August 10, 2015

Law School Welcomes Class Of 2018, Morris Dees Urges Class To Make A Difference


Dean Mark E. Brandon welcomed an impressive Class of 2018 during First-Year Orientation.

“The heart of what makes Alabama a superb place to study, and I should say the reason that we do what we do here, are you, our students, and you are a distinguished group by any proper measure,” Brandon said.

The Class of 2018 has 154 students and was drawn from a pool of nearly 1,600 applicants. Eighty-four percent of those applicants came from outside the state of Alabama. Members of the Class of 2018 come from 25 states and two countries, and have studied at 74 colleges and universities. Forty-five percent of the class members are women, and 26 percent identify as members of a racial or ethnic minority, the highest percentage in the history of the Law School.

Some members of the class hold advanced degrees in business administration, financial planning and medicine, while others studied or worked in 28 countries as well as read or speak 15 languages from around the world.

“More than ever, law and legal institutions are global, so your international experience and knowledge will be an asset to all of us,” Brandon said.

Morris Dees2

The Law School called on alumnus Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, to inspire the class. Dees, ’60, revisited two cases from 1981. The first was a case he took after white fisherman waged a campaign against Vietnamese fishermen in Galveston Bay. The white fishermen were concerned about the growing competition from Vietnamese immigrants and invited the Texas Knights of the Ku Klux Klan to Seabrook, Texas.

Crosses were burned, and boats were destroyed. The immigrants were so afraid many of them posted “for sale” signs on their boats. They even considered withdrawing the lawsuit. Ultimately, a judge issued a preliminary injunction that stopped the Klan’s actions.

Later, Dees witnessed the blessing of the fleet, while U.S. Marshals ensured the rights of the Vietnamese immigrants were not violated.

“I have to tell you for the first time in my life I understood the value of diversity in this nation,” he said.

For the second case, Dees told the story of Beulah Mae Donald. Donald’s son, Michael, was killed in Baldwin County and his body was found hanging from a tree in a black neighborhood in Mobile. Two Ku Klux Klansmen were convicted in the case.

At the trial, Dees said, one of the men asked Donald for forgiveness. “And she said, ‘Son, I’ve already forgiven you.’”

Dees used both stories to urge the students to effect change.

“You’re going to have great opportunities as lawyers when you leave here to go into communities in this state and around this country to make a difference,” he said. “When you go up those big elevators to those tall buildings, don’t leave your conscience on the ground floor. Because no matter what you do or when you do it, you can always give your time to help those who are less fortunate.”

Orientation continues through Aug. 12. Classes begin Aug. 13.

August 5, 2015

Professor Krotoszynski Says Alabama Fight Against Gay Marriage Has Few Options

Prof. Krotoszynski recently told that Alabama has few options to fight against gay marriage.

“It is perfectly okay for people to use the political process to initiate a change,” he said. “The constitution is not unamendable. But at this point it’s a political battle, not a legal one.”

The Alabama Policy Institute and the Alabama Citizens Action Program have urged the Alabama Supreme Court to defy the the U.S. Supreme Court, according to

For more, read “Alabama Fight Against Gay Marriage Has Few Options, Professors Says.”



July 30, 2015

Professor Carodine Weighs In On Gun Control

Prof. Montre Carodine recently told The Washington Times President Barack Obama is right when he links criminal justice reform and gun control.

“We hear talk about ‘good guys with guns stopping bad guys with guns,’ but we have a criminal justice system that spends too much time labeling many nonviolent people as ‘bad.’ At the same time our gun laws allow for people who appear to be ‘good’ to access guns and commit mass murders,” Carodine said.

For more, read “Obama ‘Most Frustrated’ By Inability To Pass Gun Control.”

July 28, 2015

Alabama State Bar Installs Lee Copeland As 140th President, Announces Award Recipients

The Alabama State Bar recently installed Montgomery attorney Lee H. Copeland, ’82, as its 140th president.

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to serve as the next president of the Alabama State Bar,” said Copeland of Copeland Franco Screws & Gill, P.A. “I look forward to building on the strong foundation that has already been put in place by past presidents and bar leadership before me.”

J. Cole Portis, ’90, was installed as the bar’s president-elect. He will serve one year before assuming the presidency in 2016.

Bradley C. Hargett, a student at the Law School, received the Law Student Award for supporting and participating in pro bono programs. He served as the student coordinator for the Reentry Assistance Clinic. The project is a joint effort of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Department of Pardons and Paroles and the Law School.

For more, read “Lee Copeland Installed as 140th President of Alabama State Bar” and “Alabama State Bar Announces Award Recipients.”

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, 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 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

“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 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.”