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Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice Receives University’s Marian Spencer Diversity Award


Cincinnati Law’s Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice was honored for its programming and efforts to prepare students to take the lead in advancing justice.
Spencer Diversity AwardCincinnati, OH—The university awarded the College’s Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice the 2016 University of Cincinnati Marian Spencer Diversity Ambassador Award at the 8th Annual Diversity & Inclusion Conference. The Center, identified as an ambassador for diversity and inclusion, was honored for its impactful programming and efforts to prepare the next generation of attorneys to thrive in a diverse, global workforce.

The Center, formed six years ago, is co-directed by Emily Houh, the Gustavus Henry Wald Professor of the Law and Contracts; Kristin Kalsem, the Charles Hartsock Professor of Law; and Verna Williams, the Judge Joseph P. Kinneary Professor of Law.

“Receiving the Marian Spencer Award is humbling, given its namesake’s heroic efforts for social justice in Cincinnati. It inspires us to work even hard,” Professor Williams said. Center co-director Professor Kalsem concurred. "It was wonderful to receive this recognition for just doing the everyday work of the Center. The Marian Spencer Diversity Ambassador Award honors the kind of programming and initiatives that are the very mission of our Center."

The Center’s mission is to cultivate scholars, leaders, and activists for social change. To that end, it has three pillars: the Joint Degree JD/MA in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, the first of its kind in the nation; the Freedom Center Journal, a joint scholarly publication of the College and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, which examines issues of gender, sexuality, race, and class; the Domestic Violence and Civil Protection Order Clinic, a legal laboratory where students receive extensive training in the laws surrounding domestic violence and trial advocacy, while assisting battered women and their families; and its new community-based research arm. Through these program areas, the Center has been able to make an impact on a broad and long-lasting scale. An example of their efforts was advocating for Cincinnati City Council to pass a resolution declaring freedom from domestic violence a fundamental human right, the first such resolution passed in the country. In addition, it has hosted a variety of programming exploring a range of cutting edge issues: economic justice, domestic violence, civil rights and policing, hate crimes, philanthropy and women’s movements, same-sex marriage, fair housing, and social justice feminism, among many others.

About the Award
The Marian Spencer Diversity Ambassador Award, sponsored by the university’s Diversity Council, showcases current campus affiliated individuals and groups whose diversity initiatives have positively impacted the university. Recipients must meet one of several criteria: showing an awareness for diversity, exhibiting sensitivity to people of various cultures, helping colleagues/peers grow in the area of diversity, and preparing others to thrive in a diverse, global workforce. The award was named after UC alumna and activist Marian Spencer.

Man Regains Freedom After 23 Years Thanks to OIP


In February 1981, the Parsons family suffered a tragic loss. Barbara Parsons, the 41-year-old wife of Jim Parsons, was found dead inside her bedroom, having been beaten 15 times in the head by someone using a large, heavy object. No suspect was found at first. Then, 12 years later, Jim Parsons was arrested for the murder. Parsons was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. After 23 years incarcerated, however, his conviction was overturned thanks to the Ohio Innocence Program (OIP).

"The Ohio Innocence Project plays an important role in the legal education of all of our students. Not only do the students who directly represent the clients with Professor Mark Godsey and the staff attorneys learn valuable litigation skills, all of our students benefit from its commitment to justice and the rule of law that are at the heart of the U.S. Legal system,” says Cincinnati Law’s Dean Jennifer S. Bard, Nippert Professor of Law.

Parsons was recently released and is now living with family. His story, however, is a frightening one.

An Unfair Advantage
Immediately after Barbara Parsons’ murder, an investigation began. A just hour after the body was found at their Norwalk, OH home, Jim Parsons was with the police; he showed no signs of a struggle and his alibi was solid. The case went cold after it became obvious that he was not the criminal.

Years later, a new detective was assigned to the case and sent the suspected murder weapon and bed sheets to forensic scientist Michele Yezzo, who worked on the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, asking her to look for any matching patterns of blood.

While running these tests, Yezzo failed to fully document her procedures. She used a chemical on the sheets which she claimed makes blood stains easier to see. However, it fades after several hours and she neglected to photograph each piece of evidence. Yezzo said she found matching patterns between the weapon and the sheets, but due to lack of documentation, she is the only one who ever saw it.

Even so, the court ruled against Parsons. He was found guilty and was sent to jail.

What the defense did not know at the time was that the State was withholding information. Around the same time that she was testifying, Yezzo was under severe job pressure. A few months prior to her testimony against Mr. Parsons, she was suspended from work for making threats against co-workers. She also displayed other signs that called her mental stability into question.

“About three years before she testified against Parsons,” said Parsons’ OIP attorney Donald Caster, ’03, “there was a memo that was written by her supervisor that said the consensus in the lab is that her mental health issues are affecting her work in the lab and that she would stretch the truth to satisfy a law enforcement agency.”

When Caster found that information, he placed a call to Dr. Scott Bresler, Clinical Director of Forensic Psychiatry at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

Bresler, who routinely conducts fitness-for-duty evaluations, evaluated Yezzo’s likely mental state at the time of the trial and through this determined her ability to work should have been called into question long before the Parsons trial.

The law requires that the State must turn over everything that could help a defendant before trial. Withholding this information about Yezzo was breaking the law, resulting in an unfair trial. Twenty-three years later, Jim Parsons finally got the hearing he deserved.

“Our star witness, whose subjective judgements are entirely what the case is about, is perhaps mentally unstable. And not only that, when we brought her in and she testified at the hearing in the Parsons’ case, she agreed that every day she was coming in thinking that she was going to be disciplined for her erratic conduct,” Caster said. “So what better way for a forensic scientist to help save their job than to solve a cold murder case?”

Alex Barengo, ’17, an OIP Fellow who worked on the case, seconded this reasoning. He stated that the prosecution was “riddled with reasonable doubts” due to the late arrest of Mr. Parsons and Yezzo’s precarious position with her employer.

Fighting for Freedom
OIP investigations can take years to complete, and often the fellows working on the cases pass them down to others. In fact, Parsons’ case spanned ten years, 21 law students, and predated Caster’s time with the OIP.

Former OIP Fellow Jackie Welp, ’16, said this was the most frustrating aspect. “He is and was very sick and growing older as the process continued,” she said, recalling how slow the procedure sometimes moved. “It was very challenging to stay upbeat when it seemed like the testing would never be done.”

Barengo gave credit to the previous fellows, saying that the investigation of the case was already completed and he and his partner, Miranda Anandappa, ’17, had the responsibility of making sure everything was in place so nothing would go wrong in court.

After all the information was gathered, Caster filed for post-conviction relief and a new trial motion, telling the judge that Mr. Parsons was actually innocent and his trial was made unfair by the withholding of evidence by the state of Ohio.

The hearing, which lasted about a day, included testimony from witnesses, scientists, one of Mr. Parsons’ daughters, and several people from the State. A week later, Caster learned that the judge had ruled to overturn the verdict.

“The most rewarding part came a few weeks after the hearing up in Huron County,” Barengo expressed. “One of Mr. Parsons’ daughters sent us a picture of him at home with his family.”

Author: Michelle Flanagan ’18, Communication Intern

Littler's Lisa Kathumbi named President-elect of the Ohio Women's Bar Association


COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 2, 2016) – Lisa M. Kathumbi, an attorney in the Columbus office of Littler Mendelson, the world’s largest employment and labor law practice representing management, has been named president-elect of the Ohio Women’s Bar Association (OWBA). When her term as president begins in May 2017, she will be the first African-American to lead the OWBA, a 25-year-old professional legal association. Until that time, Kathumbi will continue to serve on the board under the leadership of current OWBA President Marilyn McClure-Demers, associate vice president and associate general counsel, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.

“I am delighted to continue serving the Ohio Women’s Bar Association and to continue working with President McClure-Demers and other board members. Our goal is to continue to grow the OWBA’s membership while upholding the organization’s mission of promoting the leadership, advancement and interests of all women attorneys. I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as president in 2017,” said Kathumbi.

The timing of Kathumbi’s election to president-elect coincided with the OWBA welcoming American Bar Association (ABA) President Paulette Brown to serve as the keynote speaker at its 2016 Annual Conference. Brown, a partner at Locke Lord, is the first woman of color to lead the prestigious ABA, a 136-year-old professional legal association. Brown and the OWBA’s strategic leadership attracted over 400 lawyers from across the state and inspired attendees at the 2016 Annual Conference.

Lisa KathumbiA steadfast advocate for OWBA since joining in 2011, Kathumbi was named the recipient of the association’s President’s Choice Award in 2014 for contributing ongoing support, energy, talent, time and vision.

An active member of the Columbus community, Kathumbi previously served on the editorial board for Better Lawyer, a publication of the Columbus Bar Association; as a founding board member of Ruling Our eXperiences (ROX), a nonprofit that provides evidence-based empowerment programming for girls; on the boards of the John Mercer Langston Bar Association and City Year Columbus; and as a volunteer for the YWCA Family Center and the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio.

At Littler, Kathumbi counsels and represents employers ranging from small businesses to Fortune 100 companies. Her practice extends nationally and includes representation of healthcare providers, retailers, hospitality companies, restaurants, insurance companies, and small business owners in state and federal litigation. Kathumbi also works with clients to navigate the legal risks of day-to-day employment decisions, and conducts litigation avoidance training and seminars. Her strong reputation has earned industry accolades, including 2014 and 2015 recognition as a Rising Star in Ohio Super Lawyers®.

Kathumbi earned her J.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, her M.A. from the University of Chicago and her B.A. from the University of Cincinnati.

About Littler
Littler is the largest global employment and labor law practice, with over 1,000 attorneys in over 70 offices worldwide. Littler represents management in all aspects of employment and labor law and serves as a single-source solution provider to the global employer community. Consistently recognized in the industry as a leading and innovative law practice, Littler has been litigating, mediating and negotiating some of the most influential employment law cases and labor contracts on record for over 70 years. Littler Global is the collective trade name for an international legal practice, the practicing entities of which are separate and distinct professional firms. For more information visit: www.littler.com.

College of Law Chief of Staff Installed as National President


Mina JeffersonMina Jones Jefferson, Chief of Staff and Director of the Center for Professional Development, is now president of the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), an association of more than 2,500 legal career professionals dedicated to facilitating legal career counseling and planning, recruitment and retention, and the professional development of law students and lawyers. The 44-year-old organization advises law students, lawyers, law offices, and law schools across North America and beyond.

Jefferson was installed at the NALP annual conference in April 2016. Her term includes service as president-elect in 2015-16, president in 2016-2017 and immediate past president in 2017-2018.

“It’s a privilege to have a leadership role with the preeminent organization for legal career professionals,” Jefferson said. “I look forward to advancing the initiatives identified in NALP’s strategic plan and upholding its foundational beliefs that law students and lawyers should benefit from a fair and ethical hiring process; that law students and lawyers are more successful when supported by professional development and legal career professionals; and that a diverse and inclusive legal profession best serves clients and our communities.”

Jefferson, a University of Cincinnati 1990 College of Law graduate, has a strong background in the legal hiring field. As a former hiring partner at a National Law Journal Top 250 law firm, she is one of the few law-school career-services professionals in the country who has worked on both sides of the table. She practiced commercial litigation for almost a decade and was one of the first African American women in the region elected to partnership at a large firm.

A published author, Jefferson writes on the topic of careers and professional development for numerous legal publications and is a sought-after speaker on the topic of professionalism. She has also taught ethics courses at the college, as well as the legal extern course.

Active in the community, she currently serves on the Steering Committee for the Cincinnati Academy of Leadership for Lawyers (CALL). Jefferson, a former co-director of the Law and Leadership Institute at the College, also served by appointment on the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Continuing Legal Education Committee. Additionally she has been a member of the board of the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, Children’s Law Center, ProKids, and the Cincinnati Bar Foundation.

Professor Brad Mank Named Associate Dean of Academic Affairs


Cincinnati Law Dean Jennifer S. Bard announces the following leadership change: Professor Brad Mank has accepted the position of Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at the college. He will assume this role over the summer. After eight years in the position, Professor Nancy Oliver will return to teaching.

Bradford Mank“I look forward to improving our curriculum and to helping communicate about the great programs we already have,” says Professor Mank. He is also excited for the opportunity to working closely with both students and faculty and continuing to teach. “My favorite part of teaching at UC is the small classes, and getting to know very intelligent students,” he shares.

Professor Mank, the James B. Helmer, Jr. Professor of Law, earned his undergraduate degree at Harvard University, graduating summa cum laude, and completed his juris doctor at Yale University, where he was also editor of the Yale Law Journal. After graduating, he clerked for Justice David M. Shea of the Connecticut Supreme Court. Before joining the Cincinnati Law faculty in 1991, Professor Mank served as an assistant attorney general for the State of Connecticut, and an associate with the law firm Murtha, Cullina, Richter, and Pinney in Hartford, Conn., with an emphasis on environmental law.

At the college, Professor Mank teaches and writes in the areas of environmental law and administrative law. A prolific scholar, he has authored many article and book chapters on environmental justice, regulatory reform, and statutory interpretation. His work is frequently cited by courts, by other scholars, and in the press. Locally, he has worked with the City of Cincinnati on numerous environmental ordinances and implementation matters, including issues such as climate change, environmental justice, recycling, and air pollution. And, he has served as chair of the Environmental Advisory Council.

Finally, Professor Mank is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching, the Harold C. Schott Scholarship Award, and the Dean’s Award for Faculty Excellence, among others.

Author: Michelle Flanagan, Cincinnati Law Communication Intern

Cincinnati Law Announces Recipients of First-Ever Dean’s Award for Faculty Excellence


Congratulations to Associate Dean Nancy Oliver and Professor Brad Mank, who have been awarded the first Dean’s Award for Faculty Excellence, a new award created by the Office of the Provost. The award recognizes outstanding faculty members in each college who represent excellence in all its forms. Recipients will receive $2,000 in discretionary funds to be used toward their teaching or research. These faculty development awards are meant to recognize their contributions to their respective colleges and to UC, as well as support their professional efforts.

Brad Mank and Nancy Oliver

Professor Oliver is recognized for her many contributions as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Under her leadership, the law school launched the LLM Program in the US Legal System (master’s degree program for foreign-trained attorneys); the Graduate Certificate Program, which includes the Certificate in Legal Studies, the Certificate in U.S. Law, and the Certificate in the Fundamentals of U.S. Law; and the Undergraduate Certificate in Legal Studies. In addition, she has played an important role in teaching research and writing to LLM students, all of whom have first law degrees from other countries. These programs have helped Cincinnati Law to grow while also giving students greater options and opportunities.

Furthermore, Professor Oliver has been a key member in many issues related to changes in ABA Standards, including developing learning outcomes for the college, creating an assessment plan, and conducting extensive curriculum review to ensure compliance. And she worked with the Registrar’s Office as the university created the new student information portal. Her detailed involvement and devotion of time and energy demonstrate her strong advocacy for students in the law school. Professor Oliver will be returning to the faculty this summer.

Professor Brad Mank, the James B. Helmer Professor of Law, is recognized for his service and scholarship contributions to the College of Law. During the past two years, he has published, or had accepted for publication, five articles and essays, including articles in the Notre Dame Law Review and the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law. While maintaining an active scholarly agenda, Professor Mank has been instrumental in establishing the undergraduate certificate program, and chaired the Academic Policy and Curriculum (APC) Committee over several years of significant work.

Additionally, Professor Mank is a highly regarded teacher in the areas of administrative, natural resources, and environmental law. And he serves as an advisor to the Immigration and Nationality Law Review (INLR), an internationally recognized, student-run law journal. Recently Professor Mank accepted the position of Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and will be transitioning to his new role this summer.

Author: Michelle Flanagan, Cincinnati Law communication intern

Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice Receives University’s Marian Spencer Diversity Award


Cincinnati, OH—The University awarded the College of Law’s Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice at Cincinnati Law the 2016 University of Cincinnati Marian Spencer Diversity Ambassador Award at the 8th Annual Diversity & Inclusion Conference.

Members of the Center

The Center, identified as an ambassador for diversity and inclusion, was honored for its impactful programming and efforts to prepare the next generation of attorneys to thrive in a diverse, global workforce. Co-directed by Emily Houh, Gustavus Henry Wald Professor of the Law and Contracts; Kristin Kalsem, Charles Hartsock Professor of Law; and Verna Williams, Judge Joseph P. Kinneary Professor of Law, the Center was formed six years ago.“Receiving the Spencer Award is humbling, given its namesake’s heroic efforts for social justice in Cincinnati. It inspires us to work even hard,” said Co-Director Williams.

The Center’s mission is to cultivate scholars, leaders, and activists for social change. To that end, it has three pillars: the Joint Degree JD/MA in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, the first of its kind in the nation; the Freedom Center Journal, a joint scholarly publication of the College and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, which examines issues of gender, sexuality, race, and class; the Domestic Violence and Civil Protection Order Clinic, a legal laboratory where students receive extensive training in the laws surrounding domestic violence and trial advocacy, while assisting battered women and their families; and its new community-based research arm. Through these program areas, the Center has been able to make an impact on a broad and long-lasting scale. An example of their efforts was advocating for Cincinnati City Council to pass a resolution declaring freedom from domestic violence a fundamental human right, the first such resolution passed in the country. In addition, it has hosted a variety of programming exploring a range of cutting edge issues: economic justice, domestic violence, civil rights and policing, hate crimes, philanthropy and women’s movements, same-sex marriage, fair housing, and social justice feminism, among many others.

About the Award
The Marian Spencer Diversity Ambassador Award, sponsored by the university’s Diversity Council, showcases current campus affiliated individuals and groups whose diversity initiatives have positively impacted the university. Recipients must meet one of several criteria: showing an awareness for diversity, exhibiting sensitivity to people of various cultures, helping colleagues/peers grow in the area of diversity, and preparing others to thrive in a diverse, global workforce. The award was named after UC alumna and activist Marian Spencer.

OIP Receives Spirit of America Award


OIP AwardCongratulations to the Ohio Innocence Project (OIP), honored with the Donald and Marian Spencer Spirit of America Award on Tuesday, May 10, 2016. The award, which was presented by the Cincinnatus Association, recognizes the OIP’s contributions to creating greater inclusion and prompting diversity in the community.

The OIP was honored for its work in freeing more innocent people than any other state-based innocence organization in the country, as well as its work in drafting and helping to pass groundbreaking reform legislation to decrease the chance that innocence Ohioans will be wrongfully convicted in the future.

The Spirit of America award was named for Donald and Marian Spencer, called the “first couple of civil rights in Cincinnati.” Donald Spencer, who died several years ago, was the first African American to serve on the Cincinnati Park Board, the first African American broker on the Cincinnati Board of Realtors, and the first African American trustee of Ohio University. Marian Spencer integrated Coney Island many years ago, was the first African American president of the Woman’s City Club, and was the first African American woman to serve on Cincinnati City Council.

OIP Inaugural Breakfast A Success Thanks To Law Firm/Corporate Friends, Sponsors, and Supporters


The University of Cincinnati's Ohio Innocence Project would like to thank our Law Firm/Corporate Friends, Sponsors, and Supporters for a successful event!

On Tuesday, April 5, the Ohio Innocence Project Inaugural Breakfast saw more than 400 people in attendance. On behalf of the wrongfully convicted Ohio prisoners we have served and those we will continue to serve, we thank you! We are grateful to all of our sponsors. It is through their support that OIP can continue its meaningful work.

OIP Inaugural Breakfast Photo Gallery >>

 

Law Firm/Corporate Friends of OIP

Friends

Sponsors

OIP Sonsors

Supporters

 

Cors & Bassett LLC

Cuni, Ferguson & LeVay Co., LPA

Freking Myers & Reul LLC

Thompson Hine

Cincinnati Law’s Entrepreneurship Clinic Director Named U.S. Small Business Administration’s “Legal Champion” for 2016


Cincinnati, OH—Lew Goldfarb, the Director of Cincinnati Law’s Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic (ECDC), has been named the U.S. Small Business Administration’s “Legal Champion” of 2016 for the Columbus District. Goldfarb will be honored at the SBA’s annual banquet in Columbus, Ohio, on May 5, 2016.

GoldfarbGoldfarb came to Cincinnati Law to create and manage the school’s business clinic, launching ECDC in 2011. Since that time, it has become a coveted learning opportunity for law students and a vital resource for Cincinnati area businesses that cannot afford legal help. Over 120 students have received hands on training, representing 180 business—adding up to nearly $1,000,000 of free legal services to the local economy.

“I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in a little over five years,” says Goldfarb. “The significant impact of the ECDC can be attributed in large part to community involvement and collaboration, including involvement of local lawyers who graciously volunteer to supervise students and collaborations with local business accelerators and incubators like The Brandery, Mortar Cincinnati, Bad Girl Ventures, Hamilton County Business Center, and First Batch. By working together, we can make a big difference in this community”.

Regarding his designation as the SBA’s “Legal Champion”, Goldfarb says that he will accept the award on behalf of many people — “the many students who’ve staffed the clinic over the years; the volunteers who’ve assisted along the way; the ECDC’s office manager, Lori Strait, who oversees the day-to-day operations of the ECDC office; the community partners who trust us enough to work with them and their companies; and, importantly, the aspiring entrepreneurs in the Cincinnati area who are risking a lot to pursue their dreams and to make Cincinnati a better place for all of us.”