rate of 4.4%. By increasing giving participation, alumni can help provide the school with vital scholarship and operational funds that will benefit our students during their legal education.

“We are at a time when private support is essential for law students,” said Suzette Matthew, development officer for the School of Law. “As we continue to transition into the new world of law practice and legal education, the Law School’s success depends significantly on our generous donors.”

The challenge runs from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018. Gifts can be made to any UM Law Fund, and gifts already given during these dates will be included. Firms that reach 100% giving participation will receive a trophy, recognition on the UM Law website, and recognition in the Alumni Newsletter.

There is also an incentive to reach full participation as quickly as possible. The challenge has been divided into four categories: firms with 41 or more alumni, firms with 11-40 alumni, firms with 3-10 alumni, and other entities, which includes offices with UM Law alumni that are not law firms. The firm that reaches 100% first in their category will receive a personalized trophy and premium placement on the UM Law website and the Alumni Newsletter.

To take the challenge, contact Carol Mockbee: ccmockbe@olemiss.edu or Suzette Matthews: suzette@olemiss.edu. For more information, visit the website: https://law.olemiss.edu/alumni-friends/um-law-firm-challenge/.

The Honorable Robert L. Wilkins will visit Oxford and will speak at the University of Mississippi School of Law on Wednesday, Oct. 11 at 12:45 p.m. in Weems Auditorium.

Judge Wilkins currently serves on the Court of Appeals for the Washington, D.C. Circuit, and was instrumental in the development of the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. His book, Long Road to Hard Truth, tells the story of the 100-year mission to build the Museum.

“Judge Wilkins is a good friend of mine; we were colleagues together in Washington D.C.,” says Tucker Carrington, Associate Professor of Law and director of the George C. Cochran Innocence Project. “It’s going to be great. He has a great story to tell, not only about the museum, but about the long road to construction.”

The lecture will be held at the University of Mississippi School of Law, located at 481 Chucky Mullins Dr., in Room 1078. Judge Wilkins will speak for an hour, followed by a Q&A session. Lunch will be provided. Following his lecture, Judge Wilkins will sign copies of his book, Long Road to Hard Truth. Copies will be available for purchase at the Law School. The book signing will begin at 2:30 p.m.

For additional information about Judge Wilkins’ visit, contact Carol Mockbee at carol@ms-ip.org, or call 662-915-6000.

Suzette Matthews (right), development officer for the Ole Miss Law School, visits with Barbara Corsale at her home in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Ask Joe Corsale the secret to a successful life and he’d say it’s knowledge.

The Saratoga Springs, New York, native sought knowledge whenever and wherever he could.

“He had a passion for learning anything and everything from playing a guitar, to using a computer, to attending a three-week course in Maine where he learned the trade of building houses,” said Barbara Corsale, the late Joe Corsale’s wife.

He even learned the law, earning a juris doctorate from the University of Mississippi (UM) in 1964, but he used his degree only for a short time. There was too much to learn, too much to see, too much to do.

“You’d ask Joe, ‘Joe, what are you doing?’ and he’d say, ‘A little bit of this and a little bit of that,’” said Ken Reynolds, who became friends with Corsale when they were freshmen together at Western Kentucky University.

Among his many occupations and pastimes, Corsale was the owner of J.N. Corsale, Jr. Real Estate Company, an insurance salesman, a licensed auctioneer, a school teacher, a gun broker, a city commissioner for Saratoga Springs and periodic seller of pari-mutuel tickets at the local horse track. And there was, of course, the railroad — Corsale’s first and longest love. Long before law school, he worked on the railroad and when he retired after 55 years, he was the nation’s oldest freight conductor.

In addition to Corsale’s undergraduate and law degrees, the lifelong learner had diplomas from the State University of New York (SUNY) and the World Wide College of Auctioneering. It was perhaps his great love of knowledge that inspired Corsale to include the UM School of Law in his estate plans, leaving the university a $100,000 gift to establish the Joseph N. Corsale Family Scholarship Endowment. The scholarship is available to first-year law students with an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 and with first preference given to students from New York.

“He wanted to give it to somebody who needed the money, people who are struggling, but not just to students who are there only for the sake of being a lawyer,” Barbara Corsale said. “He wanted it to go to students who want to work with people and who are interested in their community. You know, ‘What are you going to do when you get out? How are you going to put your talents to good use?’ He was very giving in his lifetime and he wanted to help someone in law school who would profit from a little bit of assistance.”

Throughout his lifetime, Corsale made frequent financial contributions to the Ole Miss Law School and was a member of the Lamar Order, a designation given to those who make a minimum $10,000 commitment to the school, payable within 10 years.

“I think he chose the school for several reasons,” said Corsale’s classmate Robert Khayat, UM chancellor emeritus. “I suspect that among well-respected law schools, Ole Miss would’ve been the right size and the right price with the right admissions standards. I think it was the overall appeal of Ole Miss and Oxford, in the sparse population, in the way things move so slowly and in classes that were fun and teachers who were terrific.”

Barbara Corsale agreed, saying her husband, who had always wanted to experience the South, researched many schools before selecting Western Kentucky and then Ole Miss. But it’s likely his life would have taken a different track altogether if he hadn’t sustained a serious injury while working on the railroad.

“He fell off the trestle and broke his back,” Reynolds said, adding that during his physical therapy, Corsale became friends with a tobacco warehouseman from Cynthiana, Kentucky. “This gentleman told Joe that he was too smart and too dumb to stay working for the railroad, that he ought to go to college and get an education and make something of himself.”

Corsale intended to stay in Mississippi after law school. In fact, he was hired by an Oxford law firm. But when his father fell ill a few months into his employment, Corsale felt obligated to return to New York where he began to work for an Albany law firm preparing briefs to be presented to the state legislature.

One day, on his way to work, Corsale stopped at a bank in Mechanicsville, New York, to invest in a certificate of deposit. There, he met and later charmed the bank’s vice president into becoming his wife.

“I remember saying to my daughter, Tammy (from a previous marriage), ‘I’ve got a date’ and she says, ‘With who?’ and I says, ‘He’s one of my customers at the bank’ and she says, ‘Does he have his own apartment?’ and I says, ‘No, he lives with his mother.’ … She looked at me and says, ‘What’s wrong with him?’” Barbara Corsale recalled, laughing. “But they got along very, very well. He loved her and she loved him.”

After eight years as a lawyer, Corsale returned to the railroad and later became a general chairman of the United Transportation Union. He also worked with Walter Rich, president of the New York, Susquehanna and Western (NYSW) railroad in labor relations between Cooperstown and Washington, DC.

“He was funny and smart and always had a great big smile on his face,” Khayat said. “He really developed an affection for the school and its people. Occasionally he would make contact either in person, call or send a note. He always stayed in touch. Joe was really an Ole Miss person and identified with his university so closely that I know he was like an ambassador for Ole Miss wherever he went. That was his personality.”

Individuals and organizations may make gifts to the Joseph N. Corsale Family Scholarship Endowment by mailing a check with the designation noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, Miss. 38655; visitingwww.umfoundation.com/makeagift or contacting Suzette Matthews at 601-937-1497 or suzette@olemiss.edu.

By Bill Dabney

Activities include moot court competition, reception with Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Law is participating in the bicentennial of Mississippi’s judiciary and legal profession Wednesday (Sept. 27) in Jackson.

Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr. will be on hand for the celebration, and a full day of events, including a moot court competition between law students from Ole Miss and Mississippi College, is planned.

“We are so excited to have the chance to take a selection of our students to Jackson for this once-in-a-lifetime event,” said Susan Duncan, UM law dean. “Not all law students are able to interact with a U.S. Supreme Court justice.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for our students to meet with some of the top legal minds in our state and country, and in turn, we are eager to show off the caliber of students we have at our law school.”

Students from the UM School of Law and Mississippi College School of Law will have a chance to meet Chief Justice Roberts on Wednesday morning at the Mississippi Supreme Court. The Ole Miss law school also is hosting a networking reception at the Supreme Court building for Jackson-area attorneys and law students from 1:45 to 2:45 p.m., before the moot court competition.

Third-year students James Blake Kelly of Brandon, MS and Meredith Pohl of Houston, TX will represent UM in the competition, with professor Chris Green serving as their coach.

The competition will be judged by a panel including Chief Justice Roberts, Chief Justice William Waller of the Mississippi Supreme Court, Chief Judge Carl Stewart of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Chief Judge L. Joseph Lee of the Mississippi Court of Appeals, Chief Judge Sharion Aycock of the Northern District of Mississippi and Chief Judge Louis Guirola Jr. of the Southern District of Mississippi.

“It has been enormously rewarding and a great honor to work with students as talented, poised and hard-working as Meredith and James and dig with them into issues of criminal negligence in the Clean Water Act and corruption in the federal witness-tampering statute,” Green said.

“They will be sure to have the experience of a lifetime arguing in front of one of the most experienced and prestigious panel of judges – surely the largest collection of chief justices and chief judges – assembled in our state’s 200 years.”

Following the competition is a reception and banquet hosted by the Mississippi Bar Association at the Hilton Jackson.

Moot Court group heads to Australia to compete for university’s second international title

OXFORD, Miss. – Since winning the North American championship in April, the moot court team at the University of Mississippi School of Law has been busy preparing for its next challenge: the World Championship.

The team’s win at the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition at Georgetown University Law Center earned it the right to compete in the international finals this month in Adelaide, Australia. The team began preparing immediately, but with two members graduating in May and everyone going different directions for summer break, they had to find ways to continue practicing remotely.

The Ole Miss team consists of third-year students Kent Aldenderfer of Huntsville, Alabama, and Kyle Hansen of Issaquah, Washington, and recent graduate Alexia Boggs (JD 2017), from Nashville, Tennessee. Andrea Harrington, the school’s air and space law instructor, serves as faculty adviser, and recent graduate Marshall McKellar (JD 2017), of Hattiesburg, is the team’s assistant coach.

“Over the summer, it was difficult to get many practices in, but we did fit in a few practices on Google Hangout because everyone was pretty much in a different city,” Harrington said. “But once we got back from the break, we had a couple of practices on campus with Kent and Kyle and a couple of online practices with Alexia.

“We also scheduled the week of Labor Day for Alexia and Marshall to come back, and we had an intensive week of practices.”

During the week the team was all back in Oxford, it conducted two practices a day most days. Several professors came to judge the team and give members a variety of perspectives. After the week concluded, the team will have a few more online practices before leaving for Australia.

Although the moot court problem is the same from the North American Championships, this round features unknown factors for the team.

“The way this competition is different from a lot of moot courts is you have to prepare both sides of the argument, so you have to prepare a brief for both sides and oral argument for both sides, which is why there are three on the team,” Boggs explained. “Once we’re there, it’s a flip of the coin as to which side we will argue each round.”

The preparations were greatly enhanced by help of several faculty and staff members as well as the dedication of McKellar, who was a member of the 2016 team, Harrington said.

The team is scheduled to arrive in Australia on Sept. 22 and 23 and begin in-person practices once they are all there. The semifinal round of the competition is Sept. 26, and the final round is Sept. 28.

The team will be vying for the university’s second world championship in the competition. An Ole Miss team won the 2015 Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition in Jerusalem, beating teams from India and Greece.

Dear colleagues:

The Law School has received the results for the July 2017 administration of the Mississippi Bar Exam and are much higher than the state average.  There were 41 University of Mississippi graduates who were first-time candidates.  Within this group, 31 passed.  In other words, first-time candidates from Ole Miss registered a  75.6% passage rate.  (Note: This is exactly the same percentage as July 2016).  Among all the 55 graduates of our school who took the Mississippi Bar Exam in July 2017, 36 passed which translates to 65.6%

Overall state statistics compared to ours are:

University of Mississippi

State

First time takers

31/41 (75.6%)

80/124 (64.6%)

Repeat Takers

5/14 (35.8%)

16/48 (33.4%)

All takers combined

36/55 (65.6%)

96/172 (55.9%)

Although we celebrate our alumni that passed the bar, we will continue to evaluate how to get that percentage even higher.  Bar passage is a top priority for me as Dean.  We plan to take a comprehensive look at what we are doing including what courses students take in law school as well as critically assessing our internal bar prep course in order to better prepare our students.  Our focus has always been and will continue to be preparing our students for life after law school and giving students the keys they need to succeed both on the bar exam and in practice or their chosen careers.

Please join me in congratulating our graduates on their success on the Mississippi Bar Exam.

Susan

The University of Mississippi School of Law is honoring the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution by hosting UM Constitution Day Commemoration Wednesday, September 20 at 12:30 p.m. in Weems Auditorium.

Each year, the celebration features a panel, which is an edition of the school’s Student Legal Scholarship Exposition. Students will present their published and forthcoming works on specific constitutional issues, followed by responses from faculty discussants and audience members.

“We have one of the most robust and thoughtful Constitutions in the world,” said Associate Dean Michele Alexandre, who organized the event. “It is exciting to have such high level engagement taking place on constitutional issues between our faculty and students.”

This year’s presenters are Allison Bruff, Ripe for Rejection: A Methodology for States’ Departure from Utah v. Strieff and Its Poisonous Fruit (Mississippi Law Journal, Volume 86); Catherine Norton, Keeping Faith with the Fourst Amendment: Why States Should Require a Warrant for Breathalyzer Tests in the Wake of Birchfield v. North Dakota (Mississippi Law Journal, Volume 87, forthcoming); and TreMarcus Rosemon, Sticks & Stones May Break My Bones… But Symbols Hurt, Too: Government Speech & the First Amendment (Work-in-progress). The faculty discussants are Chris Green and Matthew Hall.

The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

 

 

Continuing his legacy of support to the University of Mississippi (UM), retired state Supreme Court justice Reuben Anderson’s most recent gift will provide scholarships for full-time law students.

Since becoming the first African-American graduate of the UM Law School in 1967, Anderson of Jackson, Mississippi, and his wife Phyllis have committed more than $200,000 to the law school, to the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation and to the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

“The law school gave me so much. If it wasn’t for the law school, I probably wouldn’t be a lawyer. The people I had contact with when I was there played a major role in my life and I want them to be remembered,” said Anderson, specifically naming Josh Morse, former law dean.

“But probably more than anything else, I think it’s important that the law school stay strong, attract Mississippians and develop our leaders for the future,” Anderson continued. “They’ve always done that and a little help on the scholarship end can be beneficial. I think it’s important that we continue to attract people to stay in Mississippi and not leave.”

Anderson is a senior partner at the law firm of Phelps Dunbar LLP. He attended Jackson Public Schools and received a bachelor’s degree in history from Tougaloo College in 1964 before enrolling in law school. In 1967, he was admitted to the Mississippi State Bar. His professional experience includes Mississippi Associate Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., 1967-75; a partner with Anderson, Banks, Nichols & Stewart, 1968-77; municipal judge for the City of Jackson, 1975-77; county court judge for Hinds County, Mississippi, 1977-82; Circuit Court judge for the 7th Circuit Court District of Mississippi, 1982-85; Mississippi Supreme Court Justice, 1985-90; and Jamie L. Whitten Chair of Law and Government at UM, fall 1995.

“All of it can be attributed to the fact that I got a solid legal education at the Ole Miss law school,” Anderson said, adding, “I’ve always thought the law school was a great institution. I think it’s world-class. It has a great faculty and leadership and a great incoming new dean.”

Dean Susan Duncan is grateful for Anderson and other alumni and friends who choose to support the law school.

“We are so appreciative of Reuben Anderson and his support to the law school,” she said. “Gifts like his enable us to offer scholarships to our students, which help alleviate the financial burden of a legal education. Mr. Anderson is truly making a difference with his contribution.”

Anderson received a wealth of recognitions throughout his legal career. Among others, he is the first African-American to serve on the Mississippi Supreme Court, the first African-American president of the Mississippi Bar, and listed in The Best Lawyers in America. He was inducted into the National Bar Association Hall of Fame in 2009, the UM School of Law Hall of Fame in 2011 and the Ole Miss Alumni Hall of Fame in 1995. He was presented the Mississippi Bar’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007 and is the namesake for the Reuben V. Anderson Pre-Law Society at Tougaloo College. He also provided leadership as president of the state Chamber of Commerce (MEC), 2001, and as a member of the UM Foundation board of directors.

Anderson has served on the boards of directors of AT&T, Dallas, Texas; The Kroger Company, Cincinnati, Ohio; MINACT, Inc., Jackson, Mississippi; Trustmark National Bank, Jackson, Mississippi; Mississippi Chemical, Yazoo City, Mississippi; Burlington Resources, Houston, Texas; and BellSouth, Atlanta, Georgia.

Anderson is a member of the 100 Black Men of Jackson and the U.S. Supreme Court, the American, Mississippi, Hinds County, Magnolia, National and U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals bar associations.

The Andersons have three children — Vincent, Raina and Rosalyn — and two grandchildren, James and Anderson.

“We are at a time when private support is essential for law students and ultimately the stability of the law school itself,” said Suzette Matthews, development officer for the school. “Mr. Anderson’s vision for the future will impact the lives of hundreds of law students and help to shape law practice in Mississippi in the future. We are deeply grateful for his generous support.”

Individuals and organizations may make gifts to the Reuben V. Anderson Law Scholarship Endowment by mailing a check with the designation noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, Miss. 38655; visiting www.umfoundation.com/makeagift or contacting Suzette Matthews at 601-937-1497 or suzette@olemiss.edu.

By Bill Dabney

Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Susan Duncan, dean of the University of Mississippi School of Law, recently announced promotions for two of the school’s faculty members. Associate Dean Ben Cooper has been promoted to Senior Associate Dean, and Professor Michele Alexandre has been promoted to Associate Dean for Faculty Development.

As Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Cooper worked to expand course offerings, recruit new adjunct professors, advise students, and assist the dean, faculty and students on policy matters. He also worked closely with the Offices of Admissions, Careers Services, the Registrar, and Student Affairs.

“Ben is a major asset to the law school. His incredible work ethic, kind disposition, and depth of knowledge of the school and legal education make him an ideal person to undertake this role,” said Duncan. “I look forward to working with him on overall strategic initiatives and efforts to advance the law school.”

Prior to being named Associate Dean for Faculty Development, Alexandre served as the chair of the Speakers and Faculty Scholarship Committee working with committee members to bring faculty lectures and writing workshops to the Law School. Her teaching and scholarly areas include constitutional law, international law, civil rights law, disability law, critical race theory, human rights, and gender, and she has published numerous law review articles, book chapters, and op-eds.

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

“Michele shares her passion for research by unselfishly motivating and encouraging others to engage in creative activity and is always willing to assist her colleagues,” said Duncan. “I look forward to Michele implementing new initiatives that will raise the research stature of our law school.”

For more information on Cooper and Alexandre, visit their faculty bios at law.olemiss.edu.

Dear Law School Community,

As we begin another academic year, I want to welcome you back or welcome you to the law school for the first time. I am deeply honored to serve as your dean and am looking forward to a wonderful year. I am excited to get to know all of you and do whatever I can to help this school and each of you reach your highest potential. So many good things are happening here, and we are going to build upon these successes to reach new heights.

In contrast with my excitement for the new school year, I am deeply saddened by this weekend’s horrible events in Charlottesville. I want to reiterate Chancellor Vitter’s statement:

The University of Mississippi vehemently condemns the racism, bigotry, and the acts of violence committed by hate groups in Charlottesville this past weekend. There is no place for violence and intolerance – not in our communities, on our campuses, or in our country. No words can adequately express how saddened we are by these acts. We stand with the University of Virginia community and send our sympathies to all victims of this tragedy. Please join us in keeping Charlottesville and UVA in our thoughts as they heal, find unity, and move forward. We ask members of the UM community to support one another, follow the principles of our Creed, and access campus resources should they be needed. 

I personally find the views expressed by the extremists at the UVA rally abhorrent and against my own core values. However, I also recognize that our laws allow people to express their own personally held beliefs in certain circumstances. To that end, our classrooms need to be places where vigorous debate can occur in a setting that honors everyone’s right to have and express their beliefs. Sometimes the beliefs of others may conflict with our own beliefs and even be offensive to us. But let me make clear that differences of opinions should be resolved through persuasion and never by intimidation or violence.

As attorneys, we are held to a higher standard, and I am confident that all of us at the University of Mississippi School of Law will rise to and abide by this standard. And I honestly believe that Justice Louis Brandeis was correct when he said, “In differentiation, not in uniformity, lies the path of progress.” Attorneys should be leading the way in showing people how to address conflict and difference of opinions with civil and respectful discourse. We must protect the rule of law and never allow anyone to undermine it. Law students and attorneys well understand that there may be multiple ways to view an issue or to solve a societal problem. The best attorneys carefully consider opposing viewpoints in order to craft more effective arguments. Therefore, let us strive together to create an environment where deeply held views can be expressed and challenged in an honest and constructive manner.

Sincerely,

Susan Duncan, Dean of the Law School

Ronald Rychlak, the Jamie L. Whitten Chair of Law and Government at the University of Mississippi, is the new president-elect of the Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS). His term as president will run from August 2018-August 2019.

“It’s a great honor,” said Rychlak on being elected president. “This is an organization that I really appreciate. It helps develop young scholars and advance the legal profession.”

Rychlak has been on the Ole Miss law school faculty since 1987, and he serves as the university’s faculty athletics representative and chair of the Athletics Committee. He previously served as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the law school. Earlier this year he received the Ben Hardy Faculty Excellence Award from the law school.

Rychlak is an officer (secretary) on the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Executive Committee and an advisor to the Holy See’s delegation to the United Nations. He is a member of the committee appointed by the Mississippi Supreme Court to revise the state criminal code and of the Mississippi Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. He is the author, co-author, or editor of ten books. His newest book, which was co-edited by Jane Adolphe, is The Persecution and Genocide of Christians in the Middle East: Prevention, Prohibition, & Prosecution (2017).

SEALS is an association of 102 law schools. Institutional members are from the southeastern section of the United States, but affiliate members can come from anywhere. SEALS hosts annual meetings in late July or early August each year. The meetings offer workshops, panels, and discussion groups that focus on pedagogy and a host of cutting-edge legal topics. Rychlak is the fifth president from Ole Miss in the 70-year history of SEALS. Previous presidents include Professors John Fox and Larry Bush as well as deans Parham Williams and Sam Davis.

Jeep Peden with recipients of the Stennett, Wilkinson and Peden Scholarship, Davis Vaughn (left) and Rod Hickman (right).

James “Jeep” Peden (JD 1970) knows the value of scholarships. During both his undergraduate and law school years at the University of Mississippi, he was selected for several prestigious scholarships.

“I was very fortunate throughout my educational career as I was able to pay for most of my education through the generosity of scholarships endowed by others,” said Peden. Now a successful attorney in Jackson, Mississippi, Peden gives back to his alma mater so that others may receive support from scholarships like he enjoyed.

In 2015, James “Jeep” Peden created the Stennett, Wilkinson and Peden Scholarship at the Ole Miss School of Law, named for his law firm in Jackson. The scholarship provides assistance each year to a second- and third-year law student. Recipients are chosen by the Law School dean and faculty based on academic achievement, financial need and an interest in local government. Peden’s most recent gift in 2017 brings the scholarship to just under $50,000.

As an Ole Miss undergraduate student, Peden received the Carrier Scholarship, and he was a member of the University Scholars, the predecessor to the Barksdale Honors College. He graduated summa cum laude with a triple major in history, political science and Latin, ranking first in the class of 1966. Peden was also a recipient of the Taylor Medal, the university’s highest academic award.

After graduating, Peden was recognized with a a coveted Fulbright Scholarship to study British government and politics at the University of Bristol, before becoming a recipient of the Ford Foundation Law Scholarship at the Ole Miss School of Law.

While in law school, Peden served on the board of the Mississippi Law Journal. Upon graduating, he joined law firm Stennett, Wilkinson and Ward, which has since been renamed Stennett, Wilkinson and Peden. There he served on the staff of attorney William Winter who was elected governor and is nationally recognized as a champion for education and for racial reconciliation.

In addition to his law practice, Peden is a past president of the Young Lawyers Division of the Mississippi Bar, past president of the Fellows of the Young Lawyers of the Mississippi Bar, chair of the Mississippi Law Institute, bar commissioner for the Seventh Circuit Court District and charter member of the Governor’s Judicial Nominating Committee. He also served on the Mississippi Air National Guard as a staff judge advocate for more than 30 years. Upon retirement, he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. He is a graduate of the Air War College.

Peden has been listed for many years in “Best Lawyers in America” in the specialties of land use and zoning law. Since 2009, he has helped prepare future attorneys as an adjunct professor at the Mississippi College School of Law, where he teaches a course on land use controls.

The Stennett, Wilkinson and Peden Scholarship is open to gifts from individuals and organizations. A check with the fund’s name in the memo line can be mailed to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655, or made online at http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift. For more information, contact Suzette Matthews, development officer for the UM School of Law, at suzette@olemiss.edu or 601-937-1497.

Professor Michele Alexandre has been selected as an SEC-U Academic Leadership Fellow. The award honors faculty who are academic leaders in their fields at Southeastern Conference universities. The SEC Academic Consortium Academic Leadership Development Program (SEC-U ALDP) aims to “the identify, develop, prepare, and advance faculty as academic leaders in and for the Southeastern Conference universities.”

“This is such an incredible program and I am honored to represent our University,” said Alexandre. “I look forward to the workshops and to getting to know the other fellows participating. It is so wonderful that this program assembles rising academic leaders from all over the SEC to meet each other, discuss important issues, and learn how to improve in their work.”

Membership in the ALDP Program requires two regional meetings per year, at Louisiana State University and Auburn University, respectively. The meetings strive to prepare selected members to meet the challenges of academic leadership by developing the leadership, managerial and organizational skills to lead complex organizations, as well as stimulating academic leaders to think critically about the future of their prospective universities.

Michele Alexandre joined UM Law School’s faculty in 2008. She received her Juris Doctorate degree from Harvard Law School, and is also an accomplished author and publisher of several books, law review articles, and op-eds. Her upcoming civil rights textbook, entitled THE NEW FRONTIERS OF CIVIL RIGHTS LITIGATION (Carolina Academic Press), is scheduled for 2018.

For more information on Michele Alexandre, visit her bio at https://law.olemiss.edu/faculty-directory/michele-alexandre/.

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