Putting Christ Back in Christmas

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Drawing of an elderly man in sleeping attire sitting in a Victorian style armchair and gazing at the ghost of an elderly man not unlike himself.
Scrooge and the Ghost of Marley by Arthur Rackham

Some are calling for a stronger connection between Christianity and Christmas, concomitantly rejecting the term “Xmas” as blasphemous, deploring the substitution of “Happy Holidays” for “Merry Christmas,” and urging generally that we “put Christ back in Christmas.”  Sincere religious beliefs prompt most of this campaign, but to what extent has Jesus Christ ever been the true heart of Christmas?

The Bible does not give the date of Jesus Christ’s birth, and it was not until the fourth century that the Catholic Church recognized December 25th as Jesus Christ’s birthday.  Historians have suggested the day was selected to coincide with pagan winter solstice celebrations that were held in many locations throughout Europe.  The solstice came at roughly the same time large numbers of cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during subsequent months.  Meat was as a result plentiful, as was the wine and beer that had been started during the preceding spring and summer and had now fermented.

In some areas, the partying was raucous and drunken, comparable perhaps to the partying that occurs at Mardi Gras.  Continue reading “Putting Christ Back in Christmas”

Getting an Education on Being a Lawyer, and Not Just on the Law

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What is your personal conception of professional success and satisfaction for yourself as a lawyer?  How will you know when (or whether) you achieve your conception of success and satisfaction?  These are important existential questions for anyone working in a professional setting to reflect upon, but especially for me, as a 3L gearing up for my last semester of law school.  Yet, I was struggling.  I always knew I wanted to go to law school.  I always knew I wanted to litigate, and I had always planned on going into criminal law.  I have known these things for years.  Why had I never gone a step further, and thought about how I viewed success and satisfaction, and at what point I would feel I achieved those goals?

The questions were posed to those of us in Professor Peter Rofes’ Lawyers & Life course during the Fall 2018 semester.  They were the first of what would be scores of questions, each one seemingly simple in language and length, but digging deeper than many of us had ever been asked to do in our law school careers.  What parts of your legal education have you found to be the most rewarding?  What makes you stand out from other soon-to-be new lawyers?  What do you look for in an employer’s organizational culture? What aspects of your career, disposition, or accomplishments would you want emphasized in your “career obituary”? Continue reading “Getting an Education on Being a Lawyer, and Not Just on the Law”

Resume Booster

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Pen and ink caricature showing a lawyer arguing very strenuously while three judges are sitting at the bench, napping.While I was working into the evening on the third floor of Eckstein Hall, a friend stopped to catch up.  On the table in front of me were piles of handwritten notes, highlighted cases, outlined arguments, and cheat-sheets, organized by Petitioner or Respondent.  Color-coded flashcards were stacked in the corner. I was surrounded by seven-and-a-half weeks worth of sticky notes. I was a few days away from my moot court competition, and reviewing every single note card’s scribbled phrase, ensuring I was ready for any and all arguments from opposing counsel and questions from the judges.  She gave me a sympathetic look.  “Moot court,” I said.

She asked if I felt it was all worth it, for “just a resume booster.”

I looked at everything in front of me.  Seven-and-a-half weeks of color-coded chaos.  The disorganization reflected my anxiety.  But all of it also reflected an extraordinary amount of work and number of hours mastering an area of the law that just seven weeks ago I found foreign and intimidating.  I smiled.  Was it all worth it? Continue reading “Resume Booster”

Racial Discrimination in Wisconsin Jury Pool Practices

Posted on Categories Alumni Contributor, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law & Process, Federal Criminal Law & Process, Judges & Judicial Process, Poverty & Law, Prisoner Rights, Public, Race & Law, Wisconsin Criminal Law & Process1 Comment on Racial Discrimination in Wisconsin Jury Pool Practices
A courtroom is filled with women dressed in long black dresses and wearing hats.
Crowd of women register for jury duty after gaining the right to vote, Portland, Oregon, 1912.

“It requires little knowledge of human nature to anticipate that those who had long been regarded as an inferior and subject race would, when suddenly raised to the rank of citizenship, be looked upon with jealousy and positive dislike, and that state laws might be enacted or enforced to perpetuate the distinctions that had before existed.” – Strauder v. West Virginia, 100 U.S. 303, 306 (1879)

As ominously foreshadowed by the Supreme Court in 1879, current state and federal laws and practices continuously present disadvantages to people of color. Removed from enslavement and the oppressive nature of the Jim Crow Era, today many of the participants in our justice system and in politics are blind to discrepancies within this nation’s criminal justice system and erroneously believe that the black defendant enjoys the same rights as the white defendant.  The black defendant is seldom given a jury that racially represents him or her, and this lack of representation is a product of case precedent, judicial reasoning, and discriminatory practices. In Wisconsin, these discriminatory practices take the form of both state and federal jury pooling procedures. As such, the purpose of this blog post is to draw attention to the disproportionate jury pooling practices in Wisconsin circuit courts as well as federal district courts in our state, and to provide a forum for debate on this important issue.

Federal Jury Pooling in Wisconsin and the Depleted African American Voting Population

The right to a jury is so critical to the makeup of our system of justice that the Constitution mentions juries in four different sections. However, while individuals have a constitutional right to a jury, the pooling and selection of such juries is not always constitutionally executed. Both the Eastern and Western District Courts of Wisconsin have jury pooling practices that raise constitutional concerns due to the disproportional impact that those practices have on black criminal defendants. Continue reading “Racial Discrimination in Wisconsin Jury Pool Practices”

Meet Our December Guest Blogger

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Photo headshot of attorney Nicole Muller.We are pleased to welcome Nicole Muller as our Alumni Blogger for the month of December.

Attorney Nicole A. Muller, of Birdsall Law Offices, S.C., graduated from Marquette University Law School in May 2018, and now spends her hours zealously advocating for her clients as a private criminal defense attorney. Before coming to Milwaukee, she received a Bachelors Degree in Political Science and Studio Art from The Catholic University of America and a Masters Degree from Columbia University. During her time at Marquette, Attorney Muller worked on issues surrounding the impact  that cash bail programs have on Milwaukee’s and Wisconsin’s  urban poor, as well as ways to address racial discrepancies in American courtrooms.  A native of New York,  Attorney Muller states that she decided to stay and practice law in Wisconsin because “the beer was just too good to leave behind . . . oh, and due to the serious issues that need to be addressed within the criminal ‘justice’ systems of Milwaukee and greater Wisconsin.”

We look forward to reading your posts!

Congratulations to Marquette’s National Criminal Procedure Tournament Team

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Congratulations to 3Ls Olivia Garman and Samuel Simpson for placing in the Octofinals in the National Criminal Procedure Tournament in San Diego. The team’s advisors are Professors Susan Bay and Thomas Hammer, and the team coaches are Attorneys Brittany Kachingwe, Sarah McNutt, and Mary Youssi.  All three coaches are former Marquette moot court competitors.

A Bible for AI: The Need for Ethics in AI and Emerging Technologies

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Photo of a model of a human skull with the top of the skull removed, revealing computer circuitry inside.Recently, I attended the Compliance & Ethics Institute of the SCCE in Las Vegas. One of the keynote speakers was Amber Mac, a well-known public speaker for business innovation, internet of things, online safety, artificial intelligence (AI), and other topics. That morning, her keynote address was titled “Artificial Intelligence: A Day in Your Life in Compliance & Ethics.”

It was completely mind-blowing.

From her comments, I had a profound realization that ethics will be extremely important for AI and other emerging technologies as society progresses towards integrating these technologies into our daily lives. Note that this integration is starting to be, or is already, in our homes and workplaces. “Alexa” might already be part of your family. This development is growing in an exponential rate, and there’s no slowing it down. In fact, Waymo (the self-driving subsidiary of Google parent Alphabet) is launching the first ever commercial driverless car service next month. Yet, have we stopped to consider if an ethical “backbone” to all of this progress should be put in place as a guide for AI and all emerging technologies?

For example, a few years ago Microsoft released an AI chatbot on Twitter where the AI robot named Tay would learn from conversations it had. The goal was that the AI would progressively get “smarter” as it discussed these topics with regular people over the Internet. However, the project was an embarrassment. In no time, Tay blurted out racist slurs, defended white supremacists and even advocated for genocide.  So, how did this happen? Well, the problem was that Tay’s learning was not supported with proper ethical guidance. Without proper guidance, such as the difference between truth and falsehood or the general knowledge of the existence of racism, it was vulnerable to learning unethical thought and behavior. Continue reading “A Bible for AI: The Need for Ethics in AI and Emerging Technologies”

Congratulations to Marquette’s National Moot Court Competitors

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Marquette hosted the Region VIII round of the NMCC on November 17-18, 2018.

Please congratulate team members Jessica Delgado, Emily Gaertner, and Sarita Olson, who received the highest brief score in the competition and award for best Petitioner’s brief. The team advanced to the quarterfinals. Professor Rebecca Blemberg advised the team, and attorneys Bryn Baker, Veronica Corcoran, and Chal Little coached the team.

Please congratulate Claudia Ayala Tabares, Katie Bakunowicz, and Kelsey Stefka for placing in the semifinal round. I had the privilege of working with this team, and the team was coached by Attorneys Jason Luczak, Brianna Meyer, and Max Stephenson.

Continue reading “Congratulations to Marquette’s National Moot Court Competitors”

Compliance: The Emerging Career Path for Lawyers

Posted on Categories Alumni Contributor, Business Regulation, Corporate Law, Legal Practice, Legal Profession, PublicLeave a comment» on Compliance: The Emerging Career Path for Lawyers
Political cartoon from Puck Magazine in 1908 showing Moses holding the Ten Commandments and various business and Wall Street figures reacting with alarm.
From Puck Magazine, 1908. Various Wall Street figures react to Moses and the Ten Commandments.

When entering law school, and sometimes even before law school, students are put in front of this metaphorical “fork-in-the-road.”

Transactional or litigation?

In most law schools today, those are the two apparent options. However, this is just not the case anymore. There is at least one more, and emerging, option: the compliance route. It’s not completely transactional nor is it at all litigation. In some cases it takes ideas from both, and involves a bit of work in areas that would not necessarily be considered “practicing law.”

Oh, I’m sure I just hit a nerve for many of you. “Why would you go to law school and get into mountains of debt, and then get a job where you’re not completely practicing law?”

Bear with me and let me explain.

o In June 2016, a car manufacturer was forced to spend $14.7 billion to settle allegations of cheating emissions tests and deceiving customers on its diesel vehicles.

o In September 2016, a banking giant was hit with $185 million in fines by governmental authorities after thousands of its employees illegally opened unauthorized bank accounts. Earlier this year, new regulatory restrictions were imposed against the bank essentially halting the growth of the business until there has been sufficient improvement in its business practices. Continue reading “Compliance: The Emerging Career Path for Lawyers”

The Mirror of Racial Tyranny in The Civil Rights Cases

Posted on Categories Civil Rights, Constitutional Interpretation, Constitutional Law, Legal History, Public, Race & Law, U.S. Supreme CourtLeave a comment» on The Mirror of Racial Tyranny in The Civil Rights Cases
Political cartoon from the nineteenth century showing an African American holding a copy of the Civil Rights Act of 1875 while standing at the Gates of Heaven
This 19th Century Thomas Nast cartoon shows an African American at the Gates of Heaven, telling Saint Peter that the Civil Rights Act of 1875 opens all gates for him.  Nast’s caption calls on white churches to desegregate.

On the 135th Anniversary of the Supreme Court’s opinion in The Civil Rights Cases, it is worth reflecting on how that opinion — which came after Reconstruction but before Jim Crow—reflects the tensions at play today concerning how constitutional law can, through unrelenting formalism and a preference towards denying the power of the history of slavery and the salience of race, contributes to enduring white supremacy.
This week marks the 135th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in The Civil Rights Cases, 109 U.S. 3 (1883). While to some this is a mere historical footnote, the decision is worth remembering because it reflects the tensions at play today concerning how constitutional law can, through unrelenting formalism and a preference towards denying the salience of race, contributes to enduring structural oppression. The reasoning in The Civil Rights Cases is an object study in how to maintain white supremacy—and a mirror to our society today.

The opinion overturned the Civil Rights Act of 1875. It sought to protect recently freed African-American slaves from discrimination in the use of “inns, public conveyances on land or water, theaters, and other places of public amusement.” In striking down this nineteenth-century public accommodations law, thus allowing private businesses to deny services to African Americans because of their race, Justice Joseph P. Bradley, speaking for the 8-1 Supreme Court majority, made three arguments. Continue reading “The Mirror of Racial Tyranny in The Civil Rights Cases”

Meet Our November Bloggers

Posted on Categories Alumni Contributor, Marquette Law School, Public, Student Contributor, UncategorizedLeave a comment» on Meet Our November Bloggers
Headshot photo of law student Emily Gaertner
Emily Gaertner
Headshot photo of attorney Alen Lagazo
Alen Lagazo

We are happy to have two guests submitting blog posts during November.

Our Student Blogger of the Month is Emily Gaertner.  Emily is a 3L at Marquette University Law School.  She is Chief Justice of the Marquette Moot Court Association and Vice President of the Legal Writing Society.  During her time at Marquette Law School, Emily has competed in the Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition, and will represent Marquette Law at the National Moot Court Competition.  Emily has also interned for Judge Paul Reilly at the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, District II, and currently interns for Judge Diane Sykes at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.  Emily serves as a Student Ambassador and tour guide, and volunteers her time at the Domestic Violence Injunction Clinic.  Prior to coming to law school, Emily graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2015 and earned a dual baccalaureate in philosophy/pre-law and criminology.

Our Alumni Blogger of the Month is Alen Lagazo.  Ioua Alen Marcyn Lagazo (“Alen”) serves as Compliance Counsel to CNH Industrial, a leading global manufacturing company for industrial equipment. In addition, he is a board member and co-Director of Social Media and Marketing for BYU Alumni Association – Chicago Chapter.

He is a 2018 graduate of Marquette University Law School, where he completed internships at SoftwareONE, BloodCenter of Wisconsin, BP Peterman Law Group, and CNH Industrial. He is a 2014 graduate of Brigham Young University, where he focused on international studies and business management. For 26 months between 2009 and 2011, Alen served a full-time voluntary assignment as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Prior to that, in 2007, he received his Eagle Rank from the Boy Scouts of America.

Ioua Alen Marcyn has been married to Glenna for 6 years and together they have a daughter, Hermione, born just before entering law school. He enjoys spending time with his family, coaching his daughter’s soccer team, entertaining guests and networking. He also volunteers as an adult leader for the youth program for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Welcome Emily and Alen!

Congratulations to the Marquette Law Mock Trial Team

Posted on Categories Labor & Employment Law, Marquette Law School, Public1 Comment on Congratulations to the Marquette Law Mock Trial Team

Congratulations to the Marquette Law Mock Trial Team who competed at the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Trial Advocacy Competition on November 3, 2018.

The team advanced to the Semi-final round of the competition, placing within the top four teams.  Team members include Cole Altman, Katie Dvorak, Dan McCrackin, and Rohit Rangarajan.  The team was coached by Katie Halopka-Ivery and Emil Ovbiagele.

Congratulations, Team!  We are proud of your hard work and success.