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.”
Recognized as a Best Value Law School, College of Law Receives A- Grade
The University of Cincinnati College of Law stands out as a consistent leader providing quality affordable legal education. Cincinnati Law has earned A- level recognition as a “Best Value Law School” by National Jurist magazine for the fourth consecutive year and preLaw magazine for the third consecutive year. This is the second highest Best Value ranking by the magazines.
Ranked #60 by U.S. News & World Report—positioning it among the top 50 public law schools in the nation—Cincinnati Law’s “Best Value” accomplishment is indicative of the exciting changes happening at the law school. Notably, this fall first year enrollment saw a 26% increase over 2015, which had a 38% increase in enrollment. The college’s Ohio Innocence Project/Lois and Richard Rosenthal Institute for Justice recently received a $15 million gift from benefactor Richard Rosenthal, the largest for the college and any innocence program in the country, which will provide for the program in perpetuity. And the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees approved monies to fund a concept design for a new building, development of a probable cost for new construction and a relocation study while construction is underway.
“Our consistent recognition as a top 40 “Best Value” law school reflects a Cincinnati Law degree’s high return on investment,” says College of Law Dean Jennifer S. Bard, Nippert Professor of Law. “Our students succeed at the highest level in passing the bar and in getting good jobs while at the same time enjoying low debt levels that reflect our affordable tuition and the low cost of living in our region. We are honored to be recognized and proud of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. We are also fortunate to be part of such a successful research university which enhances the value of our students’ education.”
How the ranking is determined:
Each year, the magazines release rankings of law schools across the nation, identifying those schools where graduates have excellent chances of passing the bar and getting a legal job without taking on a significant debt. Rankings are based on several determining factors:
- bar passage
- employment success
- cost of living in the surrounding communities
Looking at Cincinnati Law’s numbers, 80.7% of 2015 graduates obtained full-time, JD-required jobs within 10 months of graduation. The law school beat the state’s average, ranking second in Ohio as 86% of first-time takers passed the July 2016 Ohio Bar Exam; and ranking first in the state in the state as 76% of takers passed the February 2016 Bar Exam. And, the school has actively worked to reduce student debt by introducing a low tuition rate program ($24K), reciprocity programs with surrounding counties, and low non-resident tuition fees.
Several Cincinnati Law programs have been recognized for excellence:
- Public Interest/Criminal Law - The law school is ranked an A- school for students interested in public interest law or criminal law, based on the depth of our curricular offerings.
- Business/Corporate Law - The law school is ranked an A- school for students interested in business or corporate law, based on the depth of our curricular offerings.
- Prosecutorial/Public Defender Work - Cincinnati Law was named among the top 20 schools for law students interested in prosecutorial/public defender work.
- Prosecutor/Public Defender Careers - The law school was ranked third in the nation for prosecutor and public defender careers, based on the percentage of graduates who landed jobs in public interest and government positions combined.
- Learning By Doing - For the third consecutive year we have been named a top school for practical training, a testament to the work and impact of the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic.
Cincinnati Law Bar Results Announced; Students Exceed State Average by 15%
Today the results of the July 2016 Ohio Bar Exam were released and the University of Cincinnati College of Law, recognized as a “Best Value Law School” by National Jurist and preLaw magazines, recorded an 86 percent passage rate for all Cincinnati Law exam takers, second among Ohio’s law schools and 15 percentage points higher than the state-wide average of 70.5 percent. These numbers put the law school two percentage points behind our nearest competitor in Ohio and 10 percentage points ahead of all other Ohio law schools.
The passage rate for Cincinnati Law first-time takers also was 86 percent, second in the state. This rate exceeds the state-wide average passing rate of 76 percent. Almost 1,000 aspiring attorneys from across the state and the country took the July exam.
In addition, for those out-of-state jurisdictions that have released their outcomes, Class of 2016 results are very strong, representing a 90% pass rate, including a 100% pass rate in Indiana, Montana and West Virginia.
“Passing the bar exam is one of the singular events in every lawyer’s professional life and I warmly congratulate our students and everyone else who passed the Ohio Bar examination,” said Cincinnati Law’s Dean Jennifer S. Bard.
“Although in the end passing the bar exam is a test of an individual student’s knowledge, stamina, and analytical ability, it starts with strong teaching and support that our Cincinnati Law students get from every faculty and staff member. We have had a great year here and it reflects a truly exceptional group of faculty, staff and students strongly supported by the faculty, staff, students, and trustees of the University of Cincinnati. Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to help our students succeed. Go Bearcats!”
Applicants who successfully passed the examination and who satisfied all of the Supreme Court’s other requirements for admission will be admitted on November 7, 2016 at 10:30 a.m. during a special session of the Supreme Court at the historic Ohio Theatre in Columbus, OH. The session will be streamed live via the Supreme Court and Ohio Channel websites at www.supremecourt.ohio.gov and www.ohiochannel.org. It will also be available statewide on the Ohio Channel’s local public broadcasting stations.
Finding opportunity, growth and potential of living in Cincinnati
Betsy Emmert has deep Cincinnati roots and decided to stay here for her undergraduate and law school studies.
To be honest, my decision to stay in Cincinnati was probably predetermined for me. In true Cincinnati fashion, my parents are both from Cincinnati, and so are my grandparents – and their parents. The most exotic place from which my lineage draws back for 150 years is Bethel, Ohio.
I, too, fit the stereotypical mold in that I went to a private, all-girls high school, Skyline flows through my veins, and I say “Please?” instead of “Excuse me?” when I can’t hear what you just said. However, I would be remiss in saying I did not have the option to leave the city – for college and now for law school. I was tempted by scholarship dollars, the thought of warmer weather (or perhaps colder), and the glamour of big cities, yet my decision to begin and sustain my career in Cincinnati has evolved since I sent in my seat deposit for the University of Cincinnati in 2011.
Since high school, I have heard “I want to get out of Cincinnati” more times than John Matarese has told us, “Don’t waste your money,” on Channel 9 News. Some argue it is a “right of passage” to fly the proverbial nest and start an exciting journey at University of XYZ or take a job in Big City, USA. My reasons for staying in Cincinnati were not groundbreaking or earthshattering, and probably were more practical than they were strategic when I first entered the doors of the Lindner College of Business in September 2011. When I was 18, I chose to stay in Cincinnati for college to join the Lindner Honors-PLUS Program at UC, to be near my family, and to save money rather than venture out of state. As I look back on the past five years, I realize that staying in Cincinnati opened more doors and revealed opportunities I could never have imagined possible had I left the Queen City.
Cincinnati falls into that sweet spot. As a big small city, Cincinnati has the benefits of a larger city: sports and cultural attractions, research universities, great restaurants, outstanding parks, and strong business – without the overwhelming traffic, long commutes, high cost of living, or coastal snobbery. Most importantly, Cincinnati is resilient. Despite disappointing Bengals’ performances year after year, violent weather swings, and impossible hills, our city is proud, united and rejuvenating. Ask the “boomerang” Cincinnatians who did their five-year stints in Chicago or New York City. After living in a closet, riding the subway, and suffering from Skyline withdrawal, suddenly, Cincinnati doesn’t sound so bad after all. This is not to say that Cincinnati has it all figured out – far from it actually, but that’s why I want to stay here.
In Cincinnati, I see opportunity, growth, and potential. Behind our share of political and economic issues are leaders, professionals, and businesses united to propel Cincinnati forward. As I have learned through my co-op rotations, internships, and college courses, the necessary ingredient to our city’s future success is strong talent dedicated to the future of our city. Maybe it’s attributable to the German Catholic heritage or to the industrial roots, but nevertheless, Cincinnati welcomes and embraces natives and newcomers alike, to join a thriving community proud of its history and anticipating a bright future.
Mark Twain once said, “[w]hen the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it’s always 20 years behind the times.” Despite whether or not this held entirely true in the context of 1883, Twain’s comment may explain the apparent stigma of staying in Cincinnati ad vitum. However, I am still confident with my decision to stay in Cincinnati ... that is, of course, until I get lost on the West Side and find myself in Indiana.
Editorial published in the Cincinnati Enquirer, May 2016.
26% Increase Returns Cincinnati Law to Historic Enrollment Levels
Cincinnati, OH— It’s official. This fall, first-year enrollment at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, among the top 50 public law schools in the nation, saw a 26% increase over last year.* With a first year class of 126 JD students, not only is this group the biggest class entering the law school since 2010, it is also representative of a six percent increase in applications over the past year.
“I am very pleased to welcome a diverse and highly qualified class to join our law school community. Our students come from 21 different states, 62 different colleges and 41 different majors. In particular, I’m excited about our growing ties with the University of Cincinnati’s study body that has resulted in the enrollment of 25 “Double Bearcats” with two degrees from the University of Cincinnati and three “Triple Bearcats,” says Dean and Nippert Professor of Law Jennifer S. Bard.
In addition to the JD, the LLM Program, a year-long master’s degree program for internationally-trained attorneys and law graduates, continues to grow in size and in the quality and diversity of our students. Now in its fifth year, this year the program has enrolled 18 attorneys from ten different countries including our first ever Fulbright Scholar. Since its inception, 50 attorneys from 23 countries have come to the law school to immerse themselves in the US legal system.
All of this positive enrollment news comes on the heels of recent notable accomplishments at the law school. The college’s Ohio Innocence Project/Lois and Richard Rosenthal Institute for Justice has just received a $15 million gift from Richard Rosenthal, the largest for the College and any innocence program in the country, which will provide for the program in perpetuity. The University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees recently approved $1 million to fund a concept design for a new building, development of a probable cost for new construction and a relocation study while construction is underway.
“I attribute the increase in enrollment to an increase in awareness of the value of a Cincinnati Law degree,” explains Dean Bard. “This is the third year in a row that we have been recognized as a best value school. Employment outcomes continue to be strong; 80.7% of 2015 graduates obtained full-time, JD-required jobs within 10 months of graduation. Moreover, our students are well prepared by our high quality faculty and our nationally recognized ‘learn by doing’ program.”
Indeed, for three consecutive years Cincinnati Law has been named a top school for practical training. The law school is ranked an A- school for students interested in public interest or criminal law, based on the depth of our curricular offerings. And, “the strength of our program is evident,” says Dean Bard. “Our high quality program reflects the strides we have made over the last several years in academic and career preparation. We are excited that others are also recognizing what is happening at Cincinnati Law.”
* Final enrollment numbers submitted for certification by the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar and the Law School Admissions Council as of October 5, 2016
The Ohio Innocence Project Honors International Wrongful Conviction Day
Tonight, October 4, 2016, the Duke Energy Building will be lit in the colors yellow and white in honor of International Wrongful Conviction Day.
Cincinnati, OH—The Ohio Innocence Project/Rosenthal Institute for Justice at the University of Cincinnati College of Law is celebrating International Wrongful Conviction Day by lighting up the city’s Duke Energy Building this evening in yellow and white—the colors symbolic of the wrongful conviction movement.
In addition to the lighting event, OIP-u chapters throughout the state have hosted activities over the last few weeks to commemorate the day. Events included:
- The John Carroll University chapter welcomed members of the Exoneree Band, a touring group of former prisoners-turned musicians, to participate in a panel discussion about wrongful conviction. Participants included Raymond Towler, an OIP exoneree, as well as exonerees from across the country.
- The University of Day chapter led a discussion by Dr. Melissa Berry about the causes of wrongful conviction, incorporating examples from the Netflix series “Making a Murderer” and the personal experiences of Ohio’s exonerees.
- The Ohio State University chapter hosted an information table to promote awareness among students about wrongful conviction and the OIP.
- And, the University of Cincinnati chapter assisted with the inaugural Bearcat Dash & Bash event.
OIP-u is a college network of innocence advocates that provides an avenue for Ohio undergraduate and graduate students to get more involved in the fight for freedom of wrongfully incarcerated people. Launched just last year, six OIP-u chapters have been created: John Carroll University, Ohio University, University of Dayton, the Ohio State University, Xavier University and the University of Cincinnati.
Today’s celebration and event comes on the heels of the successful inaugural Bearcat Dash & Bash, the OIP’s walk/run event to raise awareness and funds for the organization and for the university’s Athletics Department. The event, held Sunday, October 2, involved more than 1800 participants—with nearly 1400 in the 5K walk and nearly 500 in the 18.19K run. The 5K walk, which also included nine exonerees walking in the Freedom Walk, took participants through the university’s award-winning campus. The 18.19K run, which represents the average time that the OIP’s 24 clients spent in prison for crimes they didn’t commit, as well as the year of the University of Cincinnati’s founding, took participants through campus and the historic Clifton community.
International Wrongful Conviction Day recognizes the personal, social and legal costs associated with wrongful conviction. Launched by Win Wahren of the Association in Defense of the Wrongfully Convicted and a small group of like-minded individuals, the day is dedicated to recognizing those whose lives have been adversely impacted by wrongful conviction as well as educating the broader community on its causes, consequences and complications. Recognizing that wrongful convictions are not limited to one jurisdiction or nation, the group sought to unite individuals and organizations around the world in the effort to eradicate wrongful convictions.