Scott Tindle: Serving the State
Scott Tindle (’09) uses innovation to drive profits and support the citizens of Mobile.
In 2013, Tindle was hired as the Executive Director of The Grounds, home of the Greater Gulf State Fairgrounds, to transform the organization.
The first stop on the entertainment venue’s turnaround was the Disney Institute in Orlando, where Tindle and his staff studied the success of The Walt Disney Company. They learned how Disney makes emotional connections with attendees and how to add value to admission. Tindle immediately hired 25 employees who were trained by the Disney College Program. As a result, members of the guest services staff at The Grounds are former Disney cast members.
“What we’re really trying to do is create a theme park destination,” Tindle said.
It is a substantial goal, and Dr. Grant Zarzour, a resident in orthopedic surgery at the University of South Alabama, said Tindle can achieve it.
“He not only dreams big, but he’s willing to act on the dream,” said Dr. Zarzour, co-founder and chairman of the Fuse Project, a nonprofit that invests in initiatives promoting the health, fitness, education and social responsibility for children along Alabama’s gulf coast.
Jeff Galle (’09), Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Idyllic, an entertainment company based in Mobile, is also confident Tindle will attain his goal. Galle said he has never seen anyone work a room better than Tindle can. What’s different about Tindle, Galle said, is that he wants to know how he can help other people.
“There are few individuals I know that display the kind of selfless community activism that Scott does,” he said.
When Tindle arrived at The Grounds, it had been losing money. In two years, the venue has improved its product by creating a new theme each year and raising ticket prices, allowing it to become profitable and invest $800,000 back into the community.
A product of public education – from kindergarten to his law degree – Tindle said education is the key to lifting up the nation and moving it forward. There must be educational opportunities for every child, not just those whose parents can afford to enroll them in a good school or move them to a good school district.
While at UA Law, Tindle learned how to manage his time more efficiently, exceed expectations and never settle. He also embraced the importance of building lifelong relationships with people, including his classmates.
“Had I not learned those things there, we would not be doing the things we’re doing today,” he said.
As Tindle has made The Grounds profitable, he has helped improved the community. Each year, more than 65,000 public school children sell tickets to the fair and keep 10 percent of those sales for their schools. Most schools use the money to improve their libraries, he said.
A $5,000 grant, provided by The Grounds to the Mobile Area Education Foundation for its Leadership Academy, helps high school juniors and seniors develop leadership skills. The Grounds has helped raise money for the Mitchell Cancer Institute Patients’ Assistance Fund, which helps offset household expenses when someone has cancer, and in 2015 The Grounds provided a home for Project Homeless Connect. The program, sponsored by Housing First, provides health, legal, employment and other services to the homeless.
“It’s really fascinating because we’re able to fund these things through entertainment,” Tindle said. “We want to go from entertainment to impact.”
When Tindle accepted the position as Executive Director, he didn’t know anything about fairs or theme parks. Now he’s setting goals to make The Grounds even more successful. The fair draws most of its attendance from the coastal areas of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. In the near future, Tindle would like to expand the fair’s reach farther into Alabama and Florida, as well as continue to develop the fair.
“We want it to be a regional destination,” he said. “We have told the community we want to create the cleanest most family-friendly event in America.”
Professor Bryan Fair recently discussed the effect of Browder v. Gayle with WBHM 90.3.
“Once Brown is decided the question is what is the scope of Brown,” Fair said. In this new lawsuit, known as Browder v. Gayle, two judges agreed that Montgomery’s segregated buses violated the 14th amendment. The Supreme Court later agreed.
“The meaning of Browder is much broader than Montgomery,” he said. “The meaning of Browder is that you can’t have separate systems of schooling. You can’t have separate systems of transportation. You can’t have separate systems of swimming pools or parks or golf courses. All of that comes out of this next step.”
Eight University of Alabama School of Law alumni have been published in New Field, New Corn, an anthology of research papers that explores Alabama legal history and the state’s legal and judicial figures.
The anthology, published by Quid Pro Books in New Orleans, covers Alabama legal history from the pre-Civil War era through the civil rights era, and the essays were first written when the contributors were students at UA Law.
“These are youthful scholars and yet their work is original, and it significantly adds to our knowledge,” said Paul M. Pruitt, Jr., Special Collections Librarian in the Bounds Law Library.
Pruitt edited the anthology and penned the introduction, “Alabama Legal History as a Field of Study,” while Professor Bryan Fair wrote the foreword, “Critiquing our Present, Interrogating our Past.”
Nearly 25 years ago, Fair taught his first seminar at the Law School on Race, Racism, and American Law. His class read portions of Derrick Bell’s casebook and the students prepared research papers. He said he was honored and delighted when the editors of the UCLA National Black Law Journal agreed to publish the collection of essays, along with one of his articles.
“Since then, many faculty at Alabama Law have supported students in their quest to publish scholarly articles,” Fair said. “Pruitt’s New Field, New Corn is an exceptional illustration of such an academic collaboration.”
Seven of the essayists completed their research while enrolled in Alabama Legal History, a course taught by Professors Tony Freyer and Pruitt. An eighth writer was chosen from Fair’s seminar on Equal Protection.
The title of the anthology is derived from an adage credited to Sir Edward Coke, who was quoting Geoffrey Chaucer, when he asserted, “Assuredly out of the old fields must spring and grow the new corn.”
“We’re only beginning to scratch the surface,” Pruitt said. “The more background we have the better we are able to judge, assess and draw conclusions.”
The essays cover a variety of topics, from economics, race, education, and concerns of the legal profession, to legal doctrine, to illustrate how those issues influenced Alabama’s development. While some of the contributors chose topics based on scholarly interests, a few researched and wrote about how Alabama’s laws affected their hometowns.
Courtney Cooper (’14), a native of Eutaw, researched the evolution of the Alabama Constitution, the disenfranchisement that was built into the constitution and how the constitution was illegally ratified.
“I had concerns about the constitution, the fact that it was illegally ratified and that we continue to live under something that does have some corruption behind it,” said Cooper, an attorney for Dodson Gregory LLP in Birmingham.
Cooper grew up in Alabama’s Black Belt region, where the effects of the 1901 constitution, which deliberately disenfranchised black and poor white voters, are still felt today. She began researching the constitution while an undergraduate at UA, and she said she was surprised to learn “several U.S. Supreme Court cases before 1901 encouraged what was ultimately done by Alabama legislators.”
Ellie Campbell (’13) researched Strange v. State, the first case in Alabama where an all-white jury convicted a white man for killing a black man in Anniston in 1965.
Campbell, a native of Anniston, shaped her essay around the trial and what had been happening in Alabama in the years preceding the trial so that a white jury could convict Hubert Damon Strange of killing Willie Brewster as he drove three friends home one evening.
Campbell returned to her hometown and interviewed Judge Robert Parker because her father, James M. Campbell, who also practices law in Anniston, knew him and was familiar with the case.
As she researched the essay, Campbell discovered her grandfather, James J. Campbell, was among a group of more than 250 Anniston citizens who paid for a full-page advertisement in the Anniston Star, announcing a $20,000 reward for information on the killing.
“That was kind of a turning point,” said Ellie Campbell, the Reference and Instruction Law Librarian at the Grisham Law Library at the University of Mississippi. “Prior to the mid-1960s, middle class white folks in the South had been silent. They didn’t like the violence, but they didn’t protest it too much because they didn’t want to be targets.”
Paul Rand (’13) researched the way that 19th Century Alabama courts handled what are called parol problems, or the admissibility of evidence that contradicts a written document.
The issue arises when a contract says one thing, but someone involved says what the contract says doesn’t reflect the agreement. Rand found the law on how to handle those situations changed before, during and after the Civil War.
“I was surprised, and a little amused, to learn how complicated the Confederate bureaucracy became by the end of the war,” said Rand, a trial lawyer for the Community Law Office, which provides criminal defense services for indigent defendants in Jefferson County. “That’s totally at odds with the image most history books give of the Confederate government.”
The anthology provides insight into elements of Alabama legal history that don’t garner a lot of research attention. As a result, the field, long considered an important part of Southern history, is wide open for new development.
“There is not nearly enough historical work out there about the development of the law in our state, so it’s very important that the university encourage and support Dr. Pruitt’s work in that field,” Rand said. “It’s a public service of the kind that the Law School is there to provide, and it’s great that it has been doing it.”
Professor John Gross recently wrote in a guest op-ed for Al.com that Han Solo acted in self-defense when he shot Greedo in Star Wars: A New Hope.
In the original version of the film it is obvious that Greedo intends to kill Solo and his decision to shoot first is entirely reasonable. Greedo is already in the cantina when Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi arrive. He doesn’t elect to confront Solo until Chewbacca leaves to get the Millennium Falcon ready for departure. Greedo waits until he sees that Solo is vulnerable before confronting him. Greedo points a blaster at Solo’s chest and forces him back to the table where he had been sitting.
If a person reasonably believes that deadly force is about to be used against them then they have the right to use deadly force in their own defense. They don’t have to wait until someone shoots at them; they don’t even have to wait until they see the barrel of gun. The scene never needed editing because it is clear that Solo was completely justified in shooting Greedo when he did. In other words, Han legally shot first.
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Professor Stephen Rushin recently told the Chicago Tribune the salient question for cities that have undergone police reform is whether the improvements are sustainable.
“The No. 1 good thing about these federal interventions is they force local municipalities to face the issue of police misconduct head-on,” said Rushin, author of a forthcoming book evaluating two decades of federal intervention into law enforcement. “I think there’s a bunch of structural and organizational reasons, without federal interventions, that make it easy for cities to push those difficult decisions off their plate.”
Rushin said that if a pattern of unlawful police conduct is found in Chicago, the cost of implementing reforms and paying for court monitors could approach $100 million.
A day after the U.S. Justice Department announced plans to launch an investigation into whether Chicago police violated the law or the U.S. Constitution in its policing, Professor Steven Rushin discussed on WBEZ 91.5 Chicago what happens when the Department of Justice investigates a police department for misconduct.
The federal probe comes after police released the October 2014 video of Officer Jason Van Dyke fatally shooting Laquan McDonald.
“Typically, what happens is the Justice Department will spend anywhere from a few months to over a year investigating the police department,” Rushin said. “They will likely do interviews with officers. They will do interviews with community groups. They’ll scour CPD records and data. They will do everything possible to figure out whether or not in their professional judgment the CPD is involved in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional misconduct of any type,” he said.
For more, listen to WBEZ’s Morning Shift.
Professor Stephen Rushin recently told The Baltimore Sun the judge overseeing the Freddie Gray trials investigated and prosecuted police misconduct cases for the federal government, giving him “a perspective that many people aren’t going to have.”
Barry G. Williams, who has been a judge since 2005, was assigned in June to preside over the trials of six Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Gray, who suffered a severe spinal cord injury in the back of a police van.
“Chances are he spent time putting together files on alleged police misconduct,” Rushin said. “He knows what to look for, what might be signs of particular bad behavior by officers.”
That experience “cuts both ways,” Rushin added, also giving Williams insight as to what does not qualify as an illegal action by police.
Professor Dan Joyner’s Arms Control Law blawg has been chosen for the ABA Journal’s Blawg 100 list, as one of the top 100 best blogs for a legal audience. This marks the third year in a row ACL has received this distinction.
Every year since in 2007, readers and bloggers have helped ABA Journal staffers compile a list of 100 favorite legal blogs for the magazine’s December issue.
For more, read “The 9th Annual Blawg 100.”
Each semester, he and Robert Prince (’74), a Trial Attorney for Prince Glover & Hayes in Tuscaloosa, coach trial advocacy teams and accompany them as they compete against other teams across the nation.
In the classroom and in practice sessions, Emens focuses on the art of trying a case. He teaches students how to present a case and how to persuade a jury.
“The great lawyers understand the art of it: the psychology of dealing with a jury and the psychology of dealing with witnesses,” he said. “This is what makes it so challenging and so rewarding.”
After graduating from Alabama Law, Emens was managing attorney for the Alabama Legal Services System. In 1980, he joined the Law School’s clinical program as deputy director, serving as the director from 1983 to 1997. As an expert in clinical education, he has been a member of ABA accreditation teams. In 1984, Dean Emens began serving as director of the Alabama Bar Institute for Continuing Legal Education and has served on the board of directors of the Association of Continuing Legal Education Administrators. In 1995 he became professor of clinical instruction, and he teaches in the areas of trial advocacy, evidence, interviewing and counseling. He is currently on the faculty of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, the faculty of the Legal Services Corporation’s national training program and a member of the Alabama Defense Lawyers Trial Academy.
Emens and Prince share the teaching load, dividing up the cases. They examine each other’s problem and provide insight. The nature of the problem often requires several coaching sessions a week.
“He doesn’t coach to shine them up so they can win a competition,” Prince said. “Some schools do that. We don’t do that. We like to win, but that’s not the priority. The priority is teaching them how to be a trial lawyer.”
Emens helped Bridget Harris, a 2L, with the art of cross-examination. In practice, Emens noticed she was too aggressive when questioning a witness. He taught her she doesn’t have to be loud to get her point across, and he showed her how to lower her voice and make eye contact so that the jury would know what she is saying is important. Weeks later, Harris won the Best Cross-Examination Award at the National Trial Tournament hosted by the Michigan State Law School and the State Bar of Michigan.
Her win “proves his teaching style is effective,” Harris said.
Emens said the class attracts students who like people and can work well in a high-pressure, emotionally charged environment.
“I deal with very motivated students who want to learn the skills of being a trial lawyer,” he said. “The only place where they learn many of the skills of being a trial lawyer is in this class.”
Kayleigh Mohler, a 3L, received a perfect score for how she handled herself in the courtroom when her trial advocacy team traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to participate in the National Trial Tournament sponsored by the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico. During the competition, Mohler said the UA trial advocacy team knew the evidence much better than the other teams, and the other teams often appeared scripted.
“We want to win a competition because we want our program to have the legitimacy,” Mohler said. “We know we have that legitimacy as far as being practice-ready from Dean Emens and Mr. Prince. We want to win our way. We don’t want (Emens) to write a script for us.”
Mohler also uses what she learned in Emens’s classes when she tries cases as a part-time paid law clerk for the Tuscaloosa District Attorney’s Office. She knows how to enter evidence, where to stand when she’s giving a direct examination and how to preserve the record. So far, she has tried two jury trials and more than a dozen bench trials. It’s that kind of success that drives Emens to coach trial advocacy teams year after year.
“I do this not to win competitions,” he said. “I do it to get our students ready to try cases in the real world.”