Professor Joyce Vance recently coauthored an opinion piece on presidential reform under Joe Biden for USA today titled Voters want progressive prosecutors. Biden must follow through on promise to guide reform.
Today is the official start of the Veterans Law Project at Alabama Law as Equal Justice Works Fellow, Scott Sloss, begins his two-year fellowship bringing legal services to veterans and their family members in the Tuscaloosa County area. This project is being sponsored by Thomson Reuters and Shearman & Sterling LLP. Read more below!
This month, the University of Alabama School of Law hosted its annual orientation week for incoming 1Ls—which included several days of lectures and panels to prepare students for the law school environment and build rapport among the entering class. During orientation, the Alabama Law Office of Diversity & Inclusion hosted Reena Evers-Everette and Lisa McNair to provide historical context for contemporary discussions of diversity and inclusion. Asst. Prof. Anil Mujumdar, the Interim Director of Diversity & Inclusion, framed the discussion by reminding the class of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words from Letter from Birmingham Jail that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere” and urged the class to contribute to the fight against injustice throughout law school and beyond.
The presentation began with Ms. McNair sharing the story of her sister, Denise, who was one of four young girls murdered when the 16th Street Baptist Church was bombed in Birmingham on September 15, 1963. In relating the historical failures of the criminal justice system to timely prosecute her sister’s killers, Ms. McNair emphasized the change that young lawyers can create—pointing to former Attorney General Bill Baxley (Class of ’64) as an example of someone who ultimately put his career on the line to reopen the investigation into a cold case. In 1977, his efforts led to the successful prosecution and conviction of one of the perpetrators responsible for the crimes.
“[Baxley] knew that [case] would have killed his political career in Alabama, but sometimes you just have to do the right thing,” Ms. McNair stated as she shared her hope that the room of future lawyers would also rise to the occasion when necessary to right a wrong.
Ms. McNair discussed the conviction of the last two bombers by former U.S. Attorney and former U.S. Senator Doug Jones in 2001 and 2002, and she closed her remarks by imploring the class of 2024 to remember that law has the power to positively affect real people’s real lives. Ms. McNair added that historical events provide context for shared understanding and growth and are not disconnected from lived experiences and current events.
Following Ms. McNair’s presentation, Reena Evers-Everette shared the story of her mother and father, Mrs. Myrlie Evers and the late Mr. Medgar Evers. Her father was a veteran of World War II and worked as the NAACP’s field secretary for the state of Mississippi. He was denied admission to the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1954 on the basis of race. Determined to fight against anti-Black racism, he worked with future Justice Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP in winning admission for James Meredith to the University of Mississippi as the first African-American student to enroll at that institution.
Because of his efforts as the NAACP’s field secretary in Mississippi to register voters and fight against discrimination, Mr. Evers and his family regularly received harassment and threats of violence. Just after midnight on June 12, 1963, Medgar Evers was assassinated in the driveway of his own home after returning from work. There were two failed prosecutions in 1964 that both concluded in hung juries, but Mrs. Evers’s faith never wavered in her pursuit of justice in the years that followed. After three decades of Mrs. Evers’s advocacy and persistence, her husband’s killer was successfully prosecuted and convicted in 1994. Ms. Evers-Everette’s mother, Mrs. Myrlie Evers, continued the family’s commitment to service and advocacy, became the chair of the NAACP in 1995, and published three books including an autobiography in 1999 titled Watch Me Fly: What I Learned on the Way to Becoming the Woman I Was Meant to Be. With her parents as inspiration, Ms. Evers-Everette now runs The Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute and carries on the proud legacy of her parents’ life and work. Ms. Evers-Everette stated that looking out across the room of 1Ls gave her hope and she encouraged students to use what they learn at Alabama Law to fight for what’s right now and in the future with passion and in whatever capacity they can.
The Office of Diversity & Inclusion seeks to build, strengthen, and educate the Alabama Law community in an effort to remedy injustice. Students, faculty, and staff will have the opportunity to build further on these lessons from orientation by attending the annual memorial service for the four little girls at 16th Street Baptist Church on September 15, 2021.
Written by: Heather Gann
Professor Susan Hamill was recently interviewed about the ethics of doctors choosing not to treat unvaccinated patients for a Huffpost article titled An Alabama Doctor Is Refusing To See Patients Unvaccinated Against COVID-19. Can He?
Professor William Brewbaker recently shared insights on HIPAA privacy laws with AL.com in an article titled There’s a crisis in Alabama hospitals. Here’s why you can’t see it.
Alabama Law is proud to announce that Professor Daiquiri Steele has rejoined the School of Law as an Assistant Professor. Her research examines whether and how anti-discrimination laws help ensure equal access to employment and education—both of which are crucial determinants of socioeconomic mobility.
Professor Steele originally joined The University of Alabama School of Law in 2016 through a hybrid administrative/faculty role as Director of Diversity & Inclusion and Assistant Professor of Law in Residence. From 2019-2021, she served as a Forrester Fellow at Tulane University Law School before rejoining the Alabama Law faculty. Professor Steele formerly served as a Civil Rights Attorney with the U.S. Department of Education, where she provided legal counsel relating to federal investigations of discrimination involving the nation’s school districts, colleges, universities, and state educational agencies. Professor Steele’s scholarship has been published or is forthcoming in the Washington Law Review, Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law, and Boston University Law Review and her recent projects focus on retaliation and whistleblower statutes.
Welcome to Alabama Law!
Alabama Law alum (’21) and Alabama Appleseed intern, Allen Slater, recently helped free a man— who was serving a life sentence for a crime that, nowadays, receives a much lesser penalty— after 27 years in Donaldson Correctional Facility in Jefferson County, Alabama. Read more about it on the Alabama Appleseed Webpage.
Oxford University Press recently released The Oxford Handbook of Prosecutors and Prosecution, which is co-edited by Professors Russell Gold (Alabama Law), Ronald F. Wright (Wake Forest Law), and Kay L. Levine (Emory University School of Law). In addition to serving as co-editor, Professor Gold also authored a chapter in that volume and co-authored the introduction. Learn more about this newly released handbook on the Oxford University Press site.
Professor Joyce Vance recently coauthored an Opinion piece with Laurence H. Tribe (Harvard Law School) and Barbara McQuade (University of Michigan Law School) in The Washington Post. The article is titled Here’s a roadmap for the Justice Department to follow in investigating Trump which can be accessed on The Washington Post website.