A Spontaneous International Law Week at MULS

Posted on Categories Human Rights, International Law & Diplomacy, Marquette Law School, UncategorizedLeave a comment» on A Spontaneous International Law Week at MULS

This week, you will notice, is chock-full of talks and events related to international law and human rights, thanks to the efforts and interest of MULS student organizations.

Today  (Monday, October 4th) the National Lawyers Guild student chapter hosted human rights attorney Eric Sirotkin to give a talk on “Lawyering for Human Rights in the 21st Century:  Journey from Soweto to Pyongyang.” Mr. Sirotkin’s inspiring talk about his own work in Latin America, Africa, and Asia communicated the important role of lawyers in peacemaking around the globe.   As Executive Director of the Ubuntuworks Peace Education Project, he was able to offer students practical advice on how to use their legal skills to be compassionate advocates.   Mr Sirotkin will be dining with MULS students this evening to continue the dialogue on how to work with and for people around the world seeking peace.

Tomorrow (Tuesday, October 5, at noon)  the Dispute Resolution Society & the Association for Women in Law will host Lucy Reed, a partner at the international law firm Freshfields Bruckaus Deringer and head of their international arbitration group, to hear her talk “Women & Negotiation:  Lessons Learned From Around the World.”

Finally, on Wednesday (October 6, also at noon), the International Law Society will host Bertha Oliva, General Coordinator of the Committee of Families of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH), who will be sharing her story of three decades of searching for truth and justice following the disappearance of her husband.

In many ways this spontaneous ordering of events amounts to a thematic international law week, with the fortunate result of the world coming to MULS.

Lincoln in Liberia

Posted on Categories Human Rights, Legal Education, Marquette Law School1 Comment on Lincoln in Liberia

On August 26, MULS welcomed the Class of 2013, hosting a welcome mixer in the atrium of Eckstein Hall, the new home of the law school.  During this event, Dean Joseph Kearney unveiled a portrait of Abraham Lincoln created by visual artist Don Pollack.  A few days later, the painting was hung in the Aitken Reading Room on the third floor of the new building.

The portrait uniquely places Lincoln reading the newspaper within a horizontal vista next to stacks of books which represent the learned man on his campaign trail many days before he became the sixteenth president of the United States.  Professor Michael McCrystal explains that MULS commissioned this painting of Lincoln to symbolize the importance of reading: “Although we mean the building to be very contemporary in most respects, the intent of the reading room is to draw on strong academic and legal traditions to inspire students to serious work, and a Lincoln portrait seemed to serve this theme.”

The image seeks to capture Lincoln the great lawyer and the great reader.  It also serves as a reminder that the former president spoke of the importance of reading when on September 30, 1859 he addressed the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, right in the same spot where the Marquette campus now sits.  On that day, Lincoln remarked,

“A capacity, and taste, for reading, gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others. It is the key, or one of the keys, to the already solved problems. And not only so. It gives a relish, and facility, for successfully pursuing the [yet] unsolved ones.” Continue reading “Lincoln in Liberia”

Men, Goats, and Torture

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The fantastical movie The Men Who Stare at Goats, inspired by Jon Ronson’s non-fiction bestseller by the same title , arrived in theaters at a most auspicious time.   The movie deals with the topic of torture, just  as Guantanamo detainees await their transfer to stand trial in New York courts causing commentators to speculate on how the issue of torture will be dealt with during not only the criminal proceedings but also the public debate they inspire.

As with any dark comedy, The Men Who Stare at Goats not so subtly confronts us with the question of our morality, and how much cruel and degrading treatment we can stomach in good conscience. Continue reading “Men, Goats, and Torture”

Mainstreaming International Law in Legal Education

Posted on Categories International Law & Diplomacy, Legal Education6 Comments on Mainstreaming International Law in Legal Education

globeThis week is “International Education Week”, a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education to promote “programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences in the United States.”  Schools and other educational institutions around the country have been carrying out activities around this national theme, including Marquette University.

The thematic week prompts me to explore the role of international law in the American law school setting. Although the curriculum of law schools in the United States has traditionally offered a narrow focus on domestic law, it has slowly expanded over the last century to include an international focus, albeit a limited one.   While this development can be seen most readily with the proliferation of foreign exchange programs such as Marquette Law School’s own summer program in Giessen, Germany, it also appears through the positioning of international law classes in the curriculum of traditional legal education.

Since the mid-century, it has become common for law schools to sprinkle course listings with upper-level and elective classes in international law.  Continue reading “Mainstreaming International Law in Legal Education”

Gratitude is an Attitude: Teachings from Cedric Prakash, S.J., a Human Rights Defender from India

Posted on Categories Human Rights3 Comments on Gratitude is an Attitude: Teachings from Cedric Prakash, S.J., a Human Rights Defender from India

21-frcedricprakashLast week, I learned from Cedric Prakash, S.J., who currently holds the Marquette University’s Distinguished Wade Chair, that the people of India do not have words to express the concept of “thank you.”   Culturally, their orientation comes from a place of non-possession that makes recognition for giving unnecessary.

Confounded, I asked:  “What if you really want to express your gratitude?”

Fr. Prakash patiently reminded me, “Lisa, gratitude is an attitude.”

Despite this cross-cultural teaching, I now find myself writing about Fr. Prakash unable to refrain from using the word “thank you” to express how grateful I feel when contemplating his selfless dedication to defending the human rights of minorities in his home state of Gujarat, India. Continue reading “Gratitude is an Attitude: Teachings from Cedric Prakash, S.J., a Human Rights Defender from India”

Wanted: Lawyers Who Speak Spanish

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Writing in 2004, Anne Marie Slaughter, the current Director of Policy Planning for the United States Department of State and former Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University recognized, “The consensus among lawyers, CEOs, NGO activists, and others is that the people whom they would most like to hire are those who understand how to navigate between cultures.  In a dream world, such competence would include knowledge of at least one foreign language.”

Slaughter’s wishful thinking now appears to be reality. A recent Wisconsin Law Journal article reports that bilingual attorneys are carving out a “growing niche” in legal practice in the state.  The WLJ reports, “As the minority populations in the state continue to grow, so too has the opportunity for bilingual attorneys to expand their client base.”   Now it seems, new lawyers will not only wish to market their law school academic achievements, but also their command of a language other than English.

In particular, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Hispanic population in Wisconsin has increased by 48.2 percent since 2000, numbering close to 300,000 members of our community.  In Milwaukee alone, the Hispanic population represents twelve percent of the population.   Continue reading “Wanted: Lawyers Who Speak Spanish”

Is Health Care a Human Right?

Posted on Categories Health Care, Human Rights, International Law & Diplomacy10 Comments on Is Health Care a Human Right?

global-healthcare3As Congress enters the final stretch in pushing forward a health care reform bill, I have been struck by the fact that during the ongoing debate very few people seem to pose the question of whether access to health care constitutes a human right.  Yet, in many countries around the world, this perspective forms the starting point of their national debates—and this consensus inevitably directs their public policy on universal health care. 

For example, while in Peru I received a grant from the Ford Foundation to conduct research on the right to mental health for survivors of the country’s internal armed conflict.  In the course of the study, I interviewed many government officials, advocates from non-governmental organizations and ordinary citizens.  None of these people questioned the basic premise of my study which was that health is a human right, as enshrined in international treaties such as the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). 

Article 12 of the ICESCR provides that “The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.” The Covenant has been ratified by 160 countries in the world, but not the United States.  The 1946 Constitution of the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes that the right to health is a fundamental right “without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.”  Significantly, the United Nations General Assembly (composed of representatives from 192 member countries adopted a resolution in 2003 reaffirming the right to health. Continue reading “Is Health Care a Human Right?”

Chilean Delegation Meets with Local Firm and Community Organizations

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IMG_7727On their last day of the exchange program, October 2, the Chilean students visited an array of legal organizations working in the Milwaukee community. 

First, they visited the law firm of Gonzalez Saggio & Harlan LLP to meet with firm attorneys Hugo Rojas, Jeff Krill, Jean-Marie Feedham, and MULS graduate Natalia Minkel to learn about private law practice in Milwaukee and the nation as a whole.   The students were quite curious about the organizational structure of the associates and partners, and how they attract work.  Rojas explained that they rely mostly on word of mouth, pointing out that ethical guidelines limit aggressive forms of seeking new cases.  During the meeting, founding partner Jerry Gonzalez stopped by to greet the delegation and in particular mentioned the firm’s priority in assuring diversity among its attorneys, which only reflects the changing demographics of the country itself.

IMG_7739In the afternoon the students visited non-governmental agencies working with the Latino community in South Milwaukee. First, they visited Catholic Charities to learn about immigration work and the issues it raises, most notably the hardship faced by families that are often separated due to their immigrant status.   Attorney Barb Graham spoke of her tireless work to represent her clients, which frequently requires travelling to Chicago.  Afterwards, the students visited Centro Legal where Executive Director Heather Ramirez invited them to cookies and Alterra coffee.   The meeting featured staff lawyers Sam Levin and Jason Mishelow speaking about family law; and Mike Blater, criminal law. Board member Mike Balter also offered information about the organization, which offers legal services on a sliding scale.  The final stop was at Voces de la Frontera where the members of this association spoke of their grassroots movement to change policy in favor of immigrant and Latino populations, such as laws to allow for valid drivers licenses and fair wages.  They explained that their legal work (free clinics on Saturday) complement their activism to help stimulate broader policy change.

IMG_7750In the evening the Chilean delegation accepted the gracious invitation to attend the annual dinner of the MULS Hispanic Law Students Association which took place at Club Tres Hermanos  in South Milwaukee.  The festive event featured Mexican cuisine and conversation in both Spanish and English.  The Chileans sang songs along with the Mariachi band and demonstrated Chilean dances.  The occasion was a perfect ending to a full week of academic exploration.

Chilean Delegation Observes Criminal Trial Motion to Suppress Evidence

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School, Milwaukee, Uncategorized, Wisconsin Law & Legal System1 Comment on Chilean Delegation Observes Criminal Trial Motion to Suppress Evidence

SchneiderOn Thursday morning, October 1,  the Chilean students participated in a mediation training on foreclosure hosted by MULS Professors Andrea Schneider and Natalie Fleury.  Afterwards, they met with Professor Schneider who, with the help of attorney and translator Cynthia Herber, did a great job keeping up with their many questions. The students found it remarkable that mediation has become a regular feature of the U.S. legal system, and asked how this came about. Professor Schneider explained that the participation of judges, who refer litigants to this resource, has made mediation a more regular feature of resolving conflicts.

In the afternoon, the students visited the Milwaukee Courthouse, and received a tour by Felony Court Coordinator Mary Jo Swider, including a stop to observe the intake court in action. Commissioner Julia E. Vosper came out to greet the group and give them a brief explanation of this first steps in the criminal justice process:  verifying the probable cause basis for the arrest, setting bail and scheduling a trial date. The students were stunned when one man was escorted into the courtroom handcuffed and wearing the orange prison garb. This condition did not seem to correspond to his crime for driving without a license. Continue reading “Chilean Delegation Observes Criminal Trial Motion to Suppress Evidence”

Chilean Delegation Learns About the “Safe Streets” Program and Participates in a Circle

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School1 Comment on Chilean Delegation Learns About the “Safe Streets” Program and Participates in a Circle

chiloe 1On Wednesday, the Chilean students began their day with Professor Irene Calboli, who spoke to them about the experience of being trained in a civil law tradition only then to work in a common law system.   The students also discovered a common interest in patent law and the conversation soon turned to that topic.

The Hurtado students then met individually with professors on their research topics.   Continue reading “Chilean Delegation Learns About the “Safe Streets” Program and Participates in a Circle”

Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson Greets Chilean Delegation

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School, Wisconsin Supreme CourtLeave a comment» on Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson Greets Chilean Delegation

chileYesterday was another full day for the Chilean students visiting from Hurtado University Law School.  In the morning, alumn Reyna Morales gave a talk in Spanish on criminal procedure and law.  Afterwards,  MULS Professors Tom Hammer, Michael O’Hear, Chad Oldfather, Dan Blinka, and Greg O’Meara, S.J., participated in a Q&A panel.  The Chilean students came prepared with a range of questions dealing with the types of legal defenses available to defendants, the rights of juveniles, and issues of due process in Guantanamo, among other topics.

In the afternoon, we drove to Madison to visit Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson at the State Capitol, accompanied by former Supreme Court Justice and MULS professor Janine Geske.  The Chief Justice greeted the delegation in the hallways of the Capitol, and then invited the members to sit in the Supreme Court Hearing Room to offer an overview of the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s work.  With warm humor, the Chief Justice then answered the many questions that the Chilean students posed.

One student asked if the justices are ever influenced by their political affiliations when they write their decisions.  The Chief explained that they do not work as Democrats or Republicans, but rather as “reasonable” people.  That said, the students were curious about the election process and how judges are selected.  The Chief Justice noted that she has sat on the bench for more than 30 years and joked that she plans on running in 2019, but unopposed.  She clarified that, unlike other political campaigners, the judicial candidates only promise to uphold the law.  She then turned to point to the mural above the bench of the founding fathers signing our national Constitution.  The image is there to remind us that the justices take an “oath of office” to uphold the highest law.  The Chief escorted the group to the conference room, where she shared the process for selecting who would write the majority opinion:  chess pieces!

The Wisconsin Law Journal covered the event, so stay tuned for pictures.

!Escuchan bien! Is that Spanish you hear in MULS hallways?

Posted on Categories Uncategorized3 Comments on !Escuchan bien! Is that Spanish you hear in MULS hallways?

PRIMER_DIA_DE_ACTIVIDADES_EN_MARQUETTE_081[1]This week MULS is hosting a delegation of students and faculty from Alberto Hurtado University School of Law, Chile’s only Jesuit law school located in the capital of Santiago (Five students will participate in a week-long program, conducted in Spanish, to gain a first-hand look at the U.S. legal system as their country implements significant legal reforms.

Today Dean Kearney hosted a welcome reception for our guests in Eisenberg Hall in which he recognized the significance of this academic exchange.  In particular, he noted an unique opportunity to contribute to Chile’s ongoing criminal justice reforms designed to replace an inquisitorial criminal justice system inherited from Spanish civil law with an adversarial one more like that found in the United States.  Such an undertaking is, in the words of Hurtado’s Dean for International Relations Rafael Blanco and his colleagues, “a complete paradigm shift and can be understood as almost revolutionary.” (Rafael Blano, Richard Hutt, Hugo Rojas, The Reform to the Criminal Justice in Chile: Evaluation and Challenges, The Loyola University Chicago International Law Review )(2005)

In fact, the faculty of HULS are credited for taking a leading role in spearheading this judicial reform following the end of the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet in 1990 as part of Chile’s “transition to democracy”, but which took up special momentum after 2000.  At that time, the government promulgated a new code of criminal justice that began as a pilot program in selected cities, and is being gradually implemented throughout the country.   Since then, these legal reforms have become a model for all of Latin America.

Dean Kearney also recognized that HULS and MULS share the same educational mission and identity grounded in a long Jesuit tradition that recognizes lawyering as a ‘helping profession.’     At the same time, as legal professionals, we understand that social justice is grounded in a solid respect for the rule of law.  Certainly, Hurtado University Law School’s founder Saint Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga embodied this spirit through his work as a Chilean Jesuit priest, lawyer, and social worker.  His important work led to his being was canonized on October 23, 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI, becoming his country’s second saint.

Today kicked off the week-long program with an orientation led by our MULS students Juan Amado and Sara Grill, who helped translate presentations by: Professor Tom Hammer on MULS’ Internship program; Editor and Chief Marvin Bynum on Marquette Law Review and Associate Justice of Administration, Rachel Helmers on Moot Court; and finally, Assistant Dean for Public Service Daniel Idzikowski and Lori Zahorodny on the pro bono legal clinics and the public service office.  In the afternoon, they received a tour of our law library by librarian Julia Jaet followed by a talk on legal research by Reference Librarian, Elana Olson, all interpreted with the help of Yolanda Toral-Zeider.   They also listened to lectures by Professor Ed Fallone on Constitutional and Immigration Law and Professor Scott Idleman on Federal Indian Law.

The rest of the week will be equally packed with informative lectures by faculty and alumni, as well as a meeting with Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and a trip to the Milwaukee County Courthouse to observe a trial. The students will learn about Marquette Law School’s Restorative Justice Initiative, led by Distinguished Professor of Law Janine Geske, and its “Safe Streets” project to reduce gang and drug crime in Milwaukee neighborhoods. They will also hear from Professor Andrea Schneider, leader of Marquette Law School’s nationally ranked Alternative Dispute Resolution program, which trains legal practitioners in the art of resolving disputes outside of legal adjudication. In addition, the students will meet with lawyers from non-profit organizations working with the Milwaukee’s Hispanic community, including Centro Legal, Catholic Charities and Voces de la Frontera.

Due to the generosity of our faculty, students, alumni as well as members of the MU and Milwaukee community, we will be able to offer the Hurtado delegation an exceptional week of activities.