Cincinnati Law alumni now fill first all-female Ohio First District Court of Appeals panel
When Judge Marilyn Zayas took her seat behind the bench at Ohio’s First District Court of Appeals, she knew she was making history. The Cincinnati Law alumna became the first Latina to be elected to a judicial post in the state of Ohio in last November’s election.
She and fellow Cincinnati Law alumni Judge Penelope R. Cunningham (‘87) and Judge Beth A. Myers (‘82) now comprise half of the judges on the Southwestern Ohio Appellate Court. They are the only women on the court; and all three won elections to their posts. (Two of the six judges on the court are appointed by the governor.)
“This is a remarkable achievement for Judge Marilyn Zayas and for Cincinnati Law,” said Cincinnati Law Dean Jennifer Bard. “Marilyn’s journey to the bar was not traditional, and she serves as an inspiration to all of us here. We’re honored that she has always made time to support our efforts, and we’re so very proud of all of her accomplishments.”
Judge Zayas, who was born in New York to immigrant parents, earned a degree in computer science at City University of New York, training which helped her land a job with Procter & Gamble. But she carried with her a passion for law, born of her experiences as a teen who saw how the legal system worked when her parents divorced and she grew concerned about the custody and care of her younger brother.
She left her job as a P&G tech manager to pursue her law degree in 1994; when she studied full-time, she had three children under the age of 4. After graduation, she spent time as a public defender before opening her own firm, MZD Law, in 2000.
While building her firm, Judge Zayas made time to teach students at her alma mater and also volunteered to train judges and magistrates about victims’ advocacy and immigration law. She now serves on the board of Beech Acres Parenting Center.
“Judge Zayas' story is an inspiration to anyone with a commitment to justice,” said Bard. “We could not be more proud of her as an alumna and appreciate her commitment to reaching back and increasing opportunities for the next generation of judges."
College of Law hosts lecture “Contemporary Issues in Discrimination Law” with EEOC Commissioner Charlotte A. Burrows
As part of the UC Project on Law and Business, the College of Law will host a unique conversation with EEOC Commissioner Charlotte Burrows and senior counsel Cathy Ventrell-Monsees. The two will examine contemporary topics in discrimination law, including age discrimination, pay equity, and diversity.
The discussion will be led by the College of Law’s Professor Sandra Sperino, and will include a reflection on the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and its continuing importance 50 years after its enactment.
The UC Project on Law and Business is a collaboration between the university’s Lindner College of Business and College of Law, offering year-long programming that brings in regional and national experts to discuss the relationship between between business and law.
The partnerships between the two colleges allows students from both programs the ability to benefit from interdisciplinary study, providing a richer scholarly exchange. Rather than limiting students to the faculty members and curriculums in their own respective programs, the collaborative efforts enrich the students overall educational experience at UC.
About Charlotte Burrows, Commissioner, EEOC
A veteran of Capital Hill and the Department of Justice, Equal Employment Opportunity Commissioner Charlotte Burrows served as general counsel for Civil and Constitutional Rights to (the late) Senator Edward M. Kennedy on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and as legal counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
At the Department of Justice, Burrows worked in the Civil Rights Division's Employment Litigation Section first as a trial attorney, and later as special litigation counsel. Later, she served as associate Deputy Attorney General, where she worked with a wide range of policy, including employment litigation, tribal justice, voting rights, and implementation of the Violence Against Women Act.
Confirmed by a Senate vote of 93-2, Burrows was nominated by former President Barack Obama to serve as commissioner of the EEOC. She received an AB from Princeton University and a JD from Yale Law School.
About Cathy Ventrell-Monsees, Senior Counsel at the EEOC
Cathy Ventrell-Monsees has served as senior counsel to the EEOC since Septeber 2014. She has actively practiced employment discrimination law for decades.
Ventrell-Monsees directed the age discrimination litigation project at AARP from 1985- 1998. Prior to this role, she was a member of the Board of Directors of the National Employment Lawyers Association, serving as its vice-president of Public Policy and as chair of the Age Discrimination Committee.
Currently, she is the president of Workplace Fairness, a nonprofit dedicated to educating workers about their employment rights. Ventrell-Monsees is the co-author of Age Discrimination Litigation. In addition to her legal practice, she currently teaches employment discrimination law at the Washington College of Law at American University.
This event is sponsored by both the Lindner College of Business and the College of Law. The event is free, and open to the UC community and the surrounding legal and business community.
2017 Judge in Residence Lecture Focuses on State Laws Prohibiting Felons from Voting
Cincinnati, OH –Recipient of over 100 awards, including the American Bar Association’s John H. Pickering Award of Achievement recognizing dedication to equal justice for all, and the Martin Luther King Community Service Award, Judge Bernice Donald has had an impressive professional journey, which she will share with the law community during her visit as the 2017 Judge in Residence. In addition to visiting classes and meeting with law students, Judge Donald will present several lectures:
- “Undermining Democracy Through Felony Disenfranchisement Laws” will be presented on Monday, February 20. During her lecture she will discuss state laws prohibiting millions of Americans with felony convictions from voting, and how these laws exist as barriers to democratic participation. Judge Donald will explore this pressing issue that implicates civil rights, social justice, and prison reform. The lecture will be presented on February 20, 2017 at 12:15 p.m. in Rm. 114.
- “Implicit Bias” will be presented on Tuesday, February 21 for the university community. Implicit bias is the process by which the brain uses mental associations that are so well-established as to operate without our awareness, intention, or control. Judge Donald will discuss implicit bias and the way it manifests itself in our criminal justice system. The lecture will be presented February 21, 2017 at 3:30 p.m. in Rm. 118. All events are free and open to the public.
About Hon. Bernice B. Donald
Judge Donald has served in courts at some of the highest levels of the United States Judicial system. In 2010, Judge Donald was nominated by then President Barack Obama to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. In 1995, then President Bill Clinton nominated her to the U.S District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. Prior to these judgeships, she served the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Tennessee and State of Tennessee General Sessions Criminal Court.
Barriers have been broken by Judge Donald’s appointments which have been history making. Indeed, when accepting the position for the General Sessions Criminal Court, she became the first African American woman to serve as a judge in the history of the state of Tennessee. She was also the first African American woman to serve on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, U.S District Court, and the U.S Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Tennessee.
Judge Donald’s resume of appointments and achievements include notable positions, such as secretary of the American Bar Association, president of the American Bar Foundation, president of the National Association of Women Judges, and president of the Association of Women Attorneys. She chaired the ABA Commission on Opportunities for Minorities; co-chaired the Task Force on Implicit Bias and Diversity for the ABA Section of Litigation; and in 2013, was elected to the Board of Directors of the American Judicature Society.
Event Details: Februrary 20, 2017 | 12:15-1:15 PM | Room 114
These events are brought by the University of Cincinnati College of Law’s Judge In Residence Program, which brings renowned judges into the academic and legal communities, sharing the theoretical and practical aspects of judicial decision-making.
TIME Magazine Special Edition Features the Ohio Innocence Project, an Extraordinary Honor for the Organization
The Ohio Innocence Project has received an unprecedented honor – a feature in TIME magazine’s special edition examining wrongful convictions. The issue, which is anticipated to sell over a half a million copies, was recently published (Feb 2017) and is available at newsstands across the country.
Says Professor Mark Godsey, Director of the Ohio Innocence Project, “I’m thrilled that Time has dedicated an entire issue to the Innocence Movement, which demonstrates the enormous impact it has had on our criminal justice system. We at OIP are honored to have been highlighted as a central player in what is now becoming a global human rights movement. And we are thankful to the University of Cincinnati and our many donors for making it all possible.
The issue, “Innocent: The Fight Against Wrongful Convictions,” takes a look at 25 years of the innocence movement. The Ohio Innocence Project (OIP) is highlighted with a multi-page spread. In a ten-page feature, the edition shares the stories of
- Ricky Jackson, the OIP exoneree who holds the record for the most years an exonerated American has served in prison, taking a “behind the scenes” look at his case, beginning in 1975 to today.
- Clarence Elkins, the OIP’s first successful exoneration, his battle for freedom, and the lengths he and the OIP students went through to help secure his release.
- Roger Dean Gillispie, the first case for the fledgling OIP in 2003, and the continuing obstacles in his case.
- OIP Director Mark Godsey’s unique career as an award-winning prosecutor turned champion for the innocent, and his emergence as a global leader in the movement. It also features his forthcoming book Blind Injustice: A Former Prosecutor Exposes the Psychology and Politics of Wrongful Convictions.
Dean Jennifer S. Bard, Nippert Professor of Law at the law school, also comments “It’s an honor to have the Rosenthal Institute for Justice/ Ohio Innocence Project at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. The work Mark Godsey, Jennifer Bergeron, Donald Caster, and Brian Howe do is absolutely remarkable as are the opportunities the students involved have to learn how much influence lawyers have in changing the lives of both individuals and society. The work OIP does in making sure the legal system continues to work hard to avoid error infuses our entire law school and makes every student we graduate a better lawyer.”
Dean Bard Teaches Short Course on Human Subject Research
During the first week of January, Dean Bard co-taught a week long course in human subject research with long-time adjunct and Dinsmore & Shohl partner, Dr. Frank Woodside, a first in short course history. Eight students participated in the class.
The course included lively discussion of the legal and ethical issues that govern research either funded by the federal government or intended to prove the safety & efficacy of new prescription drugs or devices. The students also enjoyed presentations from the Vice President for Research’s Office, including Dr. Jane Strasser, Associate Vice President for Research and Comparative Medicine at the University of Cincinnati, Mike Linke (the chair of the University of Cincinnati’s Institutional Review Board), Angela Braggs-Brown (the director of the Office of Human Subject Research) and Holly Bante, Director, Conflict of Interest & Asst. Professor, College of Medicine. Click here for more pictures from the class.
“It was a fun and energizing way to start the semester. Human Subject Research regulation has been one of my primary areas of scholarship.” It presents complex regulatory issues that are relevant to any program that gets federal funding but it also has interesting ethical issues about how much risk individuals should be allowed to take. Research compliance is also a growth area in terms of hiring lawyers so I wanted to introduce students to something that would open new career doors for them.”
Said Dr. Woodside “I appreciate that I was asked to participate; learned a great deal; enjoyed the interaction with the students.”
Angela Braggs-Brown is the Director of UC’s Human Research Protection Program (HRPP), she is also a member of the UC IRB. She has been involved with FDA regulated research in addition to social behavioral and policy research over the last 15 years. Ms. Braggs-Brown is Regulatory Affairs Certified (RAC) as well as a Certified IRB Professional (CIP).
Dr. Mike Linke has served on the University of Cincinnati IRB for over 20 years and was appointed Chair in 2004. Dr. Linke is a Health Science Officer at the Cincinnati VA Medical Center and an Associate Professor at the UC College of Medicine. In 2012, under his leadership the UC IRB Social and Behavioral IRB merged with the Medical IRB to form a single IRB that reviews all human subjects research conducted at UC. He now serves as Chair of the combined board. He led the formation of the National Institutes of Health StrokeNet Central IRB and serves as Chair of the Central IRB. StrokeNet is funded by the NIH to conduct clinical trials for stroke prevention, treatment, and recovery. UC serves as the National Clinical Coordinating Center and the network consists of 25 Regional Coordinating Centers with over 300 clinical sites. Awarded the Greater Cincinnati Health Council’s first ever Servant Leadership Award for his efforts in creating and leading the Consortium of Greater Cincinnati IRBs He also serves in various roles in the VA human subjects protection program and has been actively involved in the human subjects research accreditation processes at UC and the VA.
Jane Strasser is the Associate Vice President for Research and Comparative Medicine at UC. As UC’s Institutional Official she is responsible for ensuring that the Human Research Protection Program is supported and compliant. As the Research Integrity Officer she is responsible for investigating allegations of research misconduct and protecting the integrity of the research record. Dr. Strasser is an Associate Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and the Director of the Office of Research Integrity.
Sarah Sijelmassi’s Attraction to Cincinnati Law’s LLM Program
Sarah Sijelmassi grew up in a place many people think of as a luxury vacation destination: the South of France. But these days, she’s more interested in soaking up legal knowledge in Cincinnati than sunshine in Toulouse.
Sijelmassi’s initial attraction to Cincinnati Law was the LL.M. program’s tailored approach. “The classes were so specific to what I wanted to learn,” she says, including courses in Copyright Law, Patent Law and Patent Office, Computer and Internet Law, Trademark and Unfair Competition Law, and Advertising Law. She also found the faculty roster at Cincinnati Law impressive, including Professor Timothy K. Armstrong, whose teaching and research interests focus on copyright and other intellectual property law.
Having graduated with a master’s degree in intellectual property law from Université de Montpellier in 2014, Sijelmassi wanted to deepen her knowledge and skills from a US perspective. The goal: To be able to practice IP law anywhere in the US or Europe.
“I wanted to be a doctor, but I couldn’t because I’m super bad at math,” she says with a laugh. Instead, Sijelmassi hopes she can contribute to the world of medicine using her legal savvy and passion for science—either at a US or EU-based pharmaceutical or medical research company.
Having spent a few months post-graduation living with family in Washington, DC, she improved her English and got the chance to observe how the American legal system works. “The atmosphere is very different,” she says, comparing the collaborative, team-based approach she witnessed in DC versus the more individual process of law firms where she worked in France.
Sijelmassi plans to finish her LL.M. studies at Cincinnati Law in May 2017. She’d like to stay on while preparing for her bar exams—potentially in both Ohio and New York—before making the next professional move. “Cincinnati is the perfect size. It’s a human-sized city,” she says.
Drew Lehmkuhl’s 8 Year Journey to Law School
“It’s not about what brought me here, it’s about what kept me here,” said triple Bearcat Drew Lehmkuhl about his decision to pursue three separate degrees at the same university.
Lehmkuhl, who will be a 1L this fall, is entering his eighth year at the University of Cincinnati. He earned his undergraduate degree in neuroscience, and recently completed his master’s degree in experimental psychology, defending his thesis at the end of June.
Growing up in Northern Kentucky as the son of a University of Cincinnati graduate, Lehmkuhl was always a huge fan of UC sports. Even so, attending UC was not the original plan. Set to start school at the University of Louisville, he changed his mind at the last second.
“I took a leap of faith,” he stated, recalling his last-minute decision to attend a school where he wouldn’t know anyone. After leaping, however, he landed on his own two feet
Lehmkuhl knew that he had made the right decision when he realized that what Cincinnati boasts about is true: a big school, but a tight-knit community. After becoming involved on-campus, particularly in the “unbelievable research” and interdisciplinary collaboration that was available as an undergraduate student, he felt right at home.
Four years simply was not enough time, and Lehmkuhl found himself wanting to continue on in the science field and to become more involved in research. He credits the university with focusing on practical skills to complement textbook learning, a balance that assured him UC was the right place for his graduate education.
Although the setting was the same, there were major differences between Lehmkuhl’s undergraduate and graduate education. Many of his peers had not attended the university for undergraduate, and he described showing them around campus as “being with a bunch of older freshmen.” A thirst for learning was more obvious in these “freshmen” than many of those with whom Lehmkuhl had entered UC, however.
Many undergraduate students, particularly in the beginning of their higher education careers, are more focused on passing a general education class or earning a specific grade on an exam than truly learning and absorbing the information presented to them. In graduate school, Lehmkuhl noticed, mindsets shifted towards truly learning materials in order to later apply them to practice. “It was awesome having a close group of driven students around me who are very passionate about what they do in their fields,” he said.
As a graduate student, Lehmkuhl was able to take a more involved role in research, and work more closely with faculty members. Between his undergraduate and graduate degrees, he has been able to work in many areas, including psychology, biology, and neurology, and worked at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in the area of human genetics.
Even with a positive atmosphere and attitude, eight years of continuous schooling, with three more to go, can seem daunting. But not to Lemkuhl.
Since he has had the past year and a half off of classes, working 40 hours a week on intensive research programs, Lemkuhl is ready to be a student again. “When you’re working, it doesn’t feel like school,” he said. “I think this break time, though, has served a purpose. I love being in the classroom and can’t wait to get back.”
In addition to his work, Lemkuhl has taught classes the past six semesters, most recently research methods and statistics in behavioral sciences. Whether it was seeing concepts click into place, or the journey from glassy-eyed at the start to engaged and excited at the end, he enjoyed his stint as a teacher, and would absolutely do it again in the future.
For law school, Lehmkuhl’s area of interest lies in intellectual property. This stems from his experiences at UC, where he worked with individuals who inspired and amazed him each day.
“I want to continue working with brilliant people,” Lehmkuhl asserted. “I want to be a facilitator, a legal advocate, for these brilliant people who are doing work like this, who have brilliant ideas. And I want to protect those ideas.”
Author: Michelle Flanagan, ‘18, Communication Intern
Professor Sandra Sperino’s Work Cited by Third Circuit, Creates Circuit Split
A decision out of the Third Circuit has created a circuit split with three other circuits. On January 10, 2017, the Third Circuit issued an opinion in Karlo v. Pittsburg Glass Works, LLC, No. 15-3435. The Third Circuit held that subgroup claims are allowed in ADEA disparate impact cases, creating a circuit split on the issue. A subgroup claim is when a group of workers tries to establish disparate impact by proving that a subset of older workers were disparately impacted by a decision. For example, in a reduction in force, the employees might argue that workers 50 and older were impacted by the reduction in force compared to workers younger than 50. Read the complete blog posting and Professor Sperino’s article The Sky Remains Intact: Why Allowing Subgroup Evidence is Consistent with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 90 Marq. L. Rev. 227 (2006).
Read: Friend of the Court
University of Cincinnati College of Law Names Assistant Dean for Academics and Diversity
Staci Rucker has joined the College of Law in the newly created position of Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs, Student Affairs and Diversity.
Cincinnati, OH—The University of Cincinnati College of Law has named Staci Patterson Rucker its first-ever Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs, Student Affairs and Diversity. This new position reflects the law school’s continued commitment to fostering an intellectually challenging and diverse learning environment, a value that is embraced by the University of Cincinnati also.
“It is a true honor to appoint someone of Dean Staci Rucker’s high caliber as the first administrator at Cincinnati Law to have the word “diversity” in her title,” said Jennifer S. Bard, Dean and Nippert Professor of Law at the law school. “Dean Rucker’s role is also a new one in that she is focused on students. She has already improved the quality of life for students at the law school by developing, with Associate Dean Mank, a new system of subject matter based academic advising as well as streamlining some of the students administrative tasks in the areas of registration and exams. I also know that many students have already benefited from her good judgment and sound advice—I know I certainly have and look forward to working with her for many years to come.” As assistant dean, Rucker is responsible for the administration of student services and the hands-on management of student issues. “Whether it is academic planning, disability services, a leave of absence, or faculty/student relations, I strive to be students’ first stop for answers and support,” says Rucker. “I am also a resource for faculty and staff. If [a faculty or staff member] is concerned about a student, I will work with them to develop a plan to support a student who may be in crisis.”
While the college has always had an academic and student affairs dean or director, Rucker is the college’s first dean for diversity. “As the College’s first dean for diversity, I will have tremendous responsibilities to architect the college’s efforts to define, cultivate and support a more diverse and inclusive campus environment and legal community in Cincinnati,” she says. “These responsibilities will be interpreted and acted upon by collaborating with leaders of a variety centers, offices and initiatives within the College and the greater Cincinnati community that already support diversity and inclusion efforts.”
Rucker is an experienced leader in higher education. Prior to joining the College of Law, she was assistant dean for student affairs at the University of Dayton School of Law. In that role, Rucker was the visionary behind the development of Dayton Law’s learning communities, dean’s fellows and academic advising programs. She was also responsible for advising all student groups; overseeing the coordination of orientation and graduation; and counseling students on a range of issues including professional development, academic concerns, and incidents of bias and harassment. The opportunity to join the College of Law, however, was one she couldn’t pass up.
“The University of Cincinnati is an internationally-renowned university and impacts every aspect of the city. The university’s commitment to diversity is nationally and internationally respected. It is an exciting time to be at UC and I am honored to be a part of it.”
A summa cum laude graduate of Howard University and a graduate of Harvard Law School, Rucker began her career as an attorney at law firms in Washington, DC and Atlanta, GA. After transitioning to North Carolina, she joined the ranks of academia and administration, serving as interim director of Academic Support at North Carolina Central University School of Law, where she also taught an upper-level legal writing course. Later, she clerked for the Honorable James A. Wynn, Jr., formerly on the North Carolina Court of Appeals and now on the Fourth Circuit, before coming to the Ohio Valley.
Reflecting on the importance of and her personal philosophy about diversity and inclusion, Dean Rucker shared the following: “It is not just the presence of diversity on a campus or a practice of tolerance or acceptance of differences that makes a campus community inclusive; rather, it is an active strategy to harness and value differences to achieve an institution’s overall mission. I look forward to engaging in open and honest dialogue with students, faculty, staff and alumni to build an exemplary law school where diversity and inclusion are valued and interwoven seamlessly into every aspect of the College and the community it serves. ”
About the University of Cincinnati College of Law
Founded in 1833, the University of Cincinnati College of Law recognizes diversity as a core value. The law school introduced the nation’s first joint JD/MA Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies program in 1995 and continues to lead and innovate with initiatives such as the Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice. The school’s commitment to improving diversity in the legal profession includes introducing youth to careers in law at an early age through inclusion in the Law & Leadership Institute, a program to help increase minority representation in Ohio’s law schools, and Summer Work Experience in Law (SWEL), a program sponsored by the Black Lawyers Association of Cincinnati-Cincinnati Bar Association Round Table, to expose minority high school and college students to the legal field.
Professor Jacob Katz Cogan Named 2016 Harold C. Schott Scholarship Award Recipient
University of Cincinnati College of Law recognizes the scholarly achievements of international law expert Professor Jacob Katz Cogan with its annual Harold C. Schott Scholarship Award.
Cincinnati, OH—International law expert Jacob Katz Cogan, the Judge Joseph P. Kinneary Professor of Law, is the newest recipient of the Harold C. Schott Scholarship Award. Each year, this award recognizes outstanding research and scholarly achievement by a member of the faculty of the University of Cincinnati College of Law.
“Professor Cogan is an influential, internationally recognized scholar,” says Cincinnati Law Dean Jennifer S. Bard. “His current research is shedding new light on international law that will have a significant impact on the global legal community.”
An influential, internationally recognized scholar, Professor Cogan’s recent work has focused on international organizations, as well as “operational international law”—the informal (and sometimes hidden) rules that are created through the practices and understandings of states and international institutions. He is the co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of International Organizations (2016) and Looking to the Future: Essays on International Law in Honor of W. Michael Reisman (2011), and his articles and essays have appeared in the American Journal of International Law, the European Journal of International Law, the Harvard International Law Journal, and the Yale Journal of International Law, among other journals. One of his articles was awarded the prestigious Francis Deák Prize of the American Society of International Law.
Professor Cogan is an active member of the American Society of International Law and an elected member of the American Law Institute. He teaches a variety of international courses, as well as contracts, and has been awarded the College of Law’s Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Since 2007, he has edited the International Law Reporter, a widely read blog on scholarship, events, and ideas in international law, international relations, and associated disciplines.
Immediately prior to joining the College of Law, Professor Cogan served as an attorney-adviser in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the U.S. Department of State. He is a recipient of the Department’s Superior Honor Award. He earned his J.D. from the Yale Law School, his M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University, and his B.A., magna cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania.
As this year’s Schott Award recipient, Professor Cogan will present a public lecture during the upcoming year.