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2L Moot Court Fellows Team Wins National Moot Court Competition

Lindsey BarberCory Church, and Anne Miles Golson, all 2Ls, won the 69th Annual National Moot Court Competition in New York. This is the first championship for The University of Alabama in the event’s history.

The Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. School of Law’s team won two preliminary rounds and then defeated William & Mary in the Round of 16, South Texas College of Law in the quarterfinals, and Iowa in the semifinals. In the championship round, the team defeated the defending national champion, Northwestern, completing an undefeated run at the national tournament.

Before a panel of six federal and state appellate court judges, the Law School’s team defeated Northwestern in a round that Judge Richard C. Wesley described as having advocacy better than he had heard in his hearings that day.

More than 150 teams entered the competition. The top 28 qualified for the National Finals. Of the 28 teams that competed at the national tournament, the Alabama team was the only team comprised solely of second-year law students.

The Moot Court Fellows program was started in 2011 to train a team of 2Ls in moot court so that they would be more likely to achieve success in their third year. This is the second year in the last four years that the Alabama Moot Court Fellows team has advanced past regionals to the national tournament.

Golson was named the Best Advocate for the tournament. The team was coached by Assistant Dean for Students Mary Ksobiech and managed by Josh Kravec, 2L.

This summer, Barber will work for Baker Donelson and Waller Lansden in Birmingham. Church will spend his summer at Bradley Arant and McGuire Woods in Charlotte, North Carolina. Golson will split her summer between Bradley Arant in Birmingham and Jones Day in Washington, D.C.


Professor Vance: Americans Should Have Faith in the Mueller Investigation

Professor Joyce White Vance writes an op-ed for USA Today about why Americans should have faith in the Mueller investigation.

For more, read “Here’s why you should have faith in Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation.”



Alabama Law Honors the Life and Legacy of Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr.

Legal scholars, judges, and former law clerks gathered at the School of Law on Friday to reflect on the life and legacy of Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr.

The Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr. Centennial Symposium and Law Clerks Reunion celebrated Judge Johnson in the centennial year of his birth and focused on his commitment to enforcing the constitutional rights of all citizens. The Law School’s symposium, sponsored by the Alabama Law Review, marked the third day of events honoring Judge Johnson. For two days in Montgomery, lawyers and community leaders ruminated on their time with him and recounted his contributions to the law.

In 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed Judge Johnson to serve on the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. Just weeks after he arrived in Montgomery, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery bus, an event that sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

During his tenure, Judge Johnson issued decisions that integrated buses in Montgomery, desegregated schools in Alabama, threw out the poll tax, protected the Freedom Riders, and allowed the Selma to Montgomery March to move forward. He also set standards on voting rights, employment discrimination, affirmative action, and the rights of mental health patients and prison inmates.

“Judge Johnson was a courageous defender of the Constitution, of the rule of law – sometimes against powerful and violent forces of resistance,” said Dean Mark E. Brandon during his welcoming remarks. “His jurisprudential record was consistently underwritten by a commitment to the values of equal justice and human dignity.”

The Honorable Guido Calabresi, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, delivered the inaugural Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr. lecture about the role of a judge.

“While some things about being a judge remain unchanged – independence, impartiality, and all of those things – what a judge’s job is must be determined by the situation that the judge is in at the time, by the nature of the other institutions that are making law at that time, and it is foolish to act as if there is one view of what judges should do and that judges should do it regardless of where they are and when,” Judge Calabresi said.

He noted that some judges settle disputes, while others view themselves as knowing what is right. In Calabresi’s view, judges in the United States are very much a part of various law-making institutions and have a role in making law.

“The most important thing we can do as judges – recognizing the flaws and limits of each of the other institutions and recognizing our own flaws and limits – is talk, is converse, is to go back and forth with these institutions.”

Nick Wilson (’16) Wins 37th Season of “Survivor”

Nick Wilson Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

“Survivor” winner Nick Wilson (’16) didn’t dare tell cast members that he was a lawyer.

On “Survivor: David vs. Goliath,” cast members were divided into two tribes: those who came from a place of privilege and those who had worked hard for their station in life.

Wilson’s omission was part of his strategy. Instead of revealing he was a public defender from Whitley County in Kentucky, he told contestants he was a social worker in the public defender’s office. He wanted the other players to underestimate him and his abilities. He wanted them to see him as a “friendly country boy.”

“I made a lot of friends out there, and a lot of people trusted me. So, they would tell me a lot of information,” Wilson said. “Once I had the information, I would use it to get my goals accomplished and to take out the people I wanted to vote out.”

His legal experience helped him play the game. As a public defender, he didn’t choose his cases or his clients. He also learned how to choose his battles and how to be patient.

“That’s very important out there because patience was a huge factor in the game,” Wilson said. “People who have patience do a lot better than those who don’t.”

Wilson lived on Fiji for 39 days. The struggle was real and brutal. Two cyclones hit the island while contestants were there, forcing them to evacuate for a day. At one point during the filming, they ate a half a cup of rice every other day for six days. Wilson said he lost 20 pounds.

Wilson credits his legal education for helping him win the final tribal council and the $1 million prize.

“The ability to present a logical and persuasive argument is definitely a skill I learned at law school.”

After paying taxes, Wilson plans to invest the prize money. He recently accepted a position as a prosecutor for Whitley and McCreary counties.

Alabama Law Honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The School of Law honored the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today with a reading of the address, “The Other America,” which was delivered at Stanford University on April 14, 1967.
“And I use this subject because there are literally two Americas,” King said. “One America is beautiful for situation. And, in a sense, this America is overflowing with the milk of prosperity and the honey of opportunity. This America is the habitat of millions of people who have food and material necessities for their bodies; and culture and education for their minds; and freedom and human dignity for their spirits. In this America, millions of people experience every day the opportunity of having life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in all of their dimensions. And in this America millions of young people grow up in the sunlight of opportunity.

“But tragically and unfortunately, there is another America. This other America has a daily ugliness about it that constantly transforms the ebulliency of hope into the fatigue of despair. In this America millions of work-starved men walk the streets daily in search for jobs that do not exist. In this America millions of people find themselves living in rat-infested, vermin-filled slums. In this America people are poor by the millions. They find themselves perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.”

The following students read King’s “The Other America” speech during the event:

  • Nwando Anwah, 1L
  • Kaylun Bryant, 2L
  • Atticus Deprospo, 2L
  • Christopher Griffin, 2L
  • Chenelle Jones, 1L
  • Lea Luterstein, 3L
  • Victoria Moffa, 2L
  • Jeff Rogers, 2L
  • Jorge Solis, 3L
  • Adrienne Wallace, 1L

The event was sponsored by the Office of Diversity & Inclusion. #UAMLK2019

Alabama Law Welcomes Australian Students for Summer Exchange Program

The Law School’s Summer Exchange Program with the Australian National University (ANU) College of Law has entered its nineteenth year with the arrival of 10 law students, as well as one visiting law professor, from the ANU.  They arrived in Tuscaloosa on January 5 for a five-week visit at the Law School.

The ANU students are taking a class on Comparative Supreme Courts and a Survey of U.S. Law, said Professor William Andreen, Director of the UA-ANU Exchange Program. The comparative law class, which is also being offered to Alabama Law students, is being team-taught by Alabama Law Professor Heather Elliott and Dr. Heather Roberts from the ANU law faculty.

During their stay, the Australian students will visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Alabama Supreme Court, the Tuscaloosa County Jail, the Rosa Parks Museum, the new Legacy Museum in Montgomery, and Bryant-Denny Stadium.

For five weeks this coming summer, a group of 10 Culverhouse Law students will, in turn, travel to the ANU in Canberra, where they will take a Survey of Australian Law as well as the Comparative Supreme Courts class.  During their trip, the UA students will visit the Australian High Court, the local Supreme Court, the Commonwealth Parliament, and a local aboriginal legal aid office – in addition to meeting some kangaroos, koalas, and emus at a nearby nature preserve. 

Two Law Students Win National Diversity and Inclusion Scholarships

Two Law Students at the Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. School of Law at The University of Alabama received Diversity and Inclusion Scholarships from Frost Brown Todd.

Jorge Solis, 3L, and Catherine Tabor, 2L, competed against more than 50 law students for scholarships that support deserving students who represent underserved populations. Each won a $2,000 scholarship to help fund his or her legal education.

Catherine Tabor

“At such a particularly challenging time for law students, we are happy to lend a helping hand to those who have helped others,” said Kim Amrine, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Frost Brown Todd, a full-service law firm. “The Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship allows us to become acquainted with some of the great work that local law students do in their communities.”

The scholarship is helping Solis and Tabor advance their legal careers. Tabor, for example, plans to use the scholarship to offset costs of the Law School’s Australia Study Abroad Program.

“This program counts for five credits for the International and Comparative Law Certificate that I plan to earn, which will hopefully enable me to market myself to law firms that have an international reach.”

Jorge Solis

Solis, meanwhile, said winning the scholarship provided financial aid and encouragement as he enters his final semester of law school. He is thankful that Frost Brown Todd is elevating attention to diversity and inclusion.

“We may worship, think, or look differently. And that is okay,” he said. “Inclusion is a recognition that these differences should be observed with a tradition of respect, and that when we come together as one, our differences make our society strong.”

After completing his studies, Solis intends to become a civil litigator in Birmingham, while Tabor hopes to practice at a law firm that is known for its mission to enhance diversity in the legal profession and innovations in the legal market.

Birmingham City Council Appoints Law Student as Council Member

Crystal Smitherman, 3L, was recently appointed to the Birmingham City Council to serve District 6. Smitherman met with the members of the Birmingham City Council in December. She was sworn in on January 2.

Service always has been a part of Smitherman’s life. She is the daughter of Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Carole Smitherman and Alabama Senator Rodger Smitherman, and her family has called Titusville home for decades.

“I have embraced that way of life wholeheartedly with a proactive approach to addressing the needs of those around me,” she said. “I embody a heart of service and seek to create opportunities and pathways to use my talents, skills, education, and training to better our community.”

Smitherman will focus on the Three E’s of empowerment: Environment, Education, and Economy. She hopes to help improve the quality of life for residents who live in District 6, assist schools to become Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) learning centers, and build a model that will help boost homeownership.

She says that her experience in Law School has prepared her for the challenge of serving the public.

“I have immersed myself in the legal environment while engaging in vigorous intellectual conversations and debates with legal mentors,” she said. “In addition to the three E’s of empowerment, I am very aware of the potential impact certain current issues, such as equal pay, gender discrimination, and criminal justice reform will have on the community.”

Smitherman is the National Director of Membership Operations for the National Black Law Students Association and President of the Black Law Students Association at Culverhouse Law.

Professor Vance: Selection of the Next Attorney General Is Critical

Professor Joyce White Vance writes an op-ed for Slate about the U.S. Department of Justice’s independence from the White House.

For more, read “The Justice Department’s Integrity Is at Stake.”

Lawmaker to Draft Alabama Legislation to Help Prevent Suicide

State Rep. Allen Farley is writing legislation to support Professor Fred Vars’s proposal to allow residents to voluntarily suspend their ability to purchase a gun. Professor Vars would like to see similar legislation in all 50 states.

For more, view “Lawmaker Working on Suicide Prevention Bill.”