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Professor Cliff Johnson, director of the MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law, was quoted in the Los Angeles Times on the “Mississippi Burning” case, noting that “this is one of the biggest cases of this century.”

Read the Los Angeles Times story.

Members of the TPR Study Group with Gov. Phil Bryant. (L-R): Randy Pierce, Mississippi Judicial College (MJC) director; Patti Marshall, Miss. Attorney General’s Office; Bill Charlton, MJC staff attorney; Gov. Phil Bryant; Carole Murphey, MJC staff attorney; David Calder, associate clinical professor at the University of Mississippi School of Law; Judge John Hudson, Jurist in Residence; and Judge Tom Broome, Rankin County Court judge.  Photo by Beverly Kraft, PIO of the Mississippi Administrative Offices of the Court.

Law addresses concerns highlighted in landmark case, helps provide better results for children

OXFORD, Miss. – On April 18, Gov. Phil Bryant signed the Termination of Parental Rights Act, a piece of legislation proposed by the Termination of Parental Rights Study Group and designed by a team assembled by the University of Mississippi School of Law.

The Parental Rights Study Group was convened at the suggestion of Chief Justice William Waller Jr. and chaired by former Associate Justice Randy Pierce, who is director of the Mississippi Judicial College, a division of the UM School of Law tasked with educating and training Mississippi judges and court personnel.

“After the Mississippi Supreme Court’s decision in the Chism v. Bright case, it became necessary for the Legislature to modify the then-existing statutes to provide a workable framework in termination cases,” Pierce said. “I was on the court when Chism was handed down and agreed with that decision, as did a unanimous court.

“However, the case magnified a need to study the TPR statutes. Chief Justice Waller asked me to chair a study group and to invite various stakeholders to participate.”

Chism v. Bright essentially reversed a judgment by the Union County Chancery Court, which took away parental rights from a father, saying all the prerequisites had not been met to do so. It also upheld the idea that there should be strict standards to apply when terminating the rights of parents.

The study group members included David Calder, UM law professor and director of the school’s Child Advocacy Clinic, and MJC staff attorneys Bill Charlton and Carole Murphey. In addition to resolving the concern raised in Chism, the study group sought to clarify other aspects of TPR cases and improve the fairness and efficiency of those proceedings.

Based on the study group’s recommendations, Charlton worked closely with Calder and Murphey to draft the proposed legislation. Calder provided a practitioner’s viewpoint in shaping the procedures and definitions included in the bill. Murphey assisted in organizing the overall structure of the legislation.

“David Calder, our child advocacy clinical professor, has been a tireless advocate for children for over 20 years,” Said Deborah Bell, dean of the School of Law. “His expertise, research and advice played an important role in the passage of this important legislation.”

The passage of the legislation helps Mississippi take a step toward becoming a model child welfare state, Charlton said.

“It was a special honor serving with the distinguished members of the study group who likewise share that goal, and Justice Pierce’s leadership as chair made it happen,” he said. “All the members of the study group played a significant role in the drafting process. I’m proud that House Bill 1240 passed in both the House and Senate by clear majority votes and with bipartisan support.”

Other study group members were:

  • Eugene Fair, judge of the Mississippi Court of Appeals
  • Cynthia Brewer, chancery court judge
  • Patricia Wise, chancery court judge
  • Tom Broome, county court judge
  • John Hudson, jurist in residence
  • Patti Marshall, special assistant Mississippi attorney general
  • Earl Scales, special assistant Mississippi attorney general
  • Joyce Hill Williams, special assistant Mississippi attorney general
  • Jeffrey Rimes, Taggart, Rimes & Graham PLLC
  • Caryn Quilter, staff attorney at the Mississippi Senate
  • Gwennetta Tatum, staff attorney at the Mississippi House of Representatives

“Playing a role in this endeavor was rewarding and meaningful,” Pierce said. “The Termination of Parental Rights Act work product required an enormous amount of time and effort.

“However, our goal in every case affecting a child is to have the best outcome possible. The new law will help provide better outcomes for children. And for that, I’m grateful to all who came together to get this done.”

By Jenny Kate Luster

OXFORD, Miss.–Ben Cooper, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Frank Montague, Jr. Professor of Legal Studies and Professionalism at the University of Mississippi School of Law, will serve on a panel at the ABA’s 42nd National Conference on Professional Responsibility being held June 1-3 in Philadelphia.  The panel will discuss the process of withdrawal from representing a client, covering concepts such as unreasonable financial burden withdrawal, how to advise lawyer-clients contemplating withdrawal, and what to do about unpaid fees; mandatory withdrawal situations such as fraud by the client or irreconcilable conflicts between the lawyer and client, as well as permissive withdrawal situations.  Cooper will serve on the panel with the Honorable Anne E. Lazarus, Superior Court of Pennsylvania, and Thomas Mason, partner Harris, Wiltshire & Granniss, LLP.

Read more about the conference by visit the ABA’s website.

Assistant Director of Career Services, Karen T. Peairs, Esq.

OXFORD, Miss.–Karen Peairs, assistant director for the Career Services Office at the University of Mississippi School of Law, was named recently as president of the Magnolia Bar, an organization whose purpose is to articulate the various problems confronting blacks and other people of color, and to assure that justice prevails in Mississippi.

In her new role, Peairs will be responsible for presiding over all meetings for the year, and for the oversight of the Bar’s programming.

“Karen Peairs has been a committed and dedicated member of the Magnolia Bar,” said Debbie Bell, dean.  “We are proud that her efforts and leadership have been recognized with this honor.”

She will be organizing their Annual Boy’s and Girl’s Law Camp, the Tougaloo Summit, Fall CLE Program,  their Mid-Winter Meeting and Banquet, Judicial Symposium and the Magnolia Bar Association Annual Meeting as a part of the Mississippi Black Professionals Association.

In addition to this, Peairs says she has some personal goals she wishes to accomplish.

“I really want to grow membership within the Magnolia Bar and in districts outside of Jackson to ensure their participation,” she siad. “I also hope to strengthen our program to attract new people to the legal profession, and then help new lawyers overcome some of the difficulties of becoming lawyers.”

Peairs also said she wants to expand the organization’s existing programming to diminish unmet legal needs in Mississippi.

Peairs got involved with the Bar by attending meetings, and was eventually assigned a district director position for the northeast district, where she won district director of the year.  She organized programming such as a meet and greet between the law school’s BLSA chapter and the Magnolia Bar, got alumni involved to help African American students, and also worked for several years on the organization’s expungement clinic, which is held at the law school.

Peairs has counseled law students for nearly 15 years.  She holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and African American studies from Washington University in St. Louis, and a master’s in clinical psychology from Emory University.

She worked as a career specialist and instructor in Higher Education for the undergraduate Career Center at the University of Mississippi before taking a position as the associate director for Career Services at the University of Baltimore School of Law in Baltimore, Maryland. While working at that law school, she decided to pursue her law degree, which she received from the University of Maryland in 2004.

She is a member in good-standing of the Mississippi Bar Association and is also a newly appointed board member for the North Mississippi Rural Legal Services.

By Prof. Phil Broadhead

On April 22, 2016, the UM Law Transactional Clinic made a presentation at a regional continuing legal education seminar hosted by the Business Law Network and Regions Bank in Memphis, Tennessee. Community outreach is a vital portion of the Transactional Clinic, and it sent third-year law students Jessica Rice and Elizabeth Robinson to the Business Law Network’s 2016 Spring Conference to make a presentation on the “fine line” between simple advocacy and formal legislative lobbying in the context of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Cameron Abel, one of the clinic’s supervising attorneys, began the Clinic’s address to the group by speaking of the Clinic’s mission and its services to non-profit organizations and small LLC businesses. Rice and Robinson, two advanced students in the Clinic, then explained how the IRS defines “lobbying,” the restrictions the law places upon non-profit organizations in formal lobbying, and the provision for penalties if the restrictions are exceeded. The students closed the presentation with the general advice the Clinic gives to all of their non-profit clients.

Jessica Rice said, “The opportunity to present at these CLE’s has been an invaluable one. Presenting really makes you know the information, I have learned so much more about non-profits and public speaking [through participating in the Clinic] than I expected.”

Left to Right:
Jess Waltman, Marie Wicks, Andrew Carter, Marilyn Rozier, Heather McElwee, Natalie Mann, Cam Abel, Prof. Czarnesksy, Jessica Rice, Prof. Bullard, Ricky Clifton, Brennan Black, Gregory Alston

Andrew Carter, Marilyn Rozier, Natalie Mann, and Heather McElwee

This was the second time the Clinic participated at a conference hosted by the Business Law Network, who said it hopes to make their partnership with Regions Bank in these events a permanent opportunity to educate the public on topics of interest and value to their businesses.

OXFORD, Miss. – Professor Ronald Rychlak’s 2013 book Disinformation has just been released in new Russian and Portuguese translations. Coauthored by Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest-ranking Soviet bloc intelligence official ever to defect to the West, Disinformation recounts the history of post-WWII Soviet disinformation campaigns and their effect on Western politics. This groundbreaking work has found an international audience, and the new editions in Russian and Portuguese join a Romanian translation published last year.

“This remarkable book will change the way you look at intelligence, foreign affairs, the press, and much else besides.” – R. James Woolsey, former director of U.S. Central Intelligence Agency

Read more about Disinformation here and here.

By: Professor Phil Broadhead

Gregory Alston at Field Day.

The Transactional Clinic at UM Law serves a number of different businesses ranging from for-profit LLC’s to nonprofit private foundations and public charities. A significant portion of the work the clinic does is split between advising specific clients and conducting community outreach.

A vital part of the Clinic’s outreach is attending the monthly educational group meetings referred to as “field days” hosted all over the state by The Alliance for Sustainable Agricultural Production. The field days provide farmers a way to network with other operations, to learn about varied farming techniques, and to hear a variety of speakers who share their expertise on sustainable farming in Mississippi.

On April 15, 2016, the UM Transactional Clinic attended a field day held in Pickens, Mississippi, at Seven Cedars Farm where the owner of the farm spoke alongside a representative from Mississippi State and a representative from the Rainbow Co-op in Jackson, Mississippi.

Gregory Alston, a third-year law student representing the Transactional Clinic, also spoke to the farmers about the protection benefits of creating limited liability companies for their farming operations. Alston said, “I was excited to be able to share with farmers from around the area about the importance of a Limited Liability Company and also hear from them about the necessity of [establishing] sustainable agriculture.”

The attendees were very engaged and asked Alston several follow-up questions about how to separate personal funds from business income, as well as how the attendees could become a single-member LLC business entity. The questions posed by the attendees also provided Cam Abel and Marie Cope, Transactional Clinic supervising attorneys, the opportunity to provide more general guidelines on business practices such as the proper method of an LLC making a bank loan for the operation of the farm.

OXFORD, Miss.–The Federal Courts Law Review (FCLR) and the Mississippi Law Journal (MLJ) have formed an exciting new publishing partnership starting in the 2016-2017 academic year. Under the partnership plan, the editors of the Mississippi Law Journal will provide essential editing services for the Federal Courts Law Review and also publish a joint MLJ-FCLR partnership volume of the Mississippi Law Journal. The two journals also hope to organize joint symposia.

“We are all very excited about this new venture,” said associate dean and MLJ faculty advisor Jack Nowlin, “one which combines the talent and expertise of these two wonderful publications.”

The Federal Courts Law Review, a prestigious specialty journal dedicated to scholarship relating to the federal courts, is published by the Federal Magistrate Judges Association.

While most law journals are student edited, the Federal Courts Law Review has the advantage of combining peer editing with student editing. The FCLR’s peer editors are United States Magistrate Judges and legal academics. The peer editorial board selects articles for publication and engages in advanced editing. The Review’s student editors do basic editing, citation checking and bluebooking of articles.

Under the new partnership, the editors of the Mississippi Law Journal will also serve as the student editors of the Federal Courts Law Review. The partnership promises great benefits for all involved.

“I feel strongly that this new partnership between Ole Miss and the FCLR can do nothing but strengthen the FCLR,” said Federal Magistrate Judge David Sanders, editor-in-chief of the Federal Courts Law Review. “I know the students are eager and excited to begin work, and having read and used the MLJ for so many years, it is exciting to know we will have such an exceptional and dedicated group working on our articles.”

Brian Stuart, current chair of the MLJ’s external Board of Directors and former editor-in-chief of the Journal, also sees great promise in the new relationship.

“This partnership provides the members of the Mississippi Law Journal with a unique opportunity to associate with and work alongside members of the federal judiciary, with the students benefitting from the collective knowledge of some of the nation’s most prominent jurists. I only wish I had this chance when I was in law school.”

Cate Rodgers, the current editor-in-chief of the MLJ, noted that a major benefit of the partnership is that it will “enhance the content of the MLJ with peer-reviewed articles selected by federal judges.”  Rodgers also noted that “the FCLR-MLJ partnership is just the latest in a series of MLJ successes over the last few years, including the Journal’s comment development program, external publication initiative, faculty peer review forum and record levels of student publication.”

The partnership also has special meaning for some. “On a personal note,” Judge Sanders said, “as a graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Law, I am especially proud and excited that the FCLR Board showed such enthusiasm for the project and that the Ole Miss administration worked with us to make it all happen.”

Read more about the Federal Courts Law Review here and here.

Read more about the Mississippi Law Journal’s programs here, here, here, and here.

We express our deepest sympathy to the Mississippi College Law School faculty, staff, and students at the death of Professor Jeff Jackson. Professor Jackson was an outstanding professor who made a significant contribution to the Mississippi legal community through his teaching, his publications, and his service to the community. His death is a great loss to all of us.

The University of Mississippi School of Law supports Chancellor Vitter’s recent letter emphasizing the University’s commitment to inclusion, diversity, and academic freedom. (Chancellor Vitter’s letter can be found here.) 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.

Debbie Bell

Interim Dean

OXFORD, Miss.–The University of Mississippi School of Law has had another banner year for student publishing.

Twenty-eight student members of the Mississippi Law Journal accepted publication offers this spring, with a record sixteen of those offers coming from outside journals such as the Gonzaga Law Review, the South Dakota Law Review, the Southern Methodist University Journal of Air Law and Commerce, and the Wake Forest Journal of Law and Policy.

Last year, ten students published externally, with another nineteen publishing with the Mississippi Law Journal.

“I think this success speaks to our students’ abilities,” said Ben Cooper, associate dean for academic affairs.  “It is quite an achievement for our students to get their articles published in outside law journals where they are competing with law professors, practicing lawyers and judges for publication slots.”

This publishing success is direct result of the Mississippi Law Journal’s rigorous comment development program, a writing program for the Journal’s second year members, who must author articles for potential publication as part of their membership on the Journal.

The comment program is run by third year Journal members C.J. Robison and Merry Johnson, who serve as executive notes and comments editors.  The comment program provides students with structure and guidance from faculty, 3L mentors, and their 2L peers.  The writing process starts at the beginning of the fall semester and ends in February. Students attend MLJ seminars, discuss paper topics, create outlines, write drafts, and finally submit their finished work to various journals. Most students also write in conjunction with writing courses taught by faculty.

The Journal’s success in publishing is a testament to the School’s commitment to both teaching and research.

Publishing can be a challenge, especially externally. “A lot of outside journals will not publish student written pieces” Robinson said.  “They want a practitioner or professor.”

“I think our success in publishing is primarily attributable to two factors,” Cooper said. “First, the hard work and dedication of our students. Completing a comment worthy of publication requires a lot of hard work.  Second, Professor Jack Nowlin’s outstanding and innovative Academic Legal Writing class.  Professor Nowlin has put tremendous effort into developing that class and untold hours helping students improve their comments.”

Associate Dean and MLJ faculty advisor Jack Wade Nowlin heads Academic Legal Writinga special writing seminar for second year Journal students. Each year, the Academic Legal Writing seminar coordinates with the Journal’s comment program, instructs half the Journal’s 2L members, and helps train students for later 3L editorial work.

Nowlin is a strong supporter of student publishing.

“Student scholarship is very important,” said Nowlin.  “It’s a chance as a student to really enter the world of the legal profession and influence law and public policy. And the skills the students learn—research, writing, and argument–serve them well for the rest of their careers. The publication credential is also a big help with employment.”

In addition to the Academic Legal Writing class, the school offers writing seminars on a variety of other topics such as criminal law, constitutional law, intellectual property, civil rights, international trade, and aviation law.

“Our faculty’s dedication to student scholarship has been a major foundation of our success,” said Nowlin.

Cate Rodgers, a second year law student and the new Editor-in-Chief of the Mississippi Law Journal, is publishing her article with University of Denver’s Transportation Law Journal.

“A publication credential has many benefits,” Rodgers said.  “On a personal level, a publication enhances your resume and sets you apart in the job market.  There is also a level of prestige attached to an external publication specifically because the student competes on a level playing field with practitioners and professors.”

A list of students who published, with their paper titles and a link to their articles on SSRN, can be found on the Intellectual Life section of the law school website.

To learn more about student scholarship, please visit the Student Scholarship page on the Intellectual Life section of the website.

The Mississippi Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on the campus of the University of Mississippi at 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. April 21. A three-member panel of the court will convene at the Robert C. Khayat Law Center in Moot Court 1, Room 2078, to hear two criminal appeals.

The Court of Appeals hears oral arguments each spring at the University of Mississippi School of Law as part of its Court on the Road program. The court periodically schedules oral arguments on college campuses and occasionally at other locations as a teaching tool for students.

Court of Appeals Judge Jim Greenlee of Oxford said that having the oral arguments on campus offers and opportunity for students, lawyers and the general public to see an appellate court at work and better understand the operations of the court. The Court on the Road program helps educate students and the public about appeals court proceedings and gives appellate judges an opportunity to talk about how the court operates. Judges talk with students and answer questions after the oral arguments, although they don’t talk about the pending cases.

The court will hear appeals of drug convictions of Andrew Acie Adams from Harrison County Circuit Court and Anthony Jefferson from Madison County Circuit Court.

Law students from the University of Mississippi School of Law Criminal Appeals Clinic researched and briefed both appeals and will present oral arguments on behalf of the incarcerated men. The students work under the supervision of attorney Phil Broadhead, clinical professor and director of the Criminal Appeals Clinic. The cases were referred to the Criminal Appeals Clinic by the state Office of Indigent Appeals.

Professor Broadhead said the Criminal Appeals Clinic provides an experience similar to an apprenticeship for students. They experience problem solving in real cases. Broadhead said, “The opportunity to teach, collaborate with, and mentor these students has led me to believe the clinical dynamic guides them to a shorter transition time from being a law student to becoming a lawyer.”

Third-year law students who will argue the cases are Valerie Moss of Greenwood, Phillip Summa of Charlotte, N.C., Jay Clay of Aberdeen, and Derek Cantrell of Gainesville, Ga.

The students who wrote the briefs are Paul Prichard of Mobile, Ala., Derek Goff of Biloxi, Jody A. Bevill of Lexington, and Ethan D. Lavelle of Camden, Tenn.

Special Assistant Attorneys General Laura Tedder and Barbara Byrd represent the Attorney General.

Here is background about the cases, from court records:

Andrew Acie Adams v. State of Mississippi, Cause Number 2015-KA-00520-COA Court records show that Andrew Acie Adams was arrested in Gulfport on Oct. 30, 2013.  Adams was tried on February 10, 2015, and convicted of possession of 250 grams or more but less than 500 grams of marijuana. He was charged as a second or subsequent drug offender and as an habitual offender. Circuit Judge Lawrence P. Bourgeois Jr. sentenced Adams to 16 years in prison without hope of parole or early release.

Adams’ brief is at this link:

http://courts.ms.gov/Images/Orders/dc00001_live.COA.15.KA.520.46122.0.pdf.

The Attorney General’s brief is at this link:

http://courts.ms.gov/Images/Orders/dc00001_live.COA.15.KA.520.52461.0.pdf.

Anthony Davon Jefferson a/k/a Anthony Devon Jefferson a/k/a Anthony Jefferson a/k/a Marcus Ross a/k/a Wesley Thompson a/k/a Anthony Davis Jefferson v. State of Mississippi, Cause Number 2015-KA-00948-COA Court records show that Anthony Jefferson, a resident of California, was arrested in Canton on Aug. 18, 2011, while visiting Mississippi to attend a relative’s funeral. Jefferson was tried in absentia. He left the courthouse and did not return after a hearing on a suppression motion on May 14, 2012. He was convicted and sentenced to 60 years in prison on a charge of possession with intent to deliver more than1 kilo but less than 5 kilos of marijuana, and to 40 years on a charge of conspiracy to possess marijuana. Testimony showed that 4.4 pounds of marijuana was seized. Madison County Circuit Court Judge William E. Chapman III ordered the sentences to be served concurrently, without possibility of parole. Jefferson was convicted as an habitual offender as a result of two California drug convictions.

Jefferson’s brief is at this link:

http://courts.ms.gov/Images/Orders/dc00001_live.COA.15.KA.948.46278.0.pdf.

The Attorney General’s brief is at this link:

http://courts.ms.gov/Images/Orders/dc00001_live.COA.15.KA.948.51768.0.pdf.

Arrival, seating and camera coverage

People wishing to watch the oral arguments are asked to be in their seats 15 minutes before the proceedings are scheduled to begin.  The oral arguments will not be broadcast via the court’s Internet web site, since the Court of Appeals is convening a special session away from its camera-equipped courtroom.  Any media organization which may wish to photograph or videotape the arguments must file a Camera Coverage Notice. Camera Coverage Notices should be directed to Clerk of the Court Muriel Ellis, fax 601-359-2407, and to Assistant Court Administrator Camille Evans, fax 601-576-4708. The Camera Coverage Notice form is at http://www.mssc.state.ms.us/forms/camnotice.pdfhttp://courts.ms.gov/forms/camnotice.pdf.  Photographers and videographers should be familiar with and follow the Rules for Electronic and Photographic Coverage of Judicial Proceedings. The camera coverage rules are available on the Mississippi Judiciary website at:  http://courts.ms.gov/rules/msrulesofcourt/rules_electronicphotographic_coverage.pdf.

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By: Professor Phil Broadhead

This semester the Criminal Appeals Clinic has reached the century mark through the representation of 100 appellants since the creation of the Clinic in 2002. Filing briefs and motions for rehearing on behalf of the clients in all of the cases, filing petitions for certiorari to the Mississippi Supreme Court in eighteen cases, and participating in 27 oral arguments, has resulted in winning reversals in 13 of those cases. During that time, 187 law students have been trained in the highly-specialized field of appellate practice and criminal law through this clinical course of study, along with instruction on advanced “fact-centered” legal writing, practical application of the Rules of Evidence and Criminal Procedure, problem-solving in the clinical setting, and oral advocacy before both the Court of Appeals of Mississippi and the Mississippi Supreme Court.

“Many of the students who pass through the Criminal Appeals Clinic compare their experience to an apprenticeship, although they never use that word,” Clinical Professor Phillip Broadhead said. “They regard the Clinic as a professional, rather than a traditional professor/student, relationship that is intuitively more collaborative than competitive. This view of the course of study transforms their focus to problem-solving in real cases through working within with the case teams under the supervision of a clinical professor. The opportunity to teach, collaborate with, and mentor these students has lead me to believe the clinical dynamic guides them to a shorter transition time from being a law student to becoming a lawyer.”

Visit the Criminal Appeals Clinic web page to learn more.

From left: Hunter Robinson, Diane Maxwell, Prof. Desiree Hensley, Research Counsel Forrest Jenkins, Mrs. Dickens, Cecilia Bacon, and Mack-Arthur Turner

By: Professor Phil Broadhead

Edna Dickens first met with Low-Income Housing Clinic student/attorneys and their supervisor, associate professor Desiree C. Hensley, in the fall of 2013. After the interview, the students concluded Mrs. Dickens had lost her home of 43 years to strangers at a property tax sale, getting her home back was a long shot, and she might end up homeless.

“Mrs. Dickens is a lovely person and we really wanted to save her home. It was hard to give her such bad news and to see how that affected her,” said Darnell Pratt, now a practicing lawyer at Simmons & Simmons, PLLC in Greenville, Miss.   The students also told Mrs. Dickens although her legal situation was a hard one, they would do everything they could do to help her.

Daniel McHugh, who is now a clerk for the local Federal District Court, remembers working with other Housing Clinic students to search the land records and to investigate the facts, building the best case they could.

“We decided our first course of action was to help Mrs. Dickens negotiate with the tax sale purchasers and encourage them to sell her home back to her for a reasonable price. To do that we needed to demonstrate that the tax sale was defective in some way.”

The students put together their best arguments for Mrs. Dickens, contacted the tax owners and were able to negotiate a successful sale back to her. That was not the end of the case, however.  McHugh remembers that the students’ investigations lead to more complex problems for Mrs. Dickens.

“Her home turned out to be heir property – property that neither she nor her husband ever actually had a deed to because its ownership had passed by intestate succession through several different people; even worse, there turned out to be other heirs who could claim to own a share of the property. Mrs. Dickens’s home was even more at risk than we had first realized. The only way to solve this problem was to try to find and then file suit against all of the heirs so that Mrs. Dickens could claim her share of the property.”

Clinic students spent the next two semesters finding missing heirs, obtaining expert witness appraisals and surveys of the properties and filing suit in Lafayette County Chancery Court. Finally, the case was set for trial this semester – almost three years after Mrs. Dickens first came to the Clinic for help.

Current Housing Clinic students Cissy Bacon and Mack-Arthur Turner tried the case – each had to examine expert and lay witnesses, enter documents into evidence and argue the law before Chancellor Robert Whitwell. Diane Maxwell and Hunter Robinson also provided research assistance and advocated for Mrs. Dickens in the Chancellor’s chambers. Finally, at the close of the students’ case, the parties reached a settlement agreement that the Chancellor entered as his final order: Mrs. Dickens’ home was hers and hers alone.

Many other graduated law students worked on Mrs. Dickens’s case during those six semesters, including Mitch Thomas, Cori Benefiel, Sam Maddox, Cameron Himes, Shandreka Brown, Amy Mitchell, Marta Toczylowski, Merry Johnson and Scarlett Jones.

Last week, Mrs. Dickens and her family invited the entire Housing Clinic over to share a meal in her home to thank the students for their help.

“This could not have happened without you,” she told the students.

Professor Hensley is happy for Mrs. Dickens and for her students: “I am so proud of the ambitious legal work the law students took on in this case and their success. There is no better feeling than using your legal skills to help a person in a crisis. These students will always know that as lawyers they can choose do a great deal of good in the world.”

‘Kind, considerate and engaging’ law professor receives 2016 Elsie M. Hood Award

OXFORD, Miss. – John Czarnetzky does more than teach the law; he infects his students with his enthusiasm for it.

Professor John Czarnetzky receives the Elsie M. Hood Award from Chancellor Vitter.

The Mitchell, McNutt and Sams Lecturer at the University of Mississippi School of Law, Czarnetzky is known as a great communicator who earns praises for his ability to engage students in complicated subject matter and nuances of the law, UM Chancellor Jeff Vitter said Thursday evening (April 7).

For this, his passion and dedication to teaching, Czarnetzky has been awarded the 2016 Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teaching Award, presented by Vitter during the 73rd annual Honors Day Convocation. Czarnetzky, who has taught undergraduate students as well as law students, was honored and humbled.

“I was in the car with my dear wife, and became emotional when the chancellor called and told me I was to receive the Elsie Hood award,” he said. “I am privileged to know a number of previous winners, from longtime colleagues at the law school through Bob Brown, last year’s winner. I was humbled deeply, and still have trouble believing, that with this award I am being grouped with those outstanding professors and colleagues.”

Colleagues affirmed that Czarnetzky is a perfect choice for the honor.

“John Czarnetzky is widely regarded as one of the law school’s best teachers,” said Debbie Bell, the school’s interim dean. “He is a spellbinding speaker and gifted teacher, with the added benefit of being one of the most entertaining lecturers I have ever heard. His students sing his praises. Being named as the Elsie M. Hood Award recipient is a well-deserved recognition.”

Czarnetzky joined the law faculty in 1994, after practicing bankruptcy and commercial law in Chicago and in Richmond, Virginia. He has been honored as outstanding professor four times by the law student body and serves as an adviser to several student organizations and to the Business Law Institute, an innovative collaboration between students and faculty that provides opportunities for students to develop skills in corporate, commercial, tax and business law.

The professor says this is the highest honor he could hope to receive.

“It always seemed out of reach for me,” he said. “Receiving it is the capstone of my 22 years here at the University of Mississippi, an institution I love. Going forward, my task will be to live up to this high honor.”

Students cited Czarnetzky’s enthusiasm and ability to stimulate a classroom amongst his traits that make him a great teacher.

“Few individuals have the ability to not just teach the law, but to animate the law,” one student wrote in a nomination letter. “His passion for the law and for the subject he is teaching is evident from the first moment of each class session, when he comes bounding into the classroom with a textbook – or nowadays, Kindle – tucked under his arm and a grin on his face.”

Another student called him “by far the most kind, considerate, engaging professor I have had throughout my undergraduate and law school tenure at Ole Miss.”

“The courses he teaches, including bankruptcy, civil procedure and secured transactions, are some of the most complicated ones at the law school, but that they are always in demand because he is such an engaging and effective teacher,” the student continued.

These students’ words are reflective of Czarnetzky’s teaching philosophy, which he says he’s developed over his tenure.

“My approach is to treat students as adults unless they are determined to prove me wrong, and to model civility and professionalism in the service of intellectual rigor,” he said. “I try to impart to students my enthusiasm for the subjects I teach and, perhaps more importantly, my dedication to them as persons.

“I also think a bit of humor in the classroom helps avoid the trap of taking ourselves too seriously all the time, whether in the classroom or in life. I am deeply gratified that students believe they benefit from my approach.”

Czarnetzky holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from M.I.T., where he was an offensive tackle on the football team. He served in the U.S. Army as a chemical officer and intelligence analyst before obtaining his law degree from the University of Virginia. He also served as executive editor of the Virginia Law Review and editor of the Virginia Journal of Environmental Law.

He was the first law professor invited to teach in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and helped establish a partnership between the two schools.

“He inspired a love of debating and defending my ideas, and empowered me to continue challenging my and others’ ideas throughout my life,” wrote a student in his Honors 102 class.

“He’s always available, and always has a smile on his face,” said Jess Waltman, law school student body president who also took several courses from Czarnetzky as an undergraduate honors student. “He genuinely cares about our students and our school and wants it to be the best it can be.”

In addition, Czarnetzky serves as a legal adviser to the Holy See’s Mission to the United Nations. He has represented the Holy See in negotiations including the establishment of the International Criminal Court and several international treaties, including one on the rights of persons with disabilities.

His scholarly interests are bankruptcy, commercial and international law. Czarnetzky has published in the Notre Dame Law Review, Fordham Law Review and Arizona State Law Journal, and his scholarship also has explored the intersection of Catholic social theory and American corporate and commercial law.

Czarnetzky is married to Sylvia Robertshaw Czarnetzky, an Episcopal priest in the Delta town of Cleveland, where they reside.

Each year since 1966, the university has recognized excellence in teaching by presenting the Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award. Based on nominations from both students and faculty, the award includes a personal plaque and a check from the chancellor. Recipients’ names are also engraved on a plaque listing previous winners, which is displayed in the university’s J.D. Williams Library.

By Jenny Kate Luster

OXFORD, Miss.–The University of Mississippi School of Law’s Business Law Network will host a conference on Friday, April 22, 2016 at 1:30 p.m. at Regions Private Wealth Management in Memphis, Tenn., offering three hours of CLE credit to attendees.  The Conference and CLE will be followed by a cocktail reception sponsored by Regions Private Wealth Management.

The CLE cost is $60 and has been approved both for Mississippi and Tennessee credit.

“We are very excited to finish the school year with our Business Law Network Conference and CLE in Memphis, Tennessee,” said Gregory Alston, CEO of the Network.  “This is the first time in the history of the Business Law Network that the Network has expanded out of state for our annual conferences and CLE’s, and we are very appreciative of Regions for sponsoring this event.”

Registration will begin at 1:00 p.m.  Please RSVP to Business Law Network CEO Gregory Alston: umbusinesslaw@olemiss.edu.

The Business Law Network’s mission is dedicated to connecting students who have an interest in business law with practicing business law attorneys. The Business Law Network is composed of over 50 student members of the University of Mississippi School of Law.

For more information, please visit http://law.olemiss.edu/event/business-law-network-spring-conference-cle-and-reception/

By: William Pomeroy and Autumn Breeden

On March 28th, 2016 the Mississippi Sports Law Journal partnered with the Law Association for Women to a host a forum about Women in Athletics. Speakers included Lynette Johnson, Ann Carr, Kathryn Fowler, and Jordan Woolums. Lynette Johnson is in her 27th year overall with Ole Miss Athletics and is in her 18th year as a Sport Administrator and Senior Woman Administrator. Ann Carr is a 13 year veteran in athletic administration at Mississippi State, she currently serves as a Senior Associate Athletic Director of Women’s Sports, and she is a former Lady Bulldog athlete. Kathryn Fowler is a current second year Law Student, and was a four-year member of the Ole Miss Golf Team. Finally, Jordan Woolums is a current first year law student at Ole Miss and is a former soccer player at Indiana University.

Topics ranged from the current state of women’s sports in college to professional opportunities for female student-athletes beyond college. Mrs. Johnson spoke of the positive evolution that she has witnessed throughout her career in athletics. She spoke of witnessing the first women to hold head coach and administrative positions, as well as increased support for female athletes. She also stated that the best way to combat lesser attendance and coverage for female athletic events is to simply keep playing the sports. Networks, such as the SEC Network, have given rise to increased exposure of female athletics, which can only help increase interest in women’s sports. Both Ms. Carr and Mrs. Johnson used the recent success of women’s softball as an example of how television exposure has had a positive impact on a sport as a whole. Ms. Carr spoke of the need to provide female staff members at different universities a more welcoming atmosphere and increased support when they are placed in an unfamiliar setting. Issues that face both Ole Miss and Mississippi State in recruiting female coaches and administrators often revolve around family support, including things like on campus day care and employment opportunities for a spouse. Both Kathryn and Jordan spoke fondly about their experiences at Division I schools, and felt their athletic achievements had a positive effect on their educational and professional opportunities.

Overall, the event was attended by approximately 50 students and faculty who asked questions and listened attentively to the forum speakers. It was a positive conversation focusing on continuing to improve opportunities for female athletes, coaches and administrators.

 

Attendees at the forum.

Presenters at the Women’s Athletics Forum

By: Professor Phil Broadhead

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA), in partnership with North Mississippi Rural Legal Services, once again is offering tax preparation assistance to families in the Oxford-Lafayette County area. This effort by law students is directed by Professor of Law Donna Davis, who supervises 12 students at the local public library.

“I thought it was good idea to get this hands-on experience to see the different kinds of basic issues in tax,” Davis said. “It’s been busier than I thought it would be, especially early on. We had tons of people. For me personally, almost every person I dealt with was a new learning experience. I’ve encountered very unique situations that I didn’t think I would encounter.”

Third-year law students Austin Emmons and Brennan Black are the site coordinators for the tax clinic.

“It’s class credit through the school, but I also enjoy it because it gives you practical skills that you don’t necessarily get from the classroom,” Emmons said. “You get used to interviewing people and get a feel for does the client feel comfortable with what you’re doing, do they understand what you’re doing. It’s also about helping the community.”

The clinic’s public service was recognized by an article in last Sunday’s Oxford Citizen, as well as by the Mississippi Bar Association’s Mississippi Volunteer Lawyer’s Project, who awarded the VITA program the annual Beacon of Justice Award in 2015.

OXFORD, Miss.–The first Intellectual Property Student Scholarship Symposium was held at the University of Mississippi School of Law on February 19th. The Symposium was sponsored by the Mid-south Intellectual Property Institute, which is a collaborative effort of the Law School and FNC, Inc.  Students and professionals came together to discuss and share knowledge on the latest developments in intellectual property.

The forum discussed a wide array of topics from collegiate licensing and trademark enforcement, to product design and more.  The scholarship included:

  • “Trade Dress:  An Unsuitable Fit for Product Design in the Fashion Industry” by Shayna Giles
  • “Why Can’t my Waiter Sing Happy Birthday to Me:  The Chilling Effect of Corporate Copyright Control” by Rachel Smith
  • “Alice’s Wonderland:  Patentable Subject Matter in the Wake of The Supreme Court’s Alice Corp. Decision” by Lindsey Sullivan
  • “Issues in Collegiate Licensing and Trademark Enforcement” by Katie Diem

Students who wrote papers on these topics made individual presentations that were followed by discussions on their topic with other students and lawyers.

“This symposium gave me the chance to discuss some concrete examples of how copyright protection allows corporations to restrict our free speech, rather than encouraging creative expression,” said Rachel Smith, current law student.  “Many of the audience members provided me with interesting questions and concerns with policies I addressed and proposed.”

“Overall, this experience was beneficial right now for my academic legal growth, but potentially in the long run as well considering it introduced me to people I may work with in the IP field one day.”

With help from the moderators Stacey Lantagne, assistant professor, and Will Wilkins, director of the Mississippi Law Research Institute, the students were able to receive positive academic critique and gain valuable experience throughout the process.

By: Meghan Burnett

OXFORD, Miss.–Suzette Matthews has a passion for education, and since Feb. 1, 2016, the former Teach for America staffer has turned her talents in fundraising and education to the law school as the new director of development.

Previously the senior director of development for Teach for America in the Mississippi Delta, Matthews grew individual donations substantially for the organization, often 300 times an original gift amount, and increased overall gifts by 150 percent.

“We are lucky to have Suzette Matthews join our team,” said Debbie Bell, interim dean.  “She comes to us with a strong background in fundraising in Mississippi, a love for her adopted state, and great enthusiasm about the law school’s future.”

The Texas native taught high school English in Ruleville, Miss., with Teach for America for two years prior to joining their development staff. She worked with individual corporations and foundations mainly in the Delta and Jackson areas, and cultivated relationships she believes will be beneficial for the law school.

“I think alot of the relationships and networks I was able to build will overlap,” she said.  “It’s my goal to invest our alumni in our students’ work and raise an additional $500,000 for scholarships, as well as double the percent of alumni giving.”

Though her focus has primarily been secondary education, Matthews is excited about transitioning her work to the university and law school.

“I really wanted to get back into higher education,” she said.  “And, when I look at who is influential in making decisions for our state’s future, it’s Ole Miss law alumns.  We have so many great things happening here.”

Suzette Matthews. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Matthews graduated from Texas Tech University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and obtained her master’s degree in education from Delta State while in Cleveland.   She was named Ruleville Central High School Teacher of the Year in 2010 and Sunflower County School District Teacher of the Year.

She is a graduate of Leadership Mississippi and the Delta Leadership Network.  She served on the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits board, the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce executive board and Mississippi Economic Council Board of Governors. She also founded and served as president of the Cleveland-Bolivar County Young Professionals and is a member of the Mississippi Association of Fundraising Professionals.

In addition to education and fundraising, Matthews and her husband Matty own Delta Dairy, a frozen treats shop in Cleveland.  She enjoys running and spending time with her husband and dog, Tchula.

“I’m really excited about this position, and I really look forward to meeting everyone,” she said. “Please feel to contact me anytime.”

Suzette may be reached by e-mail suzette@olemiss.edu or phone: 601-937-1497.

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