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.
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
Congratulations 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.
Law Firm/Corporate Friends of OIP
Cors & Bassett LLC
Cuni, Ferguson & LeVay Co., LPA
Freking Myers & Reul LLC
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.
Goldfarb 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.”
2L Sarah Ambach Finds Success through Business & Entrepreneurship Clinic
In the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic, Cincinnati Law students represent local small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs 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.
Cincinnati Law Posts Highest Pass Rate for February Ohio Bar
Cincinnati Law’s February 2016 Ohio Bar Exam pass rate is the highest rate in the state.
Cincinnati, OH—Today, the results are in for the most recent examination and Cincinnati Law, ranked a top 50 public law school in the nation by US News & World Report, recorded a 76% overall rate, the highest overall passage rate out of the nine Ohio schools for the February 2016 bar exam!
The law school’s passage rate is more than 15 percent higher than the statewide average of 57 percent for overall test takers. In addition, graduates taking the bar exam for the second time passed at an 88 percent rate, placing us first among Ohio law schools which averaged a 59 percent second time pass rate.
“I am delighted with the success that our students achieved on the February Ohio bar exam. It's a tribute to their hard work and that of the faculty and staff who do such a wonderful job teaching them,” said Jennifer S. Bard, Dean and Nippert Professor of Law at Cincinnati Law.
Applicants who successfully passed the examination and who satisfied all of the Supreme Court of Ohio’s other requirements will be sworn in during a special session of the Supreme Court of Ohio on Monday, May 2 at 2:00 p.m. at the Palace Theatre in Columbus, OH.
Additional News About Cincinnati Law
Cincinnati Law Reports Strong Bar Passage Results (July 2015 exam)
Best Value Law School
Experience of a Lifetime: Second-Year Law Student Ariel Guggisberg Helps Secure Prisoner’s Release
Law student helps write petition that leads to prisoner’s sentence commutation.
Cincinnati, OH—President Barack Obama’s recent commutation of 61 federal prisoners has a Cincinnati Law connection: second-year student Ariel Guggisberg helped draft the clemency petition for one of the prisoners whose sentence was commuted. “It feels like we really changed a person’s life,” she said.
The clemency petition was made possible under the umbrella of Clemency Project 2014, a working group of attorneys and advocates who provide pro bono assistance to federal prisoners who would likely have received a shorter sentence if sentenced today. Participants include federal defenders, the American Civil Liberties Union, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the American Bar Association, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, more than 70 of the nation’s largest and most prestigious law firms, 500 small firms and solo practitioners, and 30 law schools and clinics. The project was developed after former Deputy Attorney General James Cole appealed to the legal profession to provide free assistance to help identify eligible prisoners and assist them in preparation of clemency petitions.
The Clemency Project 2014 reviews requests from a prisoner who has served 10 years and does not have an obviously disqualifying feature (ex. a crime of violence). The prisoner is assigned an attorney, who requests permission to review documents in his/her case to determine if other criteria are met. If the prisoner is qualified, the individual is assisted by a lawyer to help fill out and file a clemency petition. That’s where Guggisberg came in.
As part of her summer internship at firm Pinales Stachler last year, Guggisberg—under the direction of her supervising attorney Candace Crouse—was charged with helping to draft the petition for her client Michael Morris. (The firm was assigned two cases.) “I thought it was so much fun over last summer,” she said, “finding ways to argue how our client would be sentenced differently today—such as ‘the old laws required mandatory outlandish sentences,’ ‘the sentencing laws differ today,’ and ‘our client has accepted responsibility and learned from his experience.’
“We had to show he’s been rehabilitated and that he can contribute to society.”
After the petition was written, it was submitted to the Office of the Pardon Attorney, where the US Pardon Attorney makes final recommendations to the President. Then they wait to hear.
President Obama’s commutations are part of a larger effort calling for changes to sentencing laws. Most of the recipients “are low-level drug offenders whose sentences would have been shorter if they were convicted under today’s laws,” wrote President Obama in a Facebook posting. He went on to describe pardons and communications as ways “to show people what a second chance can look like.”
Guggisberg and her colleagues at the firm had the pleasure and privilege of breaking the exciting news to their client. She described it as an “incredibly rewarding experience.” Mr. Morris, who is in Texas, will live with his family to reintegrate into society, beginning his new life in July when he and the others are officially released.
What did she learn from this experience? Guggisberg shared that she was impressed and encouraged by watching her colleagues, daily, do everything they can for clients. “It was beautiful to see. I learned that to be successful in criminal defense, you have to have thick skin and relentless hope in humanity.”
Upon graduation next year, Guggisberg plans to focus her career in healthcare law.
Marianna Bettman, Law Professor and Alumnae, Receives University’s Distinguished Teaching Award
Professor Emerita of Practice Marianna Bettman received the University of Cincinnati Distinguished Teaching Professor Award on Tuesday, April 19, 2016.
Cincinnati, OH—Congratulations to Cincinnati Law graduate and Professor Emerita of Practice Marianna Brown Bettman who received the University of Cincinnati’s Distinguished Teaching Professor Award. The award was presented at the university’s annual Faculty Awards Celebration, presided over by President Santa Ono, Provost Beverly Davenport, and the Faculty Senate.
"We are all exceptionally glad of the recognition Professor Bettman is receiving for being an exceptional educator. She has had a positive influence on the practice of law in Ohio and beyond through the hundreds of students she has taught. I look forward to her continued association with the law school even as she enjoys the much deserved freedom of retirement," said Jennifer S. Bard, Dean and Nippert Professor of Law at Cincinnati Law.
Professor Bettman started her professional career working in community development during the late 60’s, speaking to community members about school desegregation. Recognizing the role legal solutions could play to address racial injustice, she determined that her next career step would be law school at the university. While there, she excelled at school, winning the Constitutional Law Prize and becoming the first woman to be awarded first prize in Trial Advocacy.
After graduation in 1977, Professor Bettman began working in private practice. From there, she was elected Judge, First District Court of Appeals—the first woman elected to this position. She developed an expertise in separation of powers, state constitutional law, and the Ohio judicial system. After six years on the bench, the opportunity arose to join academia, leading her to College of Law in 1999; she remained at the school until recently. Her mastery of material and the high expectations set for students is legendary. Students, in turn, thrived under her style. Noted one, “Professor Bettman keeps us on our toes. You must be well-prepared at all times because you are called on every class!” In addition to teaching, she directed the Judge-In-Residence and Judicial Extern programs.
Professor Bettman is the recipient of numerous awards. They include the following: The Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching (2005, 2011, 2014), the Excellence in Education Award (Ohio Magazine, 2011), Cincinnati Attorney of the Year (Jewish National Fund, Judge Carl B. Rubin Legal Society, 2010), the Foot Soldiers in the Sand Award (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People-National Chapter, 2008), the A.B. “Dolly” Cohen Award for Excellence in Teaching (University of Cincinnati, 2008), the Nettie Cronies Lutes Award (Ohio State Bar Association, 2008), the University of Cincinnati Law Alumni Association Distinguished Alumna Award (2001), the Women’s Studies Distinguished Alumna Award (University of Cincinnati, 1998), the YWCA Career Woman of Achievement (1994), and many more. She authors the well-respected blog Legally Speaking Ohio and the monthly newspaper column Legally Speaking for the American Israelite, in addition to lecturing at numerous continuing legal education seminars, including an annual presentation at the Ohio Judicial Conference. Professor Bettman retired from teaching in December 2015. However, she is still committed to the law school and the education and training of future generations of attorneys.
Third Year Law Student’s Oral Argument Garners a New Sentence For Client Before the Sixth Circuit
Kellie Kulka’s oral argument at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals brings a win for the Sixth Circuit Clinic and a published opinion—all before graduation.
Cincinnati, OH—Kellie Kulka ’16 had an opportunity only a small number of law students get – to argue a case before a federal appellate court, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. What happened her first time up? The court ruled in her client’s favor, reversing the sentence!
“This is a big win,” said Kulka. “I’m just shocked that they issued an opinion so quickly.”
The case, United States v. Fowler, involved a Detroit doctor who was convicted of healthcare fraud. The law school’s Sixth Circuit Clinic, which introduces students to the basics of appellate advocacy, took the case on appeal. Last year’s clinic participants wrote the initial brief; this year’s group did additional research and brought the case to argument.
Clinic director Colter Paulson, Senior Associate at Squire Patton Boggs, explained: “Kellie took oral argument preparation, and her representation of the client, very seriously and spent the better part of two months working on and preparing for the argument. ” This was in addition to her regular clinic assignments and academic work.
“When I walked through security at Potter Stewart Court House, I was asked if I was there to argue a case, to which I responded "yes I am,” said Kulka. “That's when the experience became very real to me, that this wasn't just at Moot Court competition, but that I was actually advocating for someone. I spent months reading trial transcripts and the briefing by the parties. I was actually dreaming about the case by March. However, it was not until I told them that I was there to argue, that I was able to take real ownership the case.
“Kellie’s preparation paid off. In fact, she did such an excellent job during oral argument that the federal public defender in a companion case ceded his reply time to her so she could drive our points home before the panel,” said Paulson.
“I argued in the En Banc Courtroom. I had been in that room before to observe, but actually learning that I would argue in that room was surreal,” Kulka remarked. “I was nervous initially, but once I began to present the case, the adrenaline kicked in and I rode that thrill for the remainder of my time.”
The clinic team won a reversal of the doctor’s sentence because the court failed to make factual findings to support it. And Paulson and the team feel that they should be able to substantially reduce the client’s sentence on remand, based on some of the language written in the decision about the extent of the fraud.
“But we also won a larger victory,” noted Paulson. “Lots of sentencing arguments like this are losers because of waiver before the trial court, but we argued that the right to factual findings could not be waived. There were no cases in any circuit saying so, but we got the panel to agree that even if the trial attorney waived the argument, ‘the district court was still under an obligation to make factual findings regarding the applicable Guidelines range.’ This is decision requires district courts to make factual findings to support sentences rather than (as is often the case) just hand-waiving to create a Guideline sentence.”
Congratulations to Kellie Kulka, the Sixth Circuit participants, and clinic co-directors Paulson and Lauren Kuley, Associate at Squire Patton Boggs, on their successful win.
Professor Verna Williams participated in a Black Feminist panel
Professor Verna Williams participated in a Black Feminist panel discussion on Black Lives Matter and advocacy around the unique experiences of African American Women hosted by the UC Women’s Center on April 6, 2016.