Congratulations to AWL Scholarship Winners Simonis and Ryan

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head shot of woman named Liz Simonis
Liz Simonis (2L)
head shot of a woman named Kelly Ryan
Kelly Ryan (3L)

The Milwaukee Association for Women Lawyers (AWL) Foundation has named two Marquette University Law School students as the winners of AWL Foundation scholarships.

Liz Simonis, 2L, received the AWL Foundation scholarship. The AWL Foundation Scholarship is awarded to a woman who has exhibited service to others, diversity, compelling financial need, academic achievement, unique life experiences (such as overcoming obstacles to attend or continue law school), and advancement of women in the profession. Simonis, a Wisconsin native, received undergraduate degree in dairy science. She spent her last semester of undergrad between Beijing and Hangzhou, China, learning about dairy farming there. After receiving her undergraduate degree, she worked for as a dairy cattle nutritionist, visiting (in her conservative estimate) more than half of Wisconsin’s 9,000+ dairy farms. Being a dairy cattle nutritionist “requires an incredible amount of science and industry knowledge,” Simonis said. “It’s not like feeding your dog a scoop of dog chow.”

Simonis then transitioned to marketing product manager at a company in Iowa, where she took feeding concepts and developed them as products. However, she noted, her experience in Iowa also taught her that the world isn’t always a fair and equitable place. “In the year of our lord 2020, there are still people out there who will not respect you because of any number of ridiculous reasons. Breaking through that kind of stigma is at the core of what drew me to law school,” she said. She returned to Milwaukee to attend MULS, where is she is an active member of the student chapter of AWL and a volunteer at the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic. Simonis is also a member of the Intellectual Property Law Society, Saint Thomas More Society, and the Environmental Law Society. She plans to sit for the patent bar when she’s done with law school.

Kelly Ryan, 3L, received the AWL Foundation’s Virginia A. Pomeroy scholarship. This scholarship honors the late Virginia A. Pomeroy, a former deputy state public defender and a past president of AWL. In addition to meeting the same criteria as for the AWL Foundation scholarship, the winner of this scholarship must also exhibit what the AWL Foundation calls “a special emphasis, through experience, employment, class work or clinical programs” in one of several particular areas: appellate practice, civil rights law, public interest law, public policy, public service, or service to the vulnerable or disadvantaged. During law school, Ryan has volunteered for the Domestic Violence Injunction Clinic and the Milwaukee Volunteer Legal Clinic and was selected for the mock trial team. She’s clerked for the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and the U.S. Copyright Office of Policy and International Affairs.

Ryan is vice president of the Intellectual Property Law Society and lead articles editor of the Marquette Intellectual Property Law Review. This fall, she will intern with the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office as part of MULS’ Prosecutor Clinic. She said the most interesting thing she’s experienced through her public service—interning at the county, state, and federal levels—“is seeing how profoundly law, policy, and government interact to impact people’s everyday lives.”

Simonis and Ryan will be officially honored (virtually) at AWL’s annual meeting on September 30. Congratulations to both women for outstanding service and for their representation of Marquette University Law School.

Mental Health and Law School

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I have never been particularly excited to begin a new year of school. My mom, to my chagrin, keeps a photo of one of my first days of school on the family fridge. Clad in a breathtakingly dated wind-breaker, with a full sized Marquette University Law Schoolbackpack dwarfing my elementary school frame I lean against a tree at the bus stop. Flanked by my too-young for school sister who smiles from ear to ear my mom snapped the photo. I think that photo was both for me and my mom. I got a visual reminder that my family was always going to be there for me; my mom got a picture she could use to embarrass me with, and a memento of her favorite and only son.

I was reminded of this photo as email after email bombarded my inbox explaining the new COVID procedures for the in-class semester. Any excitement for my final year in school was dampened considerably. The Law School’s Instagram post which showed what the law school looks like now, a labyrinth of blue painter’s tape and signage, showed just how much the precautionary measures had sapped the building of its warmth. The Law School is, to be frank, depressing in its current arrangement. Continue reading “Mental Health and Law School”

Farewell to Professor Julian Kossow

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Many of us on the Marquette Law School faculty were saddened to learn of the death earlier this month of Professor Julian Kossow. Julian had a long and varied career, primarily in academia and real estate. As he recounted in this blog post, Julian went to law school because of his frustration as a developer in dealing with lawyers. Once in law school, though, he found that he was fascinated by the law as a field of study. Legal academia was so much to his liking, in fact, that he returned to it as a professor after graduation and a clerkship on the D.C. Circuit, joining the Georgetown faculty in 1970. Later, he practiced as a real-estate lawyer and then resumed his career as a developer.

Julian could not resist the call of law-teaching indefinitely, though. In the 1990’s, he began a second career as a law professor, teaching at St. Thomas and Stetson in Florida, and then landing at Marquette in 2004. We were delighted to have him as a faculty colleague for the next decade. Continue reading “Farewell to Professor Julian Kossow”

Violent Crime & Recidivism: Symposium Issue Now Available

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The threat of violent recidivism looms large in policy debates about sentencing and corrections. Prison populations in Wisconsin and across the United States remain near historic highs. Yet, efforts to bring down those populations often run into the objection that most of the individuals in prison have been convicted of violent crimes. What if these individuals reoffend after release? The stakes seem frighteningly high when we contemplate the possibility of shorter sentences for individuals who have physically harmed others in the most damaging and disturbing ways–shootings, stabbings, sexual assaults, and so forth.

Last summer, Marquette Law School hosted a conference that brought together leading researchers to address the question of whether there might be better alternatives than long-term incapacitation  for responding to the threat of violent recidivism. Those of us in attendance enjoyed a thought-provoking series of presentations and some lively Q&A with audience members. Now, the papers from the conference have been published in a symposium issue of the Marquette Law Review.

Here are the contents:

Continue reading “Violent Crime & Recidivism: Symposium Issue Now Available”

SBA Statement in Support of BLM and Against Racial Injustice

Posted on Categories Civil Rights, Criminal Law & Process, First Amendment, Human Rights, Legal Profession, Marquette Law School, Milwaukee, Public, Race & Law, Student ContributorLeave a comment» on SBA Statement in Support of BLM and Against Racial Injustice

Logo of Student Bar AssociationTo Our Peers, Professors, And Administrators:

Marquette University Law School Student Bar Association writes to you today to address the tragedy that we as a community and a country have faced in the last three weeks. Not one of a pandemic, but rather the state-sanctioned murders of Black Americans. Namely, Ahmaud Arbery, Nina Pop, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and countless others. Their deaths are not novel, and we would be remiss to categorize them as such. Their deaths are the tragic manifestation of a long-standing system of racial oppression that continues to unjustly claim the lives of Black Americans.

We want to be loud and exceptionally clear: SBA believes Black Lives Matter. We are an anti-racist organization, and we condemn every form of racism. We stand in solidarity with the members of the Black Law Student Association, the Black community of Marquette University, and the Black community around the world.  Continue reading “SBA Statement in Support of BLM and Against Racial Injustice”

Student Lessons on Distance Mediation

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Picture of person hanging up a telephone“Could we try and mediate over the phone?” I was a bit surprised by the response from the attorney when I called to let him know that the Small Claims Mediation Clinic’s courthouse mediation options had been curtailed by the Coronavirus. The Clinic, which was started by former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice and retired MULS Professor Janine Geske, has been in operation since 1998. A typical Clinic day revolves around same day referrals for mediation cases from Court Commissioners in Room 400 of the Milwaukee County Courthouse. Cases are mediated then and there. In addition to the typical same-day referrals, this semester the Clinic received a number of referrals from judges dealing with civil cases. This particular case, a dispute between relatives, seemed tailor-made for mediation. I hesitated for just a second before saying yes, we would try mediating the case by phone. Continue reading “Student Lessons on Distance Mediation”

Ireland Reflections 2020–Final Thoughts

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As you might have calculated, we returned to the U.S. on that Saturday that the world saw those crazy pictures at O’Hare after the President’s announcement to shut down the U.S.  [Nothing like hearing from him that “no one from Europe” will be allowed back to the U.S. and taking 2 hours from 1:30 a.m.-3:30 a.m. to confirm that the rules were actually not applying to U.S. citizens nor to flights from Ireland!]

And the end of our trip was definitely informed by the fact that we were coming home to a world quite different from one we left.  Our fun travel story included several long lines (luckily in Dublin for customs and not Chicago); a plane that finally took off with no luggage on it (!) since they couldn’t take the time to sort the bags between those who made it through customs and those who were detained; and then another 2 hour line at Aer Lingus to fill out a form to claim our bag!  Now that we can confirm all bags have returned home and, more importantly, all participants have remained safe and healthy, I can comfortably say this was just another layer to our memorable trip.  I am truly grateful that we were able to have this last trip before we all came home to lockdown.

This trip and experience provided an avenue to understand Irish culture in a way that few can. Continue reading “Ireland Reflections 2020–Final Thoughts”

Adaptability & Resiliency: Moving to Online Teaching & Learning

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dog at computer and dog sleeping
Hat tip to Natalie Sobierajski (2L)

We’re about to complete two weeks of teaching and learning in our new online environment, and it seems to have gone pretty well. Lots of sharing of pets, and no one has turned themselves into a potato.

The Law School, like the main university, supports the use of Microsoft Teams. While Teams doesn’t (yet) allow us to use fun background images, it also hasn’t been hacked during any class time.

Law School professors have found myriad ways to use Teams: they’ve been able to share their PowerPoints; demonstrate online researching in legal databases; create discussion rooms; and post notes, questions, and other files. Some professors record their classes and then post them, others go “live”; still others combine both methods. Natalie Sobierajski (2L) noted she likes the Teams function that allows the sharing of Powerpoints. “[T]he sharing option has made it easier to take notes than expected.”

We’ve learned how to mute and unmute our mics, use the chat bar, and even create spontaneous polls. Continue reading “Adaptability & Resiliency: Moving to Online Teaching & Learning”

Ireland Reflections 2020–Last Day!

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For our last day on the trip, we headed for Stormont – home to the Northern Ireland Assembly for our morning excursion.group photo on the steps of Stormont

As Morgan Henson noted, “the Parliament building in Belfast was a truly interesting experience. After going through what some might call a gauntlet of stories about The Troubles all week, we finally arrived at the seat of the Northern Ireland government. After hearing about The Troubles, and the resulting fallout, I was curious to see what the governing body would look like, how it would function. While I will admit there were some interesting aspects, the thing I most enjoyed was sitting in the chamber room and seeing how votes get passed.” 2L Jazmin  Ramirez added she too “found it fascinating to be able to sit in the room where a lot of important decisions are made.”  (To get us mirroring parliamentary debate, our guide had us debate whether or not the hot dog is a sandwich….discuss!)photo of students sitting in parliament chambers

Following the tour and our own lively debate, we grabbed cups of tea and headed to meet with Doug Beattie, an Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA). A common feeling at this juncture of the trip was beautifully verbalized by Oliva Robinson, “when thinking of the political conflict in Ireland and Northern Ireland, the opponents are often characterized as the “Catholics” and the “Protestants.” As I learned the foundations of the conflict in Comparative Conflict Resolution, I found myself, as someone not raised under a religion, wondering how a religious divide could be the catalyst of such tragic events. As our dive into and my understanding of the conflict deepened, it became clear that these opponents are also referred to as the “Republicans” and the “Loyalists,” respectively, amongst many other terms used to describe these groups. These varying terms left me asking what role religious affiliation still has within the conflict in Ireland and Northern Ireland.”

This question was answered by Doug Beattie. Doug was not raised particularly religious and was happy to tell us about his experience as a UUP MLA  without religious affiliation. “While he discussed the divisions in Northern Ireland as religious, he made it a point to bring up that many of the divisions are based along political fault lines; such lines are between the two major parties in the North, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), a conservative, unionist, majority Protestant party, and Sinn Fein, a more liberal, nationalist/republican, majority Catholic party.” 3L Dan Kinderman recalled.

For Robinson, “this talk with Doug brought the conflict to its modern-day point, allowing us to see how the conflict has and has not changed since its beginnings. While the (perhaps, overly simplified) premise of whether the Northern Ireland should be united with the Republic of Ireland or stay a part of the United Kingdom remains the same, the terminology based on religious affiliation does not necessarily seem to coincide with its political counterpart the way it once did.”Picture in the main hall with legislator Doug Beattiephoto of students with legislator Doug Beattie

Following many group pictures and some solo shots outside the magnificent building, our afternoon concluded with a visit to Belfast’s perhaps most famous export – The Titanic. During the 20th Century, Belfast was a hub for shipbuilding. “The Titanic was built at Harland and Wolff’s shipyard in Belfast beginning in 1909. At the time, Harland and Wolff employed 15,000 Irish workers” Michelle Ziegler contextualized. She added, the “Titanic left Belfast on April 2, 1912 on her maiden voyage. Titanic traveled to Southampton, England; Cherbourg, France; and finally Queenstown, Ireland before embarking for her destination, New York on April 11, 1912.”

As Kelsey McCarthy noted, “for many of us, when we think of the Titanic, we think of the movies that have taken over Hollywood. Walking through the Titanic museum, I found myself thinking more critically about the ship itself, the events that led to its sinking, and most importantly, about the people that were on the ship.” For McCarthy “one of the most striking parts of the museum was the exhibit where the Titanic’s distress calls to the Carpathia, becoming more and more frantic, were laid out on the walls.”photo of students outside the Titanic Museum

(Since I had been to the museum several times before and my RA Morgan was more interested in escape rooms–we had fun at Escape Room Belfast which gave us both a fun break.  And, btw, we did escape under an hour!)Photo of Prof Andrea Scheneider and RA Morgan

Ireland Reflections 2020–Back to Belfast

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A speaker at the Irish Language Center in BelfastAfter some longer days of travel, the group took a welcomed short trip to Cultúrlann – the Irish Language Center – in Belfast. For 3L Margaret Spring, this “was one of the most rewarding experiences of our trip.” She recalled the visit “reminded me that no matter how much a culture tries to be erased, it will not and cannot happen.”

Nim Nannan accounted “Culturlann is a great representation of the Irish’s determination to preserve and promote their language and culture. When a people are colonized, one of the first things the colonizers do is restrict the colonized sense of culture and identity to prevent the promulgation of both in future generations as to quickly assimilate them into their own. The founders of Culturlann formed the community center in direct opposition of this agenda by the British government.” She added, “the founders started both Irish language schools and a community center without government support and both continued to flourish as future generations took up the cause.”

After having the opportunity to explore the center and speak with current Culturlann director – and product of the Irish language school – Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin, the group piled into one of the classrooms to meet with first with two former IRA combatants who were now involved in both local politics and peacebuilding. Continue reading “Ireland Reflections 2020–Back to Belfast”

Ireland Reflections 2020 — Border Tours & Fermanagh

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A quick two-hour bus ride out of Belfast led us to the office of the South East Fermanagh Foundation (“SEFF”) for our first stop of our Fermanagh day. There we were greeted with warm biscuits, cups of tea and the Director of SEFF, Kenny Donaldson, and his fellow staff members.SEFF was formed in 1998 to help support innocent victims and survivors of the Troubles in South East Fermanagh. Bridget Smith noted, “The messaging of SEFF was clear:  ‘Terrorism knows no borders.’”  As Brighton Tropha said, “Kenny Donaldson informed the group about all of the services that SEFF offers to victims and survivors of the Troubles, including counseling, complementary therapies, as well as community outreach and advocacy provided by the Advocacy for Innocent Victims project.” She added, “The most moving part of Mr. Donaldson’s presentation was when he turned the group’s attention to all of the quilts lining the walls of the room. The quilts each represented a different memorial message, but each were made up of dozens of hand embroidered patches – representing innocent terror victims or terror attacks resulting in the loss of innocent lives – bringing together victims under a banner of innocence.”  The quilts (shown above and below) were quite amazing.

It was during our time with Kenny that we also had the opportunity to hear from other individuals who are members of SEFF, and one that stuck out for most of the group and in particular 2L Michael Becker, was a man named Ernie. Becker recalls, “Ernie told us about his experiences during The Troubles and centered it around one specific story that changed his life forever. As a result of a bomb attack on the school bus that Ernie used to drive children in his neighborhood to school every day, Ernie’s son took his own life. Ernie told us about how he had taught his son how to drive the bus once he was old enough, how his son would help him out driving the bus and with the kids, and how that morning his son started up the bus and did the daily check. Ernie’s son blamed himself for what happened that day, for not seeing the bomb under the bus, for not being able to save the children from an unthinkable harm.” Michael reflected, “What Ernie shared with us that day showed me that the death toll of The Troubles has not stopped counting, and without groups like SEFF who provide a platform for people to discuss the tragedies they have endured, that number will continue to rise with no end in sight.”Ernie with student Bridget Smith

The hardest part of the day was after lunch when we hopped back on the bus for a “tour” of the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.  The roads meandered back and forth between the two as we crossed the border multiple times within the hour (showing us also how impossible Brexit with a hard border could be).  Our guide for this part of the tour told us the history of every attack that happened in this area throughout the Troubles and the combination of the description of the horrible attacks, the matter-of-fact tone of the explanation (here is where the farmer x was attacked; here is where this bombing took place; here is where this body was dumped etc), and the motion of the stop-and-start bus made for a pretty unpleasant, if important, experience.  Below is a picture of one of the memorials to terror victims at a church in the area.

Ireland Reflections 2020–Derry Girls (and Boys) Part 2

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Happy Monday to all–this continues the Ireland blog posts which I’ll have for the rest of this week! The visit to Derry was so filled with content that I divided this into two posts.  The morning (as outlined in the last post) was a walking tour of the neighborhoods and visiting the museum.  After a brief lunch break, we grabbed some tea and biscuits and piled into the basement of a local community center to speak with a series of incredible people.

First, we met Raymond McCartney, a recently retired Sinn Fein MLA (member of the N. Ireland Legislative Assembly), former IRA prisoner and an ex-hunger striker.  He told us the reason he decided to join the IRA was a culmination of his personal experiences while growing up in Derry/Londonderry.  He noted that it was from those experiences that joining the IRA seemed either inevitable or just the next logical step.   Jordan Daigle accounted, “many IRA members grew-up feeling oppressed or as though they were constantly at risk of abuse. To them, the best way to protect their families was to join an organization whose sole purpose was to expel their oppressors. We very rarely hear is the individual stories of members; what were their experiences growing up or what drew them to the fight. Raymond was the first former IRA member were heard from, but his story was one that was repeated much too often.”group photo of students with Raymond McCartneyMcCartney was a three-time imprisoned IRA hunger-striker, who “effortlessly framed the conflict for me” writes 3L Michaela Bear. “I was so captivated by Raymond McCartney it was not until after he was finished speaking that it dawned on me that he was released from his third prison sentence for killing a civilian and a Royal Union Constabulary officer only because of the Good Friday Agreement” she added.

We were then joined by an unlikely pairing – Lee Lavis and Fiona Gallegher. Lee is a former infantry man in the British army, who spent almost two and a half years stationed in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. Fiona is from a Derry Catholic family who suffered the loss of her brother – an IRA soldier – during that same time. Kaitlyn Gould reflected, “both individuals were victims of the system of which they were placed in, a system where the lives of civilians, working class citizens, soldiers, and so-called “terrorists” were expendable.” It was years after the Troubles that Fiona and Lee became friends through a forum that connected ex-soldiers with civilians. (For those of us who have worked with other restorative justice groups, and want to learn more, here’s the BBC story about them and the Veterans for Peace group)

photo of speakers in a discussion group“Having the opportunity to hear both Lee and Fiona open up to us and hear their experiences of the Troubles was not like anything you could read from a textbook” remarked Brook Oswald. She added “it was incredibly impactful listening to Fiona detail the fear, anger and loathing she felt for the British Army, yet empathize with Lee’s experiences as a loyal British soldier stationed in Ireland during the Troubles.”

Oswald concluded by saying, “you always hear that there are two sides to every story, but you never imagine putting yourselves in each person’s shoes and really understanding what got them to where they are today, which is exactly what the story of Fiona and Lee made me do. If two people such as Lee and Fiona, who viewed each other as the enemy for so long, can put aside the past and use it to move forward, it makes much of the conflict we face today seem so small.”