3L Ashton Tucker Shares What it’s Like to Win Her First Jury Trial
Working at the City of Cincinnati’s Prosecutor’s Office has been the most rewarding experience of my law school career. This is especially true after I received my limited license in July. When my office asked me to try a case to a jury, I jumped at the chance. Not only is this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a law student, I’d also had a number of near misses – missed opportunities to work on a jury trial due to last minute plea deals and other unforeseen reasons. It felt like a great honor to be asked; that they would trust me with such immense responsibility was humbling. My supervisor (another Cincinnati Law grad, Chris Liu) handed me the file, promised me we’d try the case together (I still have to be supervised, naturally), and sent me on my way.
Of course, reality set in soon. I was terrified. I’d had bench trials before, but the stakes are higher with a jury. You have to make eight people believe in your theory – in your interpretation of the facts. I’m a third-year law student and only two semesters removed from a Criminal Procedure class. What do I even know about the law anyway?
Well, the truth is, I knew more than I thought. I knew that preparation was key and so, I spent two days coming up with questions for direct examination. I knew from first year Advocacy not to read from a script, but instead, to remember an outline and speak authoritatively – even when your hands are shaking. I learned how and when to object from Evidence.
In the end, it was what I learned at Cincinnati Law that helped me win over the jury and get a conviction.
From Working on the Human Rights Quarterly to Working Inside the International Criminal Court… Erin Rosenberg’s Winding Career
From January 8 through 12, Cincinnati Law had the pleasure of seeing one of its alumni, Erin Rosenberg (Class of ’11) return to teach JD students a specialized week-long course in international criminal law, a relatively new and fascinating field.
When Rosenberg graduated Cincinnati Law, she embarked on a different journey than the one she had intended to undertake when she began her legal studies. She recalls:
“I worked the decade before I came to law school in politics, the legislative side of things. I didn’t have any interest in international criminal law whatsoever. None. I [came] to the University of Cincinnati specifically for the Urban Morgan Institute.”
There, she had been selected as a Fellow, and she saw great opportunity in the exciting, meaningful summer internships offered by the Institute. She wanted to get involved with human rights worldwide, not criminals worldwide.
Rosenberg’s first internship was in the Republic of Botswana, where she worked for Botswana’s first female Judge, Unity Dow at the High Court. All was going according to plan, and she was gaining valuable experience in the sort of international law she intended to pursue professionally.
Her second summer, however, saw her initial internship plans fall through. Rosenberg was exploring potential alternatives when Professor Bert B. Lockwood suggested working for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). She “didn’t have anything else set up,” so she took the suggestion, not yet realizing what a pivotal step this would be (she knew, of course, that it sounded pretty cool for a plan B).
Through this work, Rosenberg “fell in love with international criminal law.” She finished her JD, passed the bar exam, and immediately returned to the ICTY, where she worked for one more year.
She was then recruited to the International Criminal Court (ICC), where she has worked since 2012.
The ICC serves a different purpose than many might expect. Its functions are separate from those within the Human Right’s field, like dealing with shortages of food and water. Its purpose is instead to bring to justice and make reparations for international crimes. States must voluntarily agree to become member states, and at present, 123 from around the world have agreed to do so.
Rosenberg works as an Associate Legal Officer, which she explains is essentially the equivalent of a law clerk for a judge.
Almost immediately after she arrived at the ICC, the first reparations case in the court’s history had come to the Appeals Chamber. It was an entirely new type of case for the ICC, and it became Rosenberg’s responsibility to make sense of it. She recalls that she “developed a unique background and expertise in reparations simply because I was there.”
In 2015, Silvia Fernández became President of the ICC and asked Rosenberg to become her legal officer in the Appeals Division—a great honor and an immense responsibility. Fernández decided that the Trust Fund for Victims (a part of the ICC that serves to implement reparations) needed legal support. For the past two years, Rosenberg “has been on loan,” as she puts it, from the Appeals Division to the Trust Fund.
Rosenberg’s work at the Trust Fund has been to figure out how to take court ordered reparations and figure out how they can be implemented. Sometimes this task calls for creativity and communication.
For instance, in the case of Lubanga Dyilo, a man convicted for crimes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the trial chamber asked Rosenberg to explore “symbolic, commemorative restorations.” The trial chamber suggested a statue that would commemorate former child soldiers.
Rosenberg spoke with the community that had been plagued by Dyilo’s activities. They were not fond of the statue idea; in their culture, statues are only for heroes, not for victims or painful memories. They stated that they would prefer something interactive to something static. In consulting them, Rosenberg found that the community would prefer a center where former child soldiers could come together and heal through programs in which “art, dance, and painting give them a chance to tell their own stories.”
Rosenberg presented the community’s view to the Trial Chamber, and the center was built.
Rosenberg brings wisdom to UC Law students who are looking for opportunities abroad. Her course provided an introduction to international criminal law and also explored reparations, examining what they are in a criminal context and how they are implemented in that context.
She advises UC Law students not to assume that members of the European legal community will be familiar with UC or even the Urban Morgan Institute. Rather, she says, “If you say, ‘I worked on the Human Rights Quarterly,’ everyone knows what that is. When I was hired at the ICC and went to the interview, on the bookshelf of the person who was interviewing me was the most recent copy of HRQ.” Rosenberg insists that if you take advantage of the opportunity to work for the journal, read the
articles, and attend the dinners, more doors will open up for you. “It is one of the most well-known and well-respected publications in the field.”
By: Pete Mills, communication graduate assistant
Learning from a Legal Giant: My Week with Professor Arthur Miller
By: Connor Organ, Third-year Law Student
Few law students have the opportunity to learn from a professor who wrote the leading casebooks and treatises on the course’s subject. Even fewer students are fortunate enough to learn from a professor who argued in nearly every landmark case related to the case over the last several decades. And even fewer law students have the opportunity to learn from a professor who can tell stories about sharing jokes and arguments with almost every Supreme Court justice in the last 25 years. But the Chesley Lecture at the College of Law granted less than a dozen students with an intimate learning experience from that professor, Arthur R. Miller.
Professor Miller, University Professor at New York University Law School, is the nation’s leading scholar in the field of civil procedure. He is co-author, with the late Chares Wright, of Federal Practice and Procedure. Miller and Wright are among the most-often cited and well-regarded law treatise writers in the field.
Over a five-day short course on aggregate litigation, Professor Miller discussed class actions and multidistrict litigation. More specifically, the course covered class certification, class types, class counsel, forum selection and rival proceedings, class settlements, and alternative dispute resolution related to aggregate litigation (only a fraction of which is summarized below).
He tied the course together with the theme of diminishing access to courts. As Professor Miller explained, “only a fool or an idiot sues for $30.” At the same time, however, how do you make a group of plaintiffs who individually lack feasible lawsuits whole? For one, plaintiffs might never be made “whole” since, as he explained, “the quest for the perfect is the enemy of the good.” Nonetheless, the law must support aggregate litigation that provides finality for the liable defendant and an adequate remedy for the wronged plaintiff. In Professor Miller’s view, Rule 23 and its case law no longer do that, which effectively denies wronged parties their day in court.
To illustrate his point, Professor Miller explained that although the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) lists four prerequisites, there are two additional, unmentioned requirements that a class must satisfy to become certified: the class must be definable; and the representative has to be a member of the class. Those seemed pretty straightforward.
But then Miller pointed out several less obvious, yet critical prerequisites within Rule 23, which he helped write. He showed that while Rule 23 does not classify any other sections as prerequisites for class certification, in practice Rule 23(b) (which categorizes types of class actions) becomes a significantly difficult prerequisite. The difficulty derives from strategic implications that attorneys must consider when packaging their clients into one or more of Rule 23(b)’s three types. These implications involve preclusion, damages, opting out, and choice of law, among others. In effect, class type is critical because it sets parameters for class certification, the driving force of all class action litigation. And while this oversimplified summary is just one facet of Professor Miller’s course, it built the foundation for additional discussion on other important topics within the areas of class actions and MDLs.
Beyond explaining how policies shaped the laws of class actions and MDLs, how the law has developed, and how attorneys and courts apply the current law, Professor Miller interwove fascinating personal experience to draw the class’s attention and encourage unique perspectives. In doing so, he transformed the course from a difficult analysis of complex law to a consumable storyline from which practical application logically followed. I am grateful to Professor Miller for his time and insight into his area of expertise. As a down-to-earth intellectual, he entertained us and at the same time taught several practical, valuable areas of the law in just five days. My only complaint is that the course wasn’t longer.
Call to Action: Connecting Students to the Profession
Now more than ever, alumni play a pivotal role in student career development. When it comes to careers “experience matters,” says Mina Jones Jefferson '90, Chief of Staff, Associate Dean and Director, Center for Professional Development (CPD). Connecting students to alumni is an active pursuit among the CPD, six-attorney team because they know that through networking students refine their career aspirations and make informed employment decisions. “We need your time and your experiences,” says Dean Jefferson. “When students call, be responsive. You may feel that you have little to offer, but your time is everything. If appropriate let them visit your office or attend a function with you…show them what lawyers do.”
The CPD strikes a balance between introducing students to alumni on campus as well as integrating students into the broader legal community. On any given day you will find an alumnus/a on campus serving as a panelist, interviewing students or networking with students at a Coffee Corner or lunchtime event. The CPD also enjoys formalized alumni support through the College’s Board of Visitors (BOV). Led by Dan Buckley ’74, the BOV Professional Development Committee actively partners with CPD to identify and cultivate experiences for students, be it symposia or the expansion of an existing program like C-Start.
Making An Impact
The CPD hosts a variety of programs that expose students to the workplace and two of the most impactful thrive on alumni support – Catalyst and C-Start.
Catalyst is an eight week, micro-mentoring program that delivers a big impact with a small investment of time. Catalyst folds our students into the lives of attorneys and provides practical exposure to the profession. Typically, attorneys introduce students to their work setting and attend an additional event such as a bar association event, a community-based event/program, or a committee meeting; however, you determine what works best.
Although Catalyst draws volunteers from the entire legal community, it is very popular with by Cincinnati Law alumni.
Catalyst 2018 begins on Friday, February 16, 2018, 3:30-5:00 p.m. at the College of Law and concludes the week of April 16, 2018. More than 300 students have benefitted from the program and the impact on our legal community is just as strong. The February Kickoff is devoted to planning. There you will meet your student group. Based on their interests and stated goals and your calendar, you determine when to meet again. In general you are paired with another attorney and together you are assigned three to four students to mentor.
Alumni partnerships increasingly differentiate law schools in the graduate employment arena. Enter C-START, a corporate graduate fellowship program. These one-year, full-time opportunities are as competitive as judicial clerkships and provide a strong foundation on which graduates can build a career in corporate law. During the year, the fellow develops a valuable skill set which allows them to become more qualified for future employment opportunities.
With the help of alumnus Steve Ewald ’94, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Medpace, Inc., Cincinnati Law launched C-START as a pilot opportunity in 2015. Brian Higgins ’15 was the first C-START fellow and worked at Medpace, Inc. for a period of one year, following graduation. He is now an associate in Frost Brown Todd’s Health Law Practice.
“This is a mutually beneficial program that provides new UC Law graduates with great opportunities to gain valuable, supervised in-house legal experience, while providing us as an employer with bright, motivated and enthusiastic new lawyers. We have been so pleased with the program and we have seen strong competition from the soon to be graduating class and very high ranking candidates who have applied. This is not a program of last resort for students seeking jobs, it is an affirmative choice, and that comes through clearly in the quality and quantity of candidates we have seen”. --Steve Ewald, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Medpace, Inc.
Jefferson said that the College is actively seeking alumni participants for both programs – Catalyst and C-Start. The deadline for Catalyst is quickly approaching. If you are unable to participate perhaps you know someone who can. Similarly If you are interested in learning more about C-Start, please contact her (email@example.com) or Paula Lampley ‘92 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Giving Back With Your Time & Talents
For double Bearcat Tom Cuni (BA 1969, JD 1975), the practice of law is about more than bringing home a paycheck.
“People who come to law have this imperative to help people and make a living,” says Cincinnati Law alum Tom Cuni.
“There’s a good deal of satisfaction in doing that.” Cuni has had a long, successful career, primarily spent representing small businesses. As a partner at Cuni, Ferguson & LeVay Co., LPA, he represented clients in 600+ civil cases with approximately 100 going to trial to either the bench or a jury. These days he no longer represents clients in his legal practice, but he does volunteer his time for work in the Hamilton County Juvenile Court along with helping local non-profits and mentoring law students.
Getting Started on the Volunteer Train
Cuni started volunteering at Cincinnati Law a few years ago when, speaking at a Coffee Corner hosted by the Center for Professional Development, he learned the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic (ECDC) needed supervising attorneys. “I thought it’d be a good fit,” he commented.
Cuni’s decades of small firm experience and background in representing small businesses made him a great fit for ECDC. He spent several semesters supervising and mentoring clinic students, even working over the summer with them at the Hamilton County Business Center and Mortar, a local entrepreneurship lab.
“I really have a good time,” he said.
In addition to supervising, he was worked with the ECDC to bring legal seminars to the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati; he also plans to assist with organizing a seminar for Mortar clients later this year.
“The Clinic has a remarkable learning curve,” he said. “You can see a significant difference in the students from the start to the end of the semester. That’s one of reasons I love volunteering to work with law students, especially at the start of their careers.
“Besides, I like being busy,” Cuni, who jokingly refers to himself as ‘semi-retired,’ said.
He shared that he likes to be involved. In fact, for most of his professional life, he has been involved in some form of volunteer work, starting with the local Bar Association in the 90s. This led to position as a trustee on the board and, eventually, to the position as Cincinnati Bar Association Board president. “This took a good deal of my time, but I realized my business did very well when I was very busy.” He acknowledged he learned to manage his time efficiently and make decisions quickly. He didn’t have time to waste.
But as Cuni left the role of board president, he was approached by three representatives involved with ProKids, a non-profit organization which provides help for abused, neglected, or dependent children who are involved in proceedings in the Hamilton County Juvenile Court. They invited him to bring his skills and talents to that board and organization. Now, he spends two to three days per week volunteering as an attorney for ProKids’ Guardians ad Litem who look after the best interest of the children in the court system.
“I started as a litigator and I created my job all over. It’s just for free now,” he says.
“I rarely see the kids I help. I deal with the guardian ad litem. A good amount of the time, though, the kids really benefit. I like to believe that their lives are changed for the better in part because of the work that I do.”
Connecting the Dots; Paying it Forward
After a hearing one day, Magistrate Scheherazade Washington spoke with him about the need for more lawyers to work in this this practice area. “I asked her ‘What does this mean to me? Am I supposed to do something?’ The magistrate smiled and said yes.”
After getting some good advice on the subject, Cuni helped bring together Tracy Cook, the Executive Director of ProKids and a UC law alum; Verna Williams, now interim dean of the College; and Kimberly Helfrich, the Director of the Guardian ad Litem Division of the Hamilton County Public Defender’s Office to talk about what they could do to start addressing this issue.
The result was a Juvenile Law class which takes students through a typical juvenile court case. “I think the class was very successful and I hope it continues,” Cuni said.
Not content to volunteer in just these areas, Cuni also is working with ECDC Director Lew Goldfarb on a new project that would expand legal services in the community. “It is an interesting project we’re developing,” he said. More details will be coming soon!
For Cuni, volunteering isn’t just about doing what he feels is right. It also has practical implications.
“People hire who they know. Join community organizations. Meet people. Talk with them. Volunteer your time and skills. It doesn’t immediately result in business, but over time people will get to know you and will hire you—because they know who you are (and have worked alongside you)” says Cuni.
“You can find real satisfaction from that part of your life [volunteering]. Personally, I know I’ve helped with projects that have value and that I’ve helped to influence. You get the sense you’re helping to make positive changes.
“And that’s a good feeling.”
Professor Mark Godsey Named 2018 Harold C. Schott Scholarship Award Recipient
Cincinnati, OH— Verna Williams, interim dean at the College of Law, has announced that Professor Mark Godsey, veteran prosecutor, professor and director of the College’s Ohio Innocence Project, is this year’s recipient of the Harold C. Schott Scholarship Award. This award recognizes outstanding research and scholarly achievement by a member of the faculty of the University of Cincinnati College of Law. Professor Godsey will deliver a public lecture in the next academic year.
Professor Godsey is the Daniel P. and Judith L. Carmichael Professor of Law and Director of the Lois and Richard Rosenthal Institute for Justice/Ohio Innocence Project. His scholarship focuses on wrongful convictions and police interrogation. Professor Godsey and the staff and students in the Ohio Innocence Project have thus far freed 25 individuals who were wrongfully convicted and incarcerated in the state of Ohio.
His book, BLIND INJUSTICE: A FORMER PROSECUTOR EXPOSES THE PSYCHOLOGY AND POLITICS OF WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS, was published by the University of California Press in the fall of 2017. It was selected for "best book of 2017" lists and has been favorably reviewed and widely discussed in the national media from Salon and Daily Kos to Time, The Economist and The Nation. In December, the Cincinnati Opera announced that it is creating an opera based on the book, to premiere in 2019. A television series based on the book is also currently in the works.
From 2008 to 2017, Professor Godsey served on the Executive Board of the Innocence Network, the organization representing Innocence Projects in the United States and around the world, and currently serves as co-chair of the Network's International Committee. He has been a leading figure in spreading awareness of wrongful convictions, and with assisting lawyers and scholars in other countries to establish mechanisms for fighting wrongful convictions. Professor Godsey has widely lectured and consulted on the subject in Asia, Africa and Europe, and serves on the board of the European Innocence Network.
Professor Godsey is also a regular commentator on issues relating to criminal law and wrongful conviction in both the local and national press, and has appeared nationally on Larry King Live, Dateline NBC, CNN, ESPN, BBC, Forensic Files, and NPR among others. He is frequently quoted in papers and magazines across the country, including The New York Times, Newsweek, People and the Wall Street Journal. In 2017, Time highlighted Professor Godsey as a leading figure in the movement, profiling his career and many of his cases over the years. He is also the editor of the Wrongful Convictions Blog and a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post and Psychology Today.
Real-world Internship Solidified former OIP Fellow’s Desire to work in Indigent Defense
Chris Collman was an Ohio Innocence Project fellow during the last academic year and co-president of the College of Law’s Public Interest Law Group. He also worked in the Hamilton County Public Defender’s Office. Over the summer, he lent some help to John Kennedy, who was working on the Joshua Maxton case. A winner of the Clarence Elkins scholarship, Collman was one of five UC third-year law students selected to intern for the full year at the Indigent Defense Clinic through the Hamilton County PD office.
— By Chris Collman
I was a fellow with OIP last year. I have been involved with the Hamilton County Public Defender’s office since January 2016.
First, I was with the Guardian ad Litem Division for a semester [providing services in Hamilton County Juvenile Court, investigating what solutions would be in the “best interests of a child” in cases where a complaint has been filed alleging a child to be abused, neglected, or dependent]. Then I was with the Felony Division for the summer and now work with the Indigent Defense Clinic, which allowed me to have my own municipal cases.
OIP was a wonderful experience that really cemented my desire to work in indigent defense. I also learned great investigative and client relation skills. Most important, it taught me the importance of conducting a thorough investigation early on because it only gets more difficult with time.
As for John’s (Maxton) murder trial, I helped review a bit of evidence, but that was it. It was a tremendous win for John, and having watched the case, I am confident that it was the correct decision.
OIP Internship Develops Criminal Defense Passion
Maxel Moreland was an Ohio Innocence Project fellow during the last academic year. During summer 2016, Moreland worked as a legal intern for the felony division, Office of the Hamilton County Public Defender, where he helped attorney and UC Law alum John Kennedy work on the case involving Joshua Maxton, an indigent client acquitted of murder. Moreland was one of five UC third-year law students selected to intern for the full year at the Indigent Defense Clinic through the Hamilton County PD office during the 2016/2017 academic year. Moreland also served as the inaugural president of UC Law’s National Association for Public Defense chapter, the first student chapter in the country.
By Maxel Moreland
Hearing that Joshua Maxton was acquitted of all of his charges last year was elating! The entire Public Defender’s office was buzzing with excitement.
Last year, I assisted John Kennedy by looking through phone records and by attempting to track down a witness. I had previously reviewed phone records on a case for OIP, so it was great to use the skills I had already learned to work on an ongoing murder trial.
The phone records we received from the police ended up not matching those from the phone company. The inconsistency was addressed at trial and may have played a part in creating reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors. Unfortunately, I could not track down the witness.
I started interning with the Hamilton County PD Felony Division during the summer. Mainly, I assisted felony attorneys with their cases, observed court, and argued bond hearings. As a fellow with the Indigent Defense Clinic (IDC), I was allowed to serve as a public defender with a truncated caseload. I handled cases from the moment they make it to the PD office until the end of trial or when the client takes a plea.
The Ohio Innocence Project provided me with the skills to conduct better interviews with clients and witnesses. It also taught me to think outside the box when it comes to constructing a defense for my clients.
My Ohio Innocence Project experience was life-changing and truly opened my eyes to the injustices served by our justice system. Pouring over these old cases and attempting to find new evidence of innocence is hard, but rewarding, work.
I think that I most enjoyed the investigatory aspect of the Ohio Innocence Project. It was always an adventure to seek out witnesses, especially adverse witnesses. The experience made me a more compassionate person and greatly strengthened my interviewing and interpersonal skills.
After working with the Ohio Innocence Project, it was refreshing to see a case conclude and receive that instant gratification. While the Ohio Innocence Project is a rewarding experience, it can be taxing to work on cases and know that they will not be resolved anytime soon. The work I do now with the IDC is incredibly fulfilling as I get to help clients at one of the hardest points of their lives while getting the instant gratification of completing a case.
The experiences that I have had with the Ohio Innocence Project and at the Hamilton County PD greatly influenced me and accelerated my passion for criminal defense work!
A Semester Review (... and a Sneak Peek at 2018!)
Fall @ Cincinnati Law (A Recap)
Fall 2017 at Cincinnati Law was full of interesting programming designed for professional growth; great opportunities for networking with the local legal community; and fun events that brought together students, staff, faculty, alumni and friends.
Here’s a brief snapshot:
The academic year kicked off with Welcome Week for our LLM students. It was followed by Week 1, the first week of law school for first-year students. In addition to introducing students to the rigors of law school, getting the layout of the law building, and meeting professors, it was also a great time for fun and games – courtesy of the SBA Cookout. 8.7.17-8.18.17
The LLM Program at the law school hosted Dr. Ildiko Szegedy-Maszak, affiliated with Universidad Pontificia Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia University, for the lecture “International Trade: Why a Balanced World Trade Regulation is Imperative for the Well Being of All.” Her lecture addressed the question of why rigid protectionism is not the answer for world trade created local problems. 8.17.17.
The UC Law Alumni Association hosted its summer social at Rhinehaus OTR, bringing together local Bearcats for an evening of fun and networking. 8.24.17.
And, the first month of school ended with the annual SBA Day of Service, an opportunity for the law school to utilize its strength in numbers and give back to the community by volunteering at locations around the city. Students, faculty, staff and local attorneys all participated in this event. 8.26.17.
Our student organizations hosted informative programs for the law student body. The Criminal Law Society hosted Professor Brian Howe'10 for a coffee corner event. The Republican Law Students organization hosted “Meet the Judges,” a non-partisan panel discussion that included members of the local and state judiciary: Justice R. Patrick DeWine, Supreme Court of Ohio; Hon. Beth A. Myers, Ohio Court of Appeals, First District; Hon. Leslie E. Ghiz, Hamilton County Common Pleas Court; Hon. Curt C. Hartman, Hamilton County Common Pleas Court; Hon. Lisa C. Allen, Hamilton County Common Pleas Court; Hon. Jackie Ginocchio, Hamilton County Municipal Court; and the Hon. Curt Kissinger, , Hamilton County Municipal Court.
Professor Kenyatta Hurd was the featured guest for the Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice Coffee Corner. UC Law Women led an event featuring the women professors at the law school to discuss the issues women face in the legal community. 9.06.17
Throughout the semester, the Cincinnati Project on Law and Business brought informative speakers to the school, including Prof. Lawrence Glosten from Columbia Business School; Professor Ian Ayres, Yale Law School; Professor Quinetta Roberson, Villanova University School of Business, to name a few.
The Constitution Day lecture featured Hon. Martha Craig Daughtrey, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. In her lecture, “The Increasing Significance of an Independent Judiciary,” she delved into the threats to judicial independence, from state judiciaries to even the federal courts. 9.18.17
Then, the College of Law, the Department of German Studies, and the European Studies Program hosted Dean Stefan Storr, University of Graz law faculty in Austria, for a week-long event, which included a lecture “National Identities in the EU as a Challenge for EU Law and National Constitutional Law.” 9.19.17
Responding to the events of the day, the Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice began a year-long series “Hard (But Urgent) Conversations,” examining various aspects of racial injustice and looking at ways the law community can play a role in addressing and impacting these issues. Their first program, “After Charlottesville…” was the first in the series. 9.28.17
The 2nd Annual Bearcat Dash & Bash brought over 1800 walkers and runners to campus, raising funds for the OIP and for UC’s Athletics Department. 10.01.17
Judges Beth Myers, Judge Marilyn Zayas and Judge Charles Miller from the Ohio First District Court of Appeals heard arguments at the law school and led discussions about the cases afterward. 10.02.17
Paul Taylor, Chief Counsel, Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, House of Representatives, presented the lecture “Federal Tort Reform: Policy, Law and Practice” as the 2017 Schwartz Lecturer. He delved into the federal tort reform’s role in our representative republic within a separation of powers system. He then discussed the legal framework that governs federal tort reform, and concluded with a discussion of the nuts and bolts of modern federal tort reform, including legislative responses to threats such as terrorism, pandemics and cyber-attacks. 10.17.17
Each fall the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic (ECDC) hosts the “Free Legal Advice to Better Your Business” Clinic in collaboration with Duke Energy Law Department. This semester was no different. Many local small business owners and entrepreneurs had the opportunity to meet with attorneys to discuss everything from contracts to trademarks/copyrights. 10.26.17
The Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights hosted the “Sir Nigel Rodley Human Rights Conference,” focusing on the contributions of the late Sir Nigel Rodley to human rights and his areas of concern, as well as the challenges currently facing the international human rights community. Leading human rights advocates came to pay tribute. 10.28.17-10.29.17
UC Law Women hosted the first “Trunk or Treat” event for over 400 children in the local community. With bags of candy, great costumes, cool music, fun was had by all. 10.28.17
University of Cincinnati President Neville Pinto visited the law school, sharing his strategic vision of the university and learning about the law school. 10.30.17
The law school hosted the program and panel discussion “Moving Beyond DACA and DAPA: What’s Possible for DREAMers Now?”. The event was moderated by Professor Yolanda Vazquez and included DACA recipients, UC representatives and attorneys from the Immigrant and Refugee Law Center. Here are a few pictures from the event. 11.01.17
The UC Law Alumni Association CLE and Annual Meeting brought together local attorneys for a day of ClE events. Topics included Ethics and Professionalism in Appellate Practice; Important Recent Cases from the Supreme Court of Ohio; What You Don’t Know about Criminal Law can Hurt You – and Your Clients; and Race, Class & Reform in the Carceral State. 11.03.17
Cincinnati Law hosted the first Celebration: ReConnect. ReImagine. ReIgnite event. This daylong lecture series and gala featured great speakers, great music, amazing food and lots of memories. With sold-out events in the morning and a jammin’ party atmosphere in the evening Cincinnati Law was “the place” to be that weekend. Guest speakers included Kathy Woeber Gardner, Sally Young, Chris Chapman, Billy Martin, and Aftab Pureval. The Exoneree Band, a group of musicians from around the country who were wrongfully convicted for a combined 100 years, were featured during the evening program. One band member, Ray Towler, was freed through the work of our own Ohio Innocence Project. Here are pictures from the event: Celebration 1 and Celebration 2. Plans are in the works to host the 2018 event. Stay tuned! 11.04.17
Professor Jacob Cogan, Judge Joseph P. Kinneary Professor of Law, gave the Harold C. Schott Lecture. His topic was “Money, International Organizations, and the Turn Away from Collective Decision-Making”. He discussed how international organizations are financed and, in particular, showed how contemporary means of financing have turned multilateral institutions into unilateralist ones. 11.15.17
Cincinnati Law’s student organizations ended the year with incredible programming that touched on “School Prayer and Other Mysteries of the Religion Clause” (ACS), Campus Speech: Can the First Amendment Tolerate Hate? (Federalist Society), Trump and Civil Liberties, and a movie screening of “Amreeka” (Muslim Law Students and ACS).
Finally, the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center hosted a program on Solitary Confinement and the Death Penalty. 11.27.17
Looking Ahead to Spring 2018
Exciting programs are in the works for spring 2018. Here’s a sneak peek:
Speech and Equality (A Discussion). Among our most prized constitutional values are those of free speech and equality. A panel of experts will discuss what the constitution requires, how to resolve apparent conflicts between these values, and the significance of each to democracy.
This event features the following: Professor Omotayo Banjo, PhD., UC College of Arts & Sciences; Professor Eric Jenkins, Ph.D., UC College of Arts & Sciences; Professor John Paul Wright, Ph.D., CECH; and Professor Ronna Schneider, UC College of Law. The panel discussion will be led by Interim Dean Verna Williams.
Date/Time: January 22, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. Location: TUC Cinema.
Blind Injustice Book Signing Event. Professor Mark Godsey, Director of the OIP, will host a book signing event.
Date/Time: January 20, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. Location: Joseph Beth (Madison Rd.)
Movie Screening: Women in the Profession: Balancing the Scales”
Date/Time: February 15, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. Location: UC Law
Center for Practice CLE event (CLE 2.5 applied for)
Additional information coming soon.
Date: February 16, 2018 Location: UC Law
Judge in Residence Lecture. The Hon. Shira Scheindlin, former US District Court Judge will present “Race & Policing in the 21st Century: A Difficult Relationship”. She will trace the history of the relationship between law enforcement and race from the Civil War to the present. (CLE)
Date/Time: February 27, 2018 at 12:15 p.m. Location: Rm. 114, UC Law
YWCA Racial Justice Breakfast. The annual key note address will be livestreamed at the College of Law. Speaker will be Fania Davis, co-founder and executive director, Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth.
Date/Time: March 28, 2018 at 8:00 a.m. Location: Rm. 118, UC Law
Professor Osagie Obasogie will present "A Fear of Too Much Justice: Revisiting McCleskey v. Kemp After 30 Years” as the Robert S. Marx lecturer. Professor Obasogie is the Hass Distinguished Chair and Professor of Bioethics, University of California, Berkeley, in the Joint Medical Program and School of Public Health. (CLE)
Date/Time: April 12, 2018 at 12:15 p.m. Location: Rm. 114, UC Law
The College will convene an interdisciplinary conference on the challenges to racial equality faced by Europe and the United States. “Transatlantic Approaches to Racial Equality:” Convergences & Divergences” will explore critical race theory and racial formation; intersectionality, civil society, and social movements; representation and media; and remedies, government enforcement, and private litigation. Keynote speaker will be Professor Cheryl Harris, UCLA School of Law. This event is sponsored by the Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice, the European student Program, and the German Studies Department.
Dates: April 12-13, 2018 Location: UC Law
The Power of Storytelling: The Ohio Innocence Project, Cincinnati Opera Collaboration Brings Exonerees' Stories to Life
The Ohio Innocence Project and Cincinnati Opera’s new venture brings to the stage the experiences of the wrongfully convicted in a unique form—an opera—to debut in 2019.
Cincinnati, OH—The Ohio Innocence Project (OIP) at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, Cincinnati Opera, and the Young Professionals Choral Collective (YPCC) announce the creation of a contemporary opera, Blind Injustice. The opera is based on Cincinnati Law Professor Mark Godsey’s book by same name and interviews with six OIP exonerees. Blind Injustice will bring to life the grace, perseverance and forgiveness of these incredible men and women. Premiering during the 2019 opera season, this is the first collaboration of its kind. The opera will be composed by William Menefield to a libretto by David Cote. CCM Professor Robin Guarino will act as stage director and dramaturg.
“The stories of these six exonerees are powerful tales of perseverance and forgiveness after going through an ordeal most of us can’t even imagine,” says Mark Godsey, OIP Director. “Although the stories are inspirational in their own right, the music exponentially magnifies their emotional impact. So we are incredibly excited that the public will get to learn more about Ricky Jackson, Clarence Elkins, Nancy Smith, and the East Cleveland 3 in such a compelling, moving way. These individuals are heroes, bringing them to stage and sharing them with the public in this medium is the right thing to do. We feel incredibly lucky to be working with the Opera and YPCC on this important project.”
“Blind Injustice is a story about survival and dignity and asks the question: How could our criminal justice system allow six innocent people be wrongfully accused and convicted?” says Robin Guarino, stage director and dramaturg for the opera. “It is an honor to tell their story and to work with my creative team of David Cote, librettist; William Menefield, composer; Mark Godsey, author; the OIP; the YPCC; and Cincinnati Opera on this groundbreaking project."
Interim Dean of the Cincinnati Law School, Verna Williams, says, “This extraordinary collaboration sheds light on the tragedy of wrongful convictions plaguing our criminal justice system. Even more, it will demonstrate the grace of the exonerees enduring unimaginable hardship, the steadfastness of OIP working for their freedom, and the transformative power of this project for all involved. We are thrilled to be part of this creative exercise in social justice.”
“Cincinnati Opera is looking for innovative ways to collaborate with nontraditional partner organizations in an authentic way, to tell current stories of societal importance,” said Marcus Küchle, director of artistic operations and new works development at Cincinnati Opera. “We are keenly interested in breaking through the stereotypes of what opera is in the 21st century, and this project is a perfect example of the type of new works Cincinnati Opera will pursue in future seasons.”
The Birth of Blind Injustice, the Opera
Blind Injustice is the result of a three-part collaboration between the OIP, the Young Professionals Choral Collective (YPCC), and Cincinnati Opera. The OIP’s young professionals group, which focuses on building awareness about the OIP, reached out to the YPCC, an 800-member amateur chorus, in hopes of hosting a joint event. Once the parties started talking, they realized the impact that a joint performance piece could have. Soon thereafter, the Cincinnati Opera team joined the conversations, resulting in the conception of a one-of-a-kind musical performance. This unique artistic team hopes that sharing the real-life case stories of exonerees will bring greater understanding and empathy to the work of the OIP and other innocence organizations, as well as create opportunities for broader conversations about wrongful conviction in the United States.
About the Opera
The opera will focus on the life and experiences of these OIP exonerees:
- Ricky Jackson: He spent nearly 40 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit—murdering a money-order collector. Mr. Jackson was sentenced to death; it is now known that the conviction was based on a lie of a then-12-year-old boy. At the time of his release, Mr. Jackson set the record for the longest-serving person to be exonerated in U.S. history.
- East Cleveland 3: Derrick Wheatt, Laurese Glover, and Eugene Johnson were wrongly incarcerated for 20 years. They were released after a key eyewitness recanted her testimony and after the revelation that information from police reports demonstrating their innocence had not been disclosed decades earlier.
- Clarence Elkins: He spent seven and a half years in prison for a murder and rape he did not commit. Through DNA testing, Mr. Elkins was found innocent and the real perpetrator was caught; and
- Nancy Smith: A former bus driver, she served 15 years in prison for allegedly molesting small children in her care. After being proven innocent and released, Ms. Smith’s case received national attention, including being featured on a one-hour episode of Dateline NBC.
In addition, the OIP will be represented through two characters. One will be a composite character representing Mark Godsey earlier in his career as a prosecutor and now as an innocence lawyer; the other will be a fictional OIP law student, representing all of the OIP law students who worked to free these individuals through the years.
“The unique thing about this format is that it allows us to share the story of wrongful conviction and exoneree experiences to a broad audience,” says Godsey. “These may be people whose only experience with wrongful conviction is through a television program. Now, they’ll be able to hear directly from the exonerees. They’ll share their painful stories and how they survived and overcame despite what happened to them. We know that once you hear their stories, your heart will be touched.”
Participants in the project include a variety of individuals:
- From Cincinnati Opera: Marcus Küchle, Director of Artistic Operation and New Works Development and Co-Artistic Director of Opera Fusion: New Works
- From the University of Cincinnati: Mark Godsey, the Daniel L. and Judith L. Carmichael Professor of Law and Director, OIP; Professor Robin Guarino, the J. Ralph Corbett Distinguished Chair in Opera, CCM, director and dramaturg for the opera.
- Others: William Menefield, composer; David Cote, librettist and journalist; KellyAnn Nelson, Artistic Director, YPCC.
In addition to the operatic performance piece, Blind Injustice will include opportunities for community involvement. More information will be shared as plans are completed.
Read the story in the Cincinnati Enquirer (12/8): Innocence Project Leader's Book at Heart of Cincinnati Opera's New Work