March 26, 2015

Professor Gross Writes Amicus Brief In Support of Hinds County Public Defenders Office

The National Association of Public Defenders recently filed an amicus brief to support the independence of the Hinds County Public Defenders Office.

Prof. John Gross wrote the amicus brief that says fairness in the criminal process and the accuracy of court judgments in Hinds County have been compromised by Circuit Judge Jeff Weill’s decisions to remove public defenders representing indigent clients and instead assign private counsel.

For more, read “NAPD Files Amicus In Support of Hinds County PDO.” 

March 24, 2015

Professor Joyner Says IAEA Is Not Qualified To Judge Credibility Of Intelligence Independently

Prof. Joyner recently told Fars News Agency that documents indicating the CIA attempted to mislead the International Atomic Energy Agency on Iran’s nuclear program show that providing misleading information is the agency’s strategy and that the IAEA is not qualified to weigh the credibility of CIA intelligence.

“I think this incident does significantly undermine the idea that the IAEA should be relying for its assessments on intelligence information provided to it by third-party states, some of whom have proven that they have no compunction about falsifying documents, ambush-killing civilian nuclear scientists, using cyber attacks against civilian facilities, and generally doing anything within their power, including all manner of subterfuge, to frustrate Iran’s nuclear program,” Joyner said. “The IAEA is not itself an intelligence agency. It does not have the capability to independently assess the credibility of intelligence provided to it by third party states.”

For more, read “Prof. Joyner: IAEA Not Qualified To Judge Reliability Of Info Independently.”

March 23, 2015

Professor Fair Weighs In On Conflict of Interest Question

Prof. Bryan Fair says there are few fixed rules to guide judges when a conflict of interest question arises.

Factors other than a judge’s prior association could cause a judge to recuse himself from a case. For example, sometimes a judge may decide he will not to preside over cases in which litigants have spent a large amount of money supporting or opposing his campaign.

“It has to be a fairly egregious case,” Fair said. “I’m not aware of a clear standard. Judges have a fair amount of discretion.”

For more, read “Did Justice Tom Parker’s Past Affiliation With Gay Marriage Litigant Represent Conflict Of Interest?”

March 23, 2015

Professor Emens Says Prosecutors Have A Duty To Investigate New Evidence, Even If It’s Through Media

Prof. Steve Emens says prosecutors have a duty to investigate new evidence, even if it comes through the media.

“I think we have to keep in mind that the district attorney has an obligation whenever new evidence comes to their attention, to investigate it even if it came from a 20/20 (show),” Emens said. “It may seem strange, but they have an obligation when evidence comes to their attention.”

For more, read “How Much Influence Did ABC 20/20 Have In Baldwin County Murder Case?”

March 23, 2015

Professor Steinman Signs Amicus Brief Urging Supreme Court To Review Lower Court’s Decision

A group of fourteen leading civil procedure scholars, including UA’s Prof. Adam Steinman, is urging the Supreme Court to review a lower court’s decision making it more difficult for workers to recover lost wages.

The scholars explained that lower courts have reached inconsistent results following a pair of Supreme Court pleading decisions handed down in 2007 and 2009. Because of the confusion that persists in the lower courts, amici curiae respectfully urge the Court to grant the petition for writ of certiorari to clarify the applicable pleading standard with respect to factual sufficiency.

For more, read “Leading Civil Procedure Professors Urge High Court To Grant Review In Case Implicating Workers’ Access To Courts.”

March 10, 2015

U.S. News Ranks Alabama School of Law Among Top 25 Law Schools

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama School of Law is ranked 22nd among the nation’s top law schools, both public and private, according to U.S. News & World Report’s annual “Best Graduate Schools” rankings for 2016.

This is the third consecutive year that Alabama Law has been ranked among the top 25 law schools in the nation. It is tied for 22nd with law schools from George Washington University, the University of Iowa and the University of Notre Dame. The 2016 ranking is a move up from 23rd in 2015.

“We are pleased with this national recognition,” said Dean Mark E. Brandon. “The ranking is an indication that the faculty, administration, and staff of Alabama Law continue to attract outstanding students, provide them a first-rate education, and see them begin successful legal careers.”

The magazine surveys and ranks 198 accredited law schools based on a weighted average of 12 factors, including quality, selectivity and placement success. For more information on the rankings, contact U.S. News & World Report.

March 10, 2015

Professor Gross Weighs In On Prosecution’s Strategy

Prof. John Gross recently told that prosecutors often assert that defendants were well aware of their actions before committing a crime.

“I think the tendency is almost always for prosecutors to claim the defendants were aware of what they were doing and deny they have some kind of diminished capacity,” Gross said. “Just because they cognitively are aware of what was around them, that doesn’t mean their mental illness is not seriously impairing their judgment.”

For more read, “Mental Illness Issues Surface In Barbara Grice’s Defense Following Chaotic Gun Incident At Elberta Elementary School.”

March 4, 2015

Professor Krotoszynski Says Alabama Supreme Court Is Lobbying U.S. Supreme Court

Prof. Ronald Krotoszynski recently told The New York Times that the Alabama Supreme Court is trying to influence the U.S. Supreme Court with its decision to halt same-sex marriages.

“You might read it as kind of a brief or a political document to the Supreme Court of the United States,” he said. “They’re trying to lobby.”

For more, read “Alabama Court Orders A Halt To Same-Sex Marriage Licenses.”

March 4, 2015

Professor Hill To Receive President’s Faculty Research Award

Julie A. Hill is one of thirteen faculty members representing a cross section of the University of Alabama campus who will receive the President’s Faculty Research Award Wednesday, April 8, as part of the first Faculty Research Day.

Prof. Hill has published about the examination process regulators use to police banking practices, analyzed the appeals process and made recommendations for improvement. She also has written about the banking issues that arise when states legalize marijuana.

The event, which is open to all UA faculty, will be held in the Bryant Conference Center’s Sellers Auditorium, from 4 p.m. until 5:45 p.m., with a reception following.

“This event is being created to celebrate and showcase the excellent and diverse scholarship being conducted by faculty across our campus,” said Dr. Carl A. Pinkert, UA vice president for research and economic development. “We hope you will join us as we take this opportunity to recognize all research endeavors and creative scholarship on our campus and celebrate all University of Alabama researchers.”

Dr. Denise Barnes, section head for the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, known as EPSCoR, is slated to give keynote remarks.

Award winners, selected by their individual colleges, will be profiled at the event that 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: Drs. Kimberly Bissell, professor, journalism; Caroline Boxmeyer, associate professor, psychiatry and behavioral medicine; Jason DeCaro, associate professor, anthropology; Jonathan Halbesleben, associate professor, management; Samantha Hansen, assistant professor, geological sciences; Yasmin Neggers, professor, human nutrition; Edward Sazonov, associate professor, electrical and computer engineering; Vincent Scalfani, science and engineering librarian; Marietta Stanton, professor, nursing; Rachel Stephens, assistant professor, art; Amy Traylor, assistant professor, social work; and John Vincent, professor, sport management.

More information is available at

February 23, 2015

Crawford Addresses Farrah Law Alumni Society Banquet

Jan Crawford, CBS News chief legal correspondent, said Justice Clarence Thomas is “the most misunderstood and misreported figure in modern political and legal history.”

Crawford served as the keynote speaker at the Farrah Law Alumni Society Banquet in Birmingham, where the society honored Justice Janie L. Shores with the Sam W. Pipes Award for distinguishing herself through service to the bar, The University of Alabama, and the School of Law.

After Justice Thomas arrived at the U.S. Supreme Court, a narrative quickly developed, painting him as an understudy of Justice Antonin Scalia.

“That narrative is demonstrably, emphatically, unequivocally false,” Crawford said. “Justice Thomas, from his first conference, his first week on the bench, was staking out opinions completely and independently of Scalia, on his own, showing that he was willing to be the sole dissenter.”

Using notes at the Library of Congress penned by Justice Harry Blackmun and other court memos, Crawford traced Justice Thomas’s actions early in his career. She pointed to a Louisiana case where each of the nine justices had planned to cast a vote for an inmate and against the state of Louisiana. The next day Justice Thomas changed his vote, becoming the sole dissenter. After circulating his dissent, three other justices said that Thomas’s argument had persuaded them to change their vote. Ultimately, the decision was 5-4.

“Justice Thomas, by the force of his views, in his first week on the court, persuaded three of his colleagues that their original position was wrong,’’ said Crawford, the author of Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court. “But again, that was not the story line that was reported, and this, to me, is a cautionary tale for people in my business and also for people who read what’s being reported.”

Justice Thomas, she said, is perhaps one of the most forceful conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court, and it is a disservice to him and the court to portray him as an understudy.

“I believe we should be talking about – not whether he’s following Scalia, which he is not – but talking about what Justice Thomas is saying. You can disagree with him; you can agree with him. But you cannot make the assertion that he is the lackey of Antonin Scalia.”

Justice Thomas, like all justices, has had an effect on the U.S. Supreme Court, but the most dramatic shift may come after the 2016 election.

“When the next president takes office, four of the justices by the end of the term – a fifth soon – will be in their 80s, so I think that there is no question that the 2016 election will have an enormous impact on the shape and the future of the Supreme Court.”