August 2020


Alabama Law Welcomes the Class of 2023

Dean Mark E. Brandon welcomed the Class of 2023 on Monday, August 10, for First-Year Orientation.

More than 50 percent of the 129 class members are women, and 21 percent identify as members of a racial or ethnic minority. The members of the Class of 2023 have studied, lived, or worked in 34 countries outside of the United States, including those in Africa, Asia, Europe, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East.

“You – individually and collectively – are impressive,” Brandon said. “And we – the entire faculty, staff, and student body – are excited to be able to welcome you into the community that is Alabama Law.”

Victor Methos Wins 2020 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction

 Victor Methos, author of The Hallows,” will receive the 2020 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction during a virtual ceremony.

“On the 10th anniversary of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, I am grateful to the selection committee for choosing a novel that clearly illustrates the role of lawyers and their power to effect change in society,” said Dr. Mark E. Brandon, dean of UA’s School of Law. “In ‘The Hallows,’ the committee found a well-written legal thriller that is truly worthy of this honor.”

Methos said he is thrilled to win the award.

“It is such a privilege to receive this award,” Methos said. “Every criminal lawyer will tell you the same thing: Atticus Finch was our earliest inspiration. I first read ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ when I was 13, and to this day, when the injustices of our legal system discourage me, it is that book I turn to for inspiritment. To think the committee saw something of it in my own work humbles me, and I will always be grateful.”

Call for Nominations  

The Board of Governors and the Leadership Council of Alumni Society are seeking nominations for three awards, two of which are new.  Nominations are now open for the Sam W. Pipes Distinguished Alumnus Award, the Alabama Lawyer Hall of Honor, and the Alabama Rising Young Attorney Award. More information and nomination forms can be found on our website:

Nominations are due September 1.


Percy Badham, III (’82) donated $10,000 to the Law School Foundation’s Unrestricted Fund.

Thomas Heflin, Jr., (’79) contributed $4,000 to the Howell T. Heflin Fund and contributed $1,000 to the Class of 1979 in Memoriam Endowed Scholarship Fund. The gift was facilitated by the Scholarship Foundation.

Curtis O. Liles, III (’73) donated $10,000 to the Curtis O. Liles, III Endowed Scholarship in Tax Law.

Jerry Powell (’75) and Carolyn Powell contributed $100,000 to the Jerry W. Powell and Carolyn W. Powell Professor of Practice for Law and Business.

Edward Maurice Rogers (’49) donated $48,515 to the Edward Maurice Rogers Endowed Scholarship.

Thomas J. Scott, Jr. contributed $5,000 to the Judge Irene Feagin Scott Tax Library Collection Fund. The gift was facilitated by Morgan Stanley Global Impact Funding Trust, Inc.

Alyce Manley Spruell (’83) donated $11,433 to the Richard S. Manley Scholarship.

The AccessLex Institute contributed $25,000 to the Law School to provide emergency funds to law students during the pandemic via the AccessLex Institute Emergency Relief Fund.

The Albert G. Rives Charitable Trust donated $18,832 to the Albert G. And Hester Rives Fund.

The ExxonMobil Foundation matched a $5,000 gift Kim King donated to the Class of 1982 Endowed Scholarship.

The University of Alabama Chapter of the Order of the Coif contributed $12,000 to the Order of the Coif Scholarship.

The University of Alabama Federal Tax Clinic donated $30,000 to the Alabama Annual Tax Clinic Law Scholarship.

Class Notes

Florence M. Cauthen (’79) has been named County Administrator for the Montgomery County Commission.

Prim F. Escalona (’08) has been appointed Interim U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.

Kevin D. Finley (’15) has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the John M. Langston Bar Association of Los Angeles.

Scott S. Frederick (’13) has been named Shareholder at Baker Donelson in the firm’s Birmingham office.

Monica Graveline (’00) has been named Deputy General Counsel of Southern Company Services.

David Holt (’10) started a new law firm with Bartley Loftin on June 1, 2020, in Huntsville. Loftin Holt LLP will focus on business litigation.

Said G. Jabbour (’17) joined Balch & Bingham’s Mergers and Acquisitions Practice in the firm’s Birmingham office.

Laura J. Johnston (’94) has been named Partner at Johnston & Gregg in the firm’s office in Orange, Virginia.

Denise W. Killebrew (’85) has been named Co-chair of the Real Estate Practice Group of Baker Donelson in the firm’s Birmingham office.

Marcus Maples (‘06) was named to the Birmingham Business Journal’s list of 40 under 40.

Marie Brady Mott (’95) has been named the Health Officer and Administrator for the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County.

James P. Naftel, II (’98) has been appointed by Governor Kay Ivey as Probate Judge in Jefferson County.

Chris Reader (‘14) has been appointed by Governor Kay Ivey as Deputy General Counsel of her office.

Richard A. Rice (‘08) was named to the Birmingham Business Journal’s list of 40 under 40.

Paul Jordan Scott (’12) has been elected Shareholder at Lewis Thomason PC in Nashville.

Tazewell T. Shepard III (’79) was elected 2020-2021 President-Elect of the Alabama State Bar. His term officially began on June 26, 2020, and he will become President in July 2021.

John M. Shoemaker (’14 LL.M.) has been elected to the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) Singapore Branch Committee for 2020-2021.

Allison O. Skinner (’94) has been named the 2020 Award of Merit recipient by the Alabama State Bar. The award is the highest honor given by the Alabama State Bar to an individual attorney and serves to recognize outstanding service in the legal profession.

Dennis Steverson Sr. (’82) has been appointed by Governor Ivey as Circuit Court Judge in Tuscaloosa.

Jansen Voss (’06) was named to the Birmingham Business Journal’s list of 40 under 40.

Navan Ward, Jr. (’02) has been selected to serve as President-Elect of the American Association for Justice. This will be Ward’s fifth consecutive year serving on the Executive Committee of AAJ.

Russell West (’14) has been appointed and sworn in as District Judge, Place 1 in Limestone County.

Faculty Notes

PROFESSOR DEEPA DAS ACEVEDO’s draft article, “Originalism as Cultural Translation,” was selected for the 2020 Stanford/Harvard/Yale Junior Faculty Forum, which is being conducted remotely this year. She presented it on July 13.

Professor Acevedo’s article, “Changing the Subject of Sati,” was published in the Political and Legal Anthropology Review. The article explores efforts (and failures) to regulate the practice of widow immolation, or sati, in modern India.

“Essentializing Labor Before, During, and After COVID-19” appeared in the May issue of Exertions, the online journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Work. The essay argues that U.S. work law has always granted benefits and protections to workers depending on how “essential” their labor is to someone other than themselves, and that the coronavirus pandemic has merely changed the focus of essentiality analysis from the employer to society at large.

Professor Acevedo’s essay, “A Tale of Two Courts,” has been published in Cornell Law Review Online. The essay critiques recent proposals to reform the U.S. Supreme Court by drawing on the experiences and problems of the Indian Supreme Court as a natural experiment and comparison point.

PROFESSORS RICHARD DELGADO AND JEAN STEFANCIC published an article, “Love in the Time of Cholera,” in the UCLA Law Review and had others accepted in the Journal of Law in Society, Arizona State Law Review, and the UC-Davis Journal of Social Justice.

The Social Science Research Network (SSRN) notified Professor Delgado that his article, “Words That Wound: A Tort Action for Racial Insults, Epithets, and Name-Calling,” in Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review made a Top Ten list for the previous 12 months with 2,381 lifetime downloads.

Professor Delgado and Professor Stefancic spoke at the annual meeting of the Law & Society Association. The talk was based on an upcoming article titled, “Borders by Consent: A Proposal for Reducing Two Kinds of Violence in Immigration Practice.”

Diverse Issues in Higher Education analyzed Richard Delgado’s scholarship on hate speech in an article written by Professor Nichole Margarita Garcia (Rutgers-New Brunswick).  An article by Andrew Soto (Hartnell College) in an American Philosophical Association publication discussed Delgado’s contribution to Latino thought and philosophy.  

Social Science Research Network (SSRN) notified Delgado that his article, “Campus Antiracism Rules: Constitutional Narratives in Collision” in Northwestern Law Review, made a Top Ten list with 241 downloads as of April 17, 2020.  They also notified him that he falls among the top 10 percent of all authors.

Professors Delgado and Jean Stefancic signed a contract to co-edit a book series by Bristol University Press. Titled Rule and Resistance, the series will publish books discussing the rights of citizens to dissent from governmental policies that violate political or ethical norms.

Three students from Delgado’s and Stefancic’s civil rights seminar had articles based on their course papers accepted in top law reviews.  At least one other is circulating and under consideration.

PROFESSOR SHAHAR DILLBARY’s fourth article to be published this year, “Incentivized Torts: An Empirical Analysis,” will appear in the Northwestern Law Review (together with Cherie Metcalf and Brock Stoddard) (available at Using a series of incentivized laboratory experiments, this peer-reviewed article empirically tests, and rejects, the assumption that group causation theories deter wrongdoers. Data from over 200 subjects show that group liability can encourage tortious behavior and incentivize individuals to act with as many tortfeasors as possible. Surprisingly, the study finds that subjects can be just as likely to commit a tort under a liability regime as they would be when facing no tort liability. Group liability can also incentivize a tort by making subjects perceive it as fairer to victims and society. These findings are consistent across a series of robustness checks, including both regression analysis and non-parametric tests. The article also tests courts’ and scholarly insistence that the but-for test fails in cases subject to group causation. Its novel experimental design allows researchers to test whether, and to what extent, each individual’s decision to engage in a tortious activity is influenced by the decisions of others. Upending conventional belief, the article finds strong evidence that the but-for test operates in group causation settings (e.g. concurrent causes).

Earlier this year, Professor Dillbary placed three additional articles. “Multiple Causes and Stacked Inferences” was just published in the Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE). The article investigates the role of factual presumptions. The article is available at Another peer-reviewed article, “Is a Fine Still a Price? Replication as Robustness in Empirical Legal Studies,” will be published in the International Review of Law and Economics (together with Cherie Metcalf, Emily Satterthwaite and Brock Stoddard). The article empirically tests a controversial theory that has received much attention. According to this theory, the imposition of fines can result in more rather than less offensive behaviors. The article is available at “The Case Against Collective Liability” will be published as the lead article in the Boston College Law Review. This theoretical article investigates the role of res ipsa in medical malpractice cases and offers surprising insights and guidelines to policy makers. The article is available at

Professor Dillbary is currently working on several theoretical, experimental, and empirical research projects. These projects range over various subject matters, including tort law, discrimination law, evidence law, the effect of different liability and damages regimes on healthcare providers’ incentives to engage in defensive and offensive practices, anti-price gouging laws, and collusive behaviors.

PROFESSOR HEATHER ELLIOTT has received recent state- and national-level media coverage for urging the State of Alabama to resume parole hearings to alleviate the coronavirus crisis that faces Alabama’s prisons. She drafted a letter, joined by twenty-one current and emeritus Law School faculty and three former prosecutors, asking Governor Kay Ivey to facilitate the resumption of parole hearings; her editorial on the topic was published on on April 13, 2020. Later that day, the Governor’s Office and the Bureau of Pardons and Paroles announced that parole hearings would resume on May 18.

PROFESSOR ANITA KAY HEAD, along with PROFESSOR KIMBERLY BOONE and former Alabama Law faculty member Mary Ksobiech, presented at the Legal Writing Institute’s Biennial Conference. The conference, originally scheduled to take place at Georgetown University, went forward virtually in July. The presentation, titled “Recycling Responsibly:  Why You Should Consider Reworking and Reusing Old Problems,” focused on pedagogical strategies for drafting legal-writing problems.

PROFESSOR ADAM STEINMAN published several articles:

“Notice Pleading in Exile,” for a Cardozo Law Review symposium commemorating the tenth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Ashcroft v. Iqbal.“What Is a Fair Price for Objector Blackmail? Class Actions, Objectors, and the 2018 Amendments to Rule 23” (co-authored with Elizabeth Cabraser) for a Lewis & Clark Law Review symposium titled, “Class Actions, Mass Torts, and MDLs: The Next 50 Years.”“Appellate Litigation and the Emoluments Litigation,” for an Akron Law Review symposium on federal appellate procedure.

Professor Steinman’s article, “Rethinking Standards of Appellate Review,” was accepted for publication and will be the lead article in Volume 96 of the Indiana Law Journal this fall.

In July, Professor Steinman presented a draft of his article, “Appellate Review of Jury Verdicts,” at the Southeastern Association of Law Schools 2020 Conference, which was held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since May, Professor Steinman has been the co-host and co-organizer of the newly launched Unavailability Workshop for Civil Procedure.

Professor Steinman continues to blog regularly on the Civil Procedure & Federal Courts Blog on the Law Professor Blog Network.

PROFESSOR JOYCE WHITE VANCE was a guest speaker at the Alliance for Justice’s conversation on “Defending the rule of law in the time of Trump and COVID-19,” via Zoom on April 29. She appeared on the Hammer Forum (online) as part of “Tampering with Justice: DOJ Drops Case Against Michael Flynn,” a program moderated by UCLA Law Professor Jessica Levinson on May 19 and on Connecticut Public Television’s “Conversations on the Green: The Politics of Justice: The Rule of Law Under Siege,” on May 31. Professor Vance was a panelist at Loyola Law School for “The Politicization of DOJ,” on June 12, and she discussed “From the 16th St. Church Bombing to Policing in 2020” at the Brooklyn East Collegiate High School on June 19. She participated in the Birmingham Bar Association’s Panel with the YWCA, “Voting Rights in Alabama and the United States” on July 15, 2020. She appeared on NPR’s On Point on May 7 for an hour-long discussion of COVID-19 and prisons.

Professor Vance was elected in May as an inaugural member of the Council on Criminal Justice, a group that works to advance understanding of the criminal justice policy choices facing the nation and to build consensus for solutions that enhance safety and justice for all. Independent and nonpartisan, the Council is an invitational membership organization and think tank, serving as a center of gravity and incubator of policy and leadership for the criminal justice field. Harnessing the experience and vision of the nation’s top experts, innovators, and influencers, it is a catalyst for progress based on facts, evidence, and fundamental principles of justice. Nominations are based on a record of accomplishment and promise of continued leadership in criminal justice and public policy.

Professor Vance published the following op-eds:

“The Coronavirus Is Hitting Our Nation’s Prisons and Jails Hard. And It’s Exposing a Crisis That Existed Long Before the Outbreak,” TIME magazine, April 22, 2020.

“Joe Biden, Tara Reade and the Steps that Can Provide a Full Accounting in the #MeToo Era,” NBC Think, May 8, 2020 (with Barb McQuade, Jill Wine-Banks, Maya-Wiley)

“Turn Police Reform Ideas into Law and Officers into Guardians: 62 Obama-era U.S. Attorneys,”USA Today, June 16, 2020 (with Barb McQuade, Paul Fishman, Ron Machen, and  Steven M. Dettelbach)

“Americans Need to Know the Truth About William Barr’s Friday Night Massacre. We Can’t Afford to Wait,” TIME magazine, June 22, 2020.

“Bill Barr Is Eroding the Rule of Law. Don’t Let Him Get Away with It,” New York Magazine, June 26, 2020. (with Barb McQuade)

“Want to Reform the Criminal Justice System? Focus on Prosecutors,” TIME magazine, July 7, 2020.

“Trump’s Clemency for Roger Stone is an Admission of the President’s Guilt in Russia Probe,” USA Today, July 14, 2020.

“Trump’s Use of Federal Agents in Portland May Go Beyond What Is Lawful. Here’s How We Can Get Answers About What’s Going On,” TIME magazine, July 24, 2020.

PROFESSOR FREDERICK VARS published an article in Probate & Property about red flag laws and had an article on the insanity defense accepted by the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.

The views, opinions, and conclusions expressed by faculty in their publications or research activities are those of the author and not necessarily those of The University of Alabama or its officers and trustees. The content of faculty publications has not been approved by The University of Alabama, and the author is solely responsible for that content.