News

July 17, 2015

Professor Krotoszynski Says Most States Will Likely Extend Family Rights To Same-Sex Couples

Prof. Ronald Krotoszynski said the U.S. Supreme Court found marriage a “fundamental right,” but didn’t mention other family issues such as adoption.

State courts “could in theory draw a distinction” between marriage and adoption, he told AL.com, which could result in more lawsuits. “I’m not advocating this (interpretation),” he said, noting that most states will read the ruling broadly to “extend all family rights” to same-sex couples.

For more, read “Alabama Courts End Legal Limbo, Begin Approving Same-Sex Couple Adoptions.”

July 13, 2015

Professor Carodine Questions Why $1 Billion BP Settlement Will Be Directed To Alabama’s General Fund

Professor Montre Carodine recently told AL.com she questions why part of Alabama’s BP oil settlement will be directed to the state’s General Fund.

As part of BP’s $18.7 billion settlement with states affected by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Alabama will receive $1.3 billion for environmental damages that will be paid over 15 years for coastal restoration projects. An additional $1 billion for economic damages will be directed to the state’s General Fund for 18 years, according to AL.com.

“That should be a cause of concern,” Carodine said. “Who knows what will end up happening to that money. We all know Alabama is in pretty bad financial shape. I don’t know if we can trust that $1 billion will be spent the same way it needs to be spent and that it will go toward some of the necessary repairs on the Gulf Coast.”

For more, read “Law Professor Says BP Settlement A ‘Positive” For Alabama, But Questions $1 billion To State’s Beleaguered General Fund” and “Poll Shows Gulf Coast Voters Want BP settlement Money Spent On The Environment, More So Among GOP Voters Than Democrats.”

July 6, 2015

Professor Carodine Says BP Oil Settlement Is A Win for Gulf Coast States

Professor Montre Carodine recently said on NPR’s “All Things Considered” that BP’s $18.7 billion settlement is a win for the states affected by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

“It’s a win for BP because they get to pay the amount out over time. It’s a win for the Gulf states because they will have a steady stream of income over that period of time,” Carodine said.

For more, read “BP To Pay $18.7 Billion In Landmark Settlement Over 2010 Gulf Oil Spill.”

June 29, 2015

Deborah Johnson Wins 2015 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction

hi res Deborah Johnson_credit Birney Imes

For her work in The Secret of Magic, Deborah Johnson will receive the 2015 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction. The prize, authorized by Ms. Lee and co-sponsored by The University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal, is given annually to a book-length work of fiction that best illuminates the role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change.

Johnson is the first woman and African-American author to win the coveted Prize.

“I am thrilled and I thank the University of Alabama, the ABA Journal, and the judges so very much for this wonderful honor,” Johnson said.

The Secret of Magic was chosen by a distinguished panel of judges. They are: Wayne Flynt, author and Alabama historian; Mary McDonagh Murphy, independent film and television writer and producer; and Michele Norris, NPR host and special correspondent.

The Selection Committee said The Secret of Magic embodies the spirit of To Kill a Mockingbird.

“Unforgettable characters, suspense that builds straight to the last pages and straight plain prose, all the necessary ingredients to win a prize named for Harper Lee. Deborah Johnson does a lovely job,” Murphy said.

Johnson’s book, The Secret of Magic, will be honored during a ceremony on Sept. 3, at 5 p.m., at the Library of Congress’s Jefferson Building in Washington, D.C. in conjunction with the National Book Festival. Following the award presentation, the Selection Committee will convene a panel discussion of The Secret of Magic, in relationship to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

About Deborah Johnson

Johnson was born below the Mason-Dixon Line, in Missouri, but grew up in Omaha, Nebraska.

After college, she lived in San Francisco and then for many years in Rome, Italy, where she worked as a translator and editor of doctoral theses and at Vatican Radio.

Deborah Johnson is the author of The Air Between Us, which received the Mississippi Library Association Award for fiction. She now lives in Columbus, Mississippi, and is working on her next novel.

June 26, 2015

Professors Fair and Krotoszynski Weigh In On Gay Marriage Decision

UA Law Professors Bryan Fair and Ronald Krotoszynski provided perspective to AL.com about the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that the Constitution requires same-sex couples be allowed to marry.

“No more Jim Crow,” Fair said. “Finally, the Supreme Court has ruled that states cannot prohibit same-sex marriage, extending the fundamental right to marry to consenting adults who wish to formalize their unions like other couples.  This is a great day for equality and constitutional liberty.”

Professor Krotoszynski noted: “Obergefell constitutes a landmark decision of the first order, standing squarely with decisions like Brown v. Board of Education, Frontiero v. Richardson, and Reynolds v. Sims–cases securing equal rights for racial minorities, women, and the right to vote. It’s clearly a defining moment for the attainment of formal legal equality among all citizens under the Constitution.”

For more, read “Gay Marriage In America Now Legal.”

June 25, 2015

Professor Carodine Discusses President Obama’s Comments About Race

Prof. Montre Carodine, who has written extensively on race relations, recently told The Washington Times President Barack Obama sparked a broader conversation on race when he used the N-word to show the country still has not overcome its legacy of racism.

“We have to speak honestly and openly about the state of race relations and all the ugliness that it conjures up — even if it makes some people uncomfortable,” Carodine said.

In an interview on comedian Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast, Obama spoke frankly about race and gun violence. His comments came just days after a white gunman was charged with shooting and killing nine black churchgoers at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

For more, read “Obama drops N-word to make case U.S. not cured of racism.”

June 19, 2015

Professor Rushin Says Private Security Agencies Are Responsible To Those Who Pay Them

Professor Stephen Rushin recently told Marketplace.org that private security companies have limited accountability.

“Those officers are the ones that most likely to execute an arrest, most likely to execute a search, most likely to interrogate the employees of a company,” he said. “They’re also the ones who are not actually regulated by most states’ law, as it currently stands.”

In 2011, Rushin researched state accountability practices and found that only six states regulate agencies hired to work inside companies.

And even when private security agencies hire off-duty police officers, police who have the best of training, other concerns arise.

“Suddenly they’re no longer necessarily working for the public good,”  Rushin said. “They’re working to protect the economic interests of their now private employer.”

For more, read “Accountability At Question In Private Policing.”

June 17, 2015

Vice Dean Leonard Says Abercrombie Decision Provides No Clear Guidelines For Employers

In a guest column for The Tuscaloosa News, Vice Dean James Leonard argues the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Abercrombie & Fitch decision provides no clear guidance for employers about their obligations.

“To avoid liability, employers must now initiate a dialogue with job applicants whenever there is a mere suggestion that a religiously mandated accommodation is needed. Is there anything wrong with this approach? Not always. Discussions could begin in religiously neutral terms. Interviewers might ask whether applicants can comply with essential job functions such as following a dress code. Further discussion might lead to a mutually satisfactory arrangement.

“When the parties cannot agree, however, religion has already entered the conversation in ways that pose risks for the employer. Even broaching the subject might become evidence of bias by the employer in later litigation.”

For more, read “Abercrombie Decision Has No Clear Guidelines.”

June 17, 2015

Emeritus Professor Marsh To Direct University of Texas Athletics Investigation

University of Texas President Gregory L. Fenves has ordered an independent review of the university’s academic support system for athletics after several accusations of academic misconduct were made in a recent Chronicle of Higher Education story.

Fenves said the review will be conducted by Gene A. Marsh, a retired UA law professor and former chair of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I Committee on Infractions. At Jackson Lewis PC in Birmingham, Marsh focuses on collegiate sports, with an emphasis on NCAA compliance matters relating to college athletics programs, according to the firm’s web site.

For more, read “Fenves Orders Query Of Academic Support System After Men’s Hoop Allegations.”

June 11, 2015

Gaines Brake Explains Power of Attorney

 

Gaines Brake, interim director of the Elder Law Clinic, recently explained how a power of attorney works to ABC 33/40 viewers.

“It is a very powerful designation of authority,” Brake said. “A good estate plan probably should include a durable power of attorney and a healthcare power of attorney so that someone who perhaps is elderly and is planning for a time when they may be incapacitated and may need some assistance in carrying out just their regular daily business affairs can appoint someone to help them do those things.”