Giving Voice to the Voiceless: Carrie Wood Shares why she is a Public Defender
Formerly an Assistant Academic Director at the Ohio Innocence Project (OIP) here with UC College of Law, Carrie Wood ’95 now works with the Ohio Public Defender in Columbus, Ohio.
Originally from Cincinnati, Wood studied engineering at Cornell University. Before coming to UC for her legal studies, she spent three years as a professional equestrian, training horses, teaching students, and helping to run a 60 horse farm. She had an interest in law school, however, and decided to return to Cincinnati to pursue her JD. Before starting school, though, she worked at Graydon Head for a year, giving her a birds-eye view of the profession she was about to enter.
Wood worked on several of the primary wrongful conviction cases in her three years at OIP. Some of the issues involved were mistaken eyewitness identification, “un-validated” or improper forensic science, and informants. “Although post-conviction DNA testing played a role in all of these cases, the causes of wrongful conviction do not go away if the case does not have evidence where DNA testing can help shed light on the identity of the perpetrator,” she explained while noting that the demonstration of innocence without DNA can be more difficult. She said that the law students involved at OIP often work even harder in such cases, sharing that “it was a great experience for [her] as their supervisor to see the energy, drive, passion, and compassion the law students bring to their work on these cases.”
Now working with the Ohio Public Defender, Wood is returning to the type work she did before joining the OIP. (She has prior experience as a public defender from her time working in the Bronx doing trial work.) She learned a lot from OIP regarding DNA, false confessions, “junk science,” and some of the major flaws in the criminal justice system. “It has always been important to me to work to correct flaws in our criminal justice system,” explained Wood, “and I saw the position at the Ohio Public Defender as an opportunity to continue and expand upon that work.”
“In order to work as a public defender, you have to have a passion for it,” she reflected, noting that the money is not much of an incentive. She explained that, the way she sees it, criminal defense attorneys and public defenders are not quite one in the same. “Some people do both – and do them well. However, my primary purpose in going to law school was to work on behalf of people who didn’t have a voice or access to legal counsel.” And this is what Carrie is able to do as a public defender. “It can be difficult and draining work, but it was always helpful for me to have supporters and mentors to turn to when I had a difficult case or a difficult week in court.”
In her spare time, Wood still rides horses, and also hopes to run a marathon this year. Further, she has always had a passion for music, and admits she will miss the local music scene. “Cincinnati’s larger music festivals are doing a great job of putting the city on the national music map; I will definitely be back in September to see the Afghan Whigs at Mid-point!”
Donnie Warner is Committed to Social Justice and Community Building
Graduate, community worker, and marathoner Donnie Warner has a strong commitment to social justice and community and personal transformation. With experiences that range from living on a Navajo reservation to training non-profit leaders through Public Allies Cincinnati to externing with the Indigent Defense Clinic, he will bring a distinctive viewpoint to the law.
Originally from Plymouth, Michigan, Donnie Warner is a member of the Class of 2014. He attended DePaul University in Chicago for his undergraduate studies, graduating with a degree in English. There he ran on the cross-country and track teams, captaining them both his senior year.
Following undergrad, Warner moved to Gallup, New Mexico to teach elementary school as a Teach For America Corps member. There he would meet his wife, Kayla; they then lived on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico for two years. When Warner learned that he had secured funding to pursue a master's degree, he moved to Cincinnati to study for a master's degree in creative writing (while teaching freshman English classes at the university). He then spent two years with Public Allies Cincinnati, a leadership development program committed to developing diverse leaders for leadership positions in nonprofits and communities. Warner explained his role there: “As a program manager with Public Allies Cincinnati, I provided one-on-one coaching to individuals in the program and developed tracking tools to chart our impact throughout the Cincinnati community.” By the time he decided to pursue a law degree, he had become committed to his work and the community. Thus, UC was a logical choice for the school to attend.
“As someone who is committed to social justice work and community-building, what I like about Cincinnati is that it is the ideal size for developing new ideas and models for transformation,” Warner explained about his affinity for the Queen City. He continued, “At the same time, the city is large enough to bring unique perspectives together to develop ideas.” He added that he also has an appreciation for Skyline, Graeter’s, the Reds, and other such things that are uniquely Cincinnati.
At the College of Law, Warner has been involved in several student organizations and programs, most notably the Freedom Center Journal (which he worked on for the past two years) and the Indigent Defense Clinic. “Through the Indigent Defense Clinic, I received fantastic training through the office of the Hamilton County Public Defender,” said Warner of his experience. With the clinic, his work affirmed his desire to focus on legal work that ultimately helps low income people achieve their desired outcomes. “I came to learn these outcomes are not restricted to a single case, but extend to many areas of people’s lives,” he said in reflection.
Warner plans to stay in Cincinnati after graduation. He commented on his legal studies and experiences: “You have to stay humble. There is so much to learn, and I believe that new lawyers should spend a lot of time taking it all in, and then working incredibly hard to answer any questions that remain. Additionally, regarding criminal law, I am struck by what an honor it is to give a voice to a client who would otherwise be voiceless. With such an honor you must have a commitment to work as hard as you possibly can.”
Warner shared that he has kept up with his running hobby, recently focusing on marathons. In fact, he finished second overall in the 2014 Flying Pig Marathon. And, he and his wife have created a blog called Run52, which tells their story of running through each of Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods.
Jenna Washatka ’12 and Professor Jim O’Reilly Combine Efforts to Support Creation of Land Bank
For many people July 13, 2011 was a historic day in Hamilton County with the front-page Cincinnati Enquirer coverage of the official creation of the first public land bank in southern Ohio. UC Law student Jenna Washatka ’12 and Professor Jim O’Reilly had an important had in its development.
Blighted properties that are virtually abandoned and out of the commercial market can be acquired by the new county entity and "banked" until redevelopment possibilities allow the property to be redeveloped or the house to be resold. During the interim the land bank preserves the value of the property, if any, and supervises the removal of weeds and junk.
Rising 3L Washatka took on this independent research project, interviewed the leaders and lawyers behind the concept, and prepared a lengthy analysis for the First Suburbs Consortium. Her paper was distributed to the appropriate county officials and the county treasurer as the legal basis for adopting the pioneering concept. Professor O’Reilly testified at the county hearing in support and offered Washatka's findings to county officials. This month’s adoption is the culmination of the work of public officials, nongovernmental organizations, and Washatka's outstanding efforts.
Congratulations to all!
College of Law Celebrates 181st Hooding Ceremony; 2nd Class of LLM Students Graduate
Graduation will be held on Saturday, May 17, 2014, beginning at 1:00 p.m. at the Aronoff Center for the Arts.
Cincinnati, OH—The University of Cincinnati College of Law will celebrate the accomplishments of its graduates at its 181st Hooding Ceremony, scheduled for Saturday, May 17, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. The event will be held at the Aronoff Center for the Arts. College of Law Dean Louis D. Bilionis will lead the ceremonies, where 139 degrees will be conferred. This number includes 130 juris doctor degrees, six LLM (master’s) degrees, and three certificates.
The Hooding keynote speaker will be college alumnus Gary Garfield ’81, CEO and president of Bridgestone Americas, Inc. In addition to his work at Bridgestone Americas, Garfield serves on the board of directors of several charitable and industry organizations, including the Tennessee Chapter of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, the United Way of Middle Tennessee, and the Rubber Manufacturer’s Association. Read more about Gary Garfield.
This year’s event will also include the presentation of the 2014 Nicholas J. Longworth III Alumni Achievement Award to Justice Sharon Kennedy’91, Supreme Court of Ohio. This award recognizes law school graduates for their outstanding contributions to society. Throughout her career Justice Kennedy has served on numerous boards, developed and facilitated programs to address the needs of young people, and worked with judges across the state. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Furtherance of Justice Award, the Above the Fold Award, and Judge of the Year. She also was named one of 13 professional women to watch by the Cincinnati Enquirer. Read more about Justice Sharon Kennedy.
Also being honored are this year’s winners of the Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching: Professors Marianna Bettman, Felix Chang, and Elizabeth Lenhart. The Goldman Prize is given to law school professors and is based on their research and public service as they contribute to superior performance in the classroom. For more information about the professors and their awards, read their story here.
Alicia Miller Turned an Interest in Social Justice into a Career as a Public Defender
Having grown up near Cincinnati in West Chester, Ohio, Alicia Miller ’14 is a home grown Bearcat in this year’s graduating class. A graduate of Lakota West High School, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from The Ohio State University. After her undergraduate years, she spent some time handling broken automobile glass insurance claims with Safelite Solutions. It was during this time that she prepared for the LSAT and law school applications.
“I decided to come to UC Law to work with the Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice,” said Miller, adding that UC’s great value and proximity to friends and family were also factors contributing to her decision. Upon arriving, she found she made the right choice, noting the outstanding dedication of the faculty and staff at the college and the support, guidance, and mentoring she has benefitted from.
Miller has been tremendously involved in her three years of law school. She externed with the Ohio Justice & Policy Center where she researched the “school-to-prison pipeline” and worked with Cincinnati residents, helping them expunge and seal criminal records. She conducted research on the issue of food deserts in Cincinnati in another externship with the Center for Closing the Health Gap. Then, she has the opportunity to represent indigent clients while she externed with the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy. Finally, Miller has been involved with numerous student organizations, including Advocates for Children, the Black Law Student Association, the Freedom Center Journal, and the Law Democrats.
Upon graduation, Miller will be working with the Marion County Public Defender Agency in Indianapolis – first as a post-graduate intern. She will transition to working on misdemeanor cases when she receives her positive bar results. “I hope to expand into juvenile criminal defense, as well as adult felonies,” she shared. “After getting experience in those areas I hope to direct a public defender’s office someday and positively shape the way that indigent criminal defense is administered in my jurisdiction.”
In reflection on her law school experience and chosen career path, she shared the following: “My advice to those who may be interested in criminal defense is to trust that things will work out and not to let financial constraints keep you from pursuing your dreams. Find mentors within the criminal defense realm who will ensure that you get every opportunity to become a better advocate for clients.” Miller has found that UC Law has provided her with these mentors, and has propelled her towards her dreams. “I feel incredibly blessed to have found what I hope to spend the rest of my career doing.”
UC to Present Honorary Degree to Alumnus and Top Trial Lawyer Billy Martin
UC alumnus and nationally renowned trial lawyer Billy Martin will receive an honorary doctorate at the University of Cincinnati April Commencement ceremony.
By: M.B. Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Provided
The University of Cincinnati will bestow its highest award, an honorary doctorate, on nationally renowned trial lawyer and UC College of Law alumnus William R. “Billy” Martin during spring Commencement ceremonies. Martin will receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the ceremony set for 9 a.m., Saturday, April 26, in Fifth Third Arena.
Consistently named one of the top trial lawyers in Washington, D.C. and throughout the United States, Martin, who is majority owner and founder of Martin & Gitner, PLLC, has tried more than 150 jury trials, many involving large corporations and leading figures in politics, sports and entertainment.
While Martin has made a name nationally through his representation in numerous high-profile cases, he has a diverse practice that also focuses on complex civil and white collar litigation before state and federal courts and in administrative hearings.
Martin also has substantial experience with internal investigations, serving extensively as an Integrity and Ethics Monitor on behalf of government agencies and courts in a variety of industries. In addition, he is a member of the Board of Directors of The American Arbitration Association and has experience both representing parties in arbitration, as well as serving as an arbitrator in private disputes. Most recently, he served as outside counsel to the United States House of Representatives Committee on Ethics in connection with its investigation of a Member of Congress. He is a frequent speaker on corporate responsibility and ethics.
After receiving his law degree from UC in 1976, Martin served as a city and federal prosecutor from 1976 until 1980 in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1980 he was appointed to serve as a Special Attorney in the Organized Crime Strike Force in San Francisco, a position he held for four years. He then moved from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., where he served as an Assistant United States Attorney for four years before being promoted to the Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, a position he held until he left the office to begin private practice.
Martin is a member of the D.C. Bar Association, the National Bar Association, the American Bar Association, and he is president of the Washington Bar Association. He has been listed in the National Law Journal’s “50 Most Influential Minority Attorneys,” and has ranked fourth in The Washingtonian’s list of “Top Lawyers. He has received numerous other distinctions.
Martin graduated from Howard University in 1973, where he pursued studies in business administration and political science, and is a recipient of Howard's Distinguished Alumni Award. In addition, he received the UC College of Law Distinguished Alumni Award in 2002.
Bulgarian LLM Student Yana Kostova Shares Thoughts on the City, Working at the Mayor’s Office, and Cincinnati Red’s Opening Day
UC Law’s nine-month LLM program is designed to introduce internationally trained lawyers to the U.S. legal system. One of the reasons the program is so attractive to many students is because of its flexibility. Some students can take advantage of a number of practical experiences with the various centers and institutes at the college and throughout the city. That was a bonus for current LLM student Yana Kostova.
Kostova grew up in Bulgaria, where she lived and studied through high school. When she turned 18, she moved to England, studying law at the University of the West of England in Bristol, working toward an LLB degree. Her focus was commercial law. Kostova gained experience working in the legal department of the Bank of Ireland before making the decision to move to the United States.
While she considered moving to California where her sister lived, Kostova ultimately decided to begin her journey in Ohio. “It is not the biggest city, but at the same time it gives you a lot of the things to do that you can do in bigger cities like New York or Chicago,” she said about the Queen City. Kostova added that the people are very nice here and the weather is a bit better than what she experienced in England. In her spare time, she plays tennis with UC’s club team. She played professionally as a child and is happy she is able to keep tennis as a hobby while in law school.
Prepping to Study US Law
While Kostova did not study law in her native Bulgaria, the transition to studying the field in the US was easy because of the similarities between English and American law, she commented. She also honed her skills reading and speaking English while in England, preparing her even more for studying in this country. After earning her LLM this spring, Kostova plans to continue to practice in the commercial law field in New York as she did while in England. But her time at the college has opened her eyes to other possible avenues for her career.
Kostova is currently interning with Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley’s office. “I wanted to work on establishing contacts and to develop my networking and interpersonal skills,” she shared of her goals with her internship. “But since working there, I have begun to find an interest in civil rights.” She noted that this area of law, in particular, is much different than her prior experiences. The internship also surprised her by introducing her to her first Opening Day parade. “It was my first parade – I had no idea what I was supposed to do,” she explained with a smile and a laugh. Kostova has also developed an interest in public interest work. She feels that it affords attorneys the opportunity to establish a work-life balance as opposed to some firm jobs where attorneys may work twelve-hour days.
Kostova offered some advice for students considering the LLM program in the future: “If you are unsure of what you want to specialize in, this is a good problem to have. The LLM program can be tailored to what you are interested in, and the externship programs allow you to get some practical experience to help you decide.”
Catalina Roa Pacheco Talks About the Socratic Method, the LLM Program, and Cincinnati Traffic
Catalina Roa Pacheco, formerly a practicing attorney in Colombia, will be graduating this spring with her LLM degree. Originally from Bogotá, Roa Pacheco moved to the United States in 2012 with her husband. Though she was working as an attorney in Colombia, Roa Pacheco was unsure of whether she would continue with the legal profession in Cincinnati. Her husband, who is completing his residency at Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center, recommended that she check out UC Law and the LLM program. In fact, she had the opportunity to participate in a program to learn more about UC Law, the LLM program, and the city of Cincinnati. “Working with the LLM Admissions Office made the process very easy,” she shared. “Seeing how easy it was to apply and that I was able to get a scholarship made my decision easy.”
In her spare time, Roa Pacheco shared that she enjoys watching movies, particularly documentaries, for some respite from the classroom and library. She also enjoys living downtown and taking walks around the heart of the city. “Cincinnati is completely different from Bogotá,” said Roa Pacheco. “But I have really enjoyed my time here. The people are amazing.” While Cincinnati is a smaller city, it still has much to offer, she believes. One difference she shared might surprise Cincinnatians: Roa Pacheco says that the traffic here is much better than in Bogotá. (Keep this in mind on your next commute through the orange cone maze!) Cincinnati also showed her snow for the first time; and Roa Pacheco finds the springtime here to be beautiful.
The Challenges of Different Legal Systems and the Socratic Method
Like many other internationally trained lawyers, pursuing her LLM degree is the first time Roa Pacheco has really engaged with a common law legal system. Not only is the legal system different and challenging to learn, but the classroom experience is also different. She remarked that the Socratic method was a bit intimidating at first (something most law students and UC Law alums can relate to).
Roa Pacheco has been able to gain additional practical experience outside the classroom with an externship at ProKids, a nonprofit agency that provides advocacy for abused and neglected children in Hamilton County. This sort of public interest work has struck a chord with her, and she plans on practicing in this field when she returns to Colombia in a few years.
Ukranian LLM Student Marina Nemirovska has Found Her Niche in Immigration Work
Marina Nemirovska grew up in Ukraine, living in Kiev, the capital of the country. There, she earned her master’s degree in engineering as well as her master’s degree in law. While she worked briefly in the engineering field, she opted to pursue a legal career. For 14 years Nemirovska practiced law in Ukraine. Initially she worked as a corporate lawyer, dealing with customs and contracts. After eight years of corporate work, Nemirovska opened her own firm to work as a private notary. “Instead of mainly witnessing signatures, a notary in Ukraine works in a broader area, preparing all sorts of legal documents,” she explained about the nature of her work. She did this work for six years before moving to Cincinnati.
It was meeting her husband that fueled her decision to move to the United States. Nemirovska moved with her daughter and pets (including a big Newfoundland named Bronya) and a “bunch of luggage.” Once here in Cincinnati, she started her education at the university, graduating with a paralegal studies degree. When she heard about UC Law’s LLM program, Nemirovska initially wanted to investigate it for her daughter. “My daughter received her law degree in Ukraine, but we moved shortly after she graduated,” explained Nemirovska. “I thought the LLM program might be a good avenue to start to her career in the US. Little did I know I would end up entering the program myself!”
Life in Cincinnati…and Kiev
Cincinnati is much different from her life living in the capital of the Ukraine. She noted that life in Cincinnati is much different than in her homeland. “Here, if you want to work, you have to drive,” she stated. “Back in Ukraine, I largely relied on public transportation to get around.” But even though Cincinnati is very different, Nemirovska does like the area—well enough to stick around and establish her legal career in Ohio. After she graduates this spring, she plans to take a bar prep course and then the Ohio Bar Exam. She is, admittedly, nervous about the prospect. “The law here is very flexible,” she said, “whereas back home we have only the code, and that is it.” She also commented that though studying the U.S. legal system a bit later in life coupled with the fact that English is not her native language may have contributed to the difficulties of studying law here, it was the transition from civil law to studying common law that has challenged her the most.
Interestingly, Nemirovska’s time in the U.S. has changed her interests in the law. She has developed interests in both immigration law and intellectual property. In December, Nemirovska became a U.S. citizen and, when taking into account the current events in Ukraine, she does not plan on returning to the country where she spent the first chapters of her life.
In fact, Nemirovska expressed an interest in opening a type of “center” for immigrants and international students. She has found that, even being here for years, it is difficult to learn how to find a job, how to get a driver’s license, and how to meet people, among other things. Commenting that there are very few Russian-speaking attorneys in Ohio, Nemirovska feels that this is one way that she can combine her life experiences with her legal training—both here and in the Ukraine—to help others.
UC Law Announces Partnerships with Business Incubators; Local Entrepreneurs Benefit
The Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic at the College of Law cultivates new partnerships to provide legal assistance at local business incubators while giving students much-needed client counseling experience.
Cincinnati, OH—The Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic (ECDC) at the University of Cincinnati College of Law has launched new partnerships with two local business incubators, delivering legal services to local entrepreneurs and providing law students with opportunities to use and enhance their lawyering skills.
“We’re excited to announce that the ECDC has now partnered with the Hamilton County Business Center, one of Ohio’s best startup incubators, and First Batch, one of the tri-state’s newest business accelerators,” said Lew Goldfarb, Director of the ECDC at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. “Partnerships like these are great for the community. Businesses benefit from critical legal services they may not otherwise be able to afford and students develop their legal skills. It’s a ‘win-win’ situation.”
The program, which launches in June and runs through August, connects incoming third year law students with small businesses at the Business Center and First Batch. The students, working under the supervision of a practicing attorney, are licensed to practice law under a “legal intern license” issued by the Supreme Court of Ohio. In addition to providing legal services to local start-ups, the students will be able to participate in some of the business training that is offered by the Business Center and First Batch.
During the inaugural year, the programs will be combined, so the same UC law students will serve clients at both business hubs. Thereafter, the plan is for the programs to run separately with students at each location. “Combining the programs during the inaugural year gives us a chance to assess the amount of and type of work each location requires so that we can determine how to best staff the programs in the future,” said Goldfarb.
"Throughout our history, the Hamilton County Business Center has benefited from an extensive relationship with the University of Cincinnati,” said Patrick Longo, the Business Center director. “By adding UC’s clinic on-site at the Business Center, it allows our clients to access quality legal advice from up-and-coming UC law students. As a full-service business incubation program, the Business Center is always looking to add program components that will give our clients a competitive advantage as they launch and grow their ventures.”
The Business Center, the longest-running and most successful business incubator in Southwest Ohio, helps entrepreneurs launch innovative businesses. In operation over 24 years, the Business Center has a long and successful track record of supporting and graduating innovative companies that strengthen the local economy and add jobs to the community. The Business Center provides office space, business services, coaching, mentors, shared services, connections, and access to capital to 65 tenant-businesses at its Norwood location.
"We're excited to be partnering First Batch manufacturing entrepreneurs with talented UC law students,” said Matt Anthony, co-founder of First Batch. “Minimizing liability risks and protecting intellectual property are important objectives for any innovative startup, but there are a number of unique challenges with manufacturing start-ups that the law students can help them overcome. Having direct access to legal advice is unusual for a young company, so this partnership will be invaluable to our First Batch program participants in their quest to scale their businesses."
First Batch, a four-month accelerator program located in Over-the-Rhine, identifies young designers with finished product prototypes, provides them with commercial space and support, and pairs them with local manufacturers with the goal of completing their first batch product run by the program’s end. First Batch was created to showcase Cincinnati manufacturing and highlight an untapped resource in the tri-state’s start-up culture, as well as boost the area’s economic activity, leverage local talents, and grow creative enterprise efforts.
“Cincinnati is quickly becoming an entrepreneurial hotbed,” said Goldfarb about the local impact of this type of program. “The more partnerships we can form to provide resources for startups, the more companies will want to come here. That’s critically important for the local economy.”
About the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic at the College of Law
The Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic partners local law students with small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs, representing them on transactional legal issues critical to their success. Client services include assistance and counseling on entity selection and formation, regulatory compliance and licensing, advice on trademark and copyright protection, and lease and contract review, negotiation, and preparation. Through its work, the ECDC hopes to give students a tremendous learning experience and to contribute to the economic development and revitalization of Cincinnati and surrounding communities.