Yes, the justice system in Milwaukee County is likely to come out of the pandemic operating better than it was before.
Yes, a lot of lessons have been learned, and some of them will have lasting impact.
But no, operating remotely and under the constraints imposed by COVID-19 precautions is not such a great thing, overall, and a return to in-person work as the predominant way the system operates is needed.
Mike Hostad and Ian Abston want to light up Milwaukee and its future.
One way that is so is literal. The two led the Light the Hoan project that, after five years of tenacious effort, brought multi-colored, frequently-changing lighting patterns to the Hoan Bridge at the mouth of Milwaukee’s harbor. The effort was sometimes criticized, but, once the lights went up in 2020, the project was a big hit.
Another way that is so is less literal: The two are leading a new effort called Forward 48 that recruits groups of 48 professionals between ages 25 and 35 and provides them training led by major community figures in what it takes to be leaders.
Congratulations to the participants in the 2021 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition:
Olanrewaju (Lanre) Abiola
Alexandra (Sasha) Chepov
Josh Le Noble
Taylor Van Zeeland
The Jenkins preliminary rounds begin March 20, 2021, with the winning teams progressing through the quarterfinals, then semifinals, to the final round. The final round will take place the week of April 5, 2021. All rounds will take place virtually. Stay tuned for more details.
Any questions about the competition should be directed to Kelsey Pelegrin, Associate Justice of Intramural Competitions.
On Saturday, December 19, former Wisconsin Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson, died after battling pancreatic cancer. She was 87. Just two ways she was like another famous, short, tough, trailblazing Jewish jurist: Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Abrahamson, the daughter of Polish Jewish immigrants who arrived in the United States in the early 1930s, grew up in New York City. She graduated magna cum laude from NYU with her bachelor’s degree in 1953. Three years later, she graduated first in her class from Indiana Law School; she was also the only woman.
She met her husband Seymour in Indiana; they moved to Madison in the early 1960s, where Abrahamson earned her S.J.D. from UW Law in 1962. Thereafter, she became the first female lawyer at the Madison law firm La Follette, Sinykin, Doyle & Anderson. She was named a partner within a year. All throughout the time she was in practice, she also taught at UW Law.
[The following is a guest post from Daniel Suhr ’08, a prior guest alumni contributor to the Blog.]
While working as a junior lawyer in Governor Scott Walker’s office, my phone rang one clear winter’s day. It was the judicial assistant for Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson. The Chief had asked Dean Kearney if anyone else was traveling to that evening’s Hallows lecture from Madison, such that she could carpool. The Dean had kindly offered me up for the task. Could I meet her in an hour at the Capitol’s MLK Drive exit?
After quickly consenting, I rushed out to my Subaru Legacy and started grabbing granola bar wrappers off the floor. I ran to the BP on East Wash, which had a car wash, and did my best on short notice. I pulled into the Capitol’s covered roundabout five minutes early and retrieved my passenger.
Numerous social commentators have noted how the pandemic has hit the least powerful and prosperous parts of the population the hardest. Infections, hospitalizations, and deaths have been disproportionally high among the poor, people of color, recent immigrants, Native Americans, and the elderly.
The pandemic has also underscored the worst places to work and live, with the pejorative “worst” referring to the way certain places weigh heavily on the body, mind, and spirit. These places are not only individualized but also organized into types and categories. I nominate three types of places as the worst in the United States: prisons, nursing homes, and food processing plants.
Media accounts have reported at length on how COVID-19 has ravaged prison populations, but prisons were undesirable places long before the virus arrived. The nation has in general abandoned any commitment to rehabilitate inmates, and prisons have deteriorated into demeaning, dangerous warehouses. Diseases and medical problems are four to ten times as common as they are in the general population, and the Prison Policy Initiative and Wisconsin Department of Corrections estimate that 42% of the state’s inmates suffer from one or more mental illnesses. According to the prominent sociologist Jonathan Simon, most of the nation considers prison inmates to be “toxic waste” of a human variety and thinks of the people who run the prisons as engaged in “waste management.”
Nursing homes have been the places in which 40% of COVID-19 fatalities have occurred, and some of the most excruciating pandemic scenes have involved distraught friends and relatives saying goodbye to confused and dying residents through tightly-sealed windows. Continue reading “The Worst Places in America”
Between finishing college and starting law school, Amy Lindner spent a year working at an auto repair shop in Waukesha. She says she learned valuable things, beyond how her car works.
One lesson was that every job has dignity and deserves respect. Another was that, in dealing with customers, she saw that “the way we treat each other just makes such an impact.” A third: When she told customers what was done for their cars, why it was needed, and why it cost what they were being charged, she found that “just being clear and kind to people is something we all can do in all of our jobs.”
Those are lessons that serve her well in her current position as president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County.
Slogans are appropriate, even useful, for rallies or marches. In-depth thought is what should be expected from law schools. The Fall 2020 issue of Marquette Lawyer magazine offers a weighty serving of the latter, while examining implications of the former.
With the overall title of “The Crime and Society Issue,” the new magazine’s cover package features three pieces focusing on assessing and potentially improving the criminal justice system, from the time of an arrest through the charging and court processes, and ways of sanctioning people who commit crimes. Each piece features expertise and insight presented at Eckstein Hall events by scholars from coast to coast.
The lead story starts with some of the controversial ideas heard during 2020, such as “defund the police,” and explores ways the justice system could be improved when it comes to the overall safety and stability of urban communities. “The Case for Careful but Big Change” focuses in large part on the ideas of Paul Butler, the Albert Brick Professor in Law at Georgetown University, particularly as he presented them in Marquette Law School’s annual Boden Lecture and in an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program (last academic year, before the COVID-19 pandemic halted in-person programs at Eckstein Hall). Continue reading “New Marquette Lawyer Magazine Goes Deep in Looking at Crime and Society”
Last year, I watched as a law student was introduced to a lawyer volunteering at the legal clinic. The lawyer was a white man in his 60s. The student was a woman of color in her 20s, and she was wearing hijab. I happen to know that both people have hearts of gold and come to the legal clinic with a desire to help and to give their time and talents selflessly.
Nonetheless, upon being introduced, the lawyer’s first words to the law student were: “It’s nice to meet you. Are you a foreign exchange student?” The student looked confused and embarrassed as she replied, “No. I grew up here in Milwaukee.”
A similar incident happened recently when a white lawyer asked a student of color where he was born and whether he had voting privileges. Again, the student in question replied that he was born and raised in the United States.
Yet another time, a white lawyer sat down at a table with a student of color: “What can we help you with at the clinic today?” The underlying assumption was that the student must be a client.
I also remember a moment when a white lawyer worked with a Latinx student for an entire shift and remarked at the end, “You are so articulate.” Why would this be mentionable? This is a student who has a college degree, has been admitted to law school, and will have a law degree in a few years.
“Making It Personal” – that was the name of Marquette Law School’s Restorative Justice 2020 Conference. But this is a time when, like almost everywhere else, no programs are being done in person at the Law School. And making things personal on a computer screen is a challenge.
So how personal were the four sessions of the conference? Very.
At the center of four moving, thoughtful, and intimate sessions, posted in the Law School’s web page during the week of Nov. 9 through 12, was Janine Geske, distinguished professor of law (retired) and long-time head of Marquette Law School’s Restorative Justice Initiative.
She was joined in two sessions by the Rev. Daniel Griffith of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Minneapolis, who is the Wenger Family Fellow of Law, St. Thomas School of Law, and Liaison to Restorative Justice and Healing, Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, a leader of restorative efforts in Minnesota and beyond.
In a third session, three past participants in restorative justice conferences described their own paths from being among those who have been harmed or who did harm to being among the helpers and healers for other people who have been harmed.
The focus overall was both the power and the process of restorative justice circles, the sessions that include people who have been harmed, those who have harmed them, and others who have been impacted by harmful episodes. The people in circles share personal experiences and thoughts on how they were impacted by situations in which harm occurred. They listen intently to each other, speaking only when they are holding “a talking piece,” an object that is passed around as a way of maintaining respect for each person. Continue reading “Personal and Moving Paths to Healing Are Highlighted at Restorative Justice Conference”
Warnings about forces shaping the future of the US Supreme Court were the common denominator in two virtual “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” programs in recent days. But the warnings pointed in much different directions.
In one conversation with Gousha, the Law School’s distinguished fellow in law and public policy, Russ Feingold, a former Democratic senator from Wisconsin who recently became president of the American Constitution Society, said that if Democrats regain control of the White House and Senate, action may be taken to respond to what he called the stealing of two US Supreme Court seats by Republicans.
Feingold said that Republicans who rapidly approved the nomination of Justice Amy Coney Barrett are “setting off a situation where progressives and Democrats and others may have no choice but to consider the basic nature of judicial tenure or the number of members on the Supreme Court.”
“When you have been stolen form — and I will maintain that view — there needs to be compensation, there needs to be reparation, “Feingold said. “Something has to be done to undo this, or the United State Supreme Court is going to be in a freefall in terms of its credibility.”
The second seat Feingold referred to as stolen was the one denied Judge Merrick Garland in 2016 after he was nominated to the Court by President Barack Obama and Republicans refused to consider him.
The American Constitution Society is a liberal organization that is intended to counter the conservative Federalist Society, which has been deeply involved in appointments of justices and federal judges. While the American Constitution Society is not allowed to lobby on political matters, Feingold was clear on his own views and those of allies of the society.
In the other conversation, David French and Sarah Isgur, both involved with The Dispatch, a conservative multi-media organization, said that steps such as the ones Feingold described would not succeed. French is a senior editor at The Dispatch, a columnist for Time, and an author. Isgur is a staff writer for The Dispatch and a commentator on CNN. She worked formerly for the Republican National Committee and was a spokesperson for US Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Continue reading “Two “On the Issues” Programs Bring Strong, But Differing Views on the Supreme Court’s Future”
Less than a mile away from the Law School, some of the country’s most important work is taking place at the Global Water Center, led by the Water Council. Water may seem like a basic right to most Americans, but across the globe, it is often a precious commodity. This will soon become a new reality in the water rich Midwest, as the demand on area water resources leads to an increasingly critical supply. The U.S. Geological Survey reported that pumping of groundwater in the Chicago-Milwaukee area from 1864 to 1980, has lowered groundwater levels by as much as 900 feet. Below is a map that illuminates the critical depletion affecting U.S. ground water supplies.
Facing the critical groundwater depletion taking place across the country over the last 100 years, Milwaukee non-profit, the Water Council, is rising to meet the challenge. The Water Council is dedicated to solving serious global water challenges by supporting innovation in freshwater technology and driving new solutions to a world that increasingly needs them. The Council has led the way through impressive collaboration—connecting 238 water technology businesses and a leadership network of 200 members from around the world. This expertise has included input from several Marquette University departments, including Marquette University Law School.