It is not just an American problem – it is an international issue for the Catholic Church. This year’s Marquette Law School Restorative Justice Conference on April 4 & 5, 2011, will focus on Harm, Hope, and Healing: International Dialogue on the Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal.
Those attending will be able to hear the stories of victims as well as those who are working with victims from Boston, Ireland, and Australia. Also a group of clergy will speak from the heart about what they have learned.
Marquette Law School’s Restorative Justice Initiative (RJI) is a unique model demonstrative of the university’s commitment as a Catholic, Jesuit institution to promote excellence, faith, leadership, and service. RJI educates law students as leaders who can bring together victims, offenders, and other community members to focus on resolving harm and conflict in our communities. Whereas the traditional justice system is retributive in nature, restorative justice is a process that creates a safe environment for dialogue, helping communities share their experiences. The process has been shown to decrease recidivism, create cost efficiencies in the court system, provide improved outcomes for clients and victims, and change the face of judicial practice in the resolution of crime.
Continue reading “Restorative Justice Conference to Focus on Clergy Sex Abuse”
In 1973 and at the age of 24, I walked into Sensenbrenner Hall for the first time, hoping I could transfer from Chicago Kent to Marquette. My husband had been offered a teaching position at Menomonee Falls East High School and I was happy to return to my home state. I met with Dean Bob Boden who could not have been more gracious in telling me that Marquette would be happy to let me enroll as a 2L. So in the fall of 1973 I began classes with the 2Ls (except that I had to take Professor Aiken’s first year civil procedure year long course…an experience in and of itself). In part, it was like starting law school all over again.
There was no orientation or introduction to anything at the law school. My first memory of meeting a student occurred when, on that first day, I was standing next to Barbara Berman. As many of you may recall, we lived, sat and interacted in alphabetical order. My last name at the time was also Berman. After Barbara found that out she said, “I hope you are smarter than me so if we get mixed up, I can benefit from it.” That was the beginning of our life long friendship. Continue reading “Memories of Sensenbrenner Hall (Part 4)”
All too often, we see and hear people trying to intimidate others-whether it involves politics, religion, driving habits, employment, sports, family or any other topic that creates conflict. Rather than civil and respectful discourse on tough topics, many routinely call each other derogatory names and describe the other as “evil,” “Hitler-like” “self-centered,” etc. We see physical violence and harassment occurring regularly in schools, places of employment and even on our highways. Finally, the language people use on talk shows or in e-mails, blogs, and even tweets often is designed to intimidate, ridicule and even destroy those with whom the speaker or writer disagree. I consider that this conduct to be an attempt at “adult bullying”…trying to “win” an argument by physically or verbally attacking others who in good faith see a situation or issue differently.
For the last four years, the Marquette Law School Restorative Justice Initiative (RJI) has held very successful annual conferences on topics involving victims and restorative justice, the international application of restorative justice and two conferences on creating safe streets through restorative justice. Last year when the planning committee for our 2009 (RJI) conference met, we decided to focus on restorative practices that address bullying because many schools were asking our assistance in creating approaches to address a serious problem of bullying in both elementary and high schools. On November 10, we will present our “Bullying in Schools–Teaching Respect and Compassion Through Restorative Practices” conference at the Marquette University Alumni Memorial Union. Not surprisingly we “sold out” all 350 seats at the conference. Students, parents, teachers and social workers continue to struggle with how to address instances of student bullying through physical and verbal abuse not to mention the terrible phenomenon of what is happening on the Internet including the sending of nude student pictures to others. Our conference is designed to help people learn of better ways to promote respectful and civil dialogue in our schools.
Dr. Brenda Morrison, our keynote speaker, describes bullying in the school context this way: Continue reading “Bullying in Schools–Teaching Respect and Compassion Through Restorative Processes”
As I listened to the political pundits argue about the “beer summit” that occurred at the White House yesterday, I am amazed by the debate as to whether President Barrack Obama, Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Lieutenant James Crowley really gave us “a teachable moment.” There is no doubt in mind that they did. The only question is what they and all of us learn from that moment. President Obama appears, perhaps intuitively, to have utilized restorative justice principles when he suggested this meeting. The men came together in a “safe environment” to respectively talk about the harm that was caused by the others, the impact it has had on many people, and how to proceed in a positive way to help heal the harm as each of them saw it. Those are the tenets of restorative justice. People getting together in a safe environment for a difficult conversation on identifying the people who have been harmed (in this case by the others), identifying that harm and how can the “offender(s)” and the community look forward and work to repair that harm.
We certainly could see much of the harm unfold on the news and talk shows. Professor Gates, a highly respected scholar, gets arrested in his own home by a white officer. He (and many others) believes he has been treated unfairly because of his race. The officer, who with his fellow officers, including an African-American, believes he was doing his job because he is investigating a possible home invasion and has a man, in his opinion, who is uncooperative and verbally abusive. And we have a highly respected president, who usually is extremely careful with his words, announce that despite the fact that he does not know all the facts, that the police acted “stupidly.” Then we went on to learn that Lucia Whalen, who called in the suspicious behavior at Dr. Gates’ home, is now receiving death threats and being called racist despite the fact that she never volunteered anything about race to the 911 operator. We can then imagine the harm to the Cambridge police department, the African-American community in the Boston area, the family members of everyone involved and then of course the harm to the thousands and thousands of others who experience the renewed pain of some bad police/community member relations all over this country. We have some political pundits characterizing all police as men and women who routinely engage in racial profiling (never acknowledging that never does an entire profession engage in bad behavior so that the “good cops” are thrown into the same description as the “discriminating cops.”) Those kinds of comments not only demoralize police departments but also devastate family members of law enforcement officers. We have once again publicly displayed acts of racism (a Boston officer writing a letter describing Professor Gates as “banana-eating jungle monkey”). We know that the wounds of racism and profiling in this country are justifiably deep and painful. And we have a president, who is trying to focus on our national health care crisis, in part because of his own words, being embroiled in these events. There is not a question in my mind that this was an opportunity for all of us to watch and learn a better way to move forward other than our continuous name calling. Continue reading “The Beer Summit-A Restorative Justice Experience?”
For the last ten years I have worked in the field of restorative justice. My students, community members, and I, along with the survivors of crimes of severe violence, regularly participate in intensive three-day healing circles we conduct in maximum-security prisons. Our MULS Restorative Justice Initiative (RJI) also facilitates victim/offender dialogues in very serious cases. My students help teachers, social workers, and students in central-city schools to develop restorative processes which address bullying and other harmful behaviors. Each experience reminds me that when serious harm has occurred, it is important to afford victims a safe environment to be able to tell others what has happened to them. People need to understand how some of their decisions and actions can send out negative ripples that have far-ranging effect. One of the most effective ways to promote that conversation is to create a facilitated talking circle in which a symbolic “talking piece” is passed from person to person. One can only speak when in possession of the “talking piece.” These circles succeed in getting everyone present to deeply listen to each other and provide a safe environment in which to speak from the heart. I have participated in hundreds of circles through the years and still am amazed at what I learn from people through this process.
A few years ago, I started thinking about how the Catholic Church, as a community of people, really needed to look from different perspectives at the deep-seated and far-ranging effect of the sex abuse scandal. So the RJI, with the assistance of Amy Peterson, Victim Assistance Coordinator of the Milwaukee Archdiocese, began the project of gathering people for a circle. Continue reading “Repairing the Harm From Clergy Sex Abuse”
Having served on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, I am often asked about which case was my favorite. It is always difficult to answer that question, because I liked many cases for a variety of different reasons. So I thought I would share my experience with three of them. I really enjoyed working on cases that took me into not only interesting research but other cultures. State v. Davids involved a Native American charged with the offense of fishing without a license. The real issue before the court was whether the Stockbridge-Munsee reservation, as its boundaries were defined by the Treaty of 1856, was diminished by federal legislation in 1871 and terminated by federal legislation in 1906, thereby placing the area encompassing Upper Gresham Pond under state jurisdiction and requiring all who fished there to have a valid state fishing license, including Bert Davids, an enrolled member of the Stockbridge-Munsee tribe. That case had me dusting off old treaties and historical writings (actually my law clerk, Kathleen Rinehart, did the dusting off of the books) to better understand the various different types of agreements between the federal government and particular tribes. It became a rewarding history lesson in Indian treaties and the reasons for those agreements. I could not write the opinion without better understanding what was happening in tribal politics at the time. It became a lovely and interesting history lesson in and of itself. The conclusion of the case was that Mr. Davids indeed needed a fishing license for Upper Gresham Pond.
I also liked State v. Miller, Continue reading “My Favorite Opinions, by a Former Justice”
Although I had many teachers who played a significant role in my development as a lawyer, a judge, and now a law professor, Professor Chuck Clausen most profoundly impacted me. His love of teaching and his unwavering commitment to his students came across in everything he did. Chuck believed in the goodness of all people and wanted to be sure that all of us demonstrated our own personal goodness in our legal careers. He was committed to the responsibility of lawyers to help others, particularly the poor, in every way that we could.
I was fortunate enough to have Chuck for a few classes and to have him as a faculty advisor on some moot court work that I did. What I loved about Chuck is that having a conversation with him was like speaking to a renaissance man. He was so knowledgeable and engaged in so many different areas of life and of the community that I always learned something new when I was around him. His enthusiasm for life was infectious.
Because of my deep admiration for him, we continued to have contact after graduation. He truly became one of my most trusted advisors. Continue reading “Appreciating Our Professors: Chuck Clausen”