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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.

OXFORD, Miss.–Dean Deborah Bell awarded summer Whitten Chair appointments to several law faculty this summer to support their scholarly research. The new summer Whitten Chair appointees are professors Will Berry, David Case, John Czarnetzky, Chris Green, Farish Percy, Larry Pittman, and Lisa Roy.

“I was very pleased to be able to appoint these distinguished professors to the Whitten Chair for the summer semester,” said Dean Bell. “Their scholarship is very important to the profession, the state, and the nation—as well as our students.”

The Jamie Lloyd Whitten Chair of Law and Government was first established in 1986 to honor Jamie Lloyd Whitten, who served as congressman from Mississippi’s First Congressional District for over fifty years. The purpose of the Whitten Chair is to ensure the highest quality learning enviroment for Ole Miss law students. The Chair promotes retention and recruitment of distinguished faculty—practitioners, judges, public officials, and legal scholars—to instruct and mentor students.

The seven summer Whitten Chairs join the current distinguished chair-holders—Professor Michael Hoffheimer and Professor Ronald Rychlak. Previous appointees to the Whitten Chair include Dean Emeritus Sam Davis, former governor William Winter, Dean Emeritus Parham Williams, and former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Reuben Anderson.

“Our new Whitten Chairs are hard at work on exciting research projects and are very grateful for the support they have received,” noted Senior Associate Dean Jack Wade Nowlin. “As professional educators, we know our research inspires classroom teaching and provides a broader service to the profession and our communities. Our faculty are doing important research in so many areas—constitutional law, civil procedure, criminal law, environmental law, religious liberties, bankruptcy, and more.”

Summer Whitten Chair recipients echoed these sentiments. “It’s wonderful to help honor Jamie Lloyd Whitten by working on my research projects this summer,” said Professor Chris Green, an expert in federal and state constitutional law. “Thinking about the law is the lifeblood of our institution, and it is critical for the education of our students that our professors open new frontiers of analysis and research during their summers.”

Professor David Case, an environmental law specialist and Ole Miss alumnus, also expressed his appreciation. “I’m extremely gratified to have received a summer appointment to the Whitten Chair and support for my summer research project, a law review article on an important water rights case currently pending in the United States Supreme Court–Mississippi v. Tennessee.”

Professor Larry Pittman, an accomplished scholar and Law School alumnus, is drawing on his Whitten Chair support to work on a new study of the Thirteenth Amendment. “Being a recipient of a Whitten Chair appointment is an honor that I greatly appreciate,” Professor Pittman said, “and one that shows the Law School’s commitment to research.”

Professor John Czarnetzky, a bankruptcy expert who recently received the University-wide teacher of the year award, agrees and summed up his colleagues’ feelings: “The support our faculty receives from endowed chairs, professorships, and lectureships empowers us to expand the horizons of legal knowledge and do our best work in the classroom for our students. Jamie Lloyd Whitten has left a great legacy for the Law School and for generations of future students.”

Read more about the Law School’s summer Whitten Chairs here: Will Berry, David Case, John Czarnetzky, Chris Green, Farish Percy, Larry Pittman, Lisa Roy.

The Law School’s MacArthur Justice Center has brought to an end a system in the Mississippi state capital of jailing people who can’t pay court fines. The Center’s lawsuit, filed with the civil rights group Equal Justice Under Law, was settled Monday.

The City of Jackson has agreed to give indigent defendants the choice of paying off their fines at the rate of $25 per month or performing community service and receiving credit toward their unpaid fines at the rate of $9 per hour.

Professor Cliff Johnson, Director of the MacArthur Justice Center, praised the City’s response. “We applaud Mayor Yarber, the City Council, and the City Attorney’s Office for taking seriously the allegations in our lawsuit and the realities facing so many Jacksonians who struggle mightily just to make ends meet.”

“The processes and procedures adopted by the Capital City pursuant to our agreement are a model for the rest of the state,” Johnson added, “and it is our hope that cities and counties throughout Mississippi will adopt these same practices.”

The settlement and the City’s reforms have been widely covered in the media, including the Washington Times.

Read the press release from the MacArthur Justice Center and Equal Justice Under Law.

Read the Washington Times article.

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.”

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