February 24, 2016

Tax Moot Court Team Wins Third Place in National Competition

Sam Grimes (’16), John Hundscheid (’16), and Irene Motles (’16) competed against tax teams from across the country in the National Tax Moot Court Competition in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The UA Law tax team was one of only three teams to win both its preliminary rounds and automatically advance to the quarterfinals. In the preliminary round, the team defeated Louisville and Oregon. The team also won its quarterfinal round against Kentucky to advance to the semifinals. The team lost to Loyola-Chicago in the semifinal round, but won its consolation round against LSU to take third place, the best overall finish for an Alabama team.

The team was coached by Clay Staggs (‘96).

February 24, 2016

Karen LaMoreaux Bryan National Environmental Law Moot Court Team Wins Award

Ben Richardson (’16), Chris Becker (’16), and Robby Marcum (’16) won the David Sive Award for Best Brief.
The competition problem involved six complicated issues under the Clean Air Act. The team advanced to the final round in oral arguments, clearing three preliminary rounds, the quarter-final round, and the semi-final round.  In the final round, the team argued in front of Judge Colloton from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, Judge Adelman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Judge Mannion of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, and Judge Ward from the U.S. EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board. The team faced excellent competition on its way to the final round including Columbia, Minnesota, Florida, Maryland, Texas, Wyoming, UC Hastings, and Vermont.  The University of Mississippi won the final round. The UA team was coached by Professor William Andreen and Professor Heather Elliott. Chelsea Caveny (’16) served as student coach.
February 24, 2016

ABA Moot Court Team Advances to National Finals

Elliott Bell (’16), Barrett Bowdre (’16), Grant Luiken (’16), Logan Matthews (’16), Caitlyn Prichard (’16) and Angela Selvaggio (’16) competed for Alabama in the ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition.  These two teams competed with 30 other teams in the Philadelphia regional. About 190 teams compete in this elite ABA program nationally.
For two years in a row, Alabama was the only law school that had two teams advance to the regional finals. The team of Matthews, Prichard and Luiken won a unanimous final round decision and will advance to the national finals in Chicago in April.   The team of Bell, Bowdre and Selvaggio lost a close 3-2 vote in the final round against Texas. Bell was voted the sixth best advocate of the more than 90 advocates who competed. The two Alabama teams were coached by Professor Carol Andrews and supported by Moot Court Fellows, Eunji Jo (’17), Briana Knox (’17), and Mary Lauren Kulovitz (’17).
February 23, 2016

Professor Rushin Weighs in on the Cost of Police Misconduct

Professor Stephen Rushin recently commented in The Boston Globe that police reform comes at a cost.

In Ferguson, Missouri, city leaders say the costs associated with a consent decree could consume more than one-fourth of its annual operating budget.

“There’s never been a concerted national effort to really spend a lot of money to address police misconduct,” Rushin said. “We’re finally coming to the recognition that correcting police misconduct is an expensive proposition.”

For more, read “As the Cost of Police Misconduct Grows, So Do Taxes.” 

February 21, 2016

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell Visits the Law School

Sewell Official Photo 031714U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) visited the Law School and offered advice to law students.

Rep.  Sewell is serving her third term as the U.S. Representative of Alabama’s 7th Congressional District. She is one of the first women elected to Congress from Alabama and is the first black woman to serve in the Alabama Congressional delegation.

The special event was co-sponsored by the Career Services Office and the Public Interest Institute. Dean Mark E. Brandon introduced Rep. Sewell and welcomed her to the Law School.

During her 40-minute talk, Rep. Sewell urged students to find gaps and plug holes. Students, she said, should be willing to accept the job nobody else wants to learn on a Friday night.

“When I look back on my career, those are the moments that defined my character but also showcased my willingness to roll up my sleeves and do the mundane.”

With apologies to law professors, Rep. Sewell told students they should spend their first formative years out of law school learning the craft “because you learn how to be a lawyer on the job.”

She also urged students to put aside some time in their career for public service. “You should all factor into your life a season of service that will allow you to use your talents for the benefit of other people.”

February 19, 2016

Dean Brandon’s Statement on the Passing of Nelle Harper Lee

“We at the University of Alabama School of Law were saddened to hear of the passing of Nelle Harper Lee,” said Dean Mark E. Brandon. “Her death is a loss not only to the School of Law, which she attended, but also to the State of Alabama, the nation, and the world.  In To Kill a Mockingbird, she penned a novel of elegant prose, set in the granular relations of a small Southern town, but eloquently touching themes of universal significance.  In her life and work, she showed that she had both a keen eye and an unwavering moral voice.”

The University of Alabama also issued a statement.

“The University of Alabama extends its sympathy to Nelle Harper Lee’s family and friends and the millions of readers of To Kill a Mockingbird. Miss Lee will continue to serve as an inspiration for many generations of writers, and we proudly claim her as one of our own.”


February 12, 2016

Professor Rushin Comments on Justice Department’s Lawsuit Against City of Ferguson

Professor Stephen Rushin recently commented in The Wall Street Journal and PBS Frontline on the Justice Department’s lawsuit against the city of Ferguson, Missouri.

The lawsuit came after the Ferguson City Council voted to change a proposed consent decree to reform the police and courts. The council said the package, which had been negotiated between the Department of Justice and city officials, cost too much.

Rushin told The Wall Street Journal while discussions continue between local and federal officials following such federal probes, negotiations tend to end after a proposed settlement is reached.

“I’m not aware of that ever being a successful tactic,” said Rushin, who has studied Justice Department investigations of police departments. “They have to bite the bullet and figure out a way to come up with the money.”

For more, read “Justice Department Sues Ferguson Over Policing” and “Could Ferguson Win Its Case Against The Justice Department?”

February 11, 2016

Law School Student Receives Gates Cambridge Scholarship

DeProspo2Atticus DeProspo (1L) is one of 35 scholars selected for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship at the University of Cambridge.

The scholarship was established in October 2000 by a donation of $210 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the University of Cambridge.

Scholarships are awarded to outstanding applicants from countries outside the United Kingdom to pursue a full-time postgraduate degree in any subject available at the University of Cambridge.

The scholars will be members of 28 academic departments in Cambridge and will study and research subjects ranging from the health implications of a sugar tax and the role of schools in preventing childhood obesity to antibiotic resistance, new treatments for cystic fibrosis and bat-borne viruses such as Ebola. Scholarships were awarded to 15 women and 20 men.

DeProspo was recently selected as a member of the inaugural class of Schwarzman Scholars. After his year in China as a Schwarzman Scholar, he will attend the University of Cambridge and pursue a one-year graduate degree.

February 3, 2016

Dean Brandon Named Fellow of Alabama Law Foundation

UA Law Dean Mark E. Brandon (’78) has been named a fellow of the Alabama Law Foundation, which recognizes Alabama State Bar members who have demonstrated outstanding dedication to their profession and their community.

The new fellows were honored at a banquet on Saturday, Jan. 30, at the Renaissance Hotel in Montgomery. Less than 1 percent of bar members are invited into the fellowship.

“The Fellows of the Alabama Law Foundation are selected from the ranks of the Alabama State Bar and represent our brightest and best,” said Joe Fawal, President of the Board of Trustees of the Alabama Law Foundation. “The fact that they are selected is in and of itself an honor. But the contribution that they make in defense of the poor in civil matters in Alabama is a much greater honor.”

In addition to Dean Brandon, Alabama Law alumni named as fellows were:

  • Mack B. Binion, III (’72)
  • Ronald G. Davenport (’75)
  • Alan C. Livingston (’73)
  • Delaine Mountain (’68)
  • Steven L. Nicholas (’84)
  • Jimmy B. Pool (’74)
  • Grey Redditt, Jr. (’75)
  • James H. Reid (’74)
  • Beth McFadden Rouse (’78)

For more, read “Alabama Law Foundation Announces New Fellows.”

January 28, 2016

Liz Huntley: Serving the State

news logo crop

liz lfw photoThe journey for Liz Huntley’s (’97) advocacy work for children began when she was in preschool.

It was in preschool where teachers nurtured her, taught her how to read and gave her the motivation to succeed.

“I can assure you I would have been a different student without that foundation,” she said.

As Huntley excelled in school, several people stepped into her life, giving her the love and affection that would ultimately help her overcome poverty and abuse.

By the time Huntley was 5 years old, she had endured a lifetime of tragedies. Her parents were drug dealers, and her father was incarcerated for selling drugs. Her mother tried to continue without him, but she broke the fundamental rule of drug dealing. She consumed her own product and became a heroin addict. One day without any notice, her mother left her five children with three sets of relatives, went home and committed suicide. Huntley then lived with her grandmother, where she was sexually and physically abused by relatives and witnessed domestic violence so intense she was sometimes placed in foster care.

Today, Huntley, a litigation attorney at Lightfoot, Franklin & White LLC in Birmingham, is an an advocate for early childhood education and sexual abuse prevention.

She is a member of the board for the Alabama School Readiness Alliance, a statewide, nonprofit coalition advocating for the expansion of high quality, voluntary pre-k. As part of the coalition, she and other members have proposed a 10-year plan to expand the number of voluntary pre-k programs throughout the state. The Alabama Legislature and Governor Robert Bentley support the plan, and the state has secured a federal grant to help the program achieve its goal.

“The way to really address education in Alabama is to start with children at an early age,” Huntley said. “We have kids who enter classrooms for the first time with so many differences and gaps with what they already know when they come to the table. If we make sure all children have access to high quality early education and a good foundation when they enter school, it will raise the bar in classrooms for all children.”

In 2015, Huntley was appointed to the Governor’s Task Force on Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children, which recommended establishing child sexual abuse programs to encourage children to come forward and creating policies that will strengthen existing laws governing individuals who work with children.

Children will often leave hints and clues about what’s going on in their lives, and Huntley shares her own story as a reminder that abuse doesn’t always look how some might expect.

“I was the happiest, most smiling child you would ever know,” she said. “The signs are not always a withdrawn kid who looks victimized.”

That is just one reason Huntley is now marrying her passion for child advocacy with her law practice.

Several judges have appointed her as a guardian ad litem in personal injury cases that involve children, and she represents them during settlement fairness hearings to make sure the children’s interests are taken into consideration. Huntley also represents state agencies that serve children and families, ensuring they have the proper policies and procedures in place to protect the children under their care. Later this year, she plans to become a certified mediator so that she can help communities navigate complex issues such as making the transition from court-ordered desegregation to unitary status.

“The practice of law is a beautiful thing in that you can be anything you want to be,” she said. “It gives you such a great base: work ethic, discipline, commitment to a good work product. The values that you are taught in law school transcend professional lines.”

Those who know Huntley well are not surprised by her success and her desire to give back to the community. She is a member of the Auburn University Board of Trustees, Chair of the Farrah Law Alumni Society and a motivational speaker, with a TedX Birmingham talk to her credit.

“She had visions way beyond her years when she was younger,” said Olivia Washington, who first met Huntley when she was a child in preschool. Washington was then the Executive Director of the Community Action Agency that funded the preschool program where Huntley learned how to read.

Washington saw the roots of advocacy taking ahold of Huntley when she started a tutoring program in high school and raised money from individuals and churches to fund it.

“She gave when she didn’t have anything to give in terms of finances to get the materials and supplies she needed to operate community programs,” Washington said.

Moments after meeting Huntley sitting quietly in the front row of her first-grade classroom at Clanton Elementary School, Pam Jones declared she would be the best first-grader she has ever had. And Huntley has proved her correct.

“It does not surprise me anymore,” Jones said. “I just have come to expect the unexpected form Liz.”

Jones was proud when Huntley took the advice of Don Logan, former CEO of Time Warner and owner of the Birmingham Barons, and wrote and self-published her memoir, More Than a Bird. The book follows her emotional journey through poverty and abuse, and it profiles the men and women who helped her succeed, including her pastor, Elijah Good, who eventually took her into his home when she was a teen-ager and who she now calls dad. A portion of the book’s proceeds benefit the Alabama School Readiness Alliance and the Children’s Village of Birmingham, a group home for neglected and abused children that allows siblings to stay together.

Together with her co-author Cole Peck, Huntley is developing a reflection guide for her memoir called #DefineYourself so that teenagers can use her life as a guide to make sound choices and decisions. Peck is a Birmingham native and an English student at Washington and Lee University. Huntley asked him to join her because “it’s important when you’re writing to get perspective from the generation you’re dealing with.”

The only explanation Huntley gives for why she has thrived when so many others have not is that God placed people in her life at the exact time she needed them.

“He did all of this,” she said. “It’s clearly part of a larger plan somewhere.”