It’s February, which means that for many long distance runners, it is time to emerge from winter hibernation, sign up for the next race, and begin the long and thankless training process. While some would not agree, I, as a lawyer and a long distance runner, have found that the training process for a marathon eerily mirrors the path to becoming a lawyer.
I signed up for my first marathon, somewhat foolishly, during my second year of law school, the race coinciding the first semester of my third year. As I embarked on the first long run of my training schedule, I was filled with excitement and anticipation. Like a 1L, I felt invincible and ready to take on the challenge.
However, as the weeks passed and my mileage, and long run distances increased, so did my frustrations and anxiety. What seemed like a fun adventure was turning in to a daily chore, and my love for running was quickly being replaced with dread.
February is upon us, and it is time to welcome our Guest Bloggers of the Month.
Our Alumni Blogger of the Month for February is Jamie Yu, Vice President and Associate General Counsel at Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated. Ms. Yu joined Baird’s legal department as an intern in 2013 and joined the Baird legal team full time in 2015. Ms. Yu’s primary areas of responsibility include advising Baird’s Fixed Income Capital Markets and Investment Banking business and providing general legal counsel to a variety of areas throughout the firm, including data privacy. Prior to joining Baird, Ms. Yu worked for three years in Taiwan as a legal assistant and translator. Ms. Yu received her J.D. from Marquette University Law School in 2015, where she was the editor-in-chief of the Marquette Intellectual Property Law Review, an Academic Success Program leader, an admissions ambassador, and a Student Bar Association student mentor. She received her B.A. in political science and international studies from Case Western Reserve University in 2009.
Our Student Blogger of the Month for February is Scott Lyon. Scott is currently a 3L at MULS. He graduated from Emory University with a BA in Economics in 2013. Before law school, Scott taught at-risk youth at a high school in Cook County, IL. Scott currently participates in the MULS Prosecutor Clinic. He interned at the Governor’s Office of Legal Counsel through the MULS Supervised Fieldwork Program in 2018 and spent the summer of 2017 in the Marinette County Circuit Court, Branch 2, clerking for Judge James Morrison. Scott focuses his studies on criminal law and litigation. He is the President of the MULS Student Chapter of the Federalist Society, and he participated in the Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition. Scott is proud to attend MULS with his younger brother, Eric Lyon, who is also currently a 3L.
Please join me in welcoming our Guest Bloggers. We look forward to your posts.
Since 2014 the government has engaged in several prosecutions of Bitcoin exchanging institutions and managers. Of the charges typically brought in these cases, one relates to the legal requirements surrounding any transactions greater than $10,000, whether involving Bitcoin or not. In order to conduct such transactions, among other things, the managing institution likely has to be licensed in some fashion under state law, the customer’s identity must be known, and the institution has to report the transaction. These requirements have been imposed with strict liability. According to the Department of Justice and many federal judges, Bitcoin is subject to these requirements.
We start off the new year with two guest bloggers.
Our Student Blogger for the month of January is Foley Van Lieshout. Foley is a current 1L at Marquette University Law School. She graduated cum laude from Lawrence University in June 2018. She majored in English with a minor in Creative Writing. Ten of her relatives attended Marquette University Law School, but she is the first guest blogger of the family. Foley hopes to focus her studies on criminal law and litigation while at Marquette. She is currently a member of the MULS Association for Women Lawyers and the Federalist Society.
Our Alumni Blogger for the month of January is Daniel Murphy, a recent graduate of Marquette University Law School. Dan provides the following self-introduction:
“After graduating from Marquette Law School in 2016, I was hired by the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office. I had participated in the Prosecutor Clinic there working in the Violent Crimes Unit on Drug Team 1 assigned to Judge Timothy Witkowiak’s court. As a newly minted Assistant District Attorney I was fortunate to start in that same position. Judge Witkowiak rotated in January of 2017. Since that time, I’ve practiced in front of Judge Janet Protasiewicz. As a member of the Drug Unit, I prosecute felony level drug and gun crimes. My job mainly consists of charging cases, reviewing search warrants, providing discovery, and litigating motions and trials. My case load fluctuates but is typically around 90 cases. In addition to my normal responsibilities, I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to work closely with a group of officers assigned to the Milwaukee Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Group. Those officers work longer term, more complex investigations. Through that portion of my work I’ve rode along with officers for take downs and search warrants, I work with the officers on planning investigations, and I help wade through legal issues that crop up during the investigations. I thoroughly enjoy being an ADA in the Violent Crimes Unit. The work is challenging and exciting. My colleagues at the DA’s office are excellent attorneys and supportive teammates. I’ve learned an enormous amount about criminal prosecution in my short time there. My personal life has also seen a significant change since graduating law school with the birth of my son, our first. And life continues to get more (happily) complicated as my wife and I are expecting our second child, a girl, any day now. We are very happy with our small but growing family and fortunate to have the support of many close friends and family.”
Welcome! We look forward to starting off 2019 with your posts.
“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”
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.”
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”
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.
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.
In his commentary on May 24, 2018, “Bucks guard Sterling Brown is lucky he wasn’t killed by Milwaukee Police,” Martenzie Johnson casually observes that “Milwaukee is one of the most segregated cities in America, is one of the worst cities for black Americans, economically, the worst city for African-American children to grow up in and is home to the zip code with the highest incarceration rate in the country.”
I moved to Milwaukee in 1984 to become a Marquette Lawyer. I took my first law school exam on my 30th birthday – Torts by Professor James Ghiardi. In May of 1987, like every Marquette lawyer graduating before me and after me, I took the attorney’s oath. I swore to “support the Constitution of the United States,” the one ordained and established in order to “form a more perfect Union.” I never left Milwaukee and I am proud to say I am from Milwaukee. Yet I am at a complete loss of words to describe how it is that we, my law school and my fellow Marquette lawyers, go about our busy daily lives virtually unconscious of living in “one of the most segregated cities in America.” If you believe you can frame the types of questions that, if answered properly and acted on, will help us deconstruct our segregated Milwaukee, then I strongly encourage you to write and to weigh in now.
In October 2015, I was involved in a three week medical malpractice trial in Outagamie County. Judge Mark McGinnis was presiding, who is one of the best trial judges currently on the bench. I came home Friday to rest and prepare for the final week of trial. A little after 1 am on October 31, 2015 the incessant ring of the telephone pulled me from a deep slumber. The voice of a woman said, “Mr. Thomsen, we tried for 45 minutes, but we couldn’t save your son.” My wife, Grace, sitting up asks: “What did they say?” “He’s gone.” “Noooooo…” turned into a mourning howl. It is unforgettable. And so it is that in one instant the eye of a category 5 hurricane shreds your bed, your son’s mother, your wife, his sister, his fiancé, his daughter, his uncles, aunts, cousins, grandmothers, friends — my life and theirs too. Judge McGinnis and defense counsel all agreed to a mistrial if I asked for one. I returned to finish the trial. The case had progressed and in a way that could not have been replicated. The lawyer’s oath is a demanding one.
Yet somehow in the eye of the hurricane you can find love: the love of my son’s fiancé, of my now daughter-in-law Sydney, and my granddaughter, Sienna. They are proudly biracial. Sydney is considering law school. I suggested that she become a Marquette Lawyer. She said “no” because Milwaukee and Milwaukee County are too segregated. The truth hurts so much. Continue reading “Deconstructing Our Segregated Reality”
Recently, I authored a post on this same blog discussing the first of two frequent observations I’ve made since joining the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office as a prosecutor and rookie lawyer in February of last year. There, I expressed my belief that we must do more to educate the nonlegal public about what it is we do as lawyers. Here, however, I wish to share what is perhaps as much a personal conclusion as it is an observation—appellate work is where it’s at.
In the last six or so months, I’ve been tasked on several occasions to represent the State before the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. These experiences have been enjoyable for several reasons—not the least of which is that I do enjoy writing about the law.
More generally, I have come to prefer legal argument over arguing facts. For these reasons, I expect that my career in the law will naturally gravitate toward appellate work. This is not to say I that I don’t enjoy trying cases to juries, but rather it is acknowledgment of one introspective observation.
As I’ve arrived at this conclusion, I’ve also realized that I’m most interested in getting the law right—regardless of whether doing so helps or hurts any particular position I’ve taken in a case. That said, what I find most appealing about appellate work is that I’ve come to believe that appellate courts generally prioritize getting it right above all else. Continue reading “Appellate Work: Getting the Law Right”
Just over fourteen months have passed since I first appeared in a Milwaukee County courtroom as a newly minted (Marquette) lawyer. Rolling the clock back another two and a half years, I recall my first few days as a law student. In all, I’m nearly four years into what I hope will be a long and eventful career in the law.
Over these last four years—this last year, in particular—I’ve found myself often making the same two observations. Though I don’t suspect that either of my observations are especially unique, both are surely the product of spending so many of my days in and around our state’s most active courthouse.