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 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.”


June 11, 2015

Professor Hamill Sees Parallel Between Gov. Miller and Gov. Bentley

Professor Susan Pace Hamill recently told she sees a parallel between former Alabama Gov. Benjamin Meek Miller and Gov. Robert Bentley.

Both were conservatives who promised no new taxes, and both presided over fiscal crises.

“He (Miller) was not a progressive governor at all. He was kind of like what Gov. Bentley’s going through,” Hamill said. “Gov. Bentley is experiencing in a sort of metaphorical way what Gov. Miller experienced in the ’30s.”

For more, read “Alabama’s Income Tax Hits Poor Harder Than Most, But It Wasn’t Always So.”

June 1, 2015

Law School Welcomes Professor Rushin

Stephen Rushin - professor of law

Stephen Rushin – assistant professor of law

The Law School welcomes Stephen Rushin, assistant professor of law.
Professor Rushin will teach Select Problems in Criminal Law: Policing in the fall. His research focuses on issues in criminal law, criminal procedure, information privacy law, and policing. He is currently working on a book entitled The Answer to Police Misconduct (in contract with the Cambridge University Press) that examines the Justice Department’s implementation of structural reform litigation in American police departments. His work has most recently appeared or is forthcoming in the Minnesota Law Review (job talk) and the Fordham Law Review.
Professor Rushin completed his Ph.D. at Berkeley in Jurisprudence and Social Policy, where he was a Selznick Fellow and recipient of the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Scholarship. He also received a J.D. from Berkeley, where he was a member of the California Law Review and received a Third Year High Distinction Award (top 10% of class), among other awards for academic performance. He also holds a B.A. from the University of Texas, where he graduated with high honors.

May 29, 2015

Professor Rushin Says Los Angeles Police Department Shows Consent Decrees with U.S. Department of Justice Can Work

A consent degree similar to the one between the Cleveland Police Department and the U.S. Department of Justice was successful in Los Angeles, said Professor Stephen Rushin, who has studied DOJ settlements with police departments.

Los Angeles was supposed to be under consent decree for five years, but the process ultimately took 12 years before the Los Angeles Police Department was deemed to be under compliance and released, Rushin recently told the Christian Science Monitor.

“Critics said this would impair the ability of police to fight crime,” he said. “But LA is a great test case, because they not only saw a reduction in misconduct [by every measure], but they also had one of the largest sustained drops in crime in U.S. history.” Those two facts aren’t necessarily connected, he said, but they showed “that you can have a consent decree that addresses misconduct and can also effectively fight crime.”

For more, read “Cleveland police reform: Why federal oversight matters.”

May 22, 2015

Professor Gross Says Police Body Cameras Create New Legal Issues

Footage gathered by police body cameras create a “novel issue” in jury trials, Professor John Gross recently told

“Now that the Obama Administration is pushing for national guidelines to encourage police departments to use body cameras, the courts haven’t had a chance to weigh on this because it’s a new issue,” he said. “I can understand why a defense attorney says it does create hearsay problems.”

The concern arises because the cameras don’t record the names of every bystander and witness, Gross said.

“A body camera is recording what a person is saying to them,” he said. “That person might leave the scene and (the officer) might not get that person’s contact information. A prosecutor might not call that person as a witness. If you are playing that tape to the jury, you might have hearsay evidence coming and that witness is not available for cross examination.”

For more, read “As Police Body Cameras Proliferate, New Legal Questions Emerge.”

May 19, 2015

U.S. Supreme Court Takes On TCPA Case, Professor Steinman Weighs In

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether a defendant’s offer to pay a plaintiff’s complete claim moots the plaintiff’s individual claim and class action claims when it reviews a Telephone Consumer Protection Act case, according to Bloomberg BNA.

In a 2013 case, Genesis Healthcare Corp v. Symczyk, a majority of the court assumed, without deciding, that when a plaintiff declines an offer that completely satisfies a claim that it would moot the individual’s claim, Bloomberg reported.

Prof. Adam Steinman said the Genesis Healthcare case provides some perspective for how the nation’s top court may decide in TCPA.

“It seems clear that the four dissenting justices in Genesis will conclude that an unaccepted offer of complete relief will not
moot the case for purposes of Article III,” he told Bloomberg BNA. “The thing to watch for is whether the Genesis dissenters can persuade at least one justice in the Genesis majority to join them on that point.”