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Professor Cliff Johnson was interviewed as the legal expert on WAPT, a Jackson news station. Johnson was asked how the arrest of the Hinds County District Attorney could affect the county’s cases.

Watch the clip.

Kristine Simpson, the recent recipient of the 2016-2017 Borchard Fellowship in Law & Aging, will work in partnership for one year with the North Mississippi Rural Legal Services (NMRLS) starting August 2016 to help elderly citizens in North Mississippi.

The Borchard Fellowship is awarded by the Borchard Foundation Center on Law and Aging, one of the centers of the Borchard Foundation, which is located in Woodland Hills, California. Its mission is to help improve the quality of life for elderly people, including those who are poor or otherwise isolated by lack of education, language, culture, disability or other barriers.   Their mission is closely aligned with that of NMRLS, which is to provide vulnerable citizens of North Mississippi with the highest quality of legal and technical assistance.

The Fellowship will enable NMRLS to expand its Elder Law Project by helping NMRLS develop an interdisciplinary network model approach for responding to instances of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. In this approach, Simpson will invite service providers who work with elderly clients to attend information-sharing sessions that will promote dialogues on the strengths, weaknesses and obstacles in providing assistance to clients who are victims of elder abuse.

Simpson will host information sessions, primarily in two of the 39 counties served by NMRLS: Lafayette and Lee. It is anticipated that this new program will be replicated in other Mississippi counties and possibly in other states.

Simpson’s goal is to create resource materials that outline the available community resources for addressing elder abuse, neglect and exploitation and the steps to take in reporting any cases. She also plans to present her work at workshops and collaborate with the University of Mississippi School of Law and the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project in an effort to expand pro bono representation of elderly clients.

Simpson is a December 2015 graduate of the University Of Mississippi School Of Law. While in law school, she was an editor for both the Mississippi Law Journal and the Mississippi Sports Law Review. She also was involved in a legislation and policy clinic, assisting Mississippi’s WINGS committee with research and reform recommendations concerning the state’s guardianship and conservatorship policy and practices. It is through this work that she discovered her passion for elder law.

The prestigious Borchard Fellowship in Law & Aging offers a select-few graduates of law schools across the country the opportunity to work with an organization to carry out a substantial project related to law and aging. The Fellowship, which is awarded annually, was awarded to four individuals this year. In addition to Simpson in Oxford, the Fellows were selected from Washington, D.C., New Orleans, and Los Angeles.

Simpson will work under the leadership of Catherine Kilgore, creator of NMRLS’s Elder Law Project. Kilgore has received numerous awards and accolades, including the receipt of the 2011 National Aging and Law Award, the University of Mississippi School of Law Public Service Award and the Mississippi Bar Legal Services Lawyer of the Year Award.   She has many years of experience in working for NMRLS and providing training in organizing community legal education programs. As such, she developed the NMRLS Elder Law Conference nearly 25 years ago.   The Elder Law Conference is North Mississippi’s primary conference that provides information to the elderly and Continuing Legal Education for attorneys and social workers.

Kilgore has served many years as Adjunct Professor for the Elder Law Clinic (at Ole Miss) providing hands-on experience for law students in the area of laws that impact the frail and elderly. She has developed manuals and brochures on health care and public benefits available in Mississippi as a resource for the general public, social workers, and attorneys. She is highly recognized as the leader in the public interest law community in Mississippi in the area of Elder Law.

Professional Sports Agent James “Bus” Cook is speaking at the University of Mississippi School of Law September 16 at 12:30 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Sports Law Society.

Cook, an alumnus of the Ole Miss Law School, has represented athletes in the NFL, MLB, and NBA. His clients include Brett Favre, Cam Newton, Calvin Johnson, and Steve McNair. With 20 years of experience as an attorney and agent, his negotiations have resulted in multiple record-breaking deals, including the NFL’s first $100 million contract for NFL MVP Brett Favre.

Bus is a native of West Virginia, but he now resides in Hattiesburg with his wife Jeanine and their two children.

Read more about James “Bus” Cook.

View event details. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently highlighted the National Sea Grant Law Center, housed at the University of Mississippi School of Law, as one of the featured stories on their webpage. The story discusses NSGLC’s work with the western states to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species by boats.

Read the full article.

Visit the NSGLC’s website.

Six students at the University of Mississippi School of Law have been elected Law School Student Body (LSSB) officers for the 2016-2017 school year. LSSB represents the law school student body to the law school and university administrators. Gregory Alston leads the LSSB as president.

Gregory Alston

Alston is a third year law student at the University of Mississippi School of Law where he currently serves as CEO of the Business Law Network. Prior to being elected president, he served as senator and treasurer of LSSB and is also a member of the Dean’s Leadership Council. Alston attended Ole Miss for undergraduate school where he majored in public policy leadership.

A native of Hattiesburg and lifelong Mississippian, Gregory was elected on Feb. 19, 2013 as the Associated Student Body President of the University of Mississippi. Prior to being elected, Gregory served on the ASB Senate his freshman year representing Stockard residence hall and his sophomore year representing the School of Liberal Arts. He was named Senator of the Year for the 2011-2012 school year and served as the director of Athletics on the cabinet of his predecessor. Alston was also selected by fellow Mississippi Student Body Presidents to serve as the president of the Mississippi Public Universities Student Body Presidents Council and was inducted into the University of Mississippi Hall of Fame in January 2014.

He has served as an intern for the Ole Miss Athletics Department and in the office of United States Senator Roger F. Wicker in Washington, D.C. He is an Eagle Scout, a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, and is also a

Senior Staff member of the Mississippi American Legion Boys State. Gregory has worked on a number of political campaigns in Mississippi including campaigns for the late U.S. Representative Alan Nunnelee, State Treasurer Lynn Fitch, U.S. Senator Thad Cochran, Gov. Phil Bryant, and he served on the Governor’s inauguration staff, “Imagine Mississippi.” Gregory clerked for Barbour Griffith Rogers Group in Washington, D.C. the summer of 2016, and is currently interning for United States Senator Thad Cochran in Oxford.

 

Allison Bruff

Allison Bruff, a native of Union City, Tenn., serves as this year’s vice president. She attended Rhodes College where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Cum Laude in 2014. Bruff is a staff editor for the Mississippi Law Journal, a member of the Mississippi Sports Law Society, Law Association for Women and the Dean’s Leadership Council. Before being elected to serve as LSSB vice president, Bruff served as LSSB senator. She expects to graduate May 2018 and pursue a federal clerkship before pursuing a career in civil litigation.

 

Chloe Kennedy

Chloe Kennedy, a second year law student from Albertville, Ala., was elected treasurer. She attended Jacksonville State University where she earned a Bachelor of Sciences degree in accounting in 2015. While at Jacksonville State University, Kennedy received the Robert Trathen Memorial Award for encompassing leadership skills and integrity. She is a member of the Business Law Network, Law Association for Women, and the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund. She expects to graduate May 2018.

 

Shanice Mitchell

Third year law student Shanice Mitchell, of Los Angeles, California, serves as this year’s secretary. The mother of a one-year-old son, Mitchell attended Delta State University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and English, Cum Laude in 2014. While at DSU, Mitchell was initiated into the Phi Alpha Theta National History Honor Society as well as the Lambda Iota Tau American International Honor Society for Literature. She was mentioned in the 2012 edition of Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges for her various academic achievements. Mitchell is a member of the Alumni Relations and Networking Committee, Black Law Students Association, Business Law Network, and Public Interest Law Foundation. Along with being elected to serve as LSSB secretary, Mitchell also holds the position of Christian Legal Society secretary, Law Association for Women secretary, Mississippi Entertainment Law Organization treasurer, and Trial Advocacy Board Administrative vice chair. Mitchell interned with the Law Library of Congress the summer of 2016, and is currently working as a research assistant for Attorney David Rozier at the Rozier Law Firm in Oxford. In August 2016, she was sworn in to the limited practice of law in connection with the University’s Elder Law Clinic. She expects to graduate May 2017 and pursue a career in both Elder and Healthcare Law.

 

Fredricka Brown

Fredricka Brown, a third year student from Greenville, Miss., was elected attorney general. Brown attended Mississippi State University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science with Leadership Honors in 2014. While at MSU, she received the President’s Service Award in 2013 and the Spirit of Service Award in 2014. Brown is the historian of the Black Law Students Association, and a member of the Public Interest Law Foundation, Law Association for Women, and the Dean’s Leadership Council. Before being elected to serve as LSSB attorney general, Brown served as LSSB secretary. She expects to graduate May 2017 and pursue a career in criminal litigation.

 

Kelley Killorin

Kelley Killorin, a second year law student from Columbus, Georgia, serves as the social chair. She currently serves as a staff editor for the Mississippi Sports Law Review, and previously has held the position of Associated Student Body senator for the law school. Killorin attended the University of Mississippi and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in public policy leadership. She expects to graduate May 2018.

Grady Tollison (JD 1971) almost wasn’t able to go to Law School. After serving in the military at a time when the United States was not at war, he was unable to use the G.I. Bill to fulfill his lifelong dream of going to Law School. With undergrad debts piling up from his time at Southwestern College (now Rhodes College) in Memphis, TN, Tollison moved to Coahoma County where he coached high school football from 1962-1969.

Tollison, however, was meant to be a lawyer. When the stars aligned, and the military decided to retroactively approve G.I. Bills, he enrolled in the University of Mississippi School of Law.

Tollison, the senior partner in Tollison Law Firm, P.A. in Oxford, MS, has enjoyed a lengthy and very successful career, and he attributes this to his time at the Law School. To show his appreciation, he recently donated $200,000 over three years for student scholarships at UM Law. The Grady Tollison Law Scholarship will be awarded to five Law students during the 2016-2017 term.

“To this day I feel indebted to the Law School and my professors,” said Tollison.

During his time at Ole Miss, Tollison was the Editor-in-Chief of the Mississippi Law Journal, the recipient of the Dean Robert J. Farley Award for the highest grade point average in his graduating class, and he received the Mississippi Bar Foundation Award for the highest grade point average among the three graduating classes.

However, he didn’t spend all his time in the Law School. He was also in the work-study program, and he filmed the Ole Miss football games.

“I knew very little about photography, but I knew a lot about football,” he laughed. “This was at the time when Archie played.”

His accolades didn’t end after graduation. Tollison was recognized as the 1988-1989 Outstanding Alumnus of the University of Mississippi School of Law, and he is a previous Chairman of the prestigious Lamar Order. In 1978-79 and 1989-90, he taught as an adjunct professor at Ole Miss Law.

He is a member of the Lafayette County Bar (President, 1985), American Bar Association, Mississippi Bar Association (President, 1993), Mississippi Trial Lawyers Association (Parliamentarian in 1986-87, Secretary in 1987, and Treasurer in 1988-90), and the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (State Delegate from 1984-86 and Governor to the National Board in 1990).

Tollison is also a charter member of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates and a recipient of the Masters in Trial Award given by ABOTA.

As a proud alumnus of the University of Mississippi School of Law, Tollison wants for current students to have the experiences that he had as a student.

“My advice for law school students is to always be honest and keep your integrity,” he said. “Mississippi is a small lawyer state and having a reputation for integrity is very important.”

The National Sea Grant Law Center, housed at the University of Mississippi School of Law, was mentioned in a media brief from the White House. The brief entitled “Obama Administration Announces New Policies to Promote Conservation and Build Resilience to Climate Change, with a focus on Pacific Islands” discusses the Symposium on Climate Displacement, Migration, and Relocation the National Sea Grant Law Center is collaborating on. According to the memo, “the Symposium will provide an opportunity for stakeholders, researchers, policy experts, indigenous leaders, and local, State, and Federal, government officials to explore legal and policy opportunities and challenges arising from climate displacement.”

Read the full brief.

Learn more about the National Sea Law Grant Center.

The University of Mississippi School of Law mourns the passing of James (Jim) McClure, Jr. (LL.B 1953), who passed away in his sleep, after a brief illness, on July 8, surrounded by his children.

“We were very sad to learn of the passing of James McClure, Jr.,” said Deborah Bell, dean of the University of Mississippi School of Law. “He was a strong advocate for and supporter of the Law School, and he will be greatly missed.”

Jim McClure arrived at the University of Mississippi in 1942, but left at the end of his freshman year after receiving his appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point from Congressman Jamie L. Whitten. He had aspirations of becoming a lawyer, and his father, a graduate of Ole Miss Law, encouraged him to return to Mississippi to begin his legal career.

“His dad told him that if he wanted to be a successful lawyer in the state of Mississippi, he needed to go to Ole Miss Law School,” said Jimmy McClure (JD 1991), Jim McClure’s son.

He eventually returned to the University of Mississippi to attend Law School, where he was President of the Law School Student Body, Chairman of the Honor Council, Chairman of the Moot Court Board, President of the legal fraternity Phi Delta Phi, and a member of Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society.

Jim McClure’s Legacy lives on in the support he has given to the Law School. He established the James McClure, Sr., and Helene Powell McClure Memorial Scholarship in Law in memory of his parents. The Scholarship is awarded each year to a deserving law student, with preference given to Panola Couny, Mississippi, residents and to residents of counties contiguous to Panola County.

He and his sister Mrs. Tupper McClure Lampton also established the James McClure Memorial Lectures, in memory of their father. James McClure, Sr. was the senior member of the law firm of McClure, McClure, and May, a member of the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning, chairman of the Mississippi State Oil and Gas Board, and president of the University of Mississippi Alumni Association.

Former McClure Lecturers include Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court; Professor Walter E. Dellinger III, Duke University; Justice Clarence Thomas of the U.S. Supreme Court; Justice Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court; U.S.  Sen. Thad Cochran, and General Vernon Walters.

Jim McClure was instrumental in getting Justice Scalia to visit the Law School multiple times. On Justice Scalia’s last visit, he and fellow United States Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan spoke together. Senior Associate Dean Jack Nowlin moderated the event.

“Moderating the conversation with Justices Scalia and Kagen was one of the most memorable moments of my career,” said Nowlin. “This lecture series is a fantastic resource for the Law School, and we are so thankful to the McClure family for their generosity in providing it.”

Jim McClure and Justice Scalia struck up a friendship, which began over their mutual love of tennis and hunting.

“Justice Scalia wanted to hunt, so the first time we asked him to come down, he said he couldn’t come,” said Jimmy McClure. “Dad called his secretary and said ‘tell him to come in the spring, and we’ll take him turkey hunting.’ When he got the message, he called back himself saying he’d be there. That’s how we used to get him down here; he loved to hunt.”

Jim McClure enjoyed a long and successful career in Mississippi. During his time as a Mississippi State Senator from 1952 – 1956, he. served as the chairman of the Mississippi Commission on Interstate Cooperation. However, he always claimed that his most important accomplishment as a Senator was meeting his wife, Angele’ Kazar, whom he was married to for 53 years. Together they had four children: Circuit Judge James (Jimmy) McClure III, Angele’ Anne McClure Thompson, Susan McClure Mays, and Jay Justin McClure (JD 1989).

Jim McClure practiced law in Sardis for more than 60 years as a partner of McClure and Shuler in Sardis, MS, and as the Sardis City Attorney. He stayed actively involved in the Ole Miss Community, following his father’s footsteps by serving as the Alumni Association President in 1985. Jim McClure was inducted into the University of Mississippi Hall of Fame in 2007 and the inaugural class of the University of Mississippi School of Law Hall of Fame in 2010. He was the Chairman of the Lamar Order, a member of the Intercollegiate Athletic Committee, Chancellor Search Committee, Chancellor’s Trust, and the Ole Miss Loyalty Committee.

The University of Mississippi School of Law hosted a number of judges and lawyers from all over the State of Mississippi during the annual James O. Dukes Law School Professionalism Program, a half day program conducted by the Mississippi Bar Association as a part of the Fall Orientation.

The program, which began in 1999, was named for former Bar President James O. “Jimmy” Dukes, who had a vision for mentoring law students on professionalism in their career.

“Jimmy was instrumental in helping the Bar and our profession focus on the importance of high standards and civility in our practice,” said W. Briggs Hopson, III, current president of the Mississippi Bar Association, addressing the 1L students. “It’s never too early to start talking about the importance of professionalism. The challenges that we face as attorneys are the same challenges that you will face as a law student.”

Justice Ann Hannaford Lamar, Associate Justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court, delivered the Keynote Address of the program.

“I hope you all recognize that this is a calling,” she said. “Those of us who have the privilege to be a part of this profession know that it is an honorable profession with the highest tradition of service to our communities and to our fellow man. Lawyers are confidants, and they are counselors who represent clients during the most difficult times of their lives.”

As part of the Dukes Professionalism Program, students participated in breakout sessions, facilitated by lawyers and judges from all over Mississippi. The students were given real world scenarios and were asked how they would handle the situations.

“Take a good look at these distinguished judges and lawyers who have taken the day out of their very busy practice to come to Oxford and to take part in this professionalism program,” said Lamar. “They are here to help you understand that ethics and civility and professionalism are not just buzzwords that we use. They are what we strive for in our profession.”

The program concluded with a luncheon sponsored by the Ole Miss Law Alumni Chapter.

After the luncheon, 1L students participated in the Professionalism Oath Ceremony and Pinning Ceremony. This is the first year that incoming law students have taken the Professionalism Oath and received a University of Mississippi School of Law lapel pin. Macey Edmondson, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, incorporated the Professionalism Oath and Pinning Ceremony with Orientation for a number of reasons.

“It’s important to stress why being professional, courteous, and trustworthy is so important to the legal community. Attorneys represent clients’ interests; an attorney’s own reputation should not hinder the ability to represent the client effectively,” she explained. “Furthermore, we are a self-regulating profession. Attorneys must conduct themselves and hold other attorneys to high standards. Finally, professionalism begins from day one of law school. A Student’s legal reputation begins at Orientation, and we felt that the Professionalism Oath put them on notice of what is expected in the legal profession.”

Professor Ronald Rychalk will appear in National Geographic’s film Pope vs. Catholic.The special details Hitler’s invasion of the Vatican and Pope Pius XII’s secret counter plan. Rychlak is the author of Hitler, the War, and the Pope, and he is an advisor to the Holy See’s delegation to the United Nations. In 2006 the Society of Catholic Social Scientists awarded him the Blessed Frederic Ozanam Award for Social Action, and in 2007 he was an honoree at the U.S. Holocaust Museum for this work on inter-faith dialogue. The movie airs on National Geographic September 4 at 8:00 (CT).

About the film: In the darkest days of World War II, St. Peter’s was shrouded in the shadow of the swastika. But even as the Führer surrounded him, the Pope was plotting a secret counter-offensive. Wartime Pontiff Pius XII has been derided for his public silence about the Holocaust. But evidence suggests his silence may have been subterfuge. And the man branded as “Hitler’s Pope” may actually have wanted to eliminate him.

View the movie promo.

Professor Mercer Bullard was recently featured on WalletHub’s piece “2016’s Best and Worst Cities to Retire.” Under the “Ask the Experts” section of the article, Bullard answered questions and gave tips about the factors that go into planning for retirement.

Read the full article.

Ole Miss Law Alumna Alysson Mills (JD, 2008) was recently named the Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year by the Louisiana State Bar Association. The award is given each year to a young lawyer who has made exceptional contributions to the legal profession and the community. 

Mills is a partner of the New Orleans law firm Fishman Haygood, where her practice includes First Amendment, securities, and general commercial litigation.  She also regularly represents indigent criminal defendants in federal court.

According to Ole Miss Law faculty, the award was well-deserved.

“We have a former student that within just a few years is not only practicing successfully in her region, but she is also becoming a major player in First Amendment policy,” said Tucker Carrington, Assistant Professor of Law and Director of the George C. Cochran Innocence Project.

In addition to her practice, Mills co-teaches a course on First Amendment and media law at Tulane University. While a student at Ole Miss Law, she was the Editor-in-Chief of the Mississippi Law Journal.

Professor Ben Cooper

The University of Mississippi School of Law was well represented at the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco last week. Professor Ben Cooper, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and Alumnus Randy Noel (JD 1978), attorney at Butler Snow in Memphis, served on the ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services. Cooper worked as a Reporter to the Commission, and Noel was one of the 30 members of the Commission, which was comprised of lawyers, judges, and academics from across the country.

“The ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services is addressing issues critical to the legal profession and legal educators,” said Deborah Bell, dean of the Law School. “It is an honor for the Law School to be represented on the Commission by one of our distinguished graduates as well as Associate Dean Cooper.”

Since 2014, the Commission has been examining how to make legal services more accessible and affordable. . The culmination of the group’s work came with the Final Report, which Cooper had a hand in drafting. He also helped present the Report at the Annual Meeting.

“Working on these critical issues with this amazing group of innovative thinkers has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional career,” said Cooper.

Randy Noel

The Commission’s Report made a number of findings concerning the market for legal services in the United States and then offered a series of recommendations aimed at making legal services more accessible and affordable. You can read the full report here.

With the conclusion of the conference, the Commission’s work is now complete, but some of the Commission’s work will be carried forward by the new ABA Center for Innovation, an idea that was recommended by the Commission in its Final Report.

Read the full report.

Each year, the Ole Miss Alumni Association recognizes outstanding alumni of the university by inducting them into the Hall of Fame. Constance Slaughter-Harvey (JD 1970) has been selected as part of this year’s class and will be recognized at Homecoming 2016. 

Slaughter-Harvey, former Assistant Secretary of State and General Counsel, is founder and president of Legacy Education and Community Empowerment Foundation, Inc. She was the first African American female to receive a law degree from the University of Mississippi and the first female African American to serve as a judge in Mississippi. The Black Law Student Association at the University of Mississippi School of Law was named in her honor, and she received the Law School’s Public Service Award, becoming the first female and the first African American to be honored. She was an adjunct professor at Tougaloo College for more than 36 years. She serves as the Scott County Bar president and the Scott County Court prosecutor.

Slaughter-Harvey is the recipient of ABA’s Margaret Brent Award and Mississippi Bar’s Susie Buchanan Award, which are the highest honors bestowed on female attorneys; the R. Jess Award, National Legislative Black Caucus Nation Builder Award, and Woman Lawyer of the Year. Slaughter-Harvey is a life member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Magnolia Bar Association/Foundation, National Bar Association, American Bar Foundation, Mississippi Bar Foundation, NAACP and Girl Scouts. She was inducted into the Halls of Fame for Tougaloo College, National Bar Association and the University of Mississippi School of Law. She is featured in a documentary, “Standing on My Sisters’ Shoulders,” which received honors and recognition at the Kennedy Center in New York in 2004. She received the Rabbi Perry Nussbaum Civil Justice Award in 2016 and the 2016 Heritage Award.

She is the mother of Constance Olivia Burwell (James) and the grandmother of James A. Emmanuel “Tre” Burwell III.

The Alumni Association will host a reception for the honorees on Friday, September 30, at 6 p.m. in the Gertrude C. Ford Ballroom at The Inn at Ole Miss. A dinner for the award recipients will follow the reception at 7 p.m. Those interested in attending the dinner should register in advance by calling the Alumni Association office at 662-915-7375 before 5 p.m., Friday, September 16. The cost of the dinner is $50 per person, or tables of 10 are available for $450.’

Read more about the Alumni Association’s Awards.

Business Inside has ranked University of Mississippi School of Law as the 24th best school in the nation for securing federal judicial clerkships for students. According to the website, 6% of UM Law students obtain federal clerkships.

Read the full article here.

 

Professors Cliff Johnson and Jacob Howard from the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law were among a team of lawyers that received the 2016 Trial Lawyer of the Year Award. The Award is given annually by Public Justice, the national non-profit firm aimed at ending injustice in the courts.

The group earned the title for their litigation work ending illegal money bail practices in various municipalities, including Moss Point, MS. The MacArthur Justice Center at UM Law and Equal Justice Under Law, a non-profit civil rights organization in Washington, D.C., filed the federal civil rights class action lawsuit challenging Moss Point’s money bail system, which kept many defendants jailed while awaiting misdemeanor trials because they could not afford to pay their bail.

“The Law School is so proud of the work that Cliff, Jake, and the MacArthur Justice Clinic are doing,” said Deborah Bell, dean of the Law School. “The impact on Mississippi’s low income community is profound, and the litigation has ripple effects across the country as well, as this award recognizes.”

The full team consisted of Johnson, Howard, Alec Karakatsanis, Matthew Swerdlin, J. Mitch McGuire, William M. Dawson, Thomas B. Harvey, Michael-John Voss, Katie M. Schwarzmann, Eric A. Foley, and William P. Quigley. The award was presented Sunday, July 24 at Public Justice’s Annual Gala & Awards Dinner in Los Angeles.

“This award is not the end of the story,” said Johnson, Director of the MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi. “This is an ongoing challenge to the abusive money bail system.”

Johnson added that the current bail system in Mississippi is flawed.

“Bail is used for the purpose of making sure you don’t flee the jurisdiction of a court. The way bail is supposed to work requires courts to receive evidence and undertake an individualized analysis of whether or not a defendant actually is a flight risk. In misdemeanor cases, it is exceedingly rare for a defendant to skip town or otherwise fail to appear. Moreover, there is no evidence that paying money to a bail bondsman makes it more likely that a person will show up for court.

All too often in Mississippi bail is determined based on a fixed schedule that does not take into account an individual’s ability to pay. If a defendant can pay the full amount, he will get his money back when he appears in court. Defendants also have the option of paying a non-refundable percentage of the bail amount to a bail bondsmen who will post bail for them. Many defendants in misdemeanor cases cannot afford to pay anything, so they sit in jail until their trial.

“These cases have gotten national attention in part because they expose widespread violations of very clear legal principles regarding the proper use of bail and the incarceration of individuals solely because they are poor,” said Johnson. “But for so long we have been accepting this misuse of bail that results in the incarceration of tens of thousands of poor people without asking the simple questions: When did we start getting this so wrong? Why are we imposing bail in every single case?”

In November, a settlement was reached, and Moss Point agreed to stop the practice that routinely jailed the impoverished. The MacArthur Justice Center also recently settled a case against the City of Jackson that resulted in the elimination of money bail in misdemeanor cases there. The movement is gaining traction throughout the state.

“I think that people are starting to realize that it’s a bad policy, and it’s expensive for municipalities and counties to incarcerate people pre-trial. The only people benefiting are bail bondsmen,” said Howard. “People are starting to realize that we’re using this system just because we’ve always done it this way. The District of Columbia has had a presumption of release for years, and their system is very successful.”

“We continue to investigate bail practices throughout the state and anticipate bringing additional litigation against other municipalities regarding illegal bail practices,” added Johnson. “Part of what is most gratifying and significant about our work is that we were on the front end of what is snow balling into something really big and really important, and it’s the topic of a lot of conversations nationally.”

Johnson added that the only other country that uses commercial bail bond companies is the Philippines. While most of the United States uses this system, its consequences are felt more in poorer areas.

“We are the poorest state in the country. We have more people as a percentage of the population who can’t make bail even when it’s small.” he said. “The significance of incarceration is something we talk about a lot. Many studies show that even if you spend only three days in jail, the consequences are severe – you lose your job, you lose your housing. So we’re reminding people constantly that after just three days, things start to unravel, and that’s very bad news for defendants and the communities in which they live.”

Howard noted, “One of the things that the MacArthur Center is particularly focused on is the intersection of poverty and the criminal justice system, and one of the most common examples of how poor people are affected differently is the system of money bail. As that system is currently implemented in many courts in Mississippi and elsewhere, poor people accused of crimes often remain in jail pending their trials, not because they are likely to flee or because they pose a danger to the community, but because they are simply too poor to pay a bond.”

The MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law opened in the fall semester of 2014. The Center advocates for human rights and social justice through litigation, focusing on issues such as access to counsel, police misconduct, wrongful search and seizure, conditions of confinement, and juvenile justice. Students participate in all aspects of the Center’s litigation including case selection, witness interviews, research, discovery, and assistance trials.

For more information on the Public Justice Trial Lawyers of the Year Award, visit the website.

For more information on the MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi, visit their website.

The University of Mississippi School of Law is currently being featured as the “Law School Spotlight” on the Council on Legal Education Opportunity, Inc.’s new website. The website offers prospective students a chance to explore their options when applying for law schools. The spotlight helps to expose the Ole Miss Law School to students who may not have originally known much about Ole Miss.

CLEO chose Ole Miss Law to be the inaugural Law School Spotlight for its commitment to providing an educational environment that reflects broader society and its varied perspectives, people and principles. The feature also mentions that Ole Miss Law is “highly ranked and regarded in many respects” and notes “the Law School strives to promote diversity among its faculty, staff and student body through its academic and extracurricular programming.”

About CLEO: The Council on Legal Education Opportunity, Inc. (CLEO) is a national organization that was founded in 1968 to expand opportunities for minority and low-income students to attend law school. Since its inception, more than 10,000 students have participated in CLEO’s programs and joined the legal profession.

To view the spotlight, click here: http://cleoinc.org/law-school-spotlight-university-of-mississippi-school-of-law/

A Family Law Clinic sponsored by the Law School’s Pro Bono Initiative in partnership with the Alcorn County Bar Association, Alcorn County Chancery Court, and the Mississippi Lawyers Project provided free advice to low-income families on divorce, child custody, child support, guardianship, and other issues.

Read the full story.

OXFORD, Miss.– Last week over a dozen UM faculty and staff represented the Law School at the Mississippi Bar Convention in Destin, Florida and participated in workshops, attended meetings, visited with alumni, and promoted the school.

Attendees included Dean Debbie Bell (JD ’78), Associate Dean Jack Nowlin, Associate Dean Ben Cooper, Associate Dean John McCullouch (JD ’79), Professor David Calder (JD ’86), Professor David Case (JD ’88), Assistant Dean Macey Edmondson (JD ’01), Executive Director Kirk Purdom (Alumni Affairs), Director Suzette Matthews (Development), Staff Attorney Carole Murphey (JD ’94)(Judicial College), Director Randy Pierce (JD ’97)(Judicial College), Professor Ron Rychlak, Assistant Director Scott Thompson (Alumni Affairs), and incoming Communications Specialist Jordan Thomas.

“Nothing is more important to us than our alumni and our state,” said Dean Bell. “I am so glad we have this special opportunity each year to connect with our graduates and with the Mississippi Bar.”

In addition to the workshops, CLEs, and receptions, the Bar Convention events also included the Lamar Order Dinner and the Law Alumni Luncheon, both well attended by faculty and staff. At the Law Alumni Luncheon, Colette A. Oldmixon (JD ’81) of Poplarville was named Law Alumna of the Year, and Thomas Vaughn (JD ’76) of Gulfport was recognized for his service as president of the Law Alumni Chapter’s board of directors.

The Law School also had a promotional table in the Lawyers’ Marketplace, featuring a mini-kiosk with digital images of alumni dating back to the 1940s, assorted yearbooks with candid photos, flyers and handouts with information on Law School activities, giveaways, prizes, and copies of the Clarion-Ledger.

“I’ve loved attending the Mississippi Bar Convention,” said Associate Dean Jack Nowlin, one of the many staffers at the promotional table. “Talking with our alums about their careers and about the Law School’s new programs has been so much fun. This year, we also brought down old yearbooks, and folks enjoyed that tremendously. I’m already looking forward to next year.”

View images from the Bar Convention and vintage yearbook photos.

OXFORD, Miss.– Professor Matthew Hall and Professor Will Berry have been appointed to new endowed lectureships by Dean Deborah Bell in recognition of their outstanding achievements in teaching, research, and service.

Matthew Hall, associate professor of law and former senior associate dean, is the Law School’s newest Jessie D. Puckett, Jr., Lecturer in Law. Will Berry, associate professor of law and director of the Law School’s Cambridge Program, will become the Law School’s second Frank Montague, Jr. Professor of Legal Studies and Professionalism.

Professor Hall is a graduate of Harvard and the University of Kentucky College of Law. He teaches property, criminal procedure, legislation, and immigration. Hall also advises the Moot Court Board and recently finished up several years as associate dean for academic affairs and senior associate dean.

Professor Berry is a graduate of Vanderbilt Law School and received a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford. He teaches criminal law, sports law, criminal procedure, and employment discrimination. Berry is a highly productive scholar specializing in Eighth Amendment law and also serves as advisor to the Mississippi Sports Law Review.

“I am so pleased to be able to honor these two individuals with new appointments,” said Dean Bell. “Matthew Hall and Will Berry have made such immense contributions to the life of the Law School over the last few years. There is no one on the faculty more deserving.”

The recipients were very appreciative. “It is such an honor to serve as a Jesse D. Puckett, Jr., Lecturer,” said Professor Hall. “It is such a testament to the generosity the Law School enjoys from its friends and alums that we have lectureships like this.” “Serving as a Montague Professor,” said Professor Berry, “is quite an honor, and one for which I am very thankful. Support from our alumni is indispensable to the important work we do for students and for the legal community.”

Professor Hall joins the Law School’s other Puckett Lecturers in the appointment, Senior Associate Dean Jack Wade Nowlin and Professor Lisa Shaw Roy.

The Jessie D. Puckett Lectureship honors its namesake, Jessie D. Puckett, a native Mississippian who graduated from the Law School in 1953. Puckett went on to a very distinguished career with Exxon and Forest Oil Company. Puckett was very devoted and loyal to his alma mater and began an endowment to support Ole Miss law faculty in 1987 with an initial gift of $2,000. Puckett, who passed away in late 2014, continued giving throughout his life and through his estate. The Puckett Endowment is now worth nearly $1,000,000.

“Jessie D. Puckett’s generous support for faculty has made a tremendous difference in the life of the Law School,” said Associate Dean Jack Wade Nowlin, the senior Puckett Lecturer, who has held the appointment for fifteen years. “We owe Jessie D. Puckett a large debt of gratitude.”

Professor Berry joins Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Ben Cooper in holding the Montague Professorship.

The Frank Montague, Jr. Professor of Legal Studies and Professionalism Endowment was recently established by H. Dixon Montague of Houston, Texas, in honor of his father–Frank Montague, a native of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The elder Montague, who passed away in 2013, was a 1950 graduate of the Ole Miss Law School who went on to an illustrious legal career in the state, one marked by numerous achievements and honors, including service as Mississippi Bar President and induction into the UM School of Law Hall of Fame.

Associate Dean Cooper views the Montague appointment as a very high honor. “To hold an endowed professorship honoring someone of Frank Montague’s stature in our legal community is a tremendous professional compliment, and the faculty support it has provided is very important to the Law School’s teaching, research, and service.”

Indeed, the Ole Miss Law School’s tradition, unlike that of many schools, is to recognize teaching and service, as well as research, with endowed appointments, something embraced by faculty and alumni alike.

“I am particularly grateful,” said Professor Hall, “to work at an institution that recognizes not only the crucial importance of scholarship but also the essential value of classroom teaching along with the contributions our faculty make to the legal profession in Mississippi and nationally. If you look at the impressive list of our faculty holding chairs and lectureships, you will see two things—an incredible group of teacher-scholars committed to the profession and a phenomenal level of support provided by our donors.”

Read more about Professor Matthew Hall here.
Read more about Professor Will Berry here.

Read more about Jessie D. Puckett, Jr. here and here.
Read more about Frank Montague, Jr. here and here.

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