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On February 8, 2017, students in the MacArthur Justice Clinic inspected the conditions on Death Row and interviewed Death Row inmates at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, Mississippi.  Their visit was part of the Clinic’s ongoing monitoring of Mississippi’s compliance with a settlement agreement entered into as the result of litigation brought by the MacArthur Justice Center alleging that the conditions on Mississippi’s Death Row violated the constitutional rights of inmates housed there.  Since 2015, more than 30 students from Ole Miss Law have participated in this monitoring effort.

Pictured from left to right are Josh Horton, Kyla Clark, Nathan Barnhill, Sarah Richerme, Cliff Johnson (Assistant Professor and Director of the MacArthur Justice Center), Haley Grantham, Alexis Russell, April Garrett, Tonell Jones, and Kelley Killorin 

As a public international research institution of higher education, the University of Mississippi is focused upon education and the success of our students in a global society.  We are a community of scholars committed to fostering a diverse environment, and we benefit greatly from a strong international and multicultural presence.

One of our top priorities is a safe and welcoming environment for all our students, faculty, staff, and visitors.  However, we recognize that for many in our community, there is significant anxiety, fear, and uncertainty related to recent Presidential Executive Orders.

We are currently gathering information and evaluating the impact of the executive orders upon members of our university community.  If you believe you are affected, or are uncertain about whether these orders affect you, please contact the Office of International Programs.

We value all members of our university community and extend our support to our international students, faculty, and staff during this uncertain time. We call upon all members of our community to support one another.  We will continue to monitor this rapidly evolving situation and keep the university community updated as more information becomes available.


Jeffrey S. Vitter

John McCullouch, Associate Dean Metro Jackson, will retire from his position effective March 1, 2017. He has served the law school in that capacity for five years.

“As the face of the law school in the capital city tri-county area, John has greatly increased the visibility and participation of  the law school with the Mississippi Bar and the local bar associations and we owe him a debt of gratitude,” said Interim Dean Debbie Bell.

McCullouch received his law degree from Ole Miss in December of 1978, had a successful legal and then managerial career with BellSouth and AT&T, retiring in 2007.

“I want to thank former Dean Richard Gershon for his idea that the law school needed a presence in the Jackson area, for asking me to join his staff and for being one of the nicest people I have ever worked with. In addition, it’s been great working with Debbie Bell, a former law school classmate,  as she has superbly lead the law school this past  year and a half,” said McCullouch.

The University of Mississippi School of Law will host a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Commemoration Panel Wednesday, February 1, at 12:45 p.m. in Weems Auditorium. The program is entitled “Race and Civil Rights,” and panelists will discuss issues of race and civil rights central to the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“This is the Law School’s seventh annual Martin Luther King Day commemoration event,” said Jack Nowlin, senior associate dean of the Law School and the event’s moderator. “We organize this each year to honor and celebrate Dr. King through an academic panel dedicated to discussing issues central to his life and legacy.”

Panelists for the event are Professor Michele Alexandre from the School of Law, Professor Paul Polgar from the History Department, and Professor Cliff Johnson from the School of Law. The event is free and open to the public. Off campus attendees will need to obtain a visitor parking permit before arriving.

For more information, click here.

Tyler Jackson presents his Virtual Housing Tour business to the Transactional Clinic at the University of Mississippi.

The Transactional Clinic at the University of Mississippi School of Law recently helped Ole Miss Graduate Tyler Jackson get his business off the ground. Jackson, who graduated last May, created a virtual reality program to give students a three dimensional representation of the dorm rooms available at Ole Miss.

The idea started as part of his senior capstone project. Jackson needed to develop a program within his major, computer science that would give back to the University or Oxford community. After meeting with the Department of Housing and developing the preliminary design of the program, he realized he had a viable business model. Discussions with the University led to expanding the program. However, Jackson knew he needed to create a legal entity before entering into any official agreement.

“I went to the transactional clinic hoping to get some information about what legal documents needed to be put into place in order to officially operate as a company,” said Jackson. “Not only did they help me understand the process, but they were even able to help me draft and file all the documents needed to form a Limited Liability Company, get a Federal Tax Identification Number, and set up an Operating Agreement for my company.”

Jackson worked with third year attorneys, Rachel Smith and Gregory Sechrist, as well as Professor Marie Cope to form his business, VACE Technologies LLC.

“I appreciated the students hard work, frequent communication, and patience with me throughout the process and the several questions I had,” said Jackson. “It was great to work with Ms. Cope’s mentorship and guidance as a group of young professionals.”

Jackson, a native of New Albany, is a 2016 graduate of the University of Mississippi.

Ben Griffith, adjunct professor at the University of Mississippi School of Law, was chosen for the American Bar Association Board of Governors. Griffith has been an active member of the ABA since elected for the House of Delegates in August 2009.

Griffith was formally elected to the Board of Governors in August 2016. The ABA Section of State and Local Government Law for the Board of Governors nominated him.

“This required a clear commitment to the goals and ideals of the American Bar Association,” Griffith said. “As I turned 63, I felt that the time was right to begin this level of service to the Association that had given me so many opportunities for professional growth.”

Griffith serves on the Finance and Internal Operations Committee of the Board of Governors. The Board of Governors meets four times a year and often uses conference calls to conduct business.

In previous years, Griffith served as Chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Election Law, Chair of his Section, and task forces and entities.

Delegate members are elected at- large and can be elected from their own state bar association or from the ABA Section of which they are a member. The Section of State and Local Government Law elected Griffith where he held the Chair position.

The ABA was organized in 1878. It is the preeminent voice for the legal profession. The ABA sets academic standards for law schools and provides the law schools with recommendations for persons nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court and various courts of appeals.

The ABA serves as a leadership and advisory organization on legislative issues related to the legal profession. It is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois and has over 400,000 members.

Grady Tollison (JD 1971) always dreamed of going to Law School. Through hard work and determination, Tollison made his dream a reality. As an alumnus, he is now helping current law students at the University of Mississippi School of Law achieve their goals of becoming attorneys by providing scholarship dollars to deserving students.

Tollison’s gift of $200,000 over three years helped fund five scholarships for first year law students. The senior partner at Tollison Law Firm, P.A. in Oxford recently had the chance to meet with the five recipients.

“They were really an impressive group of students,” said Tollison. “I was impressed with the diversity of the recipients and their interest in the law.”

The students were very quick to express their gratitude for Tollison.

“I am incredibly blessed to have received the Tollison Scholarship,” said Kelsey Nicholas, of Marion, IL. “It is truly an honor to have someone so generously invest in your future career from the very first day of law school, and it speaks volumes over just how much Mr. Tollison cares for Ole Miss School of Law.” Nicholas received her Bachelors degree in forestry with a concentration in wildlife management from Mississippi State University.

David Rucker, a graduate of the University of Mississippi from Germantown, TN, is another recipient of the scholarship.

“This scholarship is an unbelievable generosity on the part of Mr. Tollison, and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity.”

Scholarships provide financial relief to many law students. Without this support, law school would not be possible for some.

“Mr. Tollison’s generosity allows me to pursue a legal education without having to worry about the burden of debt that so many students have to stress about,” said Addison Watson, a graduate of Missouri State University with a degree in criminology. “This scholarship affords me the opportunity to explore different career paths that won’t revolve around paying back students loans.”

Tollison visited with the scholarship recipients and gave them advice and moral support for their law school career.

“This scholarship is an indescribable honor,” said Nia Wilson, a graduate of Mississippi State University with a degree in communications from Jackson. “Law school is a challenging endeavor, but with the support and encouragement of Mr. Tollison, I’m motivated to face this challenge head on.”

Michael Williams, one of the scholarship recipients from Richland, MS, hopes that one day he will be able to help students just as Tollison helped him.

“The Tollison Scholarship was a blessing to me because it helped make my dream of being a lawyer financially feasible, and I hope one day I have the chance to give back to the University like Mr. Grady Tollison,” said Williams, a University of Mississippi graduate with a degree in accounting.

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 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.






The Criminal Appeals Clinic at the University of Mississippi School of Law recently received good news regarding one of their current cases. On October 26, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the case of Donald Bell a/k/a Donald Wayne Bell v. State of Mississippi on grounds that the trial judge’s comments to the jury after they announced they were deadlocked were improper, and deviated from the procedures dictated in Sharplin v. State. Bell will receive a new trial.

The appellate brief was written by former law students Valierie Moss (JD 2015) and Philip Summa (JD 2015), who were in the Criminal Appeals Clinic at the time.

“I am thrilled by the reversal of this case,” said Moss. “It was clear from the precedent in this state that a judge cannot deviate from certain jury instructions and the trial judge clearly did here. I’m glad the Mississippi Supreme Court saw it this way too, and I’m glad our hard work paid off.”

Summa echoed Moss’ sentiments. “We were pleased to hear that the Court recognized that the trial court’s instructions to this deadlocked jury were inconsistent with the Sharplin standard,” he said.

According the opinion written by Presiding Justice Michael K. Randolph, “Sharplin curbs loose language from a trial judge which may have an unwitting coercive effect or influence on a juror. Without assigning an impermissible intent to the trial judge, we find his comments to the jurors before sending them back for further deliberations could be interpreted as improperly coercive and designed to produce a verdict. Therefore, we reverse Bell’s conviction and remand for a new trial.”

Phillip Broadhead, director of the Criminal Appeals Clinic, supervised Moss and Summa in this case. The Criminal Appeals Clinic offers advanced appellate training in the highly specialized area of appellate advocacy skills and provides third-year students with practical experience in criminal law and procedure. The students represent indigent persons as counsel of record in Mississippi appellate courts.

Senior Association Dean Jack Nowlin has been selected to participate in the Southeastern Conference Academic Leadership Development Program (ALDP). Nowlin was one of four faculty members from the University of Mississippi chosen this year as an SEC fellow.

The SEC ALDP was created in 2008 to prepare academic faculty and administrators for future leadership roles. The program takes a two-prong approach. Each institution creates a university-level development program for its fellows, and the SEC hosts two meetings for all program participants. Each meeting is hosted by a different SEC School.

The University of Alabama hosted the fall meeting this October, a three-day set of workshops and other events.

“This is a tremendously valuable program,” said Nowlin. “It brings together rising academic leaders from all over the SEC to meet each other, discuss important issues, and learn how to improve in their work. I met some wonderful people at Alabama, and I learned a lot of new and important things about administration.”

Dr. John M. Bruce, chair of the Department of Political Science; Dr. Daphne S. Cain, chair of the Department of Social Work in the School of Applied Sciences; and Dr. Cristiane Queiroz Surbeck, associate dean of the School of Engineering, were also selected as fellows this year. Associate Provost Tony Ammeter, a former SEC fellow, serves as the UM liaison and program leader.

“It is our strong belief that helping to prepare administrators for the next phase of their careers has the potential to impact all of higher education, both now and in the future,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “Our universities make a significant investment in these individuals, and we are proud to work with them through this program.”

The next SEC ALDP workshop is February 22-24 at Mississippi State University.

About the Program: The SEC Academic Leadership Development Program is part of SECU, the academic initiative of the Southeastern Conference. The SEC supports and promotes the endeavors and achievements of the students and faculty at its 14 member universities.

The University of Mississippi School of Law supports Chancellor Vitter’s recent statements emphasizing the University’s commitment to inclusion, diversity, and academic freedom. The Law School shares a deep commitment to these values as part of the University community, welcoming persons regardless of race, color, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, national origin, age disability, veteran status, or genetic information. (The University’s nondiscrimination policy can be found here.) We hope to foster a community of inclusion, an atmosphere of open, reflective, and respectful debate, and a home where all feel welcomed.

Deborah Bell
Interim Dean

The University of Mississippi School of Law was one of only four law schools that received a ranking of A+ in the area of Business Law. The Business Law Program was featured in the article “Top schools for business and corporate law.” The University of Mississippi School of Law was also ranked a “Best Value Law School” and earned a ranking of B+.


View the magazine.

Paul Litton, Associate Dean for Faculty Research and R. B. Price Professor of Law at the University of Missouri, recently visited the University of Mississippi as part of the Law School’s speaker exchange program.

The Ole Miss exchange program brings in faculty speakers from a number of peer schools, including University of Missouri, University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, University of Houston, and University of Kentucky. The Sherman L. Muths, Jr., Lecture Series in Law Endowment supports the speaker exchange program.

“I am so pleased to be able to bring in a scholar of Paul Litton’s caliber to the Law School to discuss his work and enrich our intellectual life,” said Jack Nowlin, Senior Associate Dean and director of the Law School’s academic workshop program. “We owe a great debt to Sherman Muths for his generosity in creating this lecture series to support outstanding faculty speakers like Professor Litton.”

Litton presented a draft of his new paper “Physiological versus Experiential Scientific Explanations of Criminal Behavior. Is Either Relevant to Desert?” to the faculty and student invitees at a colloquium lecture. He also workshopped a second piece with a smaller group of faculty at a special scholars workshop.

“Both papers focus on whether particular kinds of causal explanations of criminal conduct either do or should mitigate blame and punishment,” said Litton. “A criminal defendant, particularly in capital cases, might offer evidence that explains the causes of his conduct in hopes of a more lenient sentence.”

The speaker exchange program is a central part of the Law School’s academic workshop program for faculty. “There’s really no substitute for talking through the issues in depth and face to face,” said Nowlin, “something all our speakers recognize.”

“The feedback for each presenting speaker is extremely valuable,” said Litton. “It is very helpful to engage in person and in extended conversation. Moreover, workshopping a paper forces one to explain his or her ideas to other scholars working in the relevant field as well as those in other fields.”

Christopher Green, Associate Professor and H.L.A. Hart Scholar in Law and Philosophy, participated in the workshops with Litton and also visited Missouri last spring for the speaker exchange. At Missouri, Green spoke with a group of philosophers about the metaphysics of corporate entities and corporations’ moral and criminal responsibility, and with law faculty about the relationship of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments.

“Missouri is a great example of the sort of university that benefits from the cross-fertilization of ideas between the worlds of law and philosophy,” he noted. “The papers that Professor Litton delivered here reflect the same sort of cross-fertilization.”

Mississippi’s workshop program also has a strong interdisciplinary presence with scholars from history, philosophy, and public policy leadership often participating.

Read more about Professor Litton on his webpage here and on SSRN here.

The University of Mississippi School of Law Student body is hosting the Mississippi Supreme Court District 3 Place 1 Election Forum on November 2, 2016.The candidates attending will be John Brady of McComb, Miss; Steve Crampton of Tupelo, Miss; Judge Jim Kitchens of Crystal Springs, Miss; and Judge Bobby Chamberlin of Hernando, Miss. Each candidate will have the opportunity to introduce himself and present his candidacy and platform. Members of the LSSB and the audience will then have an opportunity to ask the candidates questions.

“We are very excited to host the candidates for the Mississippi Supreme Court District 3 Place 1 Election at the University of Mississippi School of Law,” says Gregory Alston, president of the Law School Student Body. “This is such an important election for the state of Mississippi, and I am very pleased that we are hosting an event to allow the law school and Oxford community to hear from the candidates before election-day.”

The forum will be held at the Law School in Weems auditorium and is open to the public. It will take place from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. A reception in the atrium will follow the forum. For additional information please call 601-543-2592 or visit


The Pro Bono Initiative at the University of Mississippi School of Law recently held its annual fundraiser benefiting the school’s Clinical Programs. This year’s event, the Autumn Soiree, honored Henderson Dantone, P.A., located in Greenville, MS.

“The Henderson Dantone firm in Greenville has been a backbone of Greenville Pro Se Day, a cornerstone project of the Pro Bono Initiative, since its beginning,” said Deborah Bell, interim dean of the law school. “They have provided a great example of what it means to be a lawyer who gives back to the community. We are so proud to honor the Henderson Dantone firm for their service to Washington County, to our school, to the Pro Bono Initiative, and for the example they provide.”

Greenville Pro Se Day is held quarterly, and is co-sponsored by the Pro Bono Initiative, the Washington County Chancery Court, the Washington County Bar Association, and the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project. Students work alongside local attorneys to assist low-income Washington County residents with much needed help in family law matters.

“All four members of the Henderson Dantone firm often participate in Pro Se Day, taking a full day from their practices each quarter,” said Bell. “Over the years, their dedication to the program has provided legal assistance to many who would otherwise have been without access to the legal system. While providing help to their community, they have mentored dozens of law students, providing them with practical experience, common sense advice, connection to lawyers who enjoy what they do, and an example of the highest and best of the profession – lawyers using their skills to improve their community.”

Accepting the award on the firm’s behalf was partner Frank Dantone, a 1978 graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Law. Dantone recalled the first Pro Se Day he attended. After seeing the need in Washington County and the help that was being provided he went back to his firm and encouraged the other attorneys in his office to get involved. Since then, all four practicing attorneys in the firm have participated.

“When I go to Pro Se Day, I see the good that is being done. When you see these people, they are finally relieved that they are able to get some results, they are thankful that the law system is working for them,” said Dantone. “It’s not really a labor, it’s a labor of love because we know we’re doing some good.”

Dantone also encouraged law students at the event to volunteer as much as possible when they graduate.

“Every opportunity you get to do something like that, I invite you to do it because not only are you going to be helping people, you’ll be helping yourself,” he said.

The University of Mississippi School of Law’s Pro Bono Initiative is a unique in-house pro bono program. Student volunteers represent client in daylong mini-clinics, work on policy initiatives, and provide public education on legal issues. Annually, 100-plus student volunteers assist over 500 clients.


View photos from the event.

One of the best ways for law students to get real-world experience is through externships. Mack-Arthur Turner is getting a double dose of experience this semester. Turner is externing full time at Memphis Light, Gas and Water in the General Counsel’s office and the Shelby County Public Defender’s Program.

Turner, a third year law student, has always been interested in municipal law, which is why he wanted to work with MLGW, but he also wanted to learn more about criminal law. After working with Professor Hans Sinha, the director of the Externship Program at Ole Miss Law, the two devised a plan so he could split his time between the two.

“I met with Hans, and he helped facilitate it and create what I wanted to do,” explained Turner.

Turner spends three days a week at MLGW and two days a week at the Public Defender’s Office.

“Mack-Arthur is truly getting a capstone ending to his law school career,” said Sinha. “Not only is he able to extern in the city where he will practice upon graduation, but he is also getting corporate utility practice in a division of the City of Memphis through his externship with MLGW and criminal experience through his externship with the Shelby County Public Defender’s office. He is blending and enhancing his doctrinal law school courses, expanding his professional network, and simply having fun his last semester.”

The dual externship has allowed Turner to work in three different areas of law: civil, criminal, and municipal. Although the two externships are in different areas of law, they are similar in the fact that they both deal with the city. Both provide a service to citizens, one in the form of electricity, water, gas, and employment, and the other in the form of legal representation.

“I’ve learned so much,” said Turner. “Coming out of law school, I think it will be lucrative to have that knowledge.”

As part of the externship program, students also take a course with Sinha, which according to Turner has been very helpful.

“He talks about our experiences and gives us tools to use during the externship,” he said. “It focuses on helping us get a job at the end. He’s making sure we ask the right questions, meet with our supervisors, and have a plan. It really prepares you to be the best representation of yourself and the school while you’re there.”

“The Externship Program is the law school’s biggest clinical program, and provides students a smorgasbord of real-world experiences,” said Sinha. “While all students participating in the Externship Program typically have interesting and educational experiences, Mack-Arthur seems to have hit it out of the ballpark this semester.”

Turner will graduate this December, and he encourages other students to work with Sinha in finding an Externship that suits their interests.

“The whole reason this double externship was possible is because I got really involved with Hans with the selection process,” he said. “It’s been a great experience and it really came from taking the effort in finding something that I was interested in and making it happen.”

Participants in the MaArthur Justice Clinic recently inspected Mississippi’s Death Row and conducted interviews of Death Row inmatesat the State Penitentiary in Parchman. The visit was part of the Clinic’s ongoing monitoring of Mississippi’s compliance with a 2015 settlement negotiated by the Clinic on behalf of inmate Devin Bennett concerning the conditions of Death Row.

“This is a unique opportunity for our students,” said Cliff Johnson, director of the MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law. “Very few people are permitted on Death Row, and there are lawyers who have been handling death penalty litigation for their entire careers who have never been allowed to see the cells where the clients spend 23 hours per day. I could not have been more proud of the professionalism, seriousness, and kindness with which our students undertook this important task.”

In addition to inspecting Death Row and interviewing inmates, Clinic students visited the gravesite of Civil Rights Movement hero Fannie Lou Hamer.

Pictured left to right: Cate Rodgers, Jasmyne Meeks, Ashley Brown, Joe Bonica, Morgan Stringer, Fredricka Brown, Professor Cliff Johnson, Blake Brookshire, and Jasmine Williams.

Learn more about the MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law.

University of Mississippi School of Law students recently took time out of their busy schedules to volunteer at the Special Olympics Bowling Tournament Friday. Over 100 athletes participated in the daylong event at Premier Bowling Lanes in Oxford sponsored by the Ole Miss Health, Exercise Science, and Recreation Management Program (HESRM) and Mississippi Special Olympics.

The event opened with the National Anthem and the Athletes Code, and then the games began. Five law students volunteered to help with scoring, set up, and morale.

“We cheered on the athletes and encouraged them to have as much fun as possible,” said Victoria Taravella, LSSB service director. “We all had a great time. It was nice to become involved with the Oxford community and do what we could do to help.” 

At the end of the event, ribbons were given out to all athletes based on scoring.

“The athletes were all very enthusiastic and excited about the games. Everyone was very supportive of one another,” said Taravella.

The Pro Bono Initiative is hosting its annual fundraiser Thursday, October 13 at the Law School. Proceeds from the Autumn Soiree, previously known as the Spring Masquerade, will directly benefit the University of Mississippi School of Law Clinical Programs. In addition, the Autumn Soiree will be honoring the firm Henderson Dantone, P.A. of Greenville, MS.

The Clinical Programs give law students the opportunity to provide legal assistance to low-income individuals and families who otherwise would be denied access to justice.

The event begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Law School Atrium and includes a silent auction, music, food and libations. This year’s theme is 1920’s, and guests are asked to dress in creative cocktail attire. Tickets are $30 for general admission, $50 for couples and can be purchased online at

A free family law legal clinic, sponsored by the UM Law School’s Pro Bono Initiative and the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyer’s Project, will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, October 6 at the University of Mississippi School of Law in Oxford. Attorneys and law students will provide free legal advice and assist with drafting complaints for guardianship, divorce, custody and visitation, and child support.

“The Pro Bono Initiative of the University of Mississippi School of Law is pleased to host the clinic to provide assistance to individuals with civil legal needs,” said Tiffany Graves, interim director of the Pro Bono Initiative. “We recognize that programs like this offer the only opportunity for those with limited resources to meet with attorneys and get their legal matters resolved.”

The clinic not only helps those in need of legal assistance, but it also gives law students experience as well as the opportunity to give back to the community.

Appointments must be made for this service. Eligible parties can contact Graves at 601-882-5001 to make an appointment.

The University of Mississippi School of Law and Dean Deborah Bell were recently featured on the website Writer Steve Vassallo did a Q&A with Dean Bell about the state of the Law School and its latest accomplishments.

“Dean Deborah Bell is the interim dean of the Ole MIss Law School, who is continuing to take the law school to new levels of accomplishment,” writes Vassallo. “With students currently from 28 states, the law school is definitely known and recognized as an outstanding institution throughout the United States.”

Read the full story.