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Constitution Day 2014: The American Constitution in a Changing America

Date: September 17, 2014

Time: 12:15 – 1:15 p.m.

Location: Room 114

CLE: Application for one (1) hour of general CLE has been submitted for Ohio and Kentucky. Approval is expected.

Webcast (available 9/17): 2014 Constitution Day

About the Event

Polarization in Congress and the nation’s politics.  Elections, campaign contributions, and money.  Equality and liberty in an increasingly diverse nation.  Individual privacy in a digital age.  Free market freedoms in a complex society and an interconnected world.

These are among the foremost constitutional challenges of our day, provoking controversies and cases that have captured the nation’s headlines and attention.  In this Constitution Day 2014 program, three constitutional law experts will explore how they are testing and evolving the meaning of the United States Constitution in a changing America

About the Speakers

Louis D. Bilionis, Dean and Nippert Professor of Law,  is a nationally recognized scholar in the areas of constitutional law and criminal law and procedure, with his work published in leading law journals such as the Michigan Law Review, Texas Law Review, Georgetown Law Journal, University of California-Los Angeles Law Review, Emory Law Journal, North Carolina Law Review, and Law and Contemporary Problems. He has taught constitutional law, criminal law, criminal procedure, and evidence, as well as seminars on capital punishment, constitutional law and theory, criminal law and procedure, and sentencing.

A. Christopher Bryant, Rufus King Professor of Constitutional Law, has been a prolific scholar and an exceptionally skilled and award-winning teacher of constitutional law. His numerous published articles and essays reach a wide range of issues of contemporary constitutional importance, including the separation of powers, judicial review, and the roles of the various branches of the national government in constitutional interpretation.  He is a recognized expert on the scope and exercise of national legislative power and the respect that Congressional action is owed from the federal judiciary, with leading articles on the subject published in the Cornell Law Review, George Washington Law Review, BYU Law Review, Notre Dame Journal of Legislation, and William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal.

Ronna Greff Schneider, Professor of Law, is an expert in constitutional law, with a focus on the First Amendment, and education law.  She is a frequent speaker and commentator on issues involving constitutional law, education law, and educational policy and is the author of the two volume legal treatise, Education Law: First Amendment, Due Process and Discrimination Litigation (Thomson Reuters), and its annual supplements (available in print and online in Westlaw).


Sperino Cited by Iowa Supreme Court and Quoted in Washington Post

Sandra SperinoJuly 2014 has been a great month for Professor Sandra Sperino. In addition to having her work cited several times by the Iowa Supreme Court in cases involving federal and state employment law and employment discrimination, she was quoted in a Washington Post article about punishments federal whistleblowers may receive on their jobs. And, she also was published in the Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

Iowa Supreme Court Cites Sperino’s Work

The Iowa Supreme Court cited articles by Professor Sperino in two opinions issued this summer. The two cases are Goodpaster v. Schwan's Home Serv., Inc., 13-0010, 2014 WL 2900950 (Iowa June 27, 2014) and Pippen v. State, 12-0913, 2014 WL 3537028 (Iowa July 18, 2014).

In both cases, the Iowa Supreme Court decided whether it should interpret the Iowa Civil Rights Act to be consistent with federal law. In both cases, the Iowa Supreme Court used Sperino’s work to support its conclusion that Iowa state law should be interpreted independently from federal law.

Sperino’s articles discuss how fractured federal discrimination law has become over time. Under federal law, discrimination protections are found in three main statutes: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Prior to the 1990s, the federal courts tended to read these three statutes consistently. If a phrase was interpreted one way under Title VII, the courts would interpret the same or similar phrase in the ADEA to have the same meaning. However, in recent cases, the Supreme Court has interpreted these statutes differently.

Sperino’s work explains how many states have a single anti-discrimination statute. It is difficult for state law to continue to follow federal law because federal law now approaches some questions differently, depending on whether the underlying claim is one for age discrimination, sex discrimination, or disability discrimination. In many states, claims for age, sex, and disability discrimination would all be brought under the same state statute.

Her work also explains that Congressional amendments to Title VII and the ADA were largely in response to Supreme Court decisions interpreting these statutes narrowly. State laws may use different words than the federal statutes. Many state laws also do not have the same history of narrow court interpretation followed by subsequent amendment. It is now difficult to read many state laws in tandem with federal law. As the Iowa Supreme Court noted: “Congressional reaction to a specific case decided by the United States Supreme Court does not shed light on the meaning of state law when there has been no comparable narrow state court precedent to stimulate a legislative override.” Pippen v. State, 12-0913, 2014 WL 3537028, at *15 (Iowa July 18, 2014).

Here are links to the cited articles:

Washington Post Article Quotes Sperino

Professor Sperino was also quoted in the August 4, 2014 Washington Post article “For whistleblowers, a bold move can be followed by one to department basement.” The article follows the case of former Phoenix Veterans Affairs Hospital employee Paula Pedene who alleges she was reassigned to a new position after complaining to higher-ups about mismanagement at the hospital. In the article Sperino talks about the challenges employees often face when attempting to bring this type of case to court.

Finally, her article Fakers and Floodgates, co-authored by Professor Suja Thomas, University of Illinois College of Law, appeared in print at 10 Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties 223 (2014).

Bunde, Gillotti, Mulroy & Shultz, P.C. (BGMS) Lawyer, Sophia P. Paul Recognized as 2014 Pennsylvania Super Lawyer

PITTSBURGH, PA - Bunde, Gillotti, Mulroy & Shultz, P.C. (BGMS) is pleased to announce that lawyer Sophia P. Paul was recently named a 2014 Pennsylvania Super Lawyer by Pennsylvania Super Lawyers Magazine.

Sophia P. Paul has been recognized as a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer for a fifth year. Sophia has over 20 years of experience in matrimonial law, and served as former counsel to the Domestic Relations Procedural Rules Committee of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, where she was actively involved in extensive revisions to the Pennsylvania Child Support Guidelines. She formerly clerked for the Honorable Lawrence W. Kaplan of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. An active member of the Family Law Sections of the Pennsylvania and Allegheny County Bar Associations, Sophia is also a Fellow of AAML and a frequent lecturer on family law matters.

Attorneys selected as Super Lawyers are among the top five percent of Pennsylvania's licensed attorneys. Pennsylvania Super Lawyers Magazine recognizes outstanding attorneys in more than 70 areas of practice using a rigorous, multiphase selection process that considers 12 separate indicators of peer recognition, professional achievement and high ethical standards.

"It is an honor to have Sophia recognized among the top lawyers in the state in the area of family law," stated Robb D. Bunde, a partner of BGMS.

"Our attorneys possess a wealth of experience in a breadth of family law matters and we are thrilled to have a great team providing outstanding service, value and a wealth of expertise to our clients every day."


Bunde, Gillotti, Mulroy & Shultz, P.C. (BGMS) is a law firm dedicated to the representation of individuals in family law cases. The attorneys of BGMS deal exclusively with family law issues including divorce, custody, child support, equitable distribution of assets, exclusive possession, alimony, spousal support, pre and post-nuptial agreements, paternity, grandparents' rights and protection from abuse (PFA) matters. All of the attorneys at BGMS have spent the majority of their careers practicing in the area of family law and have extensive experience in handling family law matters. The attorneys of BGMS are also able to assist clients with alternative dispute resolution including mediation, arbitration, early neutral evaluation and collaborative law. BGMS is one of the only law firms in Western Pennsylvania in which three attorneys are fellows in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. For more information about BGMS, please call 412.391.4330 or visit

Katie Cornelius '16 Shares Why She Likes Cincinnati

Katie Cornelius

There is always something great to do in Cincinnati. I love the unique culture and atmosphere of the city. There are great museums and historic areas intertwined with new restaurants, shops, and sporting events. 

Katie is pictured in front of Cincinnati’s historic Music Hall.

Get to Know Remington Jackson ‘15

Remington Jackson

Why do you want to become a lawyer? Why the interest in law?

From an early age, my father conditioned my desire to become an attorney, even going as far as contemplating adding the title “Esq.” to my name before I even attended Kindergarten!  He expounded upon the prestige associated with being an attorney, especially as a minority, and that it would be more than a job but a career.  He impressed upon me that the heart of the legal profession is one of public service—promoting the rule of law and pursuing the common good. He also mentioned the potential financial stability it could provide and the ability to make use of a J.D. in many areas, even if I didn’t end up practicing law.

To find out just how much of this was true, I spent my summers throughout high school and college working at various legal entities such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Allegheny County Law Department to get as much experience as possible at my “predetermined” life career. For my senior thesis at the College of Wooster, I focused on the arguments in favor and against the practice of the death penalty with the paper “The Necessary Criteria to Save a Dying Practice: An Attempt to Morally Justify Capital Punishment”.

Throughout these opportunities, I found that the satisfaction I experienced from trying to understand and debate complicated issues through my speech and writings intersect well with the legal profession. Most importantly, I feel that being an attorney—an act of serving and service to others—is, as Muhammad Ali put it, the rent we pay for our room here on earth. These experiences have all played a role in fueling my aspiration to become an attorney. In the end my father was right all along!

What area(s) of law are you interested in?

Currently I am getting experience with corporate law areas like securities fraud litigation, protecting shareholder rights, and corporate governance issues. I  am interested in labor and employment law, tax law, and I am open to learn from new arenas and challenges.

At my time with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office I had the opportunity to work with the Worker’s Compensation department and found that it was never a dull day. Sitting in on the settlement conferences to see the negotiation and cordial but zealous advocacy between the representatives for the employer and employee was intriguing. I found that the area involved complex relationships between people in the workplace and consequently had a very human component to it. You get a sense of who the individual is and their contribution to society.

What types of professional experiences have you had that will help you on your path to becoming an attorney?

During my 1L summer I worked as a summer associate with the Ohio Attorney General's Cincinnati Office and as a teacher with the Ohio Law and Leadership Institute. With LLI I taught youth from traditionally underserved communities about leadership, writing, self-expression, test taking, and study tactics while providing a basic understanding of the study and practice of law. During my 2L year, I worked as a legal extern for the General Counsel's Office for the University of Cincinnati.

I am currently the President of the College of Law’s chapter of Black Law Students Association (BLSA) and the Vice-Chair of the Midwest Region of the National Black Law Students Association (MWBLSA). I also serve as the Reprint Editor on the Immigration & Nationality Law Review and a Senior Article Editor for the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights’ Human Rights Quarterly. In the Fall I will be serving as a judicial extern to the Hon. Jeffery P. Hopkins, United States Bankruptcy Court – Southern District of Ohio and as a representative for the University in the Potter Stewart American Inn of Court. Finally, I am a student representative for Kaplan Test Prep.

A few final thoughts on career (and personal) preparation…

People hire people. No matter how great your grades or who you know, if you are a jerk or people just do not want to work with you, you are shooting yourself in the foot before you can even get it in the door. Be yourself, speak about your interests without reverting back to cookie cutter responses, and let your personality prove why you got to your current place in life. Never fear rejection but rather savor the opportunity to learn something from each experience you are given because each setback is only a setup for your next success.

Take full advantage of legal and judicial externships. While they do not pay, what they provide in terms of hands on experience and connections is priceless. There are few other opportunities available where you can get so much feedback without worrying about a grade or curve and get the kinks out while learning the right way to do your work.

Chase your passion, whatever it may be, and the money will follow rather than chasing after money and hoping the passion will come along. There are too many different paths to follow to happiness to end up hating the place you spend 8-10 hours of your day. Your career is a marathon, not a sprint, so go the extra mile to have coffee and lunch with those already doing the work that you are interested in to hear the good and the bad. Professionals are more than willing to "pay it forward" in remembrance of those that did it for them. Do not be discouraged if you do get a "No" reponse. There are 100 "Yes" responses out there just waiting for you to ask.

Dig your well before you are thirsty. That is something my closest mentor has always preached to me: network constantly so that I can reach out to a wealth of resources long before I need help with a reference or position. Not being from Cincinnati and not being in the top 20% of my class, any time not spent on studying and working goes towards networking and building relationships to ensure that I am never just a name on a piece of paper for any position I apply. Hard work will always prove your mettle, and while you will almost certainly experience setbacks throughout law school, never let an exam result decide your fate.

An Interview With Attorney and LLM Student Lara Ringdahl

Lara Ringdahl, a lawyer from Switzerland, is a participant in the law school’s LLM program. A criminal attorney, she has a strong interest in classes in the criminal law program. She has found UC Law’s program a great complement to her background and professional goals. Here’s more of her story.

Nora Burke Wagner Named Director of LLM Program

Nora Burke Wagner has been named director of the law school’s LLM Program. A 2000 graduate of the College, she clerked for Judge Nathaniel R. Jones of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and spent seven years working in-house at a large non-profit social service agency as Director of Government Advocacy and Legal Affairs before returning to the College of Law community.

While at the College Wagner has assisted with many important projects including preparing for the accreditation visit, designing bar passage reporting strategies, and assisting with putting registration advising materials on the law school website.  She was instrumental in the design, approval, and implementation of current LLM program and has been focusing her time recently on recruiting and admitting the new class of LLM students.  In her new position, she will continue her work on admissions, but will also take on some of the advising and teaching responsibilities of the LL.M. program.

Downtown Faculty Teach-in for Scholarships Raises More Than $11K

This year's Downtown Teach-in for Student Scholarships, held Friday, March 7, 2014, was a rousing success! The event raised more than $11,000 for law student scholarships. According to Mike Hogan, Senior Director of Development, this is the equivalent of approximately four-and-a-half endowed scholarships, if done annually.

Attendees were able to take advantage of numerous seminars, ranging from ethics, the courts, and justice and truth, to cell phones, BITs, and amicus pressure. Topics included: The Challenges and Ethics of Changing Clients' Minds about Settlement, The Myth of Truth in American Justice, Topics of Economic Justice, 2013's Top Ten Cases from the Supreme Court of Ohio, The DMCA and Cell Phone Unlocking, Ethical Implications for the Internet Lawyer, and more. College of Law professors led the hour-long seminars, which were hosted at the downtown offices of Frost Brown Todd and Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease. This event was sponsored by the Center for Practice.

In Her Own Words…Erin Rosenberg Shares Why She Works in International Criminal Law

From my experiences as a fellow at the Urban Morgan Institute, I knew that I wanted to work in international law, but I didn’t know in which field. In 2010, the summer before my third year, I did a summer externship at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, the Netherlands. At the end of those three months, I knew that I wanted to work in international criminal law.

After graduating from UC and passing the Indiana Bar in August 2011, I returned to the ICTY for a one year fellowship in Chambers. During my fellowship, I worked primarily in the pre-trial stage of proceedings in the case of Prosecutor v. Ratko Mladić, who is currently on trial for two counts of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. As a fellow, my job responsibilities were similar to that of a law clerk.

After the end of my ICTY fellowship, I spent six months in the Appeals Division of the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a Visiting Professional, which is similar to the ICTY fellowship program. In February 2013, after completing the Visiting Professionalship, I was hired by the ICC- Appeals Division as an assistant legal officer, the position I currently hold. In the Appeals Chamber, I work on interlocutory and final appeals, including on the appeal of the ICC’s first trial conviction in the case of Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga, in which Mr. Lubanga was convicted for committing the war crime of enlisting, conscripting, and using child soldiers to participate actively in hostilities in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I conduct legal research, help in the preparation of drafting decisions and judgments, and assist the Appeals Chamber judges on various legal issues.

Besides my regular duties, I have also been lucky to have had the opportunity to represent the ICC at events. For example, I served as a lecturer on the history of the ICC and the doctrine of command responsibility for the International Institute of Humanitarian Law's 148th International Military Course on the Laws of Armed Conflict.

Why the Interest in International Criminal Law

One of the most interesting parts of my job is that I get to work in a field that is still fairly new and for which the law itself is still being developed. To be a small part of that, both at the ICTY and now the ICC, has been challenging, but also incredibly rewarding. There are also many practical issues that are somewhat unique to international criminal proceedings. For one, the scope and size of the trials in international law are very different from the types of trials most people would recognize in domestic systems. This is due not only to the types of crimes that we deal with (genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes), but also the sheer number of witnesses, victims, and crime bases that are a part of a single case. To give one example, in the Mladic case, the prosecution called over 140 witnesses. Additionally, while the trials at the ICC are conducted in English or French, many of the accused and witnesses speak any number of other languages and may not understand English or French at all. So, unlike what one might see in a US court, at the ICC (and the ICTY), there are teams of interpreters in booths surrounding the courtrooms who translate the proceedings live as they happen for the trial participants. There are also separate teams that translate court documents. While all of these things may seem merely interesting, they pose very real challenges to case management, particularly in terms of ensuring that the fair trial rights of all accused persons are fully respected.

Many people are often surprised at where I work, and the field of law that I work in, because I am American. The United States is not a signatory to the Rome Statute and I think that it is fair to say that American law schools focus less on international law generally than those in many other countries. However, I have never felt at a disadvantage vis-à-vis my colleagues because of the overall legal training I received at UC Law and the exposure to international law that I received through my fellowship with the Urban Morgan Institute, particularly from the summer externships and working on the Human Rights Quarterly.

I would tell any UC law student who is interested in international law or specifically international criminal law to take advantage of the amazing opportunities that they have with the Urban Morgan Institute and to follow their passion. International criminal law is a difficult field to get into, but, with hard work and commitment, it is definitely possible.

Get to know Erin Rosenberg ‘11

Rosenberg received her B.A. from Indiana University- Bloomington, majoring in Linguistics, French, and African-American and African Diasporic Studies. Prior to enrolling at UC, she worked in politics on numerous local, state, and federal campaigns, including for the Indiana State Senate Democratic Caucus, serving as the Indiana State Director for the 2004 John Kerry for President campaign and for Congressman André Carson in the 2008 Special Election. Upon the election of Congressman Carson, Rosenberg joined his DC office, serving as Director of Inter-governmental Affairs and later as Legislative Director before returning to UC to finish her law degree. She received her J.D. from the University of Cincinnati School of Law, where she was also an Arthur Russell Morgan Fellow at the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights.

A Career in Human Rights Has Taken Lycette Nelson from Cincinnati to Hungary

“It’s good that you’re here to keep us human.” 

Hearing this made a lasting impression on a UC Law student—now alumna—while completing her human rights internship in South Africa.

Lycette Nelson ‘02 grew up in Burlington, Vermont before attending St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland.  She moved to New York City and worked in publishing for three years, and then returned to the classroom at the State University of New York at Buffalo, receiving her Ph.D. in comparative literature.  She continued her career in publishing for several more years, and, at the same time, she was active in LGBT politics and advocacy.  Nelson became the executive director of Stonewall Cincinnati, a small nonprofit organization here in the Queen City.  At Stonewall Cincinnati, she worked on many legal matters, meeting practitioners in anti-discrimination and civil rights law.  Her work and her contacts fostered an interest in human rights, and the Urban Morgan Institute at the College was the perfect fit.

In law school, Nelson completed a summer human rights internship in Cape Town, South Africa, an externship with a federal district court judge, and worked at a small firm: Manley Burke.  While in Cape Town, she worked at the Human Rights Committee of Cape Town, a non-governmental organization that operates in several major cities in South Africa.  At the time she was there, there was a huge refugee crisis due to immigration and asylum law changes, and people were flooding into South Africa from conflict areas around the continent. 

“My boss and I started making regular trips to the asylum office to try to speed up the process for some of the most vulnerable asylum-seekers – a very pregnant young woman for instance -- and assisting several people who had very good claims,” shared Nelson.  “It was rewarding because our presence made a huge difference for the few people we were able to help,” she said, noting that the sheer numbers who needed help was overwhelming.  She has been able to keep in touch with a young Rwandan man who successfully got asylum in South Africa and is currently living in Vienna.  She was able to reconnect with him as her travels took her to Europe years later.

“Getting such a range of different experiences in different settings helped me a lot in making future job choices,” she said.  Since graduating and passing the New York Bar, Nelson has worked with MFY Legal Services in New York City, the Adult Home Advocacy Project, the New York State Mental Hygiene Legal Service (a New York State agency responsible for representing, advocating and litigating on behalf of individuals receiving services for a mental disability), and now is working with the Mental Disability Advocacy Center (MDAC).

In 2010, Nelson moved to France, to her partner’s home town for her sabbatical year.  It was in France that she found MDAC and was hired for the position of litigation director.  MDAC is an international human rights organization, headquartered in Budapest, Hungary, that advances the rights of children and adults with intellectual disabilities.  She is able to work from her home in New Jersey on a consultancy basis and travel to Hungary every few months.  “Our work is focused around the right to live in the community, to be free from torture and ill-treatment, to make decisions independently or with support, to inclusive education, and to political participation,” she explained.  Nelson supervises all of the legal staff, but does not get very involved in domestic cases due to the varying languages that are involved.  When a case goes to the European Court of Human Rights, however, she becomes more directly involved.

As Nelson has been involved in reviewing applications for an open MDAC position, she was able to share advice about seeking a career in the field of human rights.  “One thing that distinguishes a good resume from the rest is when the person has hands-on experience working with people whose rights have been violated rather than just academic or research experience,” she said.  “The majority of human rights organizations are small organizations like MDAC which require a broad range of skills in any staff person--not only litigation and/or advocacy, but project management, problem-solving, working in complex systems. So being able to highlight some experience of this kind on your resume will be more valuable that just having experience abroad.” 

Finding ways to gain this type of hands-on experience opens doors for work in the field of human rights, protecting liberties which are important and unique, and, as Lycette  Nelson will always remember,  keep us all human.