Daily Record op-ed previews Friday’s veterans conference

Daily Record columnist Joe Surkiewicz writes today about the Veterans Legal Assistance Conference and Training, which will take place on Friday, June 5, at the University of Baltimore School of Law. (Read the op-ed here.)

Surkiewicz interviewed Professor Hugh McClean, the director of the law school’s Bob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic, one of the event’s sponsors.

McClean said that, this year, the annual conference and training event will offer more than just the three hours of continuing legal education that pro bono lawyers need to remain certified with the Veterans Administration.

“We’re offering a concurrent advanced training on discharge characterization upgrade petitions, where a military member’s other-than-honorable discharge may be a barrier to obtaining VA benefits, housing and employment,” McClean told The Daily Record.

McClean noted that The Bob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic had just completed its first academic year, in which 10 students counseled 50 veterans. More than half of those veterans’ cases involved mental-health disorders, McClean said, adding that 1,820 student hours were dedicated to helping all the veterans served.

The clinic is part of a wider University of Baltimore initiative to help veterans that is supported by UB alumnus and veteran Bob Parsons.

Friday’s conference and training event will feature Baltimore attorney Susan Burke as the keynote speaker.

Burke has represented midshipmen at the Naval Academy in sexual-trauma cases, as well as Iraqis who sought settlements for injuries and deaths following the Blackwater massacre, McClean recounted, adding that Burke also represented prisoners from Iraq’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison.

“She has been involved with the most pressing issues facing the military — detainee abuse and prisoner torture, military sexual trauma, and the privatization of military security functions,” McClean said in the Daily Record interview.

Conference organizers include the Pro Bono Resource Center, the Homeless Persons Representation Project, the University of Baltimore School of Law’s Bob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic, and the Veterans’ Affairs and Military Law Section of the Maryland State Bar Association.

Co-sponsors include the Elder Law & Disability Rights Section of the MSBA, the Veterans and Military Law Section of the Federal Bar Association and Saul Ewing LLP.

The conference is free and the training is free to lawyers who agree to a pro bono commitment. To register call Kiah Pierre at 443-703-3046 or write her at kpierre@probonomd.org.

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Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh tells law graduates to ‘move the world’

Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh gave the commencement address at the University of Baltimore School of Law's 88th commencement on May 18, 2015.

Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh gave the commencement address at the University of Baltimore School of Law’s 88th commencement on May 18, 2015.

Brian E. Frosh, Maryland’s attorney general, addressed graduates at the University of Baltimore School of Law’s 88th commencement on Monday, May 18, 2015, at the Patricia and Arthur Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric.

His address followed remarks by School of Law Dean Ronald Weich; University of Baltimore President Kurt L. Schmoke; Regent Thomas Slater; alumna Jessica Emerson, J.D. ’13; and David T. Shafer, the 2015 valedictorian. Dean Weich presented Law Faculty Awards to graduating students Jermaine Ryan Haughton and Meredith M. Cipriano.

Professor Kimberly N. Brown spoke in memory of Ethan Kirshenbaum, a 3L student who died in a car accident on April 22. “Ethan was simultaneously youthful and wise,” Brown said, citing Kirshenbaum’s exuberance, passion and sense of self. “He found joy in everyday life.” Kirshenbaum received his J.D. posthumously.

Frosh began his speech on a personal note, saying that even after nearly 30 years in the Maryland General Assembly he still sometimes wondered when the “grown-ups” would come in to take charge.

“We look like authority figures [but] we don’t have the answers,” he said of himself and other leaders. “We are still trying to figure it out.”

It’s the will to figure it out – to find solutions – that is crucial, Frosh told the graduates.

“You have got a law degree. It will open doors for you,” he said. “More important, you have learned how to think. How to analyze. How to advocate. Yes, it will help you to be successful. It will also help you to improve society. You can be agents of change.”

He continued: “Thousands of years ago, the scholar Archimedes said: ‘Give me a place to stand and I will move the world.’

“He was talking about leverage, and at the University of Baltimore School of Law you have crafted a powerful lever – and you will carry it with you for the rest of your lives. The laws on which our nation and state are built are your fulcrum. And, without a doubt, we know the world needs to be moved. In fact, the evidence is right outside the window.

“Less than a mile from here, our neighbors, our friends, our families struggle to build productive lives as they navigate poverty, discrimination, unemployment, health challenges and environmental threats. In block after block of Baltimore, in neighborhoods like Sandtown-Winchester, the ills of urban America choke our communities in a painful grip. Poisoning from lead paint, drug use, crime conspire to shorten lives, dampen opportunity and crush futures.

“The challenges are obvious: What do we do about the culture of violence that grips too many people on our streets? How do we provide education and jobs and housing that will create the foundations for a healthy community? How do we foster respect and trust between law enforcement officers – many of whom are brave and committed and put themselves in harm’s way every day – and the people they serve in Baltimore and across the country?

“Here’s what President Barack Obama said after the death of Freddie Gray and the uprising in Baltimore: ‘If our society really wanted to solve the problem, we could – it’s just that it would require everybody saying, “This is important, this is significant.”’

“I know that here today, you, the class of 2015, believe that. That this is important. This is significant.”

Frosh ended with a quote from Jerry Garcia, the late lead guitarist of the Grateful Dead. (“If you don’t know the Grateful Dead, you’d better Google it,” Frosh said of the band. “It’s something you need to know.”)

“Jerry Garcia said: ‘Somebody’s got to do something. It’s just incredibly pathetic that it’s got to be us.’

“It does have to be us,” Frosh concluded. “You now have a place to stand. Move the world.”

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In Baltimore Sun op-ed, Professor F. Michael Higginbotham says Hillary Clinton deserves black vote

UB-567_Higginbotham

F. Michael Higginbotham, Dean Joseph Curtis Professor at Law at the University of Baltimore, contributed an op-ed to The Baltimore Sun titled “Clinton deserves black vote” (May 15).

Professor Higginbotham hailed an April 29 speech by Hillary Clinton at Columbia University, in which the presumptive Democratic nominee for president spoke of the recent unrest in Baltimore following the death in police custody of 25-year-old Freddie Gray:

“Ms. Clinton began by recognizing that something is seriously wrong in the current relationships between police and the minority community. She is absolutely right. Relations in Baltimore have been strained for decades due to unnecessarily harsh policing practices and outright race discrimination by the police. Baltimore has paid over $6 million in court judgments and settlements in over 100 lawsuits alleging police brutality since 2011, according to The Baltimore Sun. Ms. Clinton also noted the stark racial disparities that exist in sentencing and incarceration. As Ms. Clinton declared, ‘African American men are still far more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charged with crimes and sentenced to longer prison terms than are meted out to their white counterparts.’

Professor Higginbotham concluded: “Hillary Clinton understands not only that black lives matter, but that justice requires fundamental reform in the courts, on the streets and in classrooms, offices and voting booths. That is why, I predict, by Election Day, she will be embraced, with enthusiasm, by the African-American community.”

Learn more about Professor Higginbotham.

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3L Kellye Beathea contributes op-ed about work of The Bob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic

kellye beathea photo

Today’s Daily Record features an op-ed by 3L Kellye Beathea (above). Titled “Providing legal services for veterans,” the article describes Beathea’s experiences in UB’s Bob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic.

“My experience in the clinic opened my eyes to the medical and legal hardships of disabled veterans,” wrote Beathea, who added that — according to the clinic’s director, Professor Hugh McClean — more than 40 U.S. law schools now operate clinics that specialize in veterans law.

Continued Beathea: “The clinics provide pro bono legal services to veterans who are represented by students admitted to practice law under state student-practice rules. What distinguishes these clinics from other veterans service organizations is the amount of time students dedicate to conducting research and advocating for their clients. Taking on the most complex cases, students are able to examine every issue and provide comprehensive advice to veterans.

“With the influx of veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, veterans need legal assistance now more than ever. While the law school clinic model is not the only means of providing these services, it certainly is an effective one.”

Congratulations to Kellye Beathea and to all in The Bob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic!

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Bronfein Family Law Clinic students celebrate the success of two bills in Annapolis

Bronfein Family Law Clinic members (left to right) Matthew LaFontaine, Kayla Faria, Professor Allison Korn, Professor Jennifer Kim, Ashley Bond and Sheila Stewart.

Bronfein Family Law Clinic members (left to right) Matthew LaFontaine, Kayla Faria, Professor Allison Korn, Professor Jennifer Kim, Ashley Bond and Sheila Stewart.

Professor Jennifer Kim of the Bronfein Family Law Clinic sends the following news:

“Two of the bills that the students from the Bronfein Family Law Clinic worked on PASSED: 1) SB477/HB606, or the ‘PEFR’ bill (the bill that expands the definition of ‘person eligible for relief’ under the protective order statute to include those in a dating/sexual relationship); and 2) HB225/SB269, or the ‘Additional Relief’ bill, which expands the relief that is awarded in a final protective order to ‘include any other relief that a judge determines is necessary to protect the person eligible for relief from abuse.'”

Continued Kim: “This is a huge step in ensuring those who are subjected to domestic abuse are afforded the proper relief needed, and we are so proud of our students who submitted written testimony and gave oral testimony before members of the House Judiciary Committee and the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee!”

Gov. Larry Hogan signed the bills on Tuesday, May 12.

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John Angelos, Orioles executive VP, makes news by speaking out on Twitter about roots of Baltimore unrest

University of Baltimore School of Law alumnus John Angelos, executive vice president of the Orioles, made news by speaking out on Twitter about the roots of the unrest in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. A May 10 Baltimore Sun story called Angelos’ 21 tweets “striking” because sports executives rarely risk alienating fans with social or political commentary. “Unprecedented as far as I know,” sports sociologist Jay Coakley told The Sun of Angelos’ passionate messages.

Here is an excerpt of John Angelos’ tweets, which were compiled by The Baltimore Sun:

“The innocent working families of all backgrounds whose lives and dreams have been cut short by excessive violence, surveillance, and other abuses of the bill of rights by government pay the true price, an ultimate price, and one that far exceeds the importance of any kids’ game played tonight, or ever, at Camden Yards. We need to keep in mind people are suffering and dying around the US and while we are thankful no one was injured at Camden Yards, there is a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere who don’t have jobs and are losing economic civil and legal rights and this is makes inconvenience at a ball game irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.”

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In The Atlantic, Professor David Jaros discusses charges against Baltimore City police

Professor David Jaros is quoted at length in The Atlantic. The article’s subhead reads: “A law professor says Marilyn Mosby may have overcharged officers in Freddie Gray’s death, but that’s common with ordinary defendants.”

Mosby, the Baltimore City state’s attorney, last week announced charges against six police officers in the death of Gray, a 25-year-old Baltimore man. The charges include second-degree depraved heart murder, manslaughter, assault, misconduct and false imprisonment.

Reporter David A. Graham asks: “Were her charges politically motivated, or perhaps calculated to calm protests? Had she overcharged the officers, picking unfair charges, or ones she couldn’t win? Did she move too fast to charge the officers?

“The answer to some of those questions is probably yes, says David Jaros, an associate professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law: There’s good reason to think that Mosby was driven by political considerations, and it’s quite possible that the charges she filed against the officers are stronger than she can get a conviction for. While that’s cause for concern, it’s also absolutely typical in criminal cases involving defendants who aren’t police, Jaros says. Prosecutors commonly overcharge, they don’t always wait for a thorough investigation, and they are susceptible to outside influence.”

Read the full article and interview with Professor Jaros here.

Learn more about Professor Jaros.

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