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Pictured left to right:
Kiya Jones, MJC Director Cliff Johnson, Wilson Skomal, Heather Horn, Adjunct Professor Jake Howard and Nicole Jones.

UM Clinical Programs Professor Cliff Johnson, the director of the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Clinic (MJC), has announced a Settlement Agreement with the Mississippi Department of Corrections affecting the conditions on Mississippi State Penitentiary’s Death Row. The MJC, the latest addition to the ten UM Clinical Programs, is a public interest teaching program focusing on human rights and social justice, with goals of bringing significant change to Mississippi in issues involving pre-trial detention, capital punishment prosecutions, prison inmate housing and discrimination within the criminal justice system. The Settlement Agreement immediately improves the conditions of confinement on the Row, including basic everyday matters such as cleaning products, pest control and window screens. Substantial improvements in the inmate’s access to health care, family visitation, and treatment for mental illness are also addressed in the MJC’s Settlement Agreement.

Johnson said, “Very few lawyers have seen death row from the ‘inside,’ so this was a significant experience for all involved. I could not have been prouder of our students. They worked hard to prepare for the interviews. They acted professionally at all times, and they treated those they interviewed with respect and kindness.”   Adjunct Professor Jake Howard and Johnson supervised the MJC students in the interviews last semester with the death row inmates at Parchman, which began the process of challenging and correcting the deplorable conditions on Death Row.

Benjamin Cooper to Serve on the Commission on the Future of Legal Services 

OXFORD, Miss.– Benjamin Cooper, Jr., professor of legal studies and professionalism at the University of Mississippi School of Law, has been appointed to serve on the American Bar Association’s Commission on the Future of Legal Services.

“As a Reporter, I am assigned to several working groups who are working on really interesting ideas for innovating the delivery of legal services,” said Cooper. “I participate in conference calls with the working group members and will be involved in drafting policy initiatives that will be presented to the ABA House of Delegates and other written products that capture the Commission’s work.”

The Commission is made up of prominent judges, lawyers and academics from across the country. Cooper was appointed after a recommendation from the Commission Vice Chair, Andy Perlman, dean of Suffolk University Law School.

After practicing law for 10 years, Cooper decided to settle in Oxford to teach at the University of Mississippi School of Law. Cooper teaches Legal Profession, Civil Procedure and an Advanced Legal Ethics seminar. He will spend the Spring 2016 semester at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law as a visiting professor. During his time there, he will teach Professional Responsibility and Civil Procedure.

For more information on the ABA’s Commission on the Future of Legal Services, visit www.americanbar.org.  For more information on Professor Ben Cooper, visit his faculty biography page.

By: Grace Miller

 

           

Oxford, Miss. — The Law School is engaged in comprehensive strategic planning this fall and has announced plans to involve alumni in the process through a strategic planning survey in early October and a special alumni forum on Friday, October 23.

“Our law school program is the strongest it has ever been,” said Dean Debbie Bell. “And yet, we face challenges. This is a critical moment in legal education. The new realities of the job market make it essential that we right-size classes, find ways to reduce student debt load, reexamine curricular goals, and improve job placement.”

“Alumni feedback is crucial to the success of our strategic planning process,” said senior associate dean Jack Wade Nowlin, co-chair of the drafting group which will write the Law School’s new strategic plan. “We need to know what our alums think about new directions and new ideas to keep the Law School moving forward.”

The alumni survey will be conducted online and sent out to the e-Newsletter mailing list in early October. The survey will ask questions designed to generate new strategies for advancing the Law School’s mission and improving alumni engagement.

The alumni forum is scheduled for the afternoon of Friday, October 23—the weekend of the Texas A&M game. Details of the event are being finalized, and formal invitations will be sent out to alumni through the e-Newsletter mailing list in early October. All Ole Miss alumni are very welcome to attend and participate in discussions.

The forum will include an opening presentation by Dean Bell, a roundtable panel discussion with distinguished alumni, and breakout sessions on major areas of strategic planning—such as admissions, placement, diversity, and curriculum. Faculty, staff, and students will also participate. A reception will follow.

“We hope our alumni will take the time to share their ideas through the survey and join us for the afternoon of October 23rd,” said Dean Bell. “Their advice and support are essential to the Law School’s success in the years ahead.”

Questions about the Law School’s strategic planning may be directed to Senior Associate Dean Jack Wade Nowlin at jnowlin@olemiss.edu.

Alumni Forum calendar link: http://law.olemiss.edu/event/strategic-planning-alumni-forum/

 

UM law students who participated in the UM Clinical Program’s Pro Bono Initiative event held in Greenville on September 16, 2015, are Monique Caples (PBI Student Coordinator), Briley Elliott (PBI Student Coordinator), Macy McCarty, Laci Moore, Paul Pritchard, Jake Reed, and Quinton Thompson. Ten local MS Bar attorneys volunteered for the Pro Se Day (not including UM Pro Bono Initiative Director Tiffany Graves and Gayla Carpenter-Sanders, the Executive Director/General Counsel of the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project. Twenty-four clients were assisted by these students and lawyers with uncontested divorces, name changes, and other matters pending before Washington County Chancery Judge Marie Wilson.

The PBI is a unique in-house pro bono teaching program that seeks to give law students practical legal experience and networking opportunities through their participation in daylong legal clinics, work on policy initiatives, and engagement in pro bono opportunities with in- and out-of-state nonprofit legal organizations.  Annually, 100–plus student volunteers assist over 500 clients.  The Mississippi Supreme Court supports the Pro Bono Initiative through its Access to Justice Commission (see https://courts.ms.gov/news/2015/09%2010%2015legal%20clinic%20Washington%20County.pdf). The event would not be possible without the assistance of the volunteer lawyers who generously give of their time to the clients who would otherwise go unrepresented.

Joel Henderson, Monique Caples

 

The clinic registration table: Yumekia Jones (seated), Nicole Jones (standing in front of Yumekia), Laci Moore, Briley Elliott, Macy McCarty, Tiffany Graves and Paul Pritchard standing).

Group shot of all volunteers and Judge Marie Wilson. From left to right: Gayla Carpenter-Sanders, Monique Caples, Laci Moore, Jake Reed, Briley Elliott, Macy McCarty, Sara Cotten, Paul Pritchard, Yumekia Jones, Judge Marie Wilson, Nicole Jones, Lorna Frazier, Joel Henderson, Emily Bradley, Quinton Thompson, Kimberly Merchant, Stephanie Macvaugh, Tiffany Graves, Doug Wade, Austin Frye and Cynthia Lee

The UM Clinical Programs and the Grisham Law Library is proud to announce the speakers and topics in the Technology in the Practice of Law Skills Series for the fall semester.  The first presentation will be on Wednesday, September 30th at 12:30 in the Law Library with Justin Cook, Staff Attorney with the Office of the State Public Defender, Indigent Appeals Division, presenting on the continued growth of the use of Microsoft Word© (over the law office standard for decades, Corel WordPerfect©) for creating pleadings, briefs, and other legal documents.  Corel WordPerfect© has been the law office standard for word processing system for most law offices, governmental agencies, and state courts over the last 30 years, but Millennials have changed this construct to the blanket use of Word.  Mr. Cook will speak on page formatting, methods of inserting authority, different fonts for legal writing, proper point style to comply with the Rules, inserting hyperlinks for references and footnotes, style in organizing sub-headers under broad pleading issues, use of the Thesaurus for creative legal writing, automatic pagination & forcing page number in the middle of a document, conversion to .pdf, scrubbing metadata from draft pleadings, basic cover sheet formatting, automatically alphabetizing tables within a document, and using the “comment” balloons on the right margin for edits.

On Wednesday, October 7th at 12:30 in the Law Library, Clint Pentecost, Counsel with the Mississippi Supreme Court, will instruct on the use of the Mississippi Electronic Courts (MEC), which is the primary method of filing pleadings, briefs, and other legal documents with the majority of Mississippi courts.  The use of this platform is now mandatory with the state appellate courts, and in the very near future, electronic filing of legal documents will also become standard operating procedure in all of Mississippi’s trial courts.  The MEC is the same as the electronic filing platform presently used by the federal courts, so this training will also make you proficient in both court systems.

Finally, on October 28th at 12:30 in the Law Library, Craig Bayer of Optiable and Tom O’Connor of Advanced Discovery will make a presentation on Computing in the Cloud, Document Search Software (DMS), and The Paperless Law Office.  With the means of productivity in law practice moving more and more into the digital world, it is essential new lawyers have the skills to seamlessly enter into the electronic workplace.  “Practice-ready” job applicants have a distinct advantage over other lawyers not only in the courtroom, but also in the law office, which makes you a more skilled prospective hire in the interview process.

By: Prof. Phil Broadhead

The Prosecutorial Externship Program, established at the law school in 2002, has former externs who have graduated and are working in district attorney’s offices throughout the state. Having come full-circle in their careers in law, these prosecutors now supervise externs from the UM School of Law’s Class of 2016. John L. Herzog Jr., Assistant District Attorney for the Fourth Judicial District, was an extern with the Prosecutorial Externship Program in 2010 and now finds himself supervising law students who have been placed in the Greenville office. “Students who participate in the Externship Program have a huge advantage over other law students with the practical, hands-on aspect of working in a DA’s office,” said Herzog.  He should know. As an extern in 2010, he worked with the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, the U.S. Attorney in Oxford, and the local state DA’s office during his time in law school. “From going to court, writing and responding to motions in pending cases, and dealing with people daily, externs find themselves removed from the academic context and work in court on real cases.”

During the placement of Prosecutorial Externship student Weathers Virden (Class of 2016) by Clinical Professor and Director of the Prosecutorial Externship Program Hans Sinha this past summer in the Greenville branch of the District Attorney’s Office, ADA John Herzog supervised Virden in his day-to-day duties. “Every day in the office brought something new,” Virden said. “With John Herzog as my mentor, I was able to take on these new challenges by first talking about the job at hand, then doing the work. John always included the ‘why’ we did criminal law practice in a particular way.” Virden’s experience also took him out of his comfort zone. “I had no idea what a “bond hearing” was, but with two hours to prepare, and a seasoned attorney at my side, I found going to court makes you a master of courtroom procedure.” Virden also observed, “The Prosecutorial Externship Program is a dynamic learning experience in contrast to the static learning you find in the classroom. The concepts I struggled with in class became very clear simply by doing them. Learning how to speak to a judge in court was a huge thing. I probably would not have chosen to speak in court, but John pushed me into the fire, and afterwards I thought, ‘That wasn’t so bad’ and was ready to go again. Experience like this gives you confidence.”

With experiential learning becoming the norm for third-year law students, the networking opportunities for clinical students is enormous. In fact, four ADA’s in the Fourth Judicial District who were appointed by District Attorney Dewayne Richardson are former Prosecutorial Externship students. Herzog has seen the value of externships from both sides now, and encourages law students to take advantage of the opportunities clinical programs impart. “Mississippi has such an unmet need for legal services. The Prosecutorial Externship Program is an outstanding opportunity for learning how to practice while serving others.”

 

Victor Vieth

On September 3, 2015, Clinical Professor David Calder, Director of the Child Advocacy Clinic, hosted a presentation at the UM School of Law by Victor Vieth, Director of the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center in Minnesota, who explained recommended improvements in child protection.  The Mississippi Attorney General invited Mr. Vieth to make presentations at all of the colleges, universities, and law schools in the state to propose implementing the Child Advocacy Studies Training (CAST) curriculum into courses taken by students who desire to enter professions that involve child protection.  The goal of the CAST curriculum is to foster multi-disciplinary cooperation among child care professionals, so abuse and neglect of children can be identified more consistently, and appropriate steps can be taken to provide greater protection for children.

Mr. Vieth and other professors working with the Gunderson Training Center will present at another conference in Jackson, Mississippi, on October 7-9, 2015, to explain the CAST curriculum in detail, provide resources, and discuss how it can be incorporated into existing educational programs.  This conference is free to interested persons.  Please contact David Calder at the Child Advocacy Clinic, 662-915-7394, for more details.

OXFORD, Miss.–The University of Mississippi School of Law will commemorate Constitution Day on September 17 by celebrating the scholarly success of three of its students.  Michael Shoptaw, Jennie Silk and Marie Wicks will present their recently published or forthcoming articles on cutting edge issues in constitutional law.

“This is the University’s Constitution Day event–commemorating the original signing of the Constitution on September 17th, 1787,” said Jack Nowlin, senior associate dean and organizer, moderator and one of three faculty discussants for the event.

“This is also a Constitution Day ‘special edition’ of the Law School’s Student Legal Scholarship Exposition, an event we have each semester to celebrate our published student authors and the Law School’s strong tradition of student scholarship.”

The students will present the following work to faculty, students and other audience members:

  • Robert Michael Shoptaw (Class of 2016); associate cases editor, Mississippi Law Journal; M’Naghten Is a Fundamental Right: Why Abolishing the Traditional Insanity Defense Violates Due Process.” 84 Mississippi Law Journal 1101 (2015).
  • Jennie Vee Silk (Class of 2016); Mississippi cases editor, Mississippi Law Journal; “Calling out Maryland v. King: DNA, Cell Phones, and the Fourth Amendment,” 52(2) Criminal Law Bulletin (Thomson Reuters/West) (forthcoming in 2016).
  • Marie E. Wicks (Class of 2016); editor-in-chief, Mississippi Law Journal, “Prayer Is Prologue: The Impact of Town of Greece on the Constitutionality of Deliberative Public Body Prayer at the Start of School Board Meetings,” 31 Journal of Law & Politics 1 (2015).

The event is particularly significant due to the focus on student scholarship.  The three student presenters were selected from an academic legal writing class in which they were asked to compose and present their first major work of legal scholarship.

“All three students wrote outstanding articles on cutting-edge issues in constitutional law,” Nowlin said.

“There were many other excellent articles–in constitutional law as well as in other areas–so it was a tough choice to select only three.  Luckily, there will be another student legal scholarship exposition in the spring, and we will have the opportunity to hear more student presentations.”

Students in the class selected a topic and then met regularly with Nowlin and other faculty advisors and presented to a class of their peers.

“Dean Nowlin offered expert guidance and invaluable advice every step of the way,” said Wicks.  “He broke down the writing process into manageable deadlines, and before we knew it, we had drafted an entire comment.”

Shoptaw, a third year student, also had a positive experience  with the class.

“Often, while presenting, you would realize a shortfall or discover a new avenue for discussion within your paper,” he said.  “It was a very good experience and aided in everyone’s attaining a high level of understanding of their own papers as well as the other class members’.”

The legal writing class and Constitution Day program are just a few ways the law school supports student scholarship. According to Nowlin, faculty regularly mentor students in scholarly writing  and there are many opportunities for training in advanced legal writing, research and argument. There are also the fall and spring student scholarship expositions as well as innovative programs like the Mississippi Law Journal’s peer review forum.

All work towards combining teaching and research and scholarship development amongst students.

The law school’s focus on student scholarship has also led to the publication of 75 student-authored articles over the past three years, establishing these students as experts in particular fields.

“I’m thrilled that this year’s Constitution Day commemoration focuses on current issues in constitutional law through the lens of student legal scholarship,” Wicks said.   “I know it is an experience that will be a highlight as I look back on my law school years.”

Shoptaw echoed her sentiments.

“I am humbled, excited, and a bit nervous for the chance to present my topic. But, the way I see it, this will be the icing on an incredibly large cake that I’ve been making for over a year.”

Macey Edmondson

OXFORD, Miss.–Macey Edmondson, assistant dean for student affairs at the University of Mississippi School of Law, has been named one of the 50 Leading Business Women in Mississippi by the Mississippi Business Journal.   According to the publication, they are looking for the “most powerful, influential women business leaders in Mississippi.”

“The UM School of Law is proud of Macey’s accomplishments and her receipt of this well-deserved award,” said Debbie Bell, interim dean.  “She has all the best attributes of an outstanding businessperson. She has vision as well as the ability to execute a plan. And her collaborative spirit and genuine enthusiasm inspire her co-workers.”

The publication picks women who make a significant impact on Mississippi’s economy.  In addition to the distinction, Edmondson will also be featured in a special color magazine and will take part in a development and networking program aimed to help her group grow even further as business leaders.

“I was a little surprised when I found out because this is a non-traditional business position, however I do have a budget to manage and I have to accomplish my initiatives and goals within those constraints,” Edmondson said. “It’s very much like a business.”

As the assistant dean for student affairs, Edmondson is responsible for providing support and counsel to the law school’s academic and extracurricular activities, and overall student growth and development outside of the classroom.  She also oversees the Conflict Management Practicum and teaches a course in the higher education program in the School of Education.

“I love working with the students, particularly with student organizations because I can work with them to help them obtain their goals,” she said.

Edmondson obtained her B.S.B.A. from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1998.  She said her interest in law began with a class she took while an undergraduate there.

“When I was at Southern, I was a banking and finance major,” she said.  “I took business law from Professor Robert Jackson and I loved it.”

Edmondson then graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 2001, where she earned the Outstanding Student in Commercial Paper Law Award, was the research assistant for Professor Ari Afilalo in European Community Law and was the Gorove International Law Society vice president, Delta Theta Phi Honor Society president, and a member of the Mississippi Trial Lawyers Association.

She obtained her Ph.D. in Higher Education in 2013 from the University of Mississippi while working at the law school.  She received the Frank E. Moak Memorial Award and was a member of Phi Kappa Phi and the Student Personnel Association.

“I have the best of both worlds, because I’m using both my law degree and higher ed degree,” she said.  “I always said I wanted to be the Sparky Reardon of the law school, and I’m lucky to be doing that.”

On Friday, August 21, 2015, Chancellor Percy Lynchard Jr. of the 3rd Judicial District and Northern District Judge David A. Sanders administered the oath of office to a total of 84 students participating in the eleven clinical programs offered at the School of Law.  In addition, 31 second-year law students not eligible for the Law Student Limited Practice Act will work within the clinics for credit hours.  These numbers do not include students involved in the Pro Bono Initiative, Conflict Management students, nor some 2L externs placed and supervised in government offices.

Jonathan Rapping leads a small-group session at the Gideon’s Promise Summer Institute.

OXFORD, Miss.–The University of Mississippi School of Law has partnered with Gideon’s Promise to host their two week Summer Institute, July 31-August 15, 2015. Gideon’s Promise is a national organization which provides support and training to defense attorneys.

“Every year, committed young lawyers begin their careers as public defenders – criminal defense attorneys for the poor – only to find themselves swamped with overwhelming caseloads and little support,” said Debbie Bell, interim dean.

“Gideon’s Promise provides the training, support, and community to help these attorneys to fulfill the promise made over fifty years ago in the United States Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Gideon v. Wainwright – to provide their clients with the quality legal services that all citizens deserve. The law school is lucky to be able to link our students and faculty to this game-changing organization.”

Led by MacArthur Genius Grant recipient Jonathan Rapping, the organization works to improve criminal justice in the South, making it a perfect partner for the law school given the work of its Clinical Programs. The Cochran Innocence Project, the MacArthur Justice Clinic and the Criminal Appeals Clinic all have similar goals of improving social justice issues in the state, and provide students with the opportunity to assist underrepresented clients.

“We did a site visit and met all the wonderful people and recognized the work that was being done here through the various clinics,” said Afton Mallard, program coordinator for Gideon’s Promise. “Also, we want to have a presence in the South where there is the greatest need for criminal justice reform.”

This summer’s institute contains members of the organization’s three year CORE 101 program (class of 2015),  “Leadership Summit 2015” for leaders of Public Defender Offices, and “Summer Session 2015” which includes previous CORE classes (2013 and 2014) now part of the three year CORE 101 program.  The CORE 101 program is designed for new public defenders, while the Leadership Summit helps public defender leaders improve the quality of representation in their offices.

Over 180 public defenders and 46 faculty members from around the country visited the law school for the program.  Most of the professors are experienced public defenders, indigent defense leaders, and specialists who are volunteering their time.

“The professors are experienced attorneys who work with you on everything that entails a defense case,” said Jason Payne, assistant public defender for the Harrison County Public Defenders Office.  Payne graduated from the Ole Miss Law School in 2008, and went through the program in 2013.

“This training is focused on client centered public defending,” he said.  “One thing they teach is to let people know your client is a human being.”

In addition to the on site training attorneys receive, they also have access afterwards to an online network of support from those who have gone through the program.  The Gideon’s list serve allows them to ask questions or post resources for their fellow defenders.

“I might get some literature on fingerprint stuff and post it, or someone may congratulate you after a trial win,” Payne said.   “Or, if you lose it’s for moral support. It’s a community to lean on in any manner.”

Participants can get involved through the organization’s Law School Partnership Project, where third year students apply and are funded through law schools and then gain full employment and entry into Core Program.  They can also enter the CORE 101 program with an online application, or they can be a leader or trainer in a Public Defender’s office that is focused on client-centered representation.

“I’m proud that Ole Miss is hosting this,” Payne said.  “This is a civil rights movement.  It is about getting equal and fair representation for these clients.”

By: Professor Phil Broadhead

“We do not learn from experience . . . we learn from reflecting on experience.” ― John Dewey, American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer.

The UM Clinical Programs have flourished in the 21st Century so much that every law student has the opportunity to participate in representing clients across diverse fields of practice. The school’s twelve clinical offerings include eight in-house clinics, two practicums, the Clinical Externship Program, and the Pro Bono Initiative. During the summer of 2015, the clinical faculty of University of Mississippi School of Law continued the work of graduated law students in clinic cases of significance by appearing before the before the Supreme Court of Mississippi.

Professor Tucker Carrington, Director of the Mississippi Innocence Project (MIP), whose mission is to provide representation to prisoners with cognizable claims of wrongful conviction, appeared before the Supreme Court in oral argument on June 23rd in the case of Eddie Lee Howard v. State of Mississippi. This case is a death penalty conviction based primarily on forensic “bite mark” identification evidence. Students participating in the MIP worked on the case for literally years, gathering information and filing petitions with the Court to review the validity of the conviction.  The admissibility of “bite-mark” expert testimony has been renounced in recent years by the American Board of Forensic Odontology.  The dentist who testified for the prosecution in the Howard case recently stated, “I can no longer rely on bite marks as a truth.”  Bite mark identification has been under heavy scrutiny in the legal community since the 2008 report to Congress by the National Academy of Science, which found no basis for its reliability as a true science.  The Court took the case under advisement and will probably decide what relief will be granted by September.

Professor David Calder, associate clinical professor, was a member of the litigation team who freed Michelle Byrom, a death-row prisoner almost executed for the shooting death of her husband. After finding Byrom’s son, in letters written immediately after the homicide, confessed to killing his father, the defense team presented the case to the Supreme Court.   Justice Jess Dickinson wrote in the Court’s decision, “I have attempted to conjure up in my imagination a more egregious case of ineffective assistance of counsel during the sentencing phase of a capital case. I cannot.” Michelle Byrom was released from prison by court order on June 26, 2015. “We are very grateful that the Mississippi Supreme Court has granted Michelle Byrom’s request for relief from her death sentence,” Professor Calder said. “This was a team effort on the part of the attorneys currently representing Michelle, and we believe that the court reached a just and fair result under the facts presented in this case.”

Also, on May 29, 2015, Professor Phil Broadhead, Director of the Criminal Appeals Clinic, appeared before the Mississippi Supreme Court in oral argument in a clinic case from the Fall 2014 semester, Thomas Flynt v. State of Mississippi. The case was appealed from a conviction in Forrest County Circuit Court, with third-year law students raising issues of necessary self-defense under the Castle Doctrine statutes. Thomas Flynt was convicted in 2013 of manslaughter in a shooting death that occurred in his place of business in Hattiesburg. The Court heard arguments about the circumstances of the shooting which encompassed the “No Duty to Retreat” clause of the Castle Doctrine, as well as other self-defense issues in the case. Presiding Justice Michael Randolph allowed brief-writers Sullivan Banks and David Fletcher, who graduated in the class of 2015, the honor of sitting at counsel table during the arguments.

The UM Clinical Programs seek to provide law students with the opportunity to be admitted to the limited practice of law under the supervision of a clinical professor/supervising attorney, and to gain hands-on, real life experiences in both civil and criminal areas of practice. The goal of the clinical programs is to merge theory and practice and their experience of being a real lawyer for the first time, providing a “capstone” to their law school experience. The more practice-ready graduated law students are, the more they will be able to make the difficult transition from law student to lawyer.

 

 

 

 

The 2015 CLEO class.

OXFORD, Miss.–Fatima Mann always knew she wanted to be a lawyer, and the CLEO program at the University of Mississippi School of Law has been an avenue to help her get there.

While already accepted to attend Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Mann wanted to prepare herself for the rigors ahead in law school.  She joined other students from around the country June 7-July 18 for the program in Oxford, which is a national project of the American Bar Association Fund for Justice and Education.  It works to expand the opportunities for minority and low-income students by helping them prepare for law school.

“I learned about CLEO through LSAC (Law School Admissions Council),” she said.  “I wanted to be the best in law school, and I knew law school is a marathon and CLEO is great the training for it.”

The University of Mississippi School of Law has hosted the program locally for the last four years as a way to serve minority students.  In that time, hundreds of students have completed the program and have gone on to be successful in law school—at Ole Miss and otherwise.

“These students come from across the country, come from varied backgrounds and do great things,” said Macey Edmondson, assistant dean for student affairs.   “We are able to make a mark on their lives by providing the support they desire to succeed in law school, and they see for themselves what our school and Mississippi have to offer.”

Originally from Connecticut, Mann graduated from UNC Charlotte with degrees in political science and history.  She worked at Apple and as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in Austin, Texas prior to joining the CLEO program at Ole Miss Law.

As a VISTA member, Mann worked at a child advocacy center and created an HIV task force.

Both of these jobs inspired her to want to do more to help people.

“I always said I was going to be an attorney and was gonna change the world,” she said.  “This experience re-inspired my desire.”

Students in the CLEO program had the opportunity to take Torts, Legal Writing, Property and Criminal Law, along with a number of enrichment activities including “How to Make an Outline,” “Note taking,” “How to Take a Law School Exam,” “Time Management,” and a panel of career speakers.

“It has been one of the hardest mental workouts I’ve ever had,” Mann said.  “Professor Pittman was my favorite. I will be well equipped because of how he taught.”

Pittman is a full professor at the law school and has taught in the CLEO program for the past two years.  He regularly teaches Torts, Law and Medicine, Bioethics, Alternative Dispute Resolution Processes and Pre-Trial Practice.

“[CLEO students] have the curiosity and the motivation to be engaged law students,” Pittman said.  “Many of them will become successful attorneys, judges and other leaders in communities throughout the country.  They will increase the level of diversity in the legal profession.”

Mose Hogan, a graduate of Georgetown University and a native of Bloomfield, Michigan, became interested in CLEO for the same reasons as Mann.  He will attend Howard University School of Law in the fall.

“I thought CLEO would be a good opportunity to learn how to do well in law school, and to learn about areas in which I could improve,” he said.  “The University of Mississippi is a really nice place.  I really enjoyed CLEO and I’m very happy to have been able to participate this year.”

Nationally, CLEO is in its 46th consecutive year for the program.  Over 8,000 students have participated in CLEO’s programs and have excelled through law school, passed the bar and begun their careers in the legal profession.

The School of Law is one of 45 law schools around the country recognized by CLEO for its contributions to promote diversity in legal education.

“CLEO is an organization worth investing in and donating to,” Mann said.  “It should be cultivated and appreciated because of the experience it gives people.”

 

Professor George Cochran

OXFORD, Miss.–The University of Mississippi School of Law is pleased to announce the renaming of the Innocence Project to the “University of Mississippi School of Law George C. Cochran Innocence Project.”   The new name honors legendary professor and constitutional law expert George Cochran, who retired May 9, 2015. To date, 330 innocent prisoners have been exonerated through post-conviction DNA testing – over a dozen of them in Mississippi.

“George Cochran is one of the best – and most memorable – professors I have ever known,” said Dean Debbie Bell. “His efforts to form and then support this project – which is also a valuable part of our overall clinical program – adds to his remarkable and still vibrant legacy.”

“His classroom style epitomizes what he expects out of each of his students, to be an expert in constitutional law no matter the position or issue. His astonishing recollection of thousands of cases – including specific language from dissents and concurrences — have impressed generations of UM law students,” says Dean Bell. “Without him, the Innocence Project would not exist. Simple as that. His dedication to the program has created a unique opportunity for law students to help right one of society’s most egregious wrongs – the imprisonment of innocent people.”

Professor Cochran’s contributions to the Innocence Project are many.  He passed the resolution unanimously among faculty to establish the Innocence Project and then made sure that it was not an unfunded mandate. He worked to comprise a board and to gain substantial, permanent funding – and then was not only appointed to its Board of Directors, but is frequently consulted on ongoing litigation.

“When I heard about this new project and clinic, I called my friend on the faculty, Farish Percy, who referred me to someone named George Cochran,” said Tucker Carrington, director of the Project.

“I called him and spoke with him for just a few minutes. He told me he loved me and then hung up without saying goodbye. That seemed odd, but weighed against my need for a job, not too odd. So, seven years on, I now count George as a dear friend and colleague. I’m not sure he really loves me as much as he loves what the job I’m lucky enough to have — and that he was central to creating. He loves the law, loves litigating, loves the underdog, and lives for — absolutely lives for — those moments when lawyers step up and force those in positions of power to make good on fundamental promises of due process and equal protection.”

Cochran retired after serving as a faculty member for over 40 years, joining the faculty in 1972 after clerking for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stanley Reed and for Chief Justice Earl Warren.  He taught Constitutional Law, Supreme Court Practice and Federal Jurisdiction and Procedure.  Students have twice voted him as the school’s top professor.  He has argued two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

“While grateful for being honored, it is important that it be remembered that the invaluable assistance of John Grisham, Columbus attorney Wilbur Colom and former Justice of the Supreme Court Jimmy Robertson, as well as Innocence Project New Orleans director, Emily Maw, were critical when putting the Innocence Project in place,” Cochran said.  “Under the leadership of Professor Tucker Carrington I am certain that the work done at the Law School will have a lasting and positive impact on justice as it is administered in the State.”

Established in 2007, the School of Law’s Innocence Project provides legal representation to Mississippi state prisoners who have meritorious claims of wrongful conviction.  It is an in-house law firm at the University of Mississippi School of Law that provides clinical experience to third-year law students.

Additional details about how former alumni and friends of Professor Cochran may participate in this event, and express appreciation for all that he has done and continues to do for the Law School will be forthcoming during the academic year.

Learn more about Professor Cochran.  Learn more about the Innocence Project.

Will Wilkins

Will Wilkins, director of the Mississippi Law Research Institute, moderated a panel recently for the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA).  The panel was titled “Infringement Accusations and Demands on University Campuses”.

According to their website, NACUA’s mission is to “enhance legal assistance to colleges and universities by educating attorneys and administrators as to the nature of campus legal issues.”  The conference was held in Washington, D.C. June 28-July 1, 2015.

Learn more about NACUA.  Learn more about the Mississippi Law Research Institute.

UM Clinical Professor Cliff Johnson, director of the MacArthur Justice Center, is focusing attention on the ruinous effect cash bail bonds have on Mississippi families who live from paycheck to paycheck and have a family member charged with a non-capital offense.  According to the latest Department of Justice statistics, there are almost a half-million Americans on any given day in pre-trial detention, waiting for court dates in jail even though they haven’t been convicted of any crime.*  “This case, along with other cases we intend to file in the very near future challenging bail practices in Mississippi that result in unequal treatment of Mississippi’s poorest citizens, reflects the commitment of the MacArthur Justice Center to challenge unfair and unconstitutional practices so often found where poverty and our criminal justice system intersect,” Director Johnson said.  “This case also demonstrates the commitment of the MacArthur Justice Center to working collaboratively with organizations like Equal Justice Under Law.  We want to be where the action is, and we always are pleased to join forces with organizations working on the cutting edge of social justice litigation.  Equal Justice Under Law certainly fits that bill.”

Read the Slate article to learn more.

Associate Clinical Professor David Calder

David Calder, associate clinical professor and director of the Child Advocacy Clinic, was a member of the team who freed Michelle Byrom, who was almost executed for the shooting death of her husband.

“We are very grateful that the Mississippi Supreme Court has granted Michelle Byrom’s request for relief from her death sentence,” Professor Calder said. “This was a team effort on the part of the attorneys currently representing Michelle, and we believe that the court reached a just and fair result under the facts presented in this case.”

Read the Clarion Ledger story.

Professor Carrington

Professor Tucker Carrington, director of the Mississippi Innocence Project, appeared before the Supreme Court in oral argument on June 23rd in the case of Eddie Lee Howard v. State, a death penalty conviction based on forensic “bite mark” identification.  The admissibility of this type of expert testimony has been repudiated in recent years by the American Board of Forensic Odontology.  The dentist who testified for the prosecution in the Howard case recently stated, “I can no longer rely on bite marks as a truth.”  Bite mark identification has been under heavy scrutiny since the 2008 report to Congress by the National Academy of Science questioning the reliability as forensic evidence.

Watch the oral argument.  

Read the Clarion Ledger story.  

Will Berry, associate professor and Jessie D. Puckett, Jr., lecturer, discussed the Supreme Court’s decision to allow lethal injection in death penalty cases on “Bloomberg Law,” a national radio program on Bloomberg.  A primary focus of Berry’s scholarship is on the death penalty, sentencing, substantive criminal law and sports law.

 

 

 

 

 

Listen to the interview.

For more information about Professor Berry’s work, please visit his faculty page or his SSRN page.

 

OXFORD, Miss.–When James A. “Jeep” Peden, Jr. decided to give back to his alma mater, the University of Mississippi School of Law, providing scholarship assistance seemed to be the right choice.

Peden, a member of the Law School Class of 1970, recently established the Stennett, Wilkinson & Peden Scholarship at the School of Law to honor his Jackson law firm. The scholarship will provide a stipend each year to both a second-year and a third-year student. Each recipient will be selected by the dean and faculty of the School of Law on the basis of academic achievement, leadership, interest in local government law and need.

The recipient of several prestigious scholarships himself, Peden said he recognizes the value of educational funding.

“I was very fortunate to receive a number of scholarships which paid for my higher education,” he said. “I always felt a debt to those who gave me that scholarship money. I want to help other students do what I had the opportunity to do.”

Peden began his collegiate career as a holder of a prestigious Carrier Scholarship at Ole Miss. He was first in his class, graduating in 1966, and received a Fulbright Scholarship to study British government and politics at the University of Bristol in England in 1966-67.

He then went on to accept a Ford Foundation Law Fellowship in 1967 upon entering the UM School of Law.

“I was torn between applying to law school or getting a doctorate in history or political science,” Peden said. “Receiving the Fulbright gave me post graduate experience outside the state, so I knew I wanted to come back to Ole Miss.”

While in law school, Peden served on the editorial board of the Mississippi Law Journal. Upon his 1970 graduation,he joined the firm now known as Stennett, Wilkinson & Peden and served on the staff of then-Lt. Gov. William Winter, who later was elected as Mississippi’s governor.

Peden’s law firm has a long connection with local government law as well as with zoning and land use issues.

“The late E.W. Stennett, a 1927 graduate of the law school, and Gene Wilkinson, currently a senior member of the firm, both served long terms under mayors in Jackson — Stennett as city attorney for more than twenty years and Wilkinson as chairman of the Civil Service Commission for more than three decades,” he said.

Peden himself began very early in his career working on zoning, land use and local government law issues, and developed a specialty in these areas. He has appeared before the Mississippi Supreme Court in 16 zoning appeals.

This experience, coupled with others gained in law school, inspired some of the characteristics Peden desires in scholarship recipients, who must be an outstanding in the areas of zoning, land use and local government law.

“My local government law professor was Robert Khayat,” Peden said. “I was in the first class he taught, a municipal law class when I was a second year law student. He helped spur an interest in local government law.

“I’ve never seen a college administrator or faculty member who related so well to people,” the alumnus said.

Aside from his work at his firm, Peden has been active in the Mississippi Bar, serving as president of the Young Lawyers Division, president of the Fellows of the Young Lawyers of the Mississippi Bar, chairman of the Mississippi Law Institute, bar commissioner for the Seventh Circuit Court District and charter member of the Governor’s Judicial Nominating Committee.

In addition to his illustrious legal career, Peden devoted more than 30 years of his life to the Mississippi Air National Guard, serving as staff judge advocate at the 172nd Airlift Wing in Jackson for 14 years and then as staff judge advocate at Air National Guard state headquarters for 11 years before retiring in 1999.  Upon retirement, he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. He is a graduate of the Air War College.

Peden has been listed for many years in Best Lawyers in America in the specialties of Land Use and Zoning Law. Since 2009, he has served as an adjunct professor at the Mississippi College School of Law, where he teaches the course on Land Use Controls.

To contribute to the endowment for the Stennett, Wilkinson & Peden Scholarship at the University of Mississippi School of Law, individuals and organization can mail a check made payable to the University of Mississippi Foundation with the fund noted in the memo line to the UM Foundation, 406 University Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655. Online gifts can be made at http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift.

 

 

 

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