April 4, 2016
April 1, 2016
Legal scholars and members of the law enforcement community visited The University of Alabama School of Law to discuss policing after Ferguson.
The symposium on “Redefining Clearly Established Rights after Ferguson: § 1983 Claims and Community Policing from Hope v. Pelzer to Kingsley v. Hendrickson” was held in the Bedsole Moot Court Room.
The highly publicized and controversial deaths of Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, and Tamir Rice have sparked a national conversation about community policing and the use of deadly force. This symposium will draw together experts from across the nation to examine the complicated set of issues that arises in the context of policing and use of force. The colloquy will consider both the constitutional and civil rights dimensions of the use of force, with particular focus on avenues for rendering existing legal remedies more responsive to current concerns.
The symposium was co-sponsored by the Alabama Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Law Review, a journal committed to fostering scholarly dialogue in the vital and interconnected areas of civil rights and civil liberties.
For more, click on the links.
WVTM-NBC 13 (Birmingham)
WBRC-Fox 6 (Birmingham)
WCFT-ABC 33/40 (Birmingham)
“Law enforcement reform will be subject of University of Alabama symposium”
March 31, 2016
Professor Julie A. Hill and 12 Law School students recently visited the Cayman Islands as part of the offshore financial transactions course.
The Cayman Islands is a world leader in offshore finance. It is the second largest domicile for captive insurance companies, a jurisdiction of choice for investment funds, and a top provider for trust and company management services. Cayman also has sunny weather and beautiful beaches.
This combination of finance and fun drew students from the University of Alabama to the Law School’s offshore financial transactions class. Students spent time early in the semester in Tuscaloosa mastering the basics of captive insurance, investment funds, and securitization. They then traveled to Grand Cayman during spring break for a week of intensive courses taught by Caymanian financial experts.
The class is offered in conjunction with Texas A&M School of Law, and twelve Texas A&M students attended the course.
“It is a great opportunity for students to learn first-hand from attorneys and other finance professionals,” said Hill, who has taught the course for the past three years. “Students leave Cayman with a better understanding of sophisticated financial products and with professional connections that will help them in their careers.”
When not in class, students made the most of the beautiful island. They swam with stingrays, snorkeled in clear water, and relaxed on the beach. University of Alabama law student Said Jabbour (’17) described the trip as “both very fun and educational.”
March 30, 2016
Cameron Smith (’07) observes public policy across the country and explores how it could apply to the state of Alabama.
He is a Senior Fellow and State Programs Director for the R Street Institute, a conservative Washington D.C.-based think tank, where he evaluates public policy, including technology, juvenile justice and energy.
Smith has been in the position for about a year. “I get to move around the country and see areas for improvement but also best practices,” he said. “I’m a Federalist who truly believes that states are laboratories of democracies, and that we can learn from that.”
Public policy changes can be difficult to sell in a state that is steeped in pride and tradition. Smith spends most of his time educating others about their options and trying to inform the discussion on everything from the state’s budget to school choice.
Before joining R Street, Smith had a number of posts in both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate. He was legislative counsel for Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and he served as counsel to Rep. Geoff Davis, R-Ky., where his primary legislative project was the REINS Act. The legislation, which has passed the House several times, would give Congress more oversight on spending, make the executive branch more accountable to the legislative branch and possibly save money.
“The current Congress needs to have the authority for writing law, not a Congress from 30 or 40 years ago,” he said.
Smith’s work on the REINS Act is a prime example of his legal intellect, said David Lasseter (‘05), a federal lobbyist who works in government relations for United Technologies Corporation, an American aircraft manufacturer.
“He has a strong legal mind but also a strong political orientation, which allows him to understand the legal implications of policy and how to make sure they are the ones advocated for.”
Cindy Hayden (’02), director of government affairs for Altria, a tobacco and wine company, has known Smith for about 10 years. She first met him when he interviewed to be her law clerk for the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“He has remarkable intellect, a sense of humor, a good attitude and is a hard worker,” she said. “After that first year with him, I knew those characteristics would ensure his continued success. He can analyze a complicated case or piece of legislation quickly and then distill it down to the need-to-know information that connects it to people in the real world.”
Smith will work with anybody who will work with him on the issues. “We’re a pragmatic group that really wants real solutions,” he said. “We don’t just want to talk about ideas in a vacuum.”
Writing a regular column for Al.com keeps those ideas flowing and allows him to have wide conversations about the issues that affect the state. It’s easy for those who work in public policy to develop a closed perspective on the issues they handle, he said. Writing a column exposes him to others’ ideas and allows readers to respond to his ideas.
“For me as a lawyer, sometimes I get wrapped up in law and public policy and focused on those issues, and it’s helpful as a writer to know that most people care about the human condition,” he said. “This isn’t simply a clinical exercise about winning the argument. Here’s an opportunity to move us forward, to help us have a better future.”
His most successful column was about his brother’s suicide, and he knows exactly why it’s the one readers remember.
“It lets them see my heart and who I am,” he said. “It’s an experience that shaped my life. Being able to reach people as human beings is absolutely critical if we want to have a better tomorrow for Alabama.”
It was in those early days of his career at UA Law that helped shape Smith’s career and his perspective. He vividly remembers Professor Bryan Fair’s Race, Racism and Law and Gender and Law courses. Both showed him the importance of looking at all perspectives and that those perspectives are held in good faith and are meaningful. Judge Joseph Colquitt, he said, taught him to appreciate the complexity of law.
“He definitely had a real impact on me in terms of my approach to criminal law, helping me understand it’s not so simple,” he said. “It’s not always just a matter of checking the boxes and someone’s guilty.”
Alabama Law also provided Smith with a solid network of professionals. Many of his classmates remain in his professional circle. While they may not have the same perspective, they have the same bond with the law school and the profession.
“It’s not always what you do, it’s who you do it with,” he said.
March 28, 2016
The Honorable Myron H. Thompson, Senior Judge, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, will deliver the University of Alabama School of Law commencement address at 6 p.m. May 7 at Coleman Coliseum.
A native of Alabama, Judge Thompson received his undergraduate and law degrees from Yale. After graduating from Yale Law School, he returned to Alabama, beginning his professional career as Assistant Attorney General. He was the first African-American Assistant Attorney General in Alabama’s history. Judge Thompson was appointed to the federal bench in 1980. He became Chief Judge in February 1991, becoming the first African-American Chief Judge of any U.S. District Court in the State of Alabama.
March 28, 2016
The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that plaintiffs are entitled to rely on statistics to prove their case also “provides some important guidance” on the court’s opinion in Wal-Mart Stores Inc. v. Dukes, 131 S. Ct. 2541 (2011), Professor Adam Steinman told Bloomberg BNA.
Wal-Mart involved a proposed class of over a million female Wal-Mart workers who alleged pay and promotion discrimination. The Supreme Court held that the workers’ statistical evidence of discrimination failed to establish a nationwide pay or promotion pattern across all Wal-Mart’s stores, and didn’t tie all of the workers’ claims together to satisfy commonality.
Commonality, a prerequisite to class certification under Rule 23, requires questions of law or fact common to the class.
But the court here clarified that “ does not stand for the broad proposition that a representative sample is an impermissible means of establishing class-wide liability.”
Steinman said it’s significant that the court rejected a categorical rule against the use of such evidence.
For more, read “SCOTUS Upholds Use of Statistics in Class Overtime Fight.”
March 25, 2016
Ronald Krotoszynski, Jr., the John S. Stone Chair in the School of Law, is one of 13 faculty members at The University of Alabama who will be presented with the President’s Faculty Research Award, Thursday, March 31 as part of UA’s annual Faculty Research Day.
The event, which is open to all UA faculty members, will be held at the Bryant Conference Center from 4 p.m. until 5:45 p.m. with a reception following.
Dean Mark E. Brandon said he was pleased to offer Krotoszynski as the Law School’s nominee for Faculty Research Day.
“He is a nationally and internationally recognized scholar, whose scholarship spans constitutional law and administrative law, both in the United States and abroad,” Brandon said.
The event is intended to increase awareness and generate enthusiasm for scholarship among the UA faculty as the University moves to advance its research enterprise. Additionally, the President’s Faculty Research Award, sponsored the offices of President and Vice President for Research and Economic Development, will be awarded to outstanding faculty researchers from across UA colleges and schools.
“We’re delighted to celebrate our second group of outstanding faculty researchers with this special event,” said Dr. Carl A. Pinkert, UA vice president for research and economic development. “Faculty Research Day will highlight examples of the excellent and diverse research projects being conducted by faculty campus wide.”
Dr. David Francko, dean of the UA Graduate School, will deliver keynote remarks.
Award winners, selected by their individual colleges, will be profiled at the event, which is sponsored by UA’s Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development and organized by UA’s faculty-led Research Advisory Committee.
Selected for the President’s Faculty Research Award are: Dr. Jason Black, College of Communication & Information Sciences; Dr. Karen Burgess, College of Community Health Sciences; Dr. Jeff Carver, College of Engineering; Dr. Kristi Crowe-White, College of Human Environmental Sciences; Dr. Nirmala Erevelles, College of Education; Dr. Richard Hatfield, Culverhouse College of Commerce; Dr. Claudia Mewes, College of Arts & Sciences; Dr. Michele Montgomery, Capstone College of Nursing; Dr. Hyunjin Noh, School of Social Work; Lindley Shedd, University Libraries; Dr. Merinda Simmons, College of Arts & Sciences; and Dr. Janek Wasserman, College of Arts & Sciences.
More information is available at frd.ua.edu.
March 24, 2016
Christian Pereyda (’17) won first place in the American Bankruptcy Institute’s Eighth Annual Bankruptcy Law Student Writing Competition, a first-ever win for a University of Alabama School of Law student.
“His paper furnished a reasoned and independent contribution to the ongoing debate surrounding the standards for discharging student loans in bankruptcy,” Professor Gary Sullivan said. “As a deserving winner, Christian has represented himself and the law school well in a writing competition widely regarded as the pinnacle forum for scholarly contributions by law students in the bankruptcy field.”
Pereyda’s paper, “Is Undue Hardship an Undue Burden?: Examining the Policy of Presumptive Non-Dischargeability for Student Loans in Bankruptcy,” argues that federal student loans should continue to be presumptively non-dischargeable in bankruptcy for policy reasons, but that this presumption should not apply to private student debts.
“When you discharge a federal student loan in bankruptcy, for all intents and purposes, you’re reallocating that expense from the borrower to the taxpayer,” Pereyda said. “For private student loans, the taxpayer is not involved. It’s just the lender and the borrower, and I argue there’s no policy justification for treating private student loan debt any differently from other unsecured debts.”
Pereyda will receive a $2,000 cash prize, publication of his paper in the ABI Journal and a one-year ABI membership.
Pereyda is pleased he secured a win for the Law School. “It affirms that I made the right choice in coming here. It’s a testament to the education I’m receiving here and the education I’ve been fortunate to receive throughout my life,” Pereyda said.
He first became interested in bankruptcy while working as a summer associate at Rosen Harwood in Tuscaloosa, where he began researching bankruptcy and student loans, with the hope of writing a paper and publishing it in a journal. Now that he has achieved his goal, he is interested in pursuing a career as a bankruptcy attorney.
“It’s just interesting to see how our society chooses to deal with distressed financial situations,” he said. “It’s way better than debtors’ prisons.”
March 23, 2016
Forrest Boone (’16), Mateo Forero (’16), and Irene Motles (’16) traveled to Las Vegas to represent the Law School in the Hispanic National Bar Association Moot Court Competition. The team was the first Alabama Law team to participate in the HNBA competition, and the team performed exceptionally well. From a field of 31 teams, the UA team made the final 8— advancing to the quarterfinals. In addition, Motles won a second place overall oralist award and a $1,000 cash prize.
March 23, 2016
Students in the Civil Law Clinic, with the help of volunteer counsel in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, secured a victory in the Indiana Court of Appeals for a Tuscaloosa, Alabama, client who was sued in an Indiana court.
The Clinic’s client, who had never been to Indiana, signed up for on-line classes at an Indiana public university after being awarded a full-tuition scholarship as the daughter of a disabled Indiana veteran. Shortly after beginning on-line classes, the client’s scholarship was revoked by the university and she was sued in an Indiana court for the claimed tuition.
Civil Clinic students argued in written motions and briefs that the Indiana courts did not have jurisdiction over the Clinic’s client. The Indiana Court of Appeals ultimately agreed with the Clinic’s arguments and ordered the trial court to dismiss the claim.
Professor Yuri Linetsky supervised Stephanie Smith (’16), Caleb Christian (’16), and Lindsey Shepard (’15), who worked on the case from the fall 2014 semester until the appellate court’s decision in spring 2016.
Evan Miller and other juvenile offenders haven’t been resentenced nearly four years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that laws requiring juveniles convicted of murder to be sentenced to die in prison violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Miller was 14 in July 2003 when he and another teen beat and robbed 52-year-old Cole Cannon. In 2006, Miller was convicted of capital murder in his hometown of Moulton, Alabama.
Professor Jenny Carroll recently told the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange that attorneys for Miller and those representing the state of Alabama may be conducting their own evaluations of him in preparation for a hearing.
“How well has he behaved while in custody? What’s his record as a prisoner? Has he done things like further his education? Has he engaged in acts we would consider good acts, to suggest he has in fact been rehabilitated?” Carroll asked. “The more time Miller has to do that, the more likely he is going to able to make a claim that, ‘Not only does my sentence need to be revisited because of the Supreme Court decision, but it needs to be revisited because I was such a radically different person than I was at the time I was sentenced originally.’”
For more, read “Long after Landmark Decision, Evan Miller Still Waits for Resentencing.”