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Public Interest Institute Welcomes Members of New Advisory Board

The Public Interest Institute has formed a new advisory board to inform the legal community and support public interest work at the University of Alabama School of Law

“As the Public Interest Institute has continued to grow, I felt it would be beneficial to our students to engage more external partners in our mission,” said Glory McLaughlin, Assistant Dean for Public Interest.

Public Interest Advisory Board members will provide additional perspectives on public interest and pro bono issues and needs. They will help promote the Law School to public interest employers, act as mentors to law students seeking careers in public interest law and assist with fundraising to promote the work of the Public Interest Institute.

The Advisory Board consists of 19 members from Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Montgomery and Huntsville who work in public interest and government. Of the board’s 19 members, 17 are alumni of the Law School.

Advisory Board members are:

Tiffanie Agee, Of Counsel, Gespass and Johnson

Stephanie Blackburn, Managing Attorney, Legal Services Alabama

Leigh Byers, Partner, Nolan Byers

Jerome Dees, Deputy District Attorney, Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office

Mike Forton, Director of Advocacy, Legal Services Alabama

Kevin Garrison, Shareholder, Baker Donelson

Nicole Hampton, Associate, Rosen Harwood

Brad Hargett, Assistant Public Defender, Tuscaloosa County Office of Public Defender

Tiara Hudson, Lead Trial Attorney, Jefferson County Public Defender’s Office

Nicole Hughes, Attorney, Hardin & Hughes

Patrick Jones, Staff Attorney, Legal Services Alabama

Marcus Maples, Shareholder, Baker Donelson

Latasha McCrary, Staff Attorney, Southern Poverty Law Center

Paul Rand, Magistrate Judge Law Clerk, Northern District of Alabama

Steve Rygiel, Legal Director, Birmingham AIDS Outreach

Stephen Stetson, Policy Analyst, Arise Citizens’ Policy Project

Sarah Stokes, Staff Attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center

Jessica Vosburgh, Director, Adelante Alabama Worker Center

Liz Whipple, Director of Domestic Violence Clinic, University of Alabama School of Law

Professor Gross Prepares Report on Gideon at 50 for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

140826_zr_001_john_grossProfessor John P. Gross prepared Representation in All Criminal Prosecutions: The Right to Counsel in State Courts, a report released this week by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

The report surveys the standards set by each of the 50 states to provide counsel in criminal cases to those who cannot afford to pay for a lawyer and examines how states have designed their public defense policies in light of Gideon v. Wainwright and other Supreme Court cases interpreting the Sixth Amendment’s mandate. This is the third report in NACDL’s series Gideon at 50: A Three-Part Examination of Public Defense in America.

“While previous reports have documented the lack of funding for public defense and the systemic denial of counsel based on unrealistic income eligibility guidelines, this report reveals that many state courts and legislatures have created the framework to fulfill Gideon‘s noble ideal, that no one charged with a crime should be without counsel,” Gross said.  “The Supreme Court’s fear that extending the right to counsel to defendants charged with petty crimes would overwhelm the states has proven to be unfounded. In fact, many states have, at least in theory if not in practice, gone beyond the actual incarceration standard and require the appointment of counsel in all criminal cases. The decision to provide counsel in all criminal cases, even those that will not result in incarceration, appears to be rooted in the recognition that defense counsel is needed to ensure due process and that the collateral consequences of a conviction are just as significant, if not more so, than spending a day in jail.”

For more, read Part One, Rationing Justice: The Underfunding of Assigned Counsel Systems, and Part Two, Redefining Indigence: Financial Eligibility Guidelines for Assigned Counsel. All of the reports are available at

U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance Lectures on LGBTQ+ Civil Rights


U. S. Attorney Joyce Vance lectured today about the U.S. Justice Department’s role in protecting LGBTQ+ civil rights.

Vance acknowledged that the conversation about civil rights and civil rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans can be combative at times, but she told students and faculty that the question cuts to the very core of the responsibility of lawyers.

“Our job as lawyers is to remove our personal beliefs and our preconceptions from the issue,” said Vance, the top-ranking federal law enforcement official in the Northern District of Alabama. “Our job as lawyers is to examine the facts, to examine the law, to look at the equation from all sides, to reach legal conclusions that we move forward on, legal conclusions that aren’t those that play into our preconceived notions and our beliefs but those that have integrity based on the facts and on the law.”

Daiquiri Steele, Director of Diversity & Inclusion and Assistant Professor of Law in Residence, said current Alabama Law students are matriculating during a time in which the Department of Justice’s role in LGBTQ+ legal issues is evolving. It is important, she said, to provide opportunities for students to learn from and discuss these issues with individuals who are at the forefront of this evolution.

In 2009, Vance said, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 was established to help local and state officials investigate hate crimes. A year later, the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 was authorized, allowing gays, lesbians, and bisexuals to serve openly in the U.S. Armed Forces. A year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage.

Vance compared what’s happening today with civil rights for the LGBTQ+ community with what happened in the nation in 1963, the same year the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested and wrote the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and protesters participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

“It’s a better world,” she said. “It’s not perfect world.”


A Photographic Tribute to Dean Leigh Harrison

 By Pat Graves

The recent induction of Martin Leigh Harrison into the Alabama Lawyers’ Hall of Fame jogged my memory.  Somewhere in my law school memorabilia were classroom photographs of him.  Forty four years ago during my senior year in law school, I sensed an opportunity to capture and preserve a moment of the history and tradition of the law school.  Dean Harrison gave me permission to photograph him during a class.

I sat high on the back row of his large classroom in Farrah Hall which now houses the University’s Department of Geography.  I used a telephoto lens and several rolls of fast film to eliminate a flash.  I hoped to capture his classic movements and gestures.  To those of you fortunate enough to have been schooled at the foot of the master, I hope these photographs will bring a smile.

On entering the Spartan classroom the Dean’s routine was to first remove his pocket watch which he laid lovingly on the desk.  He always stood during his lectures, occasionally using a lectern.  His hand gestures were classic.  To emphasize a point during a lecture, he snapped his fingers on the upswing of his hand saying “clearly” (the “r” was soft) or “contract formed.”  On occasion a faint whimsical smile crept over his face, generated by a student’s question or answer.   A pencil was his pointer.  His students lovingly called him “The Tiger” because of his passion for the law, or more frequently, “Dean.”

At the induction ceremony, Reggie Hamner gave an outstanding presentation of the man who served on the faculty of the University of Alabama Law School for 39 years, teaching several generations of lawyers.   Born in Opelika in 1907, Leigh Harrison was the son of a highly respected superintendent of education.  At the University he earned an AB and a Phi Beta Kappa Key in 1927 at 20 years of age and in 1929, an LL.B.   After practicing law in Birmingham for six years as a distinguished appellate lawyer, he earned an LL.M at Harvard in 1935.  Leigh Harrison taught law at Southern Methodist University two years before returning to Tuscaloosa.

As Dean from 1950 to 1966, Leigh Harrison strengthened admission requirements, supervised two expansions of Farrah Hall, tripled the library holdings, and hired the first lawyer librarian.  Under his leadership the Alabama Law Review was established, promoting research and writing.  His recognition that state support was not enough to elevate the quality of the law school and to attract gifted students led to the creation of the Law School Foundation, the Law School Alumni Association, and the Farrah Law Society.

In the early 70s, Leigh Harrison served as Staff Director of the Alabama Constitutional Revision Commission which generated a new judicial article to the constitution under which the highly regarded Unified Judicial System was created.

These photographs capture the essence of a professor, dean, and gentleman.

*   *   *

Patrick Howard Graves, Jr., is a retired partner in the Huntsville office of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, LLP.  He graduated from West Point in 1964, and served two tours in Vietnam as an infantry platoon leader and company commander and aide-de-camp.  He graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law in 1972. In retirement he is writing family history and about adventures at West Point and in the Army. 

Dean Martin Leigh Harrison

Removing the watch.

Dean Martin Leigh Harrison

Explaining the rights of third party beneficiaries.

Dean Martin Leigh Harrison

Listening to a question.

Dean Martin Leigh Harrison

“Clearly” or “Contract formed.”

Dean Martin Leigh Harrison

Classic hand gestures.

Dean Martin Leigh Harrison

Classic hand gestures.

Dean Martin Leigh Harrison

The smile.

Professor Elliott and Judge Colquitt Weigh in on Recusal Questions in Ethics Case Against Former Chief Justice Roy Moore

Professor Heather Elliott and Judge Joseph Colquitt are quoted in a story about recusal questions in the ethics case against former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.
Elliott said that prior decisions by the justices don’t count against them. “If that’s the basis for the recusal motion, I don’t think that that’s valid for the standard for recusal under the law of Alabama,” she said.
Colquitt, who is also a retired trial court judge, wouldn’t comment on the Moore case specifically—saying that if the judges do recuse, he could end up on the list of jurists asked to sit in their stead.
But Colquitt said he interprets Alabama’s Judicial Ethics Canon as generally steering justices toward recusal if they are asked to rule on a colleague. “I think the rules actually suggest that it would be better that someone else hear the case,” Colquitt said. “It’s not only justice. It’s the appearance of justice.”

Law School Selects Susan Bevill Livingston as 2016 Profile in Service

susan-bevill-livingston-205x300During her career as an attorney, Susan Bevill Livingston made a positive impact on countless law students and young lawyers in Alabama through her commitment to mentorship.

A partner with Balch & Bingham in Birmingham, Ms. Livingston chaired the firm’s Diversity Committee. In this role, she started the Boot Camp for Success program, which helps to promote diversity in the legal profession by supporting future attorneys from diverse and under-represented backgrounds starting from the beginning of their careers. The annual seminar, led by attorneys and corporate leaders, helps incoming law students learn how to succeed academically and professionally. Attendees experience a mock law school class, receive tips on how to study during the first year of law school, and get advice on the legal job search process. Ms. Livingston also helped to start the firm’s first mentoring program for young lawyers just beginning their legal careers.

Ms. Livingston was an active member of her profession, serving on the boards of the Alabama Law School Foundation, the Alabama Law Institute, and the Women’s Section of the Birmingham Bar Association. She was also a dedicated community leader, and served on the boards for the YWCA of Central Alabama, the Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama and the Legal Aid Society of Birmingham. A former Girl Scout troop leader, she was the recipient of the Girl Scouts’ Women of Distinction award in 2004 and the prestigious Mildred Bell Johnson Award in 2012.

Ms. Livingston graduated from Ithaca College and received her J.D. from the University of Alabama in 1977.  She began her career in the Alabama Attorney General’s office and later worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Middle District of Alabama.  She joined Balch & Bingham in 1985.

Her unexpected death in 2014 saddened many in the legal community, who have remembered her as a generous, energetic, devoted and funny colleague.  Her work lives on through the many lawyers she mentored during her career, and the University of Alabama School of Law is proud to count her among our graduates.

Professor Carroll Comments on Gag Orders

Professor Jenny Carroll is quoted in The Anniston Star about the use of gag orders to protect the interests of children or victims.

For more, read “Gag Order Ensures Privacy, but at a Cost, Experts Say.”

Law School, Peggy Browning Fund Host Regional Workshop on Practicing Labor Law

The Law School and the Peggy Browning Fund hosted a regional workshop to introduce law students to the benefits of practicing labor law and PBF’s Summer Fellowship Program.

The event was attended by law students and Law School staff. The panelists discussed the work that they do as labor lawyers, the professional paths that led them to their current jobs, and how the PBF helps to promote careers.  The PBF offers competitive, paid summer fellowships with employment law firms and labor unions.

“It’s great when our students can hear first-hand from lawyers working in unique and inspiring settings, who are passionate about their work and their clients,” said Glory McLaughlin, Assistant Dean for Public Interest.  “I think having the PBF sponsor a panel discussion such as this is a real benefit to our students, in that it helps them visualize working in a specific setting and puts them in direct contact with attorneys in the field.”

Panelists were:

Moderator: Charlotte Garden, Visiting Professor of Law, University of Alabama
Belinda Bennett, Resident Officer, National Labor Relations Board, Region 10
Muguel Carpizo-Ituarte, Community Organizer, Greater Birmingham Ministries
Richard Rouco, Partner, Quinn, Connor, Weaver, Davies & Rouco, Alabama Law Alumnus, PBF Development Committee
Jay Smith, Partner, Gilbert & Sackman, Alabama Law Alumnus, PBF Development Committee
Nicolas Stanojevich, Associate, Quinn, Connor, Weaver, Davies & Rouco, PBF’ 14

Law School Selects Judge Bill Bostick as 2016 Profile in Service

bill-bostick-2-237x300Bill Bostick, a Circuit Court Judge for the 18th Judicial Circuit of Alabama (Shelby County), has spent his entire professional life in public service. After earning an undergraduate degree from Birmingham Southern College and a J.D. from The University of Alabama School of Law in 1992, Judge Bostick spent the next 18 years as a prosecutor. Fifteen of those years were with the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office, where he was promoted to chief assistant district attorney in 2002. When Circuit Judge Michael Joiner was selected to serve on the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals in 2011, Judge Bostick was appointed to fill the vacant seat by Governor Robert Bentley.

Judge Bostick was instrumental in starting The University of Alabama School of Law’s externship program, and has served as an adjunct instructor and co-director of the program since 1996. Through the externship program, law students are able to work full-time during the summer or part-time during the school year with public interest, government or judicial offices in exchange for course credit.

According to Professor Pam Pierson, his involvement with the externship program has been invaluable. “Bill has taught the externship course, recruited public interest offices throughout Alabama to serve as placement opportunities for students, interviewed and placed generations of law students in these offices and supervised students in their placements.”

She notes that supervising students “sometimes requires putting out fires,” which he has done “with discretion and diplomacy.”

Judge Bostick has also been a regular visitor and guest speaker at the Law School, often sharing his experiences with students in criminal law and procedure courses. In addition, he has encouraged and welcomed student involvement in the Veterans Court initiative he helped to pilot in Alabama courts.

“In all of these ways and more,” says Pierson, “Bill has shared his time, talent and vision of the law with students. He has touched the future by his guidance and teaching. He has made the world a better place.”

Professor Vars Discusses Study that Supports Voluntary Do Not Sell List

Professor Fredrick Vars is quoted in various news outlets in Alabama about a voluntary Do Not Sell list to prevent gun suicides.

For more, read or view:

UA Professor Hopes Study Leads to New Gun Law

“Alabama Study Supports Voluntary Do Not Sell List to Prevent Gun Suicides”

Fox 6 (Birmingham)

WVUA 23 (Tuscaloosa)

ABC 33/40 (Birmingham)

NBC 13 (Birmingham)