Deconstructing Our Segregated Reality

Posted on Categories Alumni Contributor, Civil Rights, Legal Profession, Marquette Law School, Milwaukee, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public, Race & Law1 Comment on Deconstructing Our Segregated Reality
A map of the city of Milwaukee and surrounding counties illustrating the racial segregation of residents per the 200 census.
Black residential segregation as reflected in 2000 Milwaukee Census

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”

The Significance of Others

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Black & white photo of Flatiron Building (NY) under constructionThe concept of bringing your significant other to law school with you almost every day probably sounds frustrating to some and fantastic to others. Due to my disability and the fact that she is my primary caregiver, my fiancée Caitlin attends school with me at least three days out of the week; I am sure you have seen us around. The truth of the matter is that it is both frustrating and great having Caitlin with me, oftentimes both at the same time.

Caitlin and I have been together since I was a senior in high school. She and I started living together when I started college and by my junior year she was attending the majority of my classes with me. Going into my 1L year the plan was for her to come to school with me three days of the week, with the other two days being covered by my other caregiver, Danny. Naively, I assumed that this plan would go just as smoothly for us as it had during the last two years of my undergraduate career. Having both attended Lakeland University, Caitlin and I shared a common group of friends there and she was already familiar with the campus and faculty. Even though the social sciences were not her area of study, she tended to follow along with some of my classes. We discovered quickly that law school is (at the risk of sounding incredibly cliché) a completely different animal.  Continue reading “The Significance of Others”

Finding My Confidence

Posted on Categories Legal Education, Marquette Law School, PublicLeave a comment» on Finding My Confidence
writing in Spanish
A quote the author looks at when she studies.

This semester in Professor Lisa Mazzie’s Advanced Legal Writing: Writing for Law Practice seminar, students are required to write one blog post on a law- or law school-related topic of their choice. Writing blog posts as a lawyer is a great way to practice writing skills, and to do so in a way that allows the writer a little more freedom to showcase his or her own voice, and—eventually for these students—a great way to maintain visibility as a legal professional. Here is one of those blog posts, this one written by 2L Mariana Concepcion.

Last summer after finishing my 1L year, I was at the beach. While I was enjoying the warm Texas sun, my brother asked me, “So, what’s your goal in law school?” Because it was a few days after taking my last final, I thought about answering “I don’t ever want to go back.” But I didn’t say that, I was just really tired.

I gave the question some thought as I looked out at the sea. What was my goal in law school? Why was I going back? So, I told my brother that my goal was to find my own voice so that I could use it to help those who don’t have a voice.

Find my own voice? I can talk, right? I may not be the loudest person on earth, but I have a voice. But finding my own voice wasn’t just about finding my speaking voice; it was more than that. I wanted to find my own voice because that would help me become more confident in myself, something I have struggled with for most of my life. If I could find that confidence in myself then I would be able to find my voice and use my voice to speak for those who don’t have a voice. Continue reading “Finding My Confidence”

New Marquette Lawyer Celebrates Eckstein Hall and the Man Who Designed It

Posted on Categories International Law & Diplomacy, Marquette Law School, Milwaukee Area Project, PublicLeave a comment» on New Marquette Lawyer Celebrates Eckstein Hall and the Man Who Designed It

Image of Ralph Jackson on the Marquette Lawyer CoverHas it been 10 years already? Yes, the tenth anniversary is at hand for the groundbreaking for Eckstein Hall on May 22, 2008.

How have things worked out? Anyone who spends time—and especially anyone who spends a lot of time—in the home of Marquette Law School knows the answer: Very well.

The new issue of Marquette Lawyer magazine marks the anniversary of the start of building Eckstein Hall and celebrates the building’s success with two featured pieces, following an introduction by the dean including the famous photo of Tory Hill from the day of the groundbreaking.

One entry is a profile of Ralph Jackson, the Boston architect who was the lead figure in designing the building. Jackson, now retired, has a powerful personal story, rising from modest roots to national prominence as an architect. The story, “How Ralph Jackson Found His Voice,” may be read by clicking here.

The second feature is a photo essay on a day in the life of Eckstein Hall. The 22 pages of beautiful photos illustrate many of the facets of the identity of Marquette Law School as seen on one day, Nov. 14, 2017. The photo essay may be viewed by clicking here.

The new magazine includes other valuable reading, including:

“International Human Rights Law: An Unexpected Threat to Peace,” an edited text of the Boden Lecture delivered by Ingrid Wuerth, who holds the Helen Strong Curry Chair in International Law at Vanderbilt University. Read it by clicking here.

“Migration Challenges: Trends in People’s Movement to and from the Milwaukee Area and Wisconsin Illuminate Important Issues,” a piece in which John D. Johnson, research fellow with the Law School’s Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education, and Charles Franklin, the Law School’s professor of law and public policy, analyze population trends. It may be read by clicking here.

“An Unveiling and a Blessing.” A portrait of St. Edmund Campion was unveiled at a ceremony on October 25, 2017, and now hangs in the Chapel of St. Edmund Campion in Eckstein Hall. An image of the portrait and the text of remarks at the ceremony—variously by the Hon. Paul D. Clement, Dean Joseph D. Kearney, Rev. Thomas S. Anderson, S.J., and the portrait’s artist, Henry Wingate—can be found by clicking here.

The “From the Podium” section includes texts of speeches at the Columbus Day Banquet of the Wisconsin Chapter of the Justinian Society of Lawyers on October 13, 2017, by the three honorees: State Public Defender Kelli S. Thompson, Dean Kearney, and Judge William Brash III. The section also includes “The Person on the Other Side of the Table,” the text of remarks from Michael J. Gonring, executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, upon receiving the Faithful Servant Award of the St. Thomas More Lawyers Society. Read the section by clicking here.

The Class Notes section, which may be read by clicking here, includes entries about Jessica Poliner, L’06, who coauthored a book with advice for improving gender equity in the workplace, and about Rachel Lindsay, L’11, who gained fame by appearing on the television programs The Bachelor and The Bachlorette, but who continues her work as a lawyer in Dallas.

To view the entire magazine, click here.

Remembering Professor Gordon Hylton

Posted on Categories Legal History, Marquette Law School, Marquette Law School History, Public, Sports & Law1 Comment on Remembering Professor Gordon Hylton

Headshot of the late Professor Gordon Hylton.The Marquette Law School community is saddened by the news that Professor J. Gordon Hylton has passed away at age 65, following a battle with cancer.

Gordon was a wonderful colleague on the Law School faculty.  He joined the faculty at Marquette University Law School in 1995, after teaching previously at the Chicago-Kent College of Law of the Illinois Institute of Technology.  Gordon left Marquette Law School in 2015 to join the faculty at the University of Virginia School of Law full time (having visited at UVA many semesters previously).  He also served a memorable year  as the Fulbright Professor of Law at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in Kiev, Ukraine.  A wonderful In Memoriam webpage celebrating Gordon’s career appears on the website of the University of Virginia School of Law.

Gordon taught courses in Property Law, Trusts and Estates,  and Legal History, among others, and was also closely involved with the National Sports Law Institute at Marquette Law School.  He was a frequent contributor to the Marquette Law School Faculty Blog, where he was known for his posts on the history of Marquette Law School in general and on the often overlooked athletes who had a historical connection with our institution.  His blog posts were sometimes quirky, often obscure, but always among the most interesting to appear on the Faculty Blog. Continue reading “Remembering Professor Gordon Hylton”

Our May Bloggers Have Arrived!

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Headshot of law student Darrin Pribbernow.
Darrin Pribbernow
Headshot of Attorney Mark Thomsen.
Mark Thomsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please join me in welcoming our two guest bloggers for the month of May.

Our Student Blogger of the Month is Darrin Pribbernow.  Darrin introduces himself as follows: “I grew up in New Holstein, Wisconsin. I attended Lakeland University and achieved a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with minors in sociology and political science in 2017. During my undergraduate career I was involved in many organizations including: Student Government Association, the Zeta Chi Fraternity, and Criminal Justice club. Each organization afforded me unique networking and leadership opportunities. My interest in the law began in middle school and it has been my goal since then to become a lawyer. The move to Milwaukee from such a small community was daunting to say the least. Having now lived here for a year, however, I can’t imagine going back to a small-town lifestyle. My decision to attend Marquette is already one of the best that I have made and I look forward to further developing my skills as a lawyer in pursuit of a career as a criminal prosecutor in Wisconsin.”

Our Alumni Blogger of the Month is Mark Thomsen (cum laude, 1987).  Mark is an attorney at the Milwaukee office of Gingras, Cates & Wachs.  On the lawfirm website, Mark describes his career as follows: “When the Indiana steel mill department shutdown in 1984 where I had worked for nearly 8 years as a steelworker, including a stint as union representative, my family and I moved to Milwaukee. I started law school and after graduating in 1987, I served as a law clerk to the Hon. John L. Coffey, circuit judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. My time as a lawyer has now spanned 30 years, and my practice is primarily dedicated to representing and fighting for justice for injured people, including those injured by nursing home neglect, by medical and legal malpractice, in automobile and trucking collisions, by people’s general negligence, by defective products, and for violations of individual’s civil rights (§1983 claims). During this time, whether by settlement or trial whenever necessary, I have successfully obtained millions over the years for those individuals and families I have been honored to represent.”

We look forward to reading your posts over the next month.

Congratulations to the 2018 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition Finalists

Posted on Categories Legal Education, Legal Practice, Marquette Law School, Public1 Comment on Congratulations to the 2018 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition Finalists

Congratulations to the winners of the 2018 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition, Olivia Garman and Sarita Olson. Congratulations also go to finalists Killian Commers and William Ruffing.  Killian Commers and William Ruffing additionally won the Franz C. Eschweiler Prize for Best Brief.  Olivia Garman won the Ramon A. Klitzke Prize for Best Oralist.

The competitors argued before a large audience in the Lubar Center. Presiding over the final round were Hon. Goodwin Liu, Hon. Stephen Murphy, and Hon. Lisa Neubauer.

Many thanks to the judges and competitors for their hard work, enthusiasm, and sportsmanship in all the rounds of competition, as well as to the moot court executive board and Law School administration and staff for their work in putting on the event. Special thanks to Dean Kearney for his support of the competition.  Thank you as well to the Moot Court Association for its work in putting this event together, and especially 3L executive board members Tsz King Tse, who organized the competition, and Chief Justice Nathan Oesch.

Students are selected to participate in the competition based on their success in the fall Appellate Writing and Advocacy class at the Law School.

Here is a link to the video of the final round.

If You Want to Be a Defense Attorney, be a Prosecutor

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, Legal Practice, Marquette Law School, Public1 Comment on If You Want to Be a Defense Attorney, be a Prosecutor

This semester in Professor Lisa Mazzie’s Advanced Legal Writing: Writing for Law Practice seminar, students are required to write one blog post on a law- or law school-related topic of their choice. Writing blog posts as a lawyer is a great way to practice writing skills, and to do so in a way that allows the writer a little more freedom to showcase his or her own voice, and—eventually for these students—a great way to maintain visibility as a legal professional. Here is one of those blog posts, this one written by 3L Naomi Tovar.

As of earlier this week, I was one of the few people in law school that had never watched Making a Murderer. I did not even know what it was about. Then last night, I decided to watch the first episode. I thought it was finally time to watch the show, considering that I had recently decided the criminal law field is where I want to grow professionally.

Those decisions (to pursue criminal law and to watch the documentary) were easy. The more difficult decision I have to face, however, is whether I should be a prosecutor or a defense attorney. At first blush, the answer is simple: defense. A defense attorney protects the rights of those who, according the founding law of our country, are innocent until proven guilty. Many times, defense attorneys represent the poor, the marginalized, and the disenfranchised of our society. I came to law school to do exactly that.

Then I binged watched the first six episodes of Making a Murderer and my thoughts changed. Continue reading “If You Want to Be a Defense Attorney, be a Prosecutor”

2018 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competitors Advance to Finals

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Congratulations to the 2018 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition finalists.  The teams advancing to the final rounds on April 19 are as follows:

Killian Commers and William Ruffing v. Olivia Garman and Sarita Olson

We appreciate the judging assistance in the semifinal round of the Hon. Michael Aprahamian, Hon. William Duffin, Hon. Beth Hanan, Hon. Michael Halfenger, Hon. Nancy Joseph, and Atty. Brent Nistler.

Congratulations to the 2018 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition Semifinalists

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Congratulations to the students in the 2018 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition who advanced from the quarterfinal round to the semifinal round.  These students will be competing at 1 p.m. today:

William Ruffing & Killian Commers v. Alexander Hensley & Claudia Ayala
Jehona Osmani & Emily Gaertner v. Sarita Olson & Olivia Garman

Congratulations to all the teams who competed in the quarterfinals.  We appreciated the judges coming out to hear the oralists.  Among the judges were a number of Jenkins and moot court alumni, including Natalie Schiferl, who came all the way from Minnesota to judge with her Jenkins partner, Mary Youssi.

Best of luck to the semifinalists!

Professor Atiba Ellis to Join Marquette Law in Fall 2018

Posted on Categories Legal Education, Marquette Law School, Public2 Comments on Professor Atiba Ellis to Join Marquette Law in Fall 2018

Prof Atiba Ellis Many in our community will recall Professor Atiba Ellis, who served as Boden Visiting Professor at the Law School during the fall 2017 semester.  He will return to the Law School for the fall 2018 semester—this time as professor of law and a member of the permanent faculty.  We are delighted that he will be joining us.

During his semester as the Boden visitor, Professor Ellis taught a course entitled Contemporary Issues in Civil Rights.  He also participated broadly and enthusiastically in the Law School community, including by delivering a faculty workshop, serving as a featured guest for one of Mike Gousha’s “On the Issues” sessions, and being consistently present in the common areas of Eckstein Hall for engagement with students and colleagues.

Professor Ellis joins Marquette Law School from the law school at West Virginia University, where he has been a member of the faculty since 2009.  In 2017, in addition to his semester at the Law School, he served as a Visiting Scholar at Duke University Law School.  Professor Ellis has taught courses in the areas of Election Law, Civil Rights Law, Race and the Law, Property, and Trusts and Estates.  His research and scholarship has focused on voting rights law and theory, critical legal theory, and legal history.  He is a well-established and highly regarded scholar whose work relates directly to matters of great present concern within Milwaukee and Wisconsin more generally.

Please join me in welcoming Professor Ellis (back) to Marquette University Law School.

Overheard Outside Eckstein Hall

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The following conversation was overheard this morning outside of the entrance to the parking structure in Eckstein Hall:

Parking Attendant:  I’m sorry, but you will have to back up your car.  The parking structure is full.

Faculty Member:  I can see past the gate.  There are plenty of empty spots.

Parking Attendant:  Those spots are reserved for faculty and students only.

Faculty Member:  But I have been on the faculty for 26 years.

Parking Attendant:  My apologies.  I didn’t recognize you.  However, those spots are reserved for today’s On the Issues with Mike Gousha.  He is interviewing the author of the book “Trump Bad: How to Sell Your Book By Using Trump’s Name in the Title.”

Faculty Member:  I happen to know that that event is tomorrow.

Parking Attendant:  My mistake.  Today those spots are reserved for people attending Charles Franklin’s press conference.  He has new poll results: “Public Support for Cheese Curds Reaches Record Low in Wisconsin.”

Faculty Member:  I think that you made that up. Continue reading “Overheard Outside Eckstein Hall”